MSA votes to limit fee hike for stadium

The cap, $50 per semester, does not bind University administrators.

by Jens Krogstad

The Minnesota Student Association Forum capped undergraduate student fees for an on-campus football stadium to $50 per student per semester Tuesday.

The resolution calls for undergraduates to pay no more than $50 per semester for a maximum of 30 years to finance bonds to help build an on-campus football stadium.

At the $50 level, after accounting for interest and other payments, students would be donating a total of $43 million.

The bill passed on a vote of 30 in favor and 12 against.

“This future will not be dictated to us,” MSA Vice President Jeff Nath said. “Instead of getting caught with the bag when the music stops, we will dictate the terms.”

The University administration does not have to follow the resolution because it only states the will of the undergraduate students, Nath said.

“The administration can always just impose a higher fee if they want,” he said. “I should like to think they’d abide by the decision and respect us enough to do so.”

Proponents said the resolution gives students a voice in the stadium-building process while limiting what the University administration can charge students.

The plan stipulates that fees not be collected before groundbreaking of a new stadium and that no payments be made until external financial donations match or exceed student contributions.

Under the plan, students will also have “significant decision-making authority and oversight” concerning facility design, naming rights, amenities, events scheduling and use of the facility.

In his presentation, Nath said the stadium will serve the entire campus because it will function as an additional recreational sports facility, among other things.

In a heated debate, proponents of the bill said it serves as both a protection and a stimulant because building a stadium is inevitable at this point.

Jake Elo, MSA representative to the University’s Board of Regents, said the resolution protects students from paying too much toward a new football stadium.

“The choice isn’t $50 or $0,” he said. “This is a choice between $50 or more.”

MSA academics and services chairman Scott LeBlanc said student contributions will help spur outside donations.

“This is a successful way of selling this to alumni and outside donors,” he said.

Opponents of the resolution said Forum members were not informed enough to vote and the plan is poorly crafted.

“It is unfair to burden students 30 years into the future,” said Forum member Seyon Nyanwleh. “Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking $50 is OK because we can afford it today.”

Forum member Dan Nelson said the plan is a poor negotiation tactic because the administration will look at the $50 figure as a starting point and not a maximum donation.

Debate reached a boiling point when Chris Montana argued the Forum was not informed enough to vote on the issue.

“We are not a representative body of this University,” he said.