Last week, ASMSU held its annual elections. Did you vote? Probably not. Do you even know what ASMSU is, besides just five letters frequently mentioned around campus? If you answered no, you’re not alone.
“I’ve vaguely heard of them,” criminal justice junior Edward Besonen. “I know that they’re a student organization that assists students with a lot of different things. That’s about all I know about it. I’ve never dealt with them.” Besonen is certainly not alone.
First things first: ASMSU stands for Associated Students of Michigan State University. (Whew, glad we figured that one out.) It’s the officially recognized undergraduate student government organization located on the third floor in the southeast wing of the Student Services Building.
ASMSU is a multi-faceted entity. It’s an undergraduate student government body that represents and advocates for students’ concerns to MSU officals, members of the East Lansing community and state and federal officials. It is also a resource center providing a surprising variety of services to undergraduate students and student organizations.
All undergraduate students pay $13.75 in ASMSU taxes for each semester they’re enrolled. The ASMSU tax is student-voted. Being an enrolled undergraduate student who has paid the ASMSU tax automatically makes you a member, eligible to use any of its services, attend its programs, events and activities, as well as participate in the boards, assemblies and councils that make up the organization. Did you know that?
ASMSU is comprised of two representative assemblies – Student Assembly and Academic Assembly. Students with concerns they’d like to see addressed should feel welcome to contact their student representatives and bring the issue to their attention or attend the assemblies’ regularly scheduled meetings, which are open to the public.
The Student Assembly is involved with many issues of student life. Most recently they hosted a reaction forum to address concerns surrounding the tear-gassing incident on April 2-3.
The Academic Assembly represents students on academic issues including tuition costs, curriculum, academic structure and faculty issues. Currently the Academic Assembly is working on bringing academic minors to MSU. “It could take another year to go through,” said Robert Murphy, Chairperson of the 14th Session of the Academic Assembly of ASMSU. The assembly is continuing its work with administrators of the University Committee on Academic Policy, presenting the case and helping with guidelines, Murphy said.
Murphy said in the fall the Academic Assembly will be involved in projects such as the New Residential College program, Quantitative Literacy issues and college reorganizations.
It often takes a lot of time for the Academic Assembly to do things, Murphy said. As a result, “[I]t can seem like we’re not doing anything,” he said. He explained this is because the assembly has to work with the university bureaucratic system.
Not only does ASMSU represent our student voice, it also provides free blue books and Red Cedar Log yearbooks, offers free professional legal counsel, provides interest-free loans, offers copy and fax services at low rates and provides financial support for registered student organizations and other groups for events and programs that benefit MSU students.
Many students are unfamiliar with the voting procedures for ASMSU, which was evident in the low voter turnout for the student elections held online March 23. MSU has approximately 33,000 undergraduate students eligible to vote, but voter participation was estimated at roughly five percent.
In addition to voting for the student representatives of various colleges that would serve on the academic and student assemblies of ASMSU, three referenda were also on the ballot in the March 23 election: a three-dollar tax increase for a scholarship fund which failed to pass; a renewal of the present $13.75 ASMSU tax which voters approved and an amendment to the ASMSU constitution which was also passed. Certified results from the University Student Elections Commission show that only 1,898 students voted either yes or no on the ASMSU tax renewal referendum.
ASMSU is the student government which exists to serve the needs and concerns of its members. Get in touch with your student reps when you have concerns or suggestions you’d like to see addressed. Governance is a two-way street. Together, we can make this campus a place that’s more responsive and flexible to our needs. This is your school, too – if you’re not involved, it’s good to know the names – or letters – of the people who are.

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