Candidateshave fresh perspective about MSA

by Rebecca Czaplewski

Editor’s Note: On April 28 and 29, the student body will elect the president and vice president of the Minnesota Student Association. Each day this week, The Minnesota Daily will profile one of the five candidates and their running mates.

If Sarah Afshar and Mike Franklin get their way, Coffman Union won’t be the only thing on campus to get a renovation next year — the Minnesota Student Association will, too.
Afshar, a junior in the Carlson School of Management, is campaigning for the MSA presidency along with running mate Franklin, a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts.
The duo, who have been endorsed by Students Against Fees Excess, is running under the platform of renovating MSA, starting internally within the organization to repair the image and credibility of the organization.
“When the reputation is tarnished, then students don’t feel like they’re being taken care of,” Afshar said.
Afshar and Franklin’s push to take care of the University’s students focuses on fixing the internal structure of MSA, such as reviewing and clarifying the student association’s constitution.
By clarifying the constitution, the pair feels MSA members will always be able to rely on it; making MSA run more smoothly and placing them in the students’ higher esteem.
“Members will be able to go back to the constitution and know that you can hold yourself accountable — that’s what your organization is all about,” Afshar said.
While Afshar and Franklin are in agreement with many of the issues presented by other MSA candidates, they said basic changes must be made in the organization before major issues can be tackled.
“We acknowledge the issues and want to take care of them, but without fundamental changes, we fear MSA won’t be able to do what it has to do,” Afshar said.
If elected, Afshar and Franklin will start the internal changes with their own positions; both have vowed to forgo their allotted stipends.
The pair is looking at reducing the number of forum meetings per quarter to put more emphasis on MSA committee meetings and have more representation of the residence halls at forum meetings. They also hope to make a more user-friendly student association Web page.
Afshar is active in both ROTC and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and was a member of the Student Services Fees Committee during the past year. However, she’s never been directly involved in the student association.
Franklin was a member of MSA Forum during his freshman year. Although neither candidate has much experience with MSA, both feel they have a unique advantage that can bring new insight to the student association.
“It’s hard to see the problems when you’re an insider,” Franklin said. “We’ll bring a fresher and more common sense perspective.”
The pair has campaigned for the past weeks, paying visits to cultural centers, residence halls and greek houses. When speaking with students, both Afshar and Franklin noticed a lack of a positive image for MSA, one they hope to build up.
“Every group we talked to used the word ‘waste’ in reference to MSA, and that’s a shame,” Franklin said. “If we can take care of that, it’ll go a long way for credibility.”