MSA: The system itself is the real issue

The issue isn’t a suspended bylaw, a journalist or an MSA official’s actions.

As a student and CLA senator, I am concerned about the state of our student government. The recent controversy over alleged illegitimate actions and the resulting bashing of the reporter who exposed it makes me shake my head.

The problem is not with a reporter who was just doing her job (and I think she did a good job at that), or necessarily with certain Minnesota Student Association “leaders,” it is with the system. The issue over the attendance policy shows the problems with a student government structure that is top heavy with executive power. I don’t consider the executive board members to represent me, and they should not be able to go behind closed doors and bypass the pseudo-representative body of the forum. We don’t pay the executive board members $750 to $5000 a year of our student fees to make decisions for students by themselves.

In my time as an activist at the University, I’ve had a number of issues with the MSA executive board, even before this current administration. The structure lacks transparency and allows for personal bias to guide decisions. Board members are allowed to sit in their positions for multiple years and there is little to no oversight over their actions.

I’ve been a student at the University for 3 1/2 years, and I just joined the MSA Forum. I don’t think MSA properly represents students. When the organization’s duty is intended to guide where $154,368 of our student fee money goes and when it is intended to be the students’ link to the administrative affairs that affect us while we are in school and afterward, this is a big deal.

Student government should address safety not by running a shuttle service, but by looking at the uneven balance of University police resources going to busting parties. Student government shouldn’t be putting on concerts; they should be working with the administration on course loads, tuition hikes and contracts with unethical corporations. The issue here is not the suspension of a certain bylaw, the ethics of a journalist, or the actions of a particular official, it is the system that claims to be our voice in the affairs of our public university.

Jim Forrey is a CLA student senator. Please send comments to [email protected]