Madia, Murphy take the reins; reach out to non-MSA students

by Tracy Ellingson

President-designate Mark Yudof isn’t the only University leader making plans for structural changes within the school.
Minnesota Student Association President Jigar Madia and Vice President Bridgette Murphy, who officially took office Thursday, said they plan to give student government a face lift by giving more students a voice in MSA and sharpening the organization’s image among administrators and students.
“Bridgette and I are going to form a cabinet that looks like the undergraduate body here at the University,” Madia said.
Madia and Murphy plan to organize an executive cabinet of eight students to represent different factions of the University, including the greek community, residence halls, commuter students and the cultural centers. The president and vice president will likely select non-MSA members to fill the cabinet positions.
“The purpose of having so many different chairs,” Murphy said, “is so that we reflect the undergraduate community in MSA, because that’s how it should be.”
Madia said he has high hopes for the next year. “While that’s not a magic bullet by any means, it’s certainly a start; and hopefully that will help open the door to further communication with groups that have been underrepresented in MSA.”
The new leaders also said they would like to see students who have not previously been involved in MSA join one of the five think-tank-style teams they designed. One such team would develop an agenda that reflects the student body’s priorities and present it to administrators.
“A tangible agenda is key to the relationship we build with the administration this year,” Madia said. “It will also serve as a measure of success the administration has in addressing student concerns.”
Both Madia and Murphy indicated that with the new Yudof administration, MSA members have the chance to play a significant role in the changes that will occur under the new presidency.
“We’ve already written a letter to Yudof just saying how much we feel it is important that we work with the new administration,” said Murphy, who added that meeting Yudof on a personal level would help form a better working relationship. “He’s so forceful and he really wants to help. He’s such a personal man.”
Building a relationship with the new administration will be key for the pair if they want to achieve their “Twelve Months of Action,” which they touted during their campaign.
Some of the goals within their agenda include an improved book-buy-back system and improved safety on and near campus.
But for Murphy, who has never belonged to MSA, one the most important aspect of the agenda is improving MSA’s outreach and image within the student body.
“We want an approachable image, a welcoming image,” Murphy said. “What we really need to do is give students something to fight for, something to be active in.”
The pair said that they have to work at building MSA’s image within the student body, and helping the members of the organization’s forum break down some of the political barriers that have traditionally divided the group.
“Elections got kind of divisive this year,” Madia said, “so it’s important that early on Bridgette and I make an effort to reach out to all forum members and get people involved on the different projects that are affecting students.”