Student Senate weighs shared governance memo

The group didn’t vote on the non-binding resolution, which was to be a “North Star” for future action.

by Cali Owings

Though the Student Senate did not move into any action on agenda items Thursday, the group discussed plans and concerns for moving forward with shared governance and establishing a University-wide legislative organization.

Student government leaders have been working with the administration to create a document that outlines the current status of student government as a path toward a more active student voice in the future.

GAPSA President Abou Amara said the memorandum is a non-binding document that finally puts into words ideas that students have had for a long time.

âÄúItâÄôs really more goal-oriented,âÄù Amara said. âÄúThatâÄôs the North Star, and everything we are doing from now on should be heading in that direction.âÄù

This âÄúmemorandum of understanding,âÄù as currently written, has not been signed by a representative from Student Senate or the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

Luke Nichols, Minnesota Student Association representative to the Student Senate Consultative Committee, said that to his knowledge it had been reviewed by MSAâÄôs executive board and signed.

Update: Minnesota Student Association president Sarah Shook said in an e-mail that MSA has not signed the memorandum of understanding.

The assembly should have the opportunity to review the memo before moving forward Bree Dalager, Vice President of Student Affairs for GAPSA.

Jenna Cieslak, who represents the Law School, said the language of the memo was âÄúwishy-washyâÄù and others were concerned that a timeline was not outlined.

The memo is deliberately vague because it is a first-step toward more progress in the future, Amara said. Because itâÄôs non-binding, if he signed the memo, Amara said it would not prevent the assembly from pursuing a different course of action in relation to shared governance in the future.

Senate Chair Aaron Carlson took an informal poll to see how many students would feel comfortable moving forward with the memo as written, but few were in favor of doing so.

The administration is set to meet with representatives from Student Senate, MSA and GAPSA on Friday to discuss progress.

Legislative coalition may be brought back

A group of students representing all University campuses except Duluth recently met to consider restarting the Student Legislative Coalition.

Nearly 10 years ago, students disbanded the coalition, which appropriated money from the student associations at each campus to hire a lobbyist on behalf of students, Carlson said.

This time around, the group is not interested in lobbyists for hire, Carlson said. The idea is to unite the campuses behind a message and make sure students from every part of the University system know how to advocate for students.

Dalager expressed concern that there were no graduate or professional students at the initial meeting.