A candidacy worth voting for

Here’s the truth: The problem with MSA is not structural, it’s motivational.

When we decided to run for Minnesota Student Association president and vice president,we wanted to offer students a progressive choice for concrete results. Neither of us has stars in our eyes nor our feet off the ground. Sure, it’s tempting to speak in sweeping language, easily getting sidetracked from reality by idealism.

But here’s the truth: The problem with MSA is not structural; it’s motivational.

We pledge inclusive leadership that does more than fill schedules or buff résumés Tuesday afternoon. Max and Monica for MSA is about connecting campus and using MSA to interact and partner with student groups on campus to offer substantive reforms and tangible change that impacts your life.

Our Action Agenda has three core components:

Textbooks costs: We know tuition is already a heavy burden, and now textbook costs have been rising steadily as well. We are dedicated to finding solutions to alleviate an unnecessary burden for students.

Fees reform: We want to add more transparency and accountability to the student service fees distribution process to ensure it is done in an equitable, efficient manner.

MSA action: We have served on MSA for two years and know the potential MSA has to be a catalyst for change on campus. We are committed to seeing MSA evolve and progress to truly better serve the campus community.

According to a study done by California Public Interest Research Group, students spend an average of $898 per year on textbooks. This represents almost 20 percent of the average tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year colleges nationwide. CalPIRG reported new textbooks cost $102.44 on average, 58 percent more expensive than the price of an average used textbook, $64.80.

We will, of course, be fighting to lower tuition, but we also want to address textbook costs – another pocketbook issue, which we believe can be significantly changed over time.

Several University of Wisconsin system schools have successful textbook rental systems. In fact, half of the UW-System schools have a successful textbook rental system.

Another component is new editions of textbooks. If changes from year to year are cosmetic and not content-related, there’s no reason to switch. In fact, the CalPIRG study found that 65 percent of faculty members report that the new editions they use are justified “never” to “half the time,” while 40 percent of faculty members report that the new editions are “rarely” to “never” justified.

In addition, we feel more teachers should be using electronic copies or online reserves for textbooks.

According to the Association of American Publishers and the National Association of College Stores, paper, printing and editorial costs account for an average of 32.3 cents of every dollar a textbook costs – the largest share of the textbook costs. Online textbooks could eliminate this cost and significantly lower the retail cost of textbooks.

Finally, the final reform we look to is to create an eBay-like system for Minnesota students to sell used textbooks. This puts pressure on the bookstores to offer fairer return prices and lower their costs. A student-to-student market we believe is more productive for both sides. Ask an economics major about the law of exchange.

Textbook costs are one area we will address. But we also will partner with students and groups on campus to work on issues with an open-door leadership philosophy. Max and Monica for MSA is about transparency and accountability at all levels of your student government.

Other areas we hope to work on are environmental changes to improve the University’s use of the natural environment, repairing relations between campus and neighborhoods and connecting student groups to MSA. We believe in forming a lasting partnership with student groups on campus, in residence halls and with the greek community.

We believe this campaign and this election are about more than questions; it’s about answers. MSA can’t just be the voice of the students; it has to be the action of the students.

We’ve been endorsed by University DFL, Progressive Student Union, Women’s Student Activist Collective, EcoWatch, CLA Honors Student Association, Middlebrook Hall Council and Students for a Conservative Voice. Visit our Web site, maxandmonica.com for more information, or to vote, April 11 and 12.

Max Page and Monica Heth are candidates for Minnesota Student Association president and vice president, respectively. Please send comments to [email protected]