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4A - Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

JE 1Jtdigan 3a4 y
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Say yes to a new student constitution .




Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles and illus-
trations represent solely the views of their authors.
Vote Armstrong, Raymond
Benson, Goldberg have clear goals for LSA-SG
Tangibility. It seems to be the buzzword in this year's elections for
the Michigan Student Assembly and the LSA Student Govern-
ment. As polls open today, students are suffering from a loss of
faith in MSA, and many are unaware of the work of LSA-SG. For LSA-
SG, progress hinges on the creation of funds and clear strategies. And to
make MSA a valuable use of students' money, its leaders must overcome
students' negative perceptions of the assembly grown from years of scan-
dal and a litany of institutional failures to produce real results for the
campus community.

Today, elections begin for the Michigan Student Assem-
bly and your school or college government. If you've read
the candidate statements, your vote may hinge on who has
the most experience, who would do the best job or even -
in the case of at least one past MSA election - which can-
didate handed you a free Coke on the Diag.
It's more likely that you're notplanningto vote at all. You
pay for student government, but you may feel like little of
that money comes back to you, personally. Student govern-
ment is difficult to follow, nobody seems to know who is in
charge and it doesn't create camaraderie across disciplines.
But today when you log on to vote, alongside seats for
school and college representatives and MSA president, you'll
find MSA Ballot Question One. The ballot asks students to
replace the existing student constitution with a new version
proposed by Students for Progressive Governance.
S4PG is an organization of University undergradu-
ate, graduate and professional students who have spent
the last year reviewing and redrafting the current stu-
dent constitution. S4PG's proposal would fundamentally
change student government in three principal ways.
First, the new constitution would provide every stu-
dent with greater access to the student budget. Every
semester, each student pays $7.19 to University-wide stu-
dent programming. That money goes to MSA, where it is
divided and doled out to organizations and commissions
most of us have little contact with.
The new constitution would create the University
Council - a body in which school and college government
representatives can call for a vote on any resolution pro-
posed by their constituents. If the Council approves the
resolution, it will be put before MSA for consideration.
That means that if you want access to the University's
student programming budget, anyone on your school or
college government can help you get it.
The new constitution would also improve clarity and
accountability in student government. MSA's current

organizational structure is a mishmash of overlapping
duties and prerogatives. When something goes wrong,
nobody is held responsible.
Now go to S4PG.info and look at the organization
charts created by the new constitution. The charts look
cut-and-pasted from your 7th-grade social studies text-
book: a two-chambered legislature, a unitary executive,
and an independent judiciary. And there's a reason for
this. We want government to be familiar to students and
approachable. We want you to know who to call or e-mail
when things go wrong and who to re-elect when things
go right.
Third, the new constitution would encourage greater
collaboration among students across campus. The Uni-
versity Council would simultaneously concentrate and
disperse the best ideas and practices from student govern-
ments across campus. A more democratic student judicia-
ry will incorporate a greater range of student voices. And
clearer executive authority over University commissions
will maximize efficiency in student programming.
Unavoidably, the new constitution has flaws, too. It was
created by a diverse, dedicated collection of students, but
when such a collection convenes for the benefit of their
joint wisdom, it must accept the biases, local interests and
errors in judgment of the members, too.
There is no doubt S4PG made several such errors. But
this constitutions weaknesses are no match for its vir-
tues: access, clarity, and collaboration. See for yourself
- log on to S4PG.info. Read the current constitution and
the changes proposed by S4PG. Then go to vote.umich.
edu and cast your ballot.
Vote yes on MSA Ballot Question One, and you'll have
more accessible, more accountable and more collabora-
tive student government.
Mike Rarro is the chair of Students for Progressive
Governance and MSA vice president.


The past year has seen a breakdown of
students' trust in MSA. In November, a
special investigation by the Daily exposed
MSA's illegal practice of appointing stu-
dent representatives to the Department of
Public Safety Oversight Committee. Short-
ly thereafter, the Central Student Judi-
ciary, campus's leading judicial body, ruled
that MSA President Abhishek Mahanti had
unconstitutionally appointed students to a
convention to overhaul the student body
constitution. And, to top it all off, Mah-
anti revealed this month that his project to
repair the MSA website not only overran
its budget by $6,000, but it also failed to
turn out a working product.
MSA presidential candidates are dis-
tancing themselves from these failures.
It's true that MSA's problems are largely
institutional - though the blame for the
website debacle rests almost exclusively
with Mahanti. But that doesn't let MSA
candidates for president and vice president
off the hook. New MSA leadership must be
ready and able to change the assembly and
to give students results that they can see.
The Michigan Vision Party is repre-
sented by MSA presidential candidate Ian
Margolis and vice-presidential candidate
Tom Stuckey. The new MForward party is
under the leadership of presidential candi-
date Chris Armstrong and vice-presiden-
tial candidate Jason Raymond. Four-time
MSA presidential candidate Kate Stenvig
has returned to run on the Defend Affir-
mative Action Party ticket, accompanied
by LSA freshman Sofia Bolanos as vice-
presidential candidate.
In some ways, MVP and MForward - the
two most powerful parties - are surpris-
ingly similar. Both stress student involve-
ment. MVP has relied on direct contact
through events like MSA Mondays, while
MForward has reached out to a diverse
group of student organizations. Both sup-
port the revamped all-campus constitu-
tion. Armstrong and Raymond value the
prospective University Council's ability to
connect directly with students. Margolis
has stressed the importance of impeach-
ment - which is included in the prospec-
tive constitution - to hold representatives
accountable. And, most importantly, both
have said they are committed to making
projects come to fruition. These types of
concerns are what make both parties valu-
able. And no matter who becomes MSA's
president and vice president after all the
ballots are counted, MVP and MForward
have important - and complementary -
roles to play in MSA.
MVP's refreshingly simple platform
has focused on small projects that yield
obvious results. MVP has concrete ideas
to improve accountability by mandating
bi-weekly reports to the assembly and
increase accessibility by creating a live
online helpdesk. And Margolis has been
heavily involved with the "Block M" at
football games and the successful Go Blue,
Beat OSU pep rally. Starting small seems
smart, especially considering MSA's his-
toric failure to deliver on its promises.
But these types of common sense tasks
shouldn't be the goal to strive for. They
should be an expected level of functioning.
In stark contrast to MVP, MForward has
campaigned on emphasizing MSA's poten-
tial as an advocate for student concerns.
MForward's goals include halting tuition
hikes and implementing long overdue gen-
der-neutral housing options for students.
But though it has set far more ambitious
goals than MVP, MForward has nonethe-
less kept most of their promises within
the boundaries of MSA's responsibilities.
Admittedly, efforts to stop tuition hikes
are probably futile. But MForward could
make gender-neutral housing a reality.
Armstrong, the former chair of the LBGT
Commission, has a record of making things
happen - even when it's difficult. He was
instrumental in bringing the 2011 Mid-
west Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender,
Ally College Conference to the University.
MForward has the enthusiasm and experi-
ence to reach their - albeit large - goals.

Yet, there must be a balance between
ambition and realism. And DAAP, as usual,
has a list of goals far beyond the scope
of MSA's power, showing that the party
simply doesn't understand of the role of
MSA. Stenvig isn't a representative: She's
an activist. But as important as activism
is, MSA doesn't have the jurisdiction to
address her causes.
And DAAP's vice-presidential candidate
simply isn't qualified. Bolanos is a fresh-
man. She doesn't have the experience to
prepare her to serve as vice president of
Students want to see the results of MSA
action in their lives - and they should see
these results. But MVP may be setting
its standards too low. One of MSA's most
important achievements over the past year
was its lobbying for the Good Samaritan
Law, not the campus concert scheduled for
later this month. And while MForward's
dedication to advocacy may seem lofty at
first, their goals are within reach. Under
the leadership of Armstrong, it seems like
MForward's ambition will pay off for the
student body.
But consistent progress on the smaller
issues that MVP has stressed is impor-
tant, too. MForward shouldn't lose sight of
its primary responsibility to fund student
organizations and make student life better
in a variety of tangible ways as it pushes
for big changes. But the competence Arm-
strong and Raymond exhibit inspires trust
that they can balance big advocacy with
small improvements.
A s usual, this year's election for LSA-
SG president and vice president is
uncontested. But even though presi-
dential candidate Steven Benson and vice-
presidential candidate Carly Goldberg are
unopposed, they have built a focused vision
for the future of LSA's governing body.
Benson and Goldberg have demonstrat-
ed a clear grasp of the issues affecting
their constituents and a passion for finding
solutions to their concerns. The pair seeks
to raise awareness of student rights, host a
career fair comparable to those of the Col-
lege of Engineering and the Ross School of
Business and improve their transparency
by increasing interaction with the student
body. This platform presents an agenda
with achievable goals that will make stu-
dents' lives easier in tangible ways.
Speaking directly to LSA-SG's promise
to deliver is a ballot question to raise the
amount of money funneled to LSA-SG
from student tuition by $0.50. This ini-
tiative would raise an additional $7,000
to fund student organizations. Due to the
language of the ballot question, the money
would be apportioned solely for distribu-
tion among organizations no matter how
the annual budget allocation changes. The
increase would facilitate student engage-
ment on campus without inflicting any sig-
nificant burden on the student body.
Benson and Goldberg also have ample
experience. Benson has trimmed the fat
in the body's internal spending to increase
the money that LSA-SG gives back to stu-
dent organizations. Goldberg is the current
chair of the LSA-SG appointments com-
mittee, and she has highlighted the need
to undertake quality projects as opposed
to doing as many projects as possible.
While their proposals will clearly benefit
students, their ideas can't become a reality
without more concrete strategies to imple-
mentthem. For example, more active efforts
could be done to utilize connections with
LSA alumni to improve the caliber of the
attending companies at LSA career fairs.
Yet, while they need more specific plans to
execute their agnda, there is no reason to
believe they won't succeed and improve the
lives of students across campus.
The Daily's Editorial Board endorses
MForward candidates CHRIS ARM-
MSA president and vice president. We also
GOLDBERG for LSA-SG president and
vice president.

Funding better campus experiences

In this week's studentgovernmentelections, which begin
today, we hope you will take a few minutes out of your day
to support University student-organizations. Certainly, we
would like you to vote for representatives based on their
platforms, pick people who have demonstrated hard work
in the past and choose students who you think will priori-
tize your concerns for the coming year. Voicing your vote is
a great way to ensure that the LSA student government to
which you pay $1.50 each semester remains accountable.
But this year's election isn't entirely about student
government members. It's also about that $1.50 collec-
tion. At the top of the LSA student government ballot, you
will find that the first question asks for an increase in our
collection of $0.50, which would increase the amount of
money students pay to LSA-SG to $2.00 per student per
semester. That $0.50 will generate about $7,000 more
each semester that will go directly to student organiza-
tions. In this way, by voting for ballot question one you
can significantly increase the financial resources avail-
able to your student organization. We want to encourage
all LSA students to vote yes on LSA-SG Ballot Question
One so that we can provide additional funding to student
organizations for years to come.
Roughly 70 student groups apply for approximately
$100,000 from LSA-SG every semester. LSA-SG funds reg-
istered student organizations thousands of dollars to rent
out room space, advertise for events and host excellent
programs across campus. We receive funding applications
from groups as large as Dance Marathon and the Indian
American Student Association, as well as requests from
smaller organizations like the Maya Dance team. While we
have been ableto help many student organizations succeed
by paying for portions of their event costs in the past six
semesters, LSA-SG has been frustrated by a budget that is
too small to completely fund all the reasonable and appro-
priate requests that come our way.
Student organizations submit outstanding applica-
tions with clear budgets and explanations of events for
the semester. From cultural shows to topic forums, every
event is very well planned, but also very expensive. Unfor-
tunately, given our current operating budget, we can only
offer between $13,000 and $16,000 (depending on student

enrollment and other factors) to these applicants. This
often forces LSA-SG to turn away student organizations
in their time of need. Your $0.50 each semester would
combine with other LSA students' money to help us sup-
port the great work and efforts students like you put into
campus organizations.
After accounting for inflation, using the past semester's
survey of the student body, and looking at student group
funding need, we believe $2.00 is a reasonable amount to
ask students to contribute, amid the current economic cli-
mate. We know we are asking for more money, but after
working for several years to cut our costs on student gov-
ernment, we think this is the best way to help student
organizations at this time. Beyond moving internal adver-
tising to paperless alternatives, we have saved money by
eliminating weekly room rental costs by hosting meetings
in Mason Hall instead of University Unions. We have cut
back on internal costs, held cheaper retreats eachyeifr and
our funding chairs have worked hard to scrutinize budget:
applications to maximize our allocations toward funding
student organizations. We provide less food at our meet-
ings, limit our supply costs and pay our election dirdctor
less, all in an effort to put more of our collection to stu-
dent organization funding. Of co'urse, we will continue to
cut our operating costs to further maximize the amount
we allocate to student groups. Yet while we have signifi-
cantly increased the portion of your $1.50 that goes to stu-
dent groups, it is still not enough. Please vote for LSA-SG
Ballot Question One to ensure that LSA-SG has the proper
resources to support student efforts.
Thank you in advance for voting in the election, regard-
less of what college you are in. If LSA-SG has funded your
group in the past, please vote for LSA-SG Ballot Question
one so that we can continue to fund the amazing events
your group puts on for the student body. If LSA-SG hasn't
funded your group in the past, please vote for LSA-SG
Ballot Question One so that we may have more financial
resources to giveyour events in the comingyears.
Steven Benson is the presidential candidate for LSA-SG,
Christine Schepeler is the current LSA-SG president and
Jeffrey Wojcik is the current LSA-SG vice president.


DAAP will mobilize 'U' student body

The election that begins today will determine whether
or not the Michigan Student Assembly can continue to be
the democratic hub of student politics. MSA, especially at
moments of heightened student activism, has been and can
be a powerful advocate for the interests and needs of the
whole student body. The Defend Affirmative Action Party
believes that it is crucial for MSA to maintain its right to be
the independent organizing center for the most powerful
constituency on campus - the student body. DAAP is the
only party running in this election committed to preserv-
ing and strengthening the power of the MSA.
The central issue in this campaign is whether or not the
anti-democratic and dangerous Students 4 Progressive
Governance Constitutional proposal, which is a sweeping
overhaul of the University stu-
dent constitution and student
bill of rights, should be adopt-
ed. If adopted, the S4PG con-
stitution would significantly Yesterday, the Mic
weaken the power of MSA and and MForward fa
students' ability to act indepen-
dently through our officially viewpoints. To
recognized governmental body. Affirmative Acti
It would also end critical civil c why it
rights and free speech protec- case for hy i
tions for students, most impor-
tantly the right of immigrant
and international students,
and transgender and transsexual students to be protect-
ed against discrimination based on national origin, gen-
der identity and expression. And it would give the MSA
president veto power, significantly lessening the ability of
students to exert democratic control of our student govern-
ment in order to assure that it expresses our will.
Now more than ever, we need a strong MSA led by a
party determined to organize the tremendous but cur-
rently disorganized power of students. DAAP is that party.
Students in California and at public universities across
the nation are responding to rising tuition costs, increased
privatization, inadequate financial aid, declining enroll-
ment of minority students and program cuts by buildinga
new mass student movement. Their mass actions, building
occupations, sit-ins, marches and pickets beginning last
fall stopped more tuition hikes and moved both the Dem-
ocratic and Republican parties of California to propose


state finance reform to protect the University of California
system. African American and Latino students at Univer-
sity of California-San Diego, who are a tiny portion of the
school's student body, responded to a racistfratparty and a
noose hanging in their library by occupying the University
of California-San Diego Chancellor's office. They demand-
ed that the administration back their words of concern
with concrete changes to the admissions process to raise
underrepresented minority student enrollment. They won.
Undocumented students at California universities are now
poised to win a DREAM Act scholarship.
DAAP is committed to bringing this movement to the
University of Michigan. On Mar. 4, students at the Univer-
sity of Wisconsin and students at other Big Ten universi-
ties took decisive direct mass
action, turning their huge stu-
dent body into the most impor-
tant force for progress in the
higan Vision Party state. Students on this campus
ced off in dueling cannot afford more tuition
hikes. Even those of us that are
ay, the Defend from families once classified
)n Party makes a as affluent or upper-middle-
class are reeling from the eco-
serves your vote. nomic crisis and cannot cover
5- to 10-percent tuition hikes
every year for the foreseeable
future. Minority students have
had racial slurs scrawled on their doors and feel increas-
ingly frustrated by the administration's seeming incapac-
ity to take even obvious and minimal steps to correct the
increasingly hostile climate we face on campus.
Over the next year, our campus needs to assume its right-
ful place asa center of student struggle. If we build the new
student movement here on this campus, then we know that
students on other universities across this state, including
Michigan State University - which is facing massive pro-
gram cuts, large tuition increases, and a steady decline in
minority student enrollment - will join with us and act.
We ask every studenthere who supports student democ-
racy, student rights and a free and independent student
government to vote DAAP. We need bold leadership and
this is our moment. Let's seize it and act.
Kate Stenvigis the DAAP presidential candidate for MSA.

Nina Amilineni, Jordan Birnholtz, William Butler, Nicholas Clift,
Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Robert Soave, Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith

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