MSA upholding campaign promises

The fees committee approval was an unexpected hurdle during fall semester.

Cali Owings

Minnesota Student Association leaders were elected to office with campaign promises of shared governance and keeping the cost of education at the University of Minnesota down. More than halfway finished with their tenure, student government leaders are in the thick of brining these goals to life.

Shared Governance

Following the example of the student government at the University of Wisconsin, MSA is currently working toward a system of shared governance in which students would get a vote on University matters such as building projects that require assessing student fees, like TCF Bank Stadium.

The organization is currently working toward shared governance through talks with President Bob Bruininks and the Board of Regents. They have developed a Memorandum of Understanding between students and the administration. If talks with the Board of Regents donâÄôt progress, MSA plans to use lobbyists from the Legislative Certificate Program to achieve shared governance through a state statute.

Rising Cost of Attendance

Last spring, MSA President Sarah Shook and Vice President Brandon Cofield told the Minnesota Daily Editorial Board that MSA would utilize “Support the U Day,” a chance for students to lobby at the Capitol on behalf of the University, to keep state funding up so there would be no more tuition hikes.

This year, “Support the U Day” is being rebranded as “The Rally to Restore Affordability.” Nick Saab, director of legislative affairs for MSA, said he hoped the name change would make the event more “appetizing” to students.

“âÄòSupport the UâÄô Day is really ambiguous,” Saab said, explaining that people who didnâÄôt know what it was wouldnâÄôt be interested.

The Rally to Restore Affordability is set for Feb. 22.

Outreach to Students

Both Saab and Grants Director Quinn OâÄôReilly said they considered the new operational budget grants for small and new student groups who do not receive student services fees money a big “win” for MSA last fall.

The concept, introduced by MSA Rep. Paul Buchel, helped groups like the University Quidditch League get off the ground.

OâÄôReilly said 15 student groups had received funding so far. He anticipated fewer applications in spring since it was intended to be a full-year grant, but the committee would grant partial funding to groups who qualify, he said.

Increasing MSAâÄôs visibility and relevance to students

Despite the unexpected challenge of approving the Student Services Fees Committee, which took four sessions of forum to complete, committee directors agree MSA has had more visibility this year than in years past.

The group started the academic year with a banquet for student leaders which it will also do this semester.

In order to better communicate with students, the organization added strategic communications director Dan Garon in the fall.

“There are definitely more people involved in MSA than when I first started [in Spring 2009],” OâÄôReilly said.