Resolution calls for more state grants

by Jens Krogstad

The Minnesota Student Association Forum overwhelmingly passed a resolution Tuesday to support increasing Minnesota state grants to cover 10 semesters of school instead of eight.

The resolution is contingent on the state running a surplus for the next fiscal year.

“We want the state to make sure it graduates as many people as possible,” said Andy Pomroy, the resolution’s author. “The more people work, the less they can go to school.”

A string of speakers spoke in favor of the resolution, including a rare impassioned speech by MSA President Eric Dyer.

“I’m a full-time student, student body president, janitor and bartender,” he said. “I would have a much better GPA and a much better chance at getting into grad school if I didn’t have to work so much and I’m sick and tired of it.”

MSA Vice President Jeff Nath noted many programs at the University require more than four years to complete, including many Institute of Technology programs and an architecture degree.

University four-year graduation rates are at 32 percent and five-year rates are at 50 percent.

Forum member and technology student Josh Colburn also favored more grants for students.

“I’m anti-head explosion. And if IT students have to learn everything they have to learn in four years, their heads will explode,” he said.

Jake Elo, MSA student representative to the University’s Board of Regents, said supporting this issue was essential to keeping legislators to their word.

He said lawmakers rationalized the cuts to the University last year because it would increase aid to students even though it raised tuition.

“This is a chance for them to make good on their promise,” he said.

Kyle Potter and Tony Zammit were the main resolution opponents, citing financial concerns. MSA Legislative Affairs Chairwoman Amanda Hutchings also voted against the resolution.

Zammit said if the state runs a surplus, it will be small, and the money should not be spent.

Potter, who receives state grants, said his vote was a matter of taking responsibility. He made a commitment to graduate in four years. If he does not, he will find his own way of paying for school, and if state grants are available, he will not use them.

The resolution passed 36 to 5 with one abstention.