Meet ASMSU’s New President: Pushing Diversity Initiatives and Advocacy
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Authors: Anthony Barash and Sergei Kelley
After unprecedented elections, the new President of the Associated Students of MSU (ASMSU) Abii-Tah Bih, hopes to instill her “100-point plan.” Her plan calls for mandatory diversity training, support for undocumented students, and more.
Her plan further includes a commitment to “10 Point Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” by an alliance of racial and progressive student groups. The partnership is named the Council of Racial and Ethnic Students (CORES) and Council of Progressive Students (COPS).
Demands within the CORES and COPS alliance include a mandatory course for all students on “race, ethnicity, racism, and gender”, demographics of black and minority staff and faculty to correlate with national demographics, and for MSU to become a sanctuary school.
MSU President Stanley agreed to three of their demands after an office sit-in where he was surrounded by CORES and COPS protesters. President Bih said of ASMSU, it is “imperative that we are sending people into those spaces” to listen to students, even if not explicitly advocating.
She stated this during an online debate hosted by ASMSU between her then-opponent Dylan Catalano on April 14, 2020. The discussion included topics such as diversity and inclusion, bias incidents, transparency, campus partnerships, and other changes to Michigan State.
When questioned about a department or group on campus that ASMSU currently does not have a strong relationship, both candidates responded with advancing diversity and fostering inclusion.
Bih shared ASMSU needs to reach out to Michigan State’s older student population above the age of thirty. ”We hardly ever think of the parent, who is a student...having to work for her family, probably she might even be pregnant, having to take care of that baby as well, and really having financial issues and all of that.”
This led Bih to share a proposal, from her 100 point plan, of a women’s lounge. “We used to have a women’s lounge which...served for lactating mothers...for women to feel comfortable, but that was taken out because people said that it was sexist.” She continued, “I’m hoping to really work on, and revive, and really provide financial assistance to non-traditional groups.”
Addressing advocacy items to the new interim provost, Bih called for at least a one-credit GRE class so international students could have an easier time getting into graduate school.
On other advocacy points, she stated that she wants more racial diversity for students and faculty by utilizing more diverse recruitment. She explains, ”I was a TA for a class last semester. You would not imagine that out of a class of 300 people, we only had about two or three black men, right? And that is a problem in certain colleges on this campus, and it’s important that we have that solution ready.”
ASMSU’s new president continued by saying, “And my solution… is to have a diverse recruitment team, made up of students who would go back into their communities, and who would be recruiting as well and bringing those diverse students to MSU.”
When the moderator asked each candidate how they would respond to incidents of bias that occur on campus, such as incidents at ASMSU’s own Ask Stanley event, both candidates turned to collaboration with CORES and COPS groups.
Further, Bih called for ASMSU to be more proactive. “In the future, it’s really imperative that ASMSU is not just acting as a governance body, but also an advocacy body.”
“On my very first day stepping into ASMSU, I discovered that we could use a little more diversity within our administration,” she prompted as another way to curb or better respond to bias.
In addition to racial diversity, President Bih outlines “Amplify Ideological Diversity” within student government meetings, in her 100 point plan. Additionally are plans to implement “severe consequences” on bullying based on political persuasion.
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