MSA upholds fees committee appointments

Raiza Beltran

A proposed Tuesday motion to rescind a Nov. 16 vote approving the Student Services Fees Committee failed by three votes at a Minnesota Student Association forum.
With placards and stickers reading “Vote to Rescind,” representatives from student organizations and student cultural centers packed a Law School meeting room. Debate lasted more than three hours.
“In my three years as part of MSA, this is the biggest and most diverse forum I have seen,” said MSA President Ben Bowman.
Some MSA members questioned how the 13-member fees committee was selected earlier this fall, arguing that the selection committee failed to recruit a diverse panel.
Those members pushed for a re-vote, but only 36 members voted in favor of the motion. At least 39 votes are needed for a two-thirds majority.
Re-vote supporters said members selected to the fees committee were more conservative the than the general student body. At least five committee members belong to Students Against Fees Excess, a group comprised largely of College Republicans. Of the 13 members on the committee, three are women and four are minorities.
Twenty-eight students applied earlier this fall. The fees committee allocates student-services fees to at least 28 student groups, including The Minnesota Daily.
Selection-committee members responded to criticism by sending letters and an opinions piece to the Daily. They said the application process was fair and open to the entire student body.
During a two-hour discussion Tuesday, members debated putting the rescinding motion on the agenda. They also argued about passing a resolution to inform the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly about the motion.
With a count of 40-10, the motion to rescind was placed in the agenda. But the GAPSA resolution failed 33-15.
“We need to look at the slate again,” said Kjersten Reicht, a proxy for the Disabled Student Cultural Center.
Others reiterated her point.
“We have a right to look at our past decisions,” said Jason Vorbeck, a MSA representative for the Queer Student Cultural Center.
However, Bowman said the decision was “a done deal,” and that rescinding past MSA decisions would only “open a floodgate for other votes.”
Members issued impassioned statements throughout the forum.
“Without a doubt, this decision is one of the most important things we do,” said Bowman, who spoke against rescinding the decision. “We followed the process. Under the circumstances, it was the best we could’ve done.”
Bowman said MSA must stand by its decision to remain credible with the Board of Regents.
“I suggest those who are here apply (to the fees committee) next year. You will be 500 times more effective than debating on something that already happened,” Bowman said.
Matt Brauer, a College of Liberal Arts senator and one of the first to contest the fees-committee selection, said MSA was “ill informed, and the process was rushed.”
He said the committee lacks diversity, not because of the number of women and minorities but because of the political composition.
“We need to get varied voices in the table,” Brauer said, adding that MSA had an obligation to the students and not the administration.
However, some said they were ready to look at other issues.
“I am glad it’s over,” said Jende Huang, an MSA representative and fees-committee member. “Hopefully, we can move on to matters more pressing to the University.”

Raiza Beltran covers student life and student government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3221.