Joined: 24 Jun 2005
|Posted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:36 pm Post subject: Gay student leader elected at U-M seeks activism
|Posted: April 10, 2010
Gay student leader elected at U-M seeks activism
BY LORI HIGGINS
FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER
Chris Armstrong is the newest student body president at the University of Michigan -- and he's making history as the first openly gay person to lead U-M's Student Assembly.
At many universities across Michigan, students are winding down the semester with elections that will determine which leaders take on causes on campuses in the next year.
Armstrong, 20, isn't the first openly gay student body president at a Michigan university. But he's proud to hold that distinction for U-M, the state's second largest. He plans to address gay rights issues on campus, including a proposal to allow gender-neutral housing options.
"It's a really big thing for the LGBT community on this campus," Armstrong said of his victory last month, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students. "I hope it encourages other individuals on campus to come out. And it's proof that U-M is a really welcoming environment."
As student body president, the junior from Connecticut will preside over the 50-member Michigan Student Assembly. Chief among his goals is to bring advocacy and activism back to the body.
"A lot of what we want to do is make (Michigan Student Assembly) a body that really is pushing for student issues on campus," he said.
Students aren't standing up enough against tuition increases and the state's erosion of financial support for higher education, he said. Tuition is $11,659 for most in-state undergraduate students, up 5.6% from a year ago.
"We need to have students standing up and trying to lobby the state legislators, working with the administration to see what can be done," he said.
U-M junior Natalie Kittikul, president of Circle K, a student service organization, said she thinks Armstrong can make the assembly "accountable for making Michigan a better place."
Armstrong campaigned on pressing U-M's administration for gender-neutral housing options that would allow students to choose opposite-sex roommates, rather than always pairing males and females with others of their own gender.
It's an issue he said would appeal to many students, including those who are transgendered and may feel uncomfortable rooming with someone of the same sex.
He also wants to push for a Saturday night dining option for students who live in residence halls.
"Saturday is a big party night. If you have students who are not eating going out and drinking, it becomes a dangerous situation," he said.
Contact LORI HIGGINS: 313-222-6651 or firstname.lastname@example.org