Student body president discusses new semester, student government initiatives

MSA President Simran Mishra discussed her presidency and new University president.

<p>Minnesota Student Association President Simran Mishra poses for a photo on Monday, August 27, 2018 at Coffman Union on East Bank. </p>

Courtney Deutz

Minnesota Student Association President Simran Mishra poses for a photo on Monday, August 27, 2018 at Coffman Union on East Bank. 

Niamh Coomey

The Minnesota Daily recently sat down with Minnesota Student Association President Simran Mishra to discuss initiatives and goals for the spring semester.

How has your presidency been going so far? 

The presidency has been going really well. I think MSA is coming out of a really successful and strong semester, where we’ve spent a lot of time building strong relationships with administration. [MSA is] being very inquisitive and asking the right questions of all the new administration to come. … [We are] really connecting with the student body and trying to push for initiatives that will improve our student experience on campus. 

How do you hope to work with [University president-elect and provost at University of South Carolina] Joan Gabel in the coming months and help her adjust to the school?

We are really hoping that … she’s willing to engage with our student government. She’s already shown that she is. … We hope that we can sit down with her sometime in the next semester and really give her a thorough brief … to let her know that these are the biggest issues facing students at the University of Minnesota. 

What do you see as some of those biggest issues or issues that might be specific to U of M students right now?

Tuition is a big one. [Non-resident, non-reciprocity] tuition and, in fact, it was really interesting because the University of South Carolina student [representative] on their board of regents equivalent voted in favor of tuition increase. I think that’s very much in stark contrast to here, where students were so, so opposed to the numerous increases that we’ve seen in [non-resident, non-reciprocity] tuition. … I think that is one big one that we want to ensure that [Gabel] knows — here we’re in a different spot. 

I also think it’s important for her to understand just how much [the University] work[s] with the student government. We want to create change, and I think there are some student governments that do that across the country, and some don’t. [We want to make] sure that we establish ourselves as one of those student governments. So when she is here starting her term, she knows that we’re people who really want to work with her. 

How will you work with Kaler to finish up his term?

We met with him last semester. We’ll continue to meet with him this semester. He’s been very, very receptive to our concerns. For the first time I think ever we had a meeting with him in [the MSA office]. He made an effort to be here, and I think that’s a milestone for us and something for all student governments to aspire to have — a president who is willing to come to your space and work with you. And so we hope to continue that same trend going forward, to have these strong relationships that we’ve built with him as we continue to create change. 

Are there any projects that you’re working on on top of being president?

Right now, on the top of my mind [is] emergency contraception accessibility. We want to make sure Plan B is accessible in more open locations on campus. 

Is there anything you can tell me about ways you are trying to improve the MSA election process?

I pushed for this very extensive resolution that we sent to [the All-Campus Elections Commission]. [The resolution] was passed unanimously by our MSA forum, and it’s been delivered to the ACEC. The overarching themes were to improve accessibility, to ensure accountability [and] to make sure that ACEC takes the onus of increasing awareness of elections so we’re not having such low turnouts. 

Has there been any progress with the proposed all-campus transit app?

Our next steps right now are to get every single person involved in this realm in the same room. I think it’s safe to say that most people know that this is what students want. We’ve been very loud and clear on that. The part [we’re at now] is figuring out how is that implemented. That might be a longer-term plan because it requires a little bit more technological planning.

What are your goals for the rest of your term and what do you hope to accomplish before you are out of office? 

It’s safe to say that not everything is accomplished in one year. That’s why I think it’s very important that now that we’re into the second semester, we start thinking about transitioning and bringing really talented people into MSA. That’s on my mind … in addition to addressing issues on campus like emergency contraception accessibility or perceptions of Cedar Riverside or sustainability on campus. 

What are you hoping to see from the new administration?

Understanding that every student experiences this campus differently I think will be key in ensuring [a] very strong impact at the [University] for administration and our new regents.