Sunday, March 23, 2003There's something that's been bugging me that I need to get off my chest. It is summed up in this comment posted anonymously on my website below:
"It is clear that Affirmative action is not favored by students. As a result, MSA should stop spending so much money on Affirmative Action and, instead, channeling that money to student groups."
If you accept that the Michigan Student Assembly is a specialized form of representative government, then their actions should not be controlled by student opinion in any way. Clearly, MSA is a type f government, although a weak one at that. It's unique governmental characteristics and powers include being directly elected by the students, administering a budget of over $200,000 they receive through mandatory taxation, appoint power to many important University committees and access to administrators, unlimited speaking time at each Regent's meeting, and finally MSA supports subsidized student health insurance. In addition to all these powers, the Michigan Student Assembly has a judicial branch, the Student Central Judiciary, that can theoretically (and occasionally does) resolve conflicts between and within student organizations.
So MSA is a representative government, similar to the Ann Arbor City Council, the state legislature, and the U.S. Senate. In that case, any political science major knows that individual representatives can and do vote for many reasons - certainly some vote according to the wishes of the majority of their constituents, but many on the right and left often vote through personal conviction alone.
Many frustrated conservatives on campus claim MSA should not act unless they are sure a majority of students agree. Disregard them - for this is the specious logic of an outnumbered and morally bankrupt minority.The next time you hear a conservative advancing this argument simply ask them: if MSA can’t take a stand, shouldn’t they also be neutral about student rights, LGBT rights, and the environment? Should we eliminate these commissions and ban MSA from working in those areas? This is the logical conclusion to the ideology advanced by the Blue/University party - MSA as high school student council. I think I have shown above that while student opinion certainly matters, it does not - and should not - limit what MSA votes on or how they spend their money. When the U.S. Senate votes for a multi-trillion dollar tax cut for the rich, do they sit around debating whether or not a majority of Americans support it? Certainly not.
In conclusion, MSA can and should be as "biased" as they want to be - passing resolutions about anything they like, including affirmative action, Iraq, and fair trade coffee. They have NO OBLIGATION to be "neutral," "unbiased," or "objective," unless they choose to.
Posted by Rob at 1:22 PM