Newly elected MSA leaders talk goals for next year

Amber Kispert

After their election as president and vice president of the Minnesota Student Association, Mark Nagel and Trisha Thompson sat down with the Daily to discuss how they will serve as the University’s student leaders next year.

What is your biggest goal for next year?

Nagel: Our biggest goal is to develop transitioned, well-trained, professional and efficient leaders in MSA and execute well-planned, improved, efficient and effective projects that produce change through active participation by students through an increased sense of community.

Why do you think there was such a low voter turnout at this year’s elections?

Nagel: That’s a really good question. I’m not sure anyone has the answer for that.

What do you think you could have done differently in order to get more students out to vote?

Nagel: There are hundreds of things we could have done; it’s just a question of finding the time to balance the campaign and being a student.

How do you plan to increase the sense of community with MSA?

Nagel: We’re going to meet with at least four student groups a month and host the student leader summit, which will provide student leaders the opportunity to meet with people from MSA and provide us with the opportunity to meet people who are running these student groups.

Thompson: You hope that the student groups have chosen effective leaders for themselves. You’re really putting faith in the student groups and that they’re doing what’s best for them.

Nagel: And of course we have also promised a new grant for student groups who cooperate with each other.

How do you plan to make MSA more visible and accessible to students?

Nagel: I plan on writing entries to the Speak Up blog on the Daily’s Web site. We would also like to lower requirements for groups to have representation on MSA so that more people can take part in MSA. And through our platform of increasing a sense of community, hoping that we will make MSA more accessible.

What do you feel are the biggest concerns facing students and how do you plan to address them?

Nagel: The two biggest things, we think, are student finances and the stadium. Of course we will work with the administrators to help keep costs down at the University. Also, our lobby effort with the state will hopefully convince lawmakers to help fund more.

Our second biggest issue would be the stadium. It won’t be completed during our term, but we will need to prepare for it. We are concerned with the safety and hygiene in the neighborhoods around the stadium. Currently, our plan is to speak with the administration and UMPD and create a report from those meetings we have with them and include actions to take that we will recommend.

What ways do you plan to advocate more for students?

Nagel: Meeting with the administrators of course, that’s essential. We would also like to see the University retool to be more effective with lobbying the state’s lawmakers. We would like to see someone specifically assigned to be doing that, because right now it’s very ambiguous, much like a lot of things in MSA.

What is going to be your first plan of action as president and vice president?

Nagel and Thompson: Transitions.

Thompson: We don’t want to start from scratch on something like this.

Nagel: And also planning for next year – setting dates for things, making reservations when and where we can.

How do you plan to improve upon what the current leaders have done?

Nagel: Improvements to individual projects will have to come from the committee chairs who are running them. We are not going to micromanage MSA. We will do everything we can to develop leadership qualities among the new leaders and provide an environment for each other in making improvements to all of the projects MSA has.

Where do you see MSA going under your leadership?

Nagel: We see MSA being more professional and more efficient. We would like to make the leadership more professional; we’re going to work on developing the people who are selected as committee chairs and developing the qualities we see in them. That will also help the efficiency of the group because we will know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and that will enable us to function well together as an organization.