By Elizabeth Bailey
Northern Michigan University will be hosting the next Student Association of Michigan (SAM) conference this coming weekend.
The conference will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22 and end Sunday, Oct. 23, around noon. The conference will be held in the University Center.
The Student Association of Michigan was founded in 2007 by student governments from 15 member schools.
“We have a unique perspective of having had only four years of lessons learned and I am very excited about the work and potential we have as a collection of universities,” said SAM President Jay Gage.
According to their mission, they want to advance education by empowering current and future students to advocate on their own behalf for the accessibility, affordability and quality of the public institutions of higher education in the sate of Michigan.
The conference is a way for the 15 public universities to meet, discuss issues and act on them.
There are two major items that the board will be focusing on. First, the board will go over a proposal to combat House Bill 4980 of the Michigan legislature.
“The bill will potentially affect Michigan State University and Wayne State University in regards to tuition increases,” Gage said.
The bill includes an $18 and $13 million cut in funding for MSU and WSU, respectively.
The second item is a proposal about voter registration. It is a goal of SAM to have 10 percent of the students that the board represents, roughly 30,000, registered and engaged in the electoral process by the 2012 general election.
“It is my belief that through this we will be able to have a stronger voice in Lansing, in our own campus communities, and beyond,” Gage said.
The current executive board consists of two representatives from LSSU, president Jay Gage and public relations director Tyler Helsel; SVSU’s representative, vice president Jennora Walker; NMU’s representative, secretary Dani Thoune; and U of M-Flint representative, treasurer Alex Khobeir.
“The representation of the Upper Peninsula really helps include the schools up here and give us a voice,” Thoune said.
According to Thoune, right now there are only the 15 public universities that participate in SAM, but in the future they hope to add community colleges to their roster.
“Community colleges are part of the public institutions, adding them would make a larger body of students that together to discuss things,” Thoune said.
The best way for universities to get involved with SAM is through student governments or student associations, like student senate.
However, in order for any student at NMU to go to a SAM conference, they’ll need approval from NMU’s student government, Associated Students of NMU (ASNMU).
More information can be found at the SAM website, www.mistudents.org.