Diversifying student government

The Student Services Fees Committee should be more representative of the entire University.

Daily Editorial Board

The Minnesota Daily reported Monday that the 2012-13 Student Services Fees Committee lacks diversity and is not a true representation of the University of Minnesota’s student body as a whole. Of the committee’s 22 members, there are no non-degree representatives, nor any students from College of Education and Human Development, College of Continuing Education, College of Biological Sciences, the Medical or Nursing school or the School of Public Health. A large number of members are students in the Carlson School of Management. And that’s understandable; students who are pursuing leadership positions often already have some leadership experience under their belt, which is the case for many Carlson School students. With more than a quarter of members also serving in student government, it is no surprise that students from similar academic backgrounds apply to serve on the Fees Committee every year.

The number of applicants for membership to the 2012-13 Fees Committee was about 60 people, four applicants down from the previous year. Despite annual University-wide emails to all students from Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart encouraging students to apply to the Fees Committee, less than .001 percent of our student population will seek a role in this capacity. We need to be more engaged in the composition and roles of our student government and budget committees because it’s our money that will be allocated to student groups and services and our interests that are constantly lobbied before MSA and GAPSA. Leadership and financial experience are helpful qualities for a Fees Committee candidate to have, but there are many students who aren’t in the Carlson School that possess them. With more student effort and interest, next year we can build a Student Services Fees Committee that is more representative of the student body than its current form.