MSA Forum might be hampered by members’ political agendas

MSA President Eric Dyer said most executive board members are not politically involved.

by Jens Krogstad

Some Minnesota Student Association Forum members said this year’s council is polarized to the point that the group might be hurting its ability to function.

Forum member Adam van Wagner said MSA is meant to serve students, not political agendas.

“Going into student government with the mindset of, ‘I’m in this political party,’ is the wrong way to go about it,” he said. “My constituents are students, and their needs and demands don’t depend on whether I represent a liberal or conservative agenda.”

Several Forum members identify themselves as liberal or conservative and lean those directions on social and fiscal issues, van Wagner said.

Passing resolutions on social issues such as the war in Iraq inevitably causes debate, van Wagner said, but spending decisions split the Forum more than any other issue.

Despite van Wagner’s concern, Forum Speaker Marty Andrade said he encourages political debate and ideological differences.

“I have no problem with liberalism versus conservatism. I think it’s good,” Andrade said. “If you put 10 moderates in a room, nothing will get done.”

He said while people argue over money, it is ultimately a moot point because MSA always decides how to spend its budget.

“Has MSA spent money? Yes. Has it spent lots of money? Yes. Has ideolology stopped them from spending money? No,” Andrade said.

A historically vocal critic of MSA, Andrade said few people in MSA agree with him.

MSA President Eric Dyer said political divides in the Forum are counterproductive, but he said most students on the 11-member executive board are not politically involved.

“I think it’s a good thing that people bring their beliefs to the system,” Forum member Marty Wingard said. “Only when people use it to look better does it become a problem.”