Troubled past of MSA could tell its future

by Mark Baumgarten

Since its inception in 1958, the Minnesota Student Association has experienced its fair share of growing pains.
But while the association has done a good deal of growing in the past 40 years, the pains continue in the eyes of many students and are prompting them to think that the only cure is the end of the association.
If a referendum were to pass anytime in the near future to dissolve MSA, it would not be the first attempt to shove the proverbial stake into the heart of MSA.
On April 14, 1974, the student association was abolished at the hands of a newly ratified student constitution. In its place, the Twin Cities Student Assembly became the sole student governing body on the Twin Cities campus. Of the 1,985 students who voted, almost three-quarters voted in favor of the dissolution of MSA.
Six years later, due to displeasure with the state of student government, a new student constitution abolished both TCSA and the All Campus Council and reinstated MSA as the center of student government on campus. But while the April 17, 1980, vote brought MSA back to life, many believe the same problems that hampered the association before are still at work today.
MSA presidential hopeful Jared Christiansen and his running mate, Matt Hass, believe that the solution to these problems lies in taking another stab at dissolving the student association.
While this stance contradicts the reconstructive platforms of most past and present MSA presidential candidates, many undergraduate students, including speech communications senior Molly Dorff, agree that the association needs some mending.
“I don’t feel I’ve gotten anything from (MSA),” Dorff said. “If they released a paragraph stating what they have done for the students in the past year, I’d believe that the association does more than just build rÇsumÇs.”
Not all students feel this strongly about the state of their student government. “I guess it would be bad if (MSA) was gone,” said General College freshman Mark Bremhorst, “but I probably still won’t vote.”
The apathetic attitude of the student body is also evident in low voter turnout. The 1998 elections, in which only 6 percent of students voted, have some believing that nothing will ever change.
“I think lots of students are apathetic to the point that they don’t care to change the system in any way,” said College of Liberal Arts junior Rana Kasich. “They’re content with the way things are.”