Fee resolutions fail in MSA Forum

by Emily Babcock

Two resolutions to take an official position regarding a lawsuit against the University Board of Regents failed Tuesday in the Minnesota Student Association’s Forum meeting.
The lawsuit, filed in February by five students, claims mandatory student service fees are unconstitutional. It specifically names the University Young Women, La Raza Student Cultural Center, and Queer Cultural Center as student organizations that should have optional funding.
MSA representatives Nikki Kubista and Erin Ferguson presented the first resolution at the April 14 Forum meeting. This resolution stated that the student association would officially support University president Mark Yudof’s position on the lawsuit. Yudof’s official statement supported the cultural centers and praised the student service fees process.
MSA President Jigar Madia presented another resolution Tuesday specifically supporting the student fees process, stating that the University maintain a student-run and controlled process. The resolution also demanded students receive the right to be involved in the restructuring process should any court decision affect the current structure.
“Students needed a strong stance in favor of a nondiscriminatory, democratic, student-run and controlled fees process,” Madia said. “MSA failed to give that to the students.”
College of Liberal Arts senior Mike Davey, a University Senator, said the decision not to take a stand was wrong but not a surprise.
“It makes a clear statement that MSA doesn’t really care about the possible outcome of the lawsuit,” Davey said.
Supporters of the resolutions argued that an official position was the responsibility of the student association to inform University administrators and the community of the student opinion.
Senator Sabeen Altaf, a CLA junior, said that neither resolution was necessary for the student association.
“We need to look at the MSA role,” Altaf said. “It needs to represent the student body. The body is divided on the lawsuit.”
Even though he agreed with Kubista and Ferguson’s resolution, Andrew Toftey, representative to the Board of Regents, said neither resolution applies to MSA, because the lawsuit is only for the courts to decide. The fees process is already student-run, Toftey said, so Madia’s resolution is unnecessary because at no point should MSA say the process should be overlooked.