MSA OKs Northrop bike lanes, three new reps

MSA also approved publishing student ratings for the top 30 percent of instructors.

by Cali Owings

During the last forum of the semester Tuesday, the Minnesota Student Association passed resolutions to add bike lanes on Northrop Mall and to publish student ratings of the top 30 percent of instructors, and it added three at-large representatives.

The agenda was heavy with action items and speakers for the last forum of the semester.

Steve Sanders, bicycle coordinator for Parking and Transportation Services, spoke on behalf of a resolution to add bike lanes on Northrop Mall. The proposal suggests bikers will need an east-to-west route from Church Street to the Washington Avenue Bridge while Washington Avenue is closed for Central Corridor light rail construction.

The resolution passed, but MSA Representative Luke Zak spoke out against âÄúugly lanesâÄù being painted on the mall that might decrease the areaâÄôs historic and aesthetic value.

The original resolution was amended to remove the creation of crosswalks for pedestrians which might confuse traffic flow and further alter the appearance of the mall area.

Sanders said the idea of painting more than necessary on the mall, including crosswalks, was âÄúedgy.âÄù

MSA also filled open positions from within by electing Chief of Staff Lizzy Shay, former Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow representative Wes Halseth and former College of Liberal Arts Student Senator Nick Saab after it was announced that three spots were available.

At-large representatives are responsible for representing University students as a whole, rather than a specific set of students like a college, student group or other organization. Halseth said he wanted to vacate his position as representative for CFACT because other people from the group were interested, but that he wanted to remain active in MSA by filling an at-large position.

Shay was appointed to her position as chief of staff by the president. Since she was not elected, she did not have a vote in forum. Though Shay said she attended almost every meeting and forum, she had to be yielded time by a member of forum in order to express her opinions.

For Saab, the circumstances were even more unusual. He was elected as a student senator for CLA last year after being an at-large representative his first year in MSA. Due to a class conflict, Saab said he tried to resign from his student senator position. Meanwhile, he was chosen to be director of the Legislative Affairs committee.

Saab did not attend any of the three Senate meetings this year, so he was forced to vacate the position. The Student Senate attendance policy does not allow for more than two absences.

âÄúBasically, my participation in MSA was beholden to my position as a student senator,âÄù Saab said.

After being re-elected as an at-large representative, he was also reinstated as Legislative Affairs committee director. Saab said he was out of his post for âÄúabout eight hours.âÄù

In a joint initiative with the student senate, MSA passed a resolution in support of a teaching award for the instructors who receive high ratings in course evaluation forms.

A list of the top 30 percent of faculty, academic professionals and teaching assistants would be available to students through the OneStop course search tool, which already identifies instructors who have received other awards.

Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Arlene Carney said a similar award is very prestigious for instructors at the University of Illinois.
Ratings will likely relate to the first four questions on evaluations, which cover instructor performance issues like whether he or she was prepared for class and treated students with respect, Carney said.

This alternative to the Rate My Professor website would give positive re-enforcement to instructors and show students that the evaluations
are actually used.

All ratings, including the poor ones, will not be released because it is private personnel information that is used in determining promotions and tenure decisions, Carney said. She added that students are often surprised to hear that student evaluations are used.

MSA lost quorum after passing the student evaluations resolution. Some items, including the Legislative Certificate Program platform, will have to wait until next semester.

Student lobbyists are preparing to head to the Capitol in January when the legislative session opens, but since their platform was not approved by forum, action may have to wait.

In addition, a bylaw change that will require appointed officers who receive a stipend to attend forum and give reports to the body is on the books for next semester.

The proposed bylaw change states that although these positions are appointed by executives, they should consider the âÄúwhole MSA forum as their employer.âÄù

The first forum of next semester will be Jan. 25.