Bruininks urges MSA to lobby Legislature

The University president also said he would recommend a 14 percent tuition hike.

by Jens Krogstad

University President Bob Bruininks stopped by the Minnesota Student Association Forum meeting Tuesday.

He pleaded with students to lobby the State Legislature about a football stadium, tuition hikes and this year’s bonding request.

“I urge you to get involved,” he said. “When people say they didn’t raise taxes – that’s wrong. They raised it on you and your parents.”

He said the University’s first priority is its state bonding request and the University needs to take care of what it has.

With interest rates at a 60-year low, he said this is the time to fund the requests.

Bruininks announced he would recommend another “hefty” tuition hike of approximately 14 percent – about the same as last year – to the University’s Board of Regents.

He said he hoped students would direct their anger where it belongs: the Legislature.

“I hope you won’t turn all of your wrath and frustration on me,” he said. “I didn’t cut your budget by $185 million; the Board of Regents didn’t cut your budget by $185 (million).”

During the discussion about a new football stadium, MSA

Forum member Tim Nault questioned how the public would react to the request as the University complains about deep budget cuts.

“They might wonder, ‘If you guys really need this money, why are you talking about a stadium?’ ” Nault said.

Bruininks responded by saying the University is not willing to risk its own money on building a stadium and that it will not be built without the help of private donors, the state and students.

He said he believes building a stadium is the right thing to do.

“The deal we have down at the Metrodome just really stinks,” he said.

While pleased that the stadium bill Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, unveiled Tuesday brings a University football stadium to the legislative agenda, Bruininks criticized the lack of state funding in the bill.

The bill calls for the University to pay 75 percent of the stadium’s cost and the state to pay 25 percent.

“We went way beyond the normal commitments to agree to pay 60 percent of a stadium, and they just want to squeeze us for more,” he said.

UDS update

The MSA Forum continued the Residence Hall Association’s efforts to reform University Dining Services.

It passed the same resolution the Residence Hall Association passed Sunday night in addition to announcing a dining services public forum March 24. At the forum, students can address concerns they have directly to University Dining Services’ staff.