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James Madison College ASMSU Candidate Forum

Author: Nate Shallal

Image from ASMSU

Michigan State University’s student government (ASMSU) will be hosting elections from April 1-8. The candidates running for the two available spots per college in the general assembly came together to hold a candidate forum.


By nature, the two seats for James Madison College, the most political college within MSU, are hotly contested because of the strong sense of political efficacy and activism held by those students.


Out of the eight students running, four were present for the debate. Those candidates who were absent due to pre-arranged classes and other conflicting events were given the opportunity to send in a video that was played for the audience.


Various issues such as support of the MSU CORES and COPS groups, support of the student legal services, and equity for all MSU students were discussed at the debate.


Abii-Tah Bih:

Background: Abii was not present at the forum but sent in a video to be shown. Abii-Tah Bih grew up under a tyrannical government and believes that she is well suited to make sure everyone has a voice here at MSU.


Experience: She currently serves as the vice president of the African student’s leadership association which organizes yearly trips to Howard University where they represent MSU at the Model African Union. Just this year she gave a Ted x MSU talk on sexual violence

and intends to take action toward healing those sexual assault survivors.


Ideas: Some initiatives she has set forth if elected are to focus on sexual assault, and reach out to students in JMC in order to understand the issues facing them and how she can help.


Adam Green:

Experience: Adam Green is running for his first time for the JMC ASMSU seat. He is currently a sophomore majoring in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy, one of the founders and current president of the James Madison College Conservatives, which is a group that promotes civil discourse throughout James Madison College and the rest of the MSU student body by hosting events with political leaders. He is also an aide to the current Michigan Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield.


Why he’s running: Adam is running for ASMSU because of his outstanding passion for leadership and service and his call to uplift all members of the MSU community despite political viewpoints, cultures and creeds.


Platform: The 3 key points of his campaign are fiscal responsibility, transparency and unity. Adam addressed his desire to be placed on the Finance Committee for ASMSU in order to promote “fiscally sound legislation” and to avoid a budget deficit. Lastly, three priorities Adam would have if elected by his peers is to promote transparency, propose legislation to have a livestream of the General Assembly meetings, and extend free ASMSU printing to other academic and residence halls on campus.


Why Adam?: Adam believes he is an excellent candidate to support unity due to his prior leadership in the JMCC to promote civil discourse, as he recently gave a Ted talk at Valparaiso University on the topic.


Ayanna Walker:

Why Ayanna?: Ayana Walker was not present at the debate but instead had a friend read her answers. Ayana is currently a junior studying Comparative Cultures and Policy and Political Science-Pre-Law, she is a member of the JMC student senate, and believes, “by being a person of color, will bring a diverse perspective to ASMSU.”


Platform: Because of the diversity of Michigan State’s campus, she hopes to bring a voice to those students of color who don’t hold enough representation on campus. Some of her proposed initiatives include improving MSU’s overall climate, improving the services and help of sexual assault survivors, and helping to increase the number of tenured professors who are people of color.


Key Point: Ayanna is not in support of the new block tuition plan and wants concrete action to make MSU more affordable.


David Tran:

Experience: David Tran just arrived on campus this fall, but has already made an impact on campus and looks to continue as an ASMSU representative. He is currently a freshman majoring in International Relations and Social Relations and Policy, he is involved in the JMC student senate, ASMSU class council and currently interns for the MSU Alumni Association.


Ideas: David wants to improve and support open and transparent communication to keep students informed and stated he is always available to talk to students in order for their needs to be addressed.


Key Point: When asked by a member of the audience about his stance on how he will use his seat to benefit marginalized students on campus, Tran responded that he believes contrary to popular belief, the CORES and COPS groups haven’t taken over MSU’s campus. Tran outlined the need for representatives to be educated on the policies and research the issues at hand from multiple points of view.


Why David?: David reiterated the fact that he will be “living on campus for all 4 years because of a scholarship he is blessed to have”.


Giani DiTrappini:

Background: Giani DiTrappini is a write-in candidate for JMC. He is a sophomore studying International Relations and Economics, and is a passionate vegan. He is a member of the JMC student senate and “calls on MSU to expand vegan options.”


Goals: DiTrappini believes there are many issues facing the MSU student body such as food insecurities and the fact that students sleep in their cars because it’s hard to find a place to live. All people need to be represented and identity is important in the eyes of DiTrappini. He calls for the promotion of inclusive activities on campus, a need to hear the CORES and COPS groups, and emphasized the importance of building a multicultural center where all cultural groups on campus have a central place to meet.


Key Point: As a JMC student senator, DiTrappini has used JMC tax money for programs of inclusiveness and points out the most important aspect of why he is running is that “all students have a right.”


Katie Franz:

Background: Katie Franz was not present for the forum but submitted her responses on a video. Katie is a freshman studying International Relations and minoring in Political Economy. She spent a majority of her freshman year volunteering with the UAB.


Goals: She advocates for campus equity and inclusion across campus, for more sustainable practices, and to cut down water and food waste.


Q&A: When asked if she was capable or had an issue talking to professors and administrators, Katie said that she has confidence in her ability to speak to those individuals. Her biggest advantage is that she is a “listener and learner.”


Key Point: Franz believes that everyone should have a right to be represented and have access to a quality education.


Kaitlyn Ashman:

Background: Kaitlyn Ashman is a freshman majoring in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy. She is active on campus as a member of the ACLU student chapter, a member of MSU’s Kappa Delta, and plans to intern in the Michigan House of Representatives this upcoming summer.


Platform: The basis of Ashman’s campaign is a message of unity, involvement, and ways to move forward. She is a supporter of block tuition and believes different clubs and activities are a good way for MSU students to stay active. She wants to improve the bus systems, the workout facilities, increase free printing around campus, and wishes to work on the policy committee if elected to ASMSU.


Q&A: When asked what the best initiative on campus is today and what she will improve, she said that the student legal services were the best, and wants to improve the MSU safe ride program.


Stacey LaRouche:

Background: Stacy was not present for the debate but submitted a video. Stacy LaRouche is a sophomore majoring in Social Relations and Policy and minoring in Public Relations. LaRouche is one of the current representatives in ASMSU for JMC.


Why Stacey?: Her outgoing personality, strong work ethic, and dedication to others in JMC is what she believes allows herself to be successful in ASMSU.


Platform: She pledges to work with the CORES and COPS groups on campus and wants to tackle small common-sense issues to rebuild MSU post-Nassar. She also agrees the best service available to students are the legal right advocates and believes MSU needs to improve on mental health awareness. Finally, she wants to maintain “campaign energy” all year around.


Contributor: Nate Shallal

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