Undergrad student gov’t to restructure procedure

by Charlie Bartlett

The University of Minnesota’s undergraduate student government is ready for an update.
Amid growing concern that it’s giving disproportionate attention to some campus issues, the Minnesota Student Association is making plans to restructure its committees to ensure important issues aren’t ignored.  
MSA Vice President John Reichl presented the restructuring proposal at the group’s most recent meeting. The recommendations include splitting the organization’s four existing committees into seven new ones. 
The proposed new committees focus on issues like sustainability, diversity and health and safety.
The current committee’s tasks — University Policy and Student Concerns, Student Outreach and Engagement, Facilities, Housing and Transit, and the Grants Committee — would be divvied up among the new committees.
Reichl said an internal task force began reviewing the organization in February after MSA leaders decided their current structure needed improvement. 
Facilities, Housing and Transit Director Chase Taylor, who sat on the task force, said his committee’s current responsibilities are so broad that certain issues, such as sustainability, are often overlooked.
By narrowing the committees’ focuses, he said, MSA can give more attention to these issues and potentially increase the involvement of members with more specific 
“What I think the new committee structures will enable is a lot more focus and impact on every kind of project that we’re working on,” Taylor said.
MSA members will vote on the recommendation and ratify the group’s bylaws in order to add the new committees at a meeting later this month. 
If the recommendations pass, the forum would also elect the new committee directors at the meeting.
MSA adviser Sara Carvell said the changes to the group would provide new opportunities for student leadership and participation.
“[The new structure] would really provide a lot more opportunity for students to really identify things they’re passionate about,” she said.
In addition to the proposed committee changes, the task force recommended implementing reserved forum seating for specific student group representatives with hopes to increase accountability.
The voting seats would be reserved through an application process, Reichl said.
Some members voiced concern at the meeting that a student group application process could be exclusionary.
Reichl told the forum that the intention of the process wasn’t to exclude groups but to hold them accountable for active participation in MSA.
Reichl added that the recommendations for the forum were only preliminary and would be passed along to next year’s members to review.
“The goal is to get more people involved,” Reichl said at the meeting.