MSA presidential candidates debate

MSA candidates talked affordability and student involvement.

Finance and applied economics junior Adam Motzko speaks on his goals for if he is elected Minnesota Student Association President on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at Coffman Union.

Emily Dunker

Finance and applied economics junior Adam Motzko speaks on his goals for if he is elected Minnesota Student Association President on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at Coffman Union.

Cody Nelson

About 50 students crowded into  Coffman Union’s President’s Room  on Tuesday night.

While there, they heard four Minnesota Student Association presidential candidates discuss what they think is the main issue for University of Minnesota students: affordability.

The candidates had varying plans to address tuition rates and make the University more affordable for students, like creating a central textbook exchange system where students can buy and sell used textbooks.

Mike Schmit said he would set up a “more efficient” system than what’s currently available online by creating an official system as MSA president.

“We want to return the value to students by connecting students,” Schmit said.

Mick Hedberg took it a step further and said he also wants to set up exchanges for other commonly used student items, like electronics.

Adam Motzko, the only candidate who doesn’t have MSA experience, said the group hasn’t done a good job of advocating for students in the past.

“A lot of candidates have been in MSA for quite a while,” he said. “It’s time for a fresh face.”

To address student issues, Motzko said he wants more involvement with University administration.

“We need to have access to the president of the University,” he said. “We can’t pit ourselves against the administration.”

The candidates also talked about the importance of getting more of the student body involved with student government.

Schmit said last year’s 15 percent turnout in the MSA presidential election was “abysmal.”

He said MSA needs to offer new resources other than grants to student groups to help reach out to students.

“We need to go to students, student groups and talk to people,” he said.

Colter Heirigs also said more student group engagement and social media use would help MSA with outreach efforts.

“We need to put students at the forefront of all the decisions we make,” he said.

Heirigs said he wants MSA to become a “student group startup” and offer more benefits to MSA members.

Hedberg said he would establish an online forum for students to give their thoughts to MSA.

“In order for advocacy to be effective,” he said, “we have to speak for all students.”

Hedberg said MSA spends about $33,000 on stipends, which he wants to reduce.

“That’s excessive,” he said.