MSA wants form changes

Emily Banks

For anyone confused about which box to check in the ethnicity sections of admission applications, it might become easier.

At a joint meeting Wednesday between the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, the groups voted to recommend the University change its ethnic background questions on admission applications to be more inclusive.

The change would clarify which box to check on applications, no matter the college or department.

The freshman admissions application offers seven ethnicity checkboxes, but the recommended list would add South Asian and Middle Eastern options, and the choice to check all applicable boxes.

GAPSA President Suzanne Sobotka said two University law school students initiated the resolution.

“(They) thought it’s important that students have more means to identify themselves and to end the frustration of not being certain of what to check,” she said.

The resolution is also part of a nationwide initiative called Project Check It.

Bree Richards, GAPSA vice president for student affairs, said changing the ethnicity checkboxes to be based on ethno-geographic factors is the best solution for biracial or multiracial students and Middle Eastern students.

“Right now the ‘U’ law school doesn’t have an Arab/Middle Eastern classification. So they could check white or black or Asian,” she said.

MSA also recommended the change at the meeting and President Max Page personally supported it.

“We’ve gotten a number of complaints from Middle Eastern students specifically saying it’s more race-oriented rather than geographically-oriented,” he said of ethnicity checkboxes on applications.

Student fees

The student governments also approved the fees committee members and GAPSA passed a recommendation to limit organizations’ use of student services fees to pay for lobbying and consultants.

There is no limit on how much of its student services fees an organization can spend on lobbying costs. But the recommendation, which still needs to be approved by the fees committee, would set a limit of 20 percent.

“If an organization spends more than 20 percent, they should fundraise on their own for that,” Sobotka said.

Josh Colburn, GAPSA vice president for administrative affairs, co-authored the resolution and said the recommendation is “basically just trying to create a rule.”

The resolution also recommends not expanding the mechanism that allows students to opt out of paying fees or being refunded. Students can either refuse to pay or ask for a refund of fees to the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and the Competitive Pricing Advisory Committee.