You and the state of your student government

These issues, we believe, are the most important ones facing the student body.

When we were first elected as the presidents of the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, people asked us what effect we thought having two female presidents would have. We didn’t have any cohesive answers. In looking back over the first semester, the advantage is clear. Our greatest strength has been in our communication. Whether reflective of our gender or not, our ability to collaborate on issues and to work independently, has allowed us to accomplish far more than either organization hoped to achieve. We are very proud of the direction this has taken our organizations, proud of our ability to work together and proud of the work each member of the organizations has contributed over the past semester.

We think it is important that you are aware of the issues that have encompassed our lives this fall and what we have been doing to address them. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the list of accomplishments is far too long to put in a column, so we have created an extensive list that can be accessed at www.msa.umn.edu and www.gapsa.umn.edu. Let us know what you think and give us feedback. When you are involved, your student government does a better job of representing you.

We can’t list everything here, but we would like to give you a list that summarizes the issues most important in terms of impacting students. While it would be great if this list could be as entertaining as a David Letterman Top Ten list, unfortunately, we aren’t all that funny. It is, however, made up of the day-to-day diligence of many individual hands that eventually become something important to us all. So in the interest of time, we give you our top five:

Tuition: Because this is a bonding year, when they fund buildings, not the budget, we focused on gaining a promise from University President Bob Bruininks that tuition wouldn’t increase because of higher fuel costs. We went to Washington and met with someone from every Minnesota legislator’s office about the importance of keeping tuition low through the Higher Education Reauthorization Act and the Higher Education Equity and Affordability Act.

Lobby day: An exciting opportunity to tell legislators what it is like to be a student and to advocate on behalf of the University’s much- needed bonding request awaits us at the Capitol. Join us April 6.

Strategic positioning: This is perhaps the most important issue that faced this campus last semester. We successfully worked to get students on every academic task force and representatives of student government on every steering committee. We continue to work and talk with task force members to ensure student voices are heard.

Safe and affordable housing: We are working to make housing safe and keep it affordable through:

The Renter’s Survey taken this fall and Renter’s Guide that will be published this spring; advocating on behalf of students on the City Council noisy and unruly gathering ordinance; and the organization of a rental housing summit where the student and broader community will be invited to strategize about how to ensure friendly, safe and affordable neighborhoods.

Stadium fee: We are endeavoring to see what students think of the proposed $50 per semester per student stadium fee by conducting a survey through the Office of Measurement Services. We then will share that information with the University administration to increase student voice in the conversation about the possible stadium.

Please get involved with what we do and be a part of the solution. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish and the changes you can make in your community.

Emily Serafy Cox is president of MSA and Karen Buhr is president of GAPSA. Please send comments to [email protected]