MSA redecoration draws criticism from members

Some view the purchases as an unnecessary way to use the budget.

by Sally Hunter

The Minnesota Student Association finalized a proposal to upgrade its office, but some members are calling foul at the price tag.

The executive board voted to spend $2,685 on new furniture, including new couches and a flat screen TV.

One board member voted âÄòno,âÄô and the fifth voting member abstained from voting. President-elect Lizzy Shay said MSA will purchase the furniture by the end of summer. The office, one of the larger student spaces on Coffman UnionâÄôs second floor, currently has several desks, chairs, a table, a couple couches and an old TV.

âÄúItâÄôs a little ridiculous,âÄù said Drake Nimz, an at-large representative on the board. Nimz abstained from the vote, but said he would have voted against the proposal.

A surplus of funds from last year could be better spent on grants for other groups to hold events or start new programs, Nimz said.

The furniture is âÄúnot beautiful but it functions,âÄù Nimz said.

The board must approve any proposal that costs more than $1,000. During the academic year, a forum would normally take place, in which all MSA members would have a say in the matter, Nimz said. Since itâÄôs summer, the proposal goes straight to the board.

After a trip to IKEA with outgoing MSA President Sarah Shook, Shay wrote up prices of the furniture and a layout of the desired office.

âÄúI think it will really make the office more welcoming,âÄù Shook said, explaining that the group is investing in quality furniture to âÄúpromote professionalism.âÄù

The MSA office was last furnished six years ago with furniture from Student Unions and Activities, Shook said. This year the group was able to save money budgeted for renovations by having the office walls painted for free by Facilities Management.

The cost of the new furniture will be covered by the original budget and by cuts made in other areas of funding.

Former MSA representative Paul Buchel said the extra money should be used to better studentsâÄô lives with new programs and grants.

âÄúItâÄôs alarming that over the summer MSA will blow a few thousand dollars on a shopping spree,âÄù he said.

Thomas Trehus, the former political director for groupâÄôs Legislative Certificate Program, said he didnâÄôt see âÄúthat big of a needâÄù to renovate.

The groupâÄôs grant program, a resource for student groups who donâÄôt receive fees funding, could always use more money, Trehus said.

Chris Tastad, current director of the Legislative Certificate Program, thinks a better solution for the office is to buy furniture from the ReUse Program, where used University furniture is sold at a low price. The group should start putting fiscally conservative principles in the forefront and re-evaluate its approach, he said.

Shay said other rooms on CoffmanâÄôs second floor are used more because students feel more comfortable.

âÄúA lot of our furniture is dysfunctional,âÄù she said, and added that she wants students that come in to feel they can be productive in the office.