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March 19, 1999 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-19

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12 The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 19, 1999


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Standing at the forefront of this semester's Michigan Student Assembly
elections are three slates of six students, who claim they have what it
takes to lead a group that represents the entire student body - more than
35,000 people.
These students are competing for the positions of MSA president and vice
Issues pertaining to tuition, a student regent and even national and interna-
tional politics are shared concerns for all three slates, among additional small
scale projects.
Although party lines may seem as if they are distinctly drawn, the slate that
wins MSA's executive posts will have to spend their term working with their
campaign friends and'foes.
The Candidates
Among the three parties vyingfor executive positions, the Students' Party,
now in its third year, claims its successful experience will work in its favor
during elections.
"We're people who have consistently followed through on what we've said
we're going to do," said Students' Party presidential candidate and current
MSA Vice President Sarah Chopp.
"We have already exhibited initiative and are very active on campus," added
Students' Party vice presidential candidate and current
LSA Rep. Sumeet Karnik.
During her time as a representative and as
vice president, Chopp has worked on the
External Relations Committee and
the Student Regent Task Force.
Also campaigning for votes
is the The Defend
Affirmative Action Party.
The party originated
during the 1998 win-
ter term, after the
formation of the
groups By Any
Means Necessary
and United for
Action the pre-
vious year.
Party mem-
bers captured
six assemblyl
seats in its sec-r
ond election as a
party during the
1998 Fall term.
Running on the
DAAP's executive
slate this semester
are Rackham Rep.'
Jessica Curtin and L SA am WsXt t corpac Sivie.
Rep. Erika Dowdel for * ce tua de rid tht t ode o! St et
assembly president and vice IIEta En ti~ ads t onbtitun~etwir t studc8 ,
president respectfully. ti s ga sik f deft eprerttia N t ri
"Our concept of MSA is one of
a fighting student union, rather than
simply a service-geared organization," "
Curtin said.
The third contender in this semester's MSA elec-
tions is the newly-founded Blue Party. Running for the party's executive slate
are MSA Treasurer BramElias and former MSA Rep. Andy Coulouris, for
president and vice president, respectfully.
Elias and Coulouris, both former members of the Students' Party founded
the Blue Party in January after Coulouris said he considered breaking away
from the Students' Party in November 1997.
"We know where we want to go," Coulouris said, describing the formation
of the party.
Despite differences in party philosophies, each group's executive slate claims
to be working in the student's interest.
Students' Party
The Students' Party's executive slate has put together five main points that will
define its list of objectives for the upcoming year.
Toping the list is the importance of improving MSA's outreach to student
groups within the University.
"We feel that we can actively incorporate student groups into MSA because
we have a good understanding of how students groups are run, due to the fact
that we have been involved with many student organizations,"
Karnik said.
With the input received from various student
groups around campus Chopp and Karnik said
they hope to improve MSA's relationshipg
with the student body and bridge the gaps
between student organizations.
"We want to encourage student
activism. Once our voices are loud,
maybe they will be heard," Chopp
The duo said it would also like1
to increase the availability of
concentration information and
help students decide on their

career paths, by instituting a
concentration evaluations and
student mentors program.
"We want to make the
process of choosing a major
to be based on informed deci-
sions," Chopp said.
This program would bene-
fit the mentors and the
mentees. While the mentees
gain valuable information per-
taining to their future goals, the
mentors would earn credit toward
their degree program - according
to the plans drawn up by the party. r r th dt t groupt
The next topic on the party's agenda
- electronic lobbying on the Internet -

Another program that the Students' Party hopes to develop is called
"Freshman Forgiveness."
The program would give students the opportunity to retake a class,
and although the grade received the first time around would remain
on the students' transcripts, the second grade would be the one
figured into the Student Grade Point Average.
Most of the Big 12 schools have already adopted pro-
grams similar to the one that the party is proposing.
"If the student is willing to invest the time and the
money into taking the class again, they should
receive some form of recognition," Karnik said.
The party's executive slate is also concerned
with the level of support available to interna-
tional students.
Chopp and Karnik said they would like to
create a foreign language support group on
campus computer sites to aid students in vis-
iting Websites with foreign language
They also said they want to develop an
international student network, which would
work to strengthen multicultural under-
standing among student groups on campus.
"The only thing that international stu-
dents have in common is that they're
not from America," Chopp said.
In addition to the main
focus of their agenda, the
Chopp and Karnik said
they would also like to
gain a clearer under- 11 V&idW firm,
standing of the tuition b eekr a nati
system. epesent and
"Tuition should remain npOeha
as low as possible without
compromising the quality of
our campus," Karnik said.
Chopp and Karnik said they are
proposing to work with administration to
keep tuition as low as possible.
The Code of Student Conduct is another
area that the party said they would like to
work on. Chopp and Karnik said they
would like to see an academic code replace
the current student code of conduct. The
new Code would be modeled after the Code
that the College of Engineering currently
"The focus of the Code should be based on
Ou S forming a community based on integrity,"
Chopp said.
"Currently, the Code is an unjust system for
the accuser and the accused," Karnik said.
Fndu t.' In the arena of politics, the Students' Party me-
r3 andMSA. bers said they would like to help increase student
l 021 x gWnt awareness about issues that affect everyone.
"If the student group feels that something is important to
them, even though we know our limits, we are excited to help
them lobby their local, state and federal governments," Chopp said.
"If a student group is concerned with it, it's a student issue and an MSA
Defend Affirmative Action Party
DAAP's executive slate stands behind a political platform that is based on grass
roots activism on campus and throughout the nation.
Lead on the party's platform is fighting to maintain the practice of Affirmative
Action at the University and at other schools nationwide.
"In California right now what we are looking at is the reversal of the attack on
Affirmative Action, which is the first place it was attacked," Curtin said.
Curtin and Dowdell are also interested in overturning decisions made in Texas
and California, states that have abolished Affirmative Action in public universi-
The duo also said they intend to abolish the Code of Student Conduct. "It func-
tions to give the administration more leverage to act selectively against students."
Curtin insisted that the only way the Code can be abolished is by building a stu-
dent movement against it at the University.
"We just have to increase the level of student organization around it," Curtin
Ceasing increases in tuition across the state also takes a priority in Curtin and
Dowdell's goals as MSA executive officer candidates.
Included in the party's platform are fighting racism and
sexism on campus, which according to the party's plat-
form involves investigating such actions.
Another plank in the duo's platform is creat-
ing an end to "police harassment of student
An overarching theme in this slate's
ft platform is an effort to build a new civil

Elias said the four points can also be called "promises."
The first includes expanding and institutional-
' izing the SCS.
The idea for the Student
Coursepack Service, which mate-
rialized earlier this semester,
originated with the
Students' Party during
the 1997 MSA Winter
elections, Elias said.
Elias added that
he led the assem-
bly to resume
the project in
the Fall of
_ 1998.
The Blue
A Party's exec-
utive plat-
form also
wants to
the Code.
"The code, is
still in flux,"
Elias said, cit-
ing the departure
of Vice President
.. for Student Affairs
ve Actlm at the Unrive c~y.: Maureen Hartford as
one of the reasons
ig1t for stems' (fghts, code negotiations have
tStatut de~t~t . lessened. Although Elias
said be believes the code
P F should not be in place, he added
that "MSA cannot compromise, it
needs tokeep trying to be proactive and
make positive changes."
Also on their agenda is creating a direct constituency. It would be a pro-
gram where "every student has a representative," Coulouris said.
ie explained that the idea for a direct constituency originated with for-
mer MSA Rep. Ryan Friedrichs.
"If they have a problem, they can contact their rep.," Coulouris said.
"It's about accountability,"
The fourth objective on the Blue Party's executive platform is electing a
student regent.
Chair of the Yes! Yes! Yes! campaign and of the Student Regent Task
Force, Elias led progressive, but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to obtain
a student regent.
Elias said the Blue party is interested in establishing a student liaison,
which headmits is not as ideal as a student regent.
"We are where we think we can get a level of student representation on
the board of regents," Elias said.
Looking back on the semester, Elias said, "the first half of this MSA term,
might have been the most successful MSA has been."
"We hit a brick wall when all of the sudden issues like Iraq came up,"
Elias said.
"It's silly for us to take a stance on issues like that, but it's disrespectful
for us not to do anything about it," Coulouris said.
When international issues are brought to MSA, Elias said, "next year, we
say the proposition is to go through the External Relations Committee."
The Blue Party duo said the ERC should assist students in lobbying
efforts in Lansing to address nation and international issues.
Coulouris said he believes the assembly's role in influencing tuition
includes being a conduit between students and Lansing ... so MSA facili-
tates their voice being heard," Coulouris said.

rights movement.
"There is a new movement in this
country," Curtin said. "It started
with Affirmative Action and it is
also a fight against bombs in Iraq
and sweatshop labor.
Curtin added that ,she
believes MSA should be in the
forefront of this movement.
Addressing controversy sur-
rounding a resolution DAAP
presented to the assembly in
January, condemning UN sanc-
tions placed on Iraq, Curtin said,
"We're very, very proud of the
Similar resolutions were passed
earlier this month at the University
of Texas at Austin and the
University of Wisconsin at
Milwaukee. "It's something that moved
across the country that we started here,"
:'Curtin said.


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