In a highly scrutinized move, on Thursday, April 10, ASMSU underwent its first major structural change in over 30 years.
The changes were led by the ASMSU student executive team: President Lindsay Murdock, Vice President Lukas Smith and Business Manager Erica Dunn, working together with the Interim Vice President for Student Success Robert Marley and MSU Human Resources. The ASMSU senate was not consulted in the changes and was first alerted to the implementations at their April 10 meeting.
The structural change affects ASMSU classified staff: eliminating the position of ASMSU attorney held by Phyllis Bock and decreasing the number of classified office staff positions from four to three.
This reduction of staff positions led to the layoff of Colleen Lindner, ASMSU office manager, who had been with ASMSU for 14 years. Bock, who has been at ASMSU 31 years, will remain on staff as the operation manager, overseeing the other classified staff positions and advising student program directors.
Because of the abolishment of the ASMSU attorney position, ASMSU will now contract outside legal services for students or go through the MSU Legal Counsel.
According to Murdock, the attorney position was eliminated because MSU students’ only use the attorney 45 hours a year on average, most often regarding landlord-tenant disputes.
By contracting local attorneys instead of providing one in-house, Murdock emphasized that ASMSU could provide students the same quality services at a lower cost. “It’s our obligation to use our resources wisely,” Marley added.
The changes also mean that ASMSU will use MSU Legal Counsel Leslie Taylor for in-house needs. Murdock emphasized that utilizing MSU Legal Services would not inhibit ASMSU from defending itself against the university. “There will never be any case in which our own [ASMSU] attorney can represent us against the university.”
Though the changes were effective on Thursday, April 10, Marley said the MSU Human Resources are working with Bock to create a transition plan for attorney services, and Bock will continue to provide legal services in the short term until a firm can be contracted.
According to Murdock, Smith and Dunn, whose terms last until the new team led by President-elect Destini French is sworn in Thursday, April 17, the change took place at this time so the new executives and senators could transition into their term with the structure in place.
According to Marley, the idea for structural changes within ASMSU was first brought forward to him by Murdock, Smith and Dunn early last semester as part of an ongoing effort to reevaluate the way ASMSU spends student fees.
Murdock noted that these changes were made after consulting with former student body presidents and will “help assist the student leaders of the next decade.”
Calling the initiative “completely student led” by Murdock, Smith and Dunn, Marley noted that MSU Legal Counsel and HR were consulted “every step of the way.”
Future ASMSU President and Vice President Destini French and Jordan Garceau said they were not part of the discussion about the restructure; however, they are ready to work with the change. “We want to make transitions as best as possible and improve ASMSU with whatever we are given,” Garceau said.