UMN student government leaders forecast goals for spring semester

Spring semester will see a move towards legislative action, a sexual assault awareness campaign and a continuation of fall semester proposals.

Maraya King

As the spring semester begins, the Minnesota Student Association at the University of Minnesota plans to improve food, transportation, immigration and sexual assault awareness on campus.

Additionally, MSA is increasing involvement with the state legislative process this semester, said MSA President Trish Palermo. Minnesota’s legislative session begins Feb. 20.

MSA partnered with Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, last semester to draft legislation addressing three main goals identified by MSA: short-end leases, limiting mandatory arbitration clauses, and requiring leases to be unit-specific.

These goals seek to protect students from signing confusing leases and getting trapped in restrictive housing situations.

In immigration efforts, student body presidents from the Big Ten conference gathered last weekend to film a video encouraging Congress to act in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Palermo said. The video will be released Feb. 2.

As part of a sexual assault awareness campaign launching in April, MSA proposed an amendment last semester to the medical amnesty law.

The amendment would give immunity to nonalcoholic drug related incidents and victims of sexual assault, Palermo said.

She added that MSA’s Sexual Assault Task Force has been in conversation with the University of Minnesota Police Department about plans to survey students in the coming weeks.

The goal of the campus-wide poll is to gauge students’ comfort level when it comes to reporting sexual assault, Palermo said.

Starting at the end of February, after a successful MSA safety proposal last semester, Gopher Chauffeur will provide rides to students Monday through Wednesday in addition to the existing Thursday, Friday and Saturday night schedule.

MSA’s first forum of spring semester, on Jan. 23 at 4 p.m., will focus on dining-related issues.

Will Macheel, Director of MSA’s Sustainability Committee, said dining advocacy is important to MSA. 

“We had students from different perspectives and backgrounds working on what they wanted to see in the future of campus dining,” Macheel said of last semester’s implementation of kosher and halal foods in dining halls. 

Dominic Christensen, CFANS Student Senator, worked with the Sustainability Committee by reaching out to local farmers and identifying food sources that adhered to certain criteria.

“[MSA] is looking to the future of campus dining, whether it’s nutrition, dietary restrictions or sustainability,” Macheel said.

The current dining contract with Aramark expires in 2020. MSA will provide their potential replacement recommendation at next week’s forum.