MSA makes changes for new school year

Committees met last week to brainstorm new events for students.

Cody Vanasse

The Minnesota Student Association committees held its first session of meetings last week, where they discussed new ways to better represent constituents and get students involved. The committees, which includes facilities, housing and transit; academics and services; Diversity Education Fund grants; and legislative affairs, met to determine what their plans and goals are for the current academic year. The committees hold separate meetings every other week, alternating with general assembly meetings with all of MSA. Facilities, housing and transit Aside from continuing discussions regarding rising U-Pass prices, facilities, housing and transit is focusing on reaching out to the community through the neighborhood liaison project. This project aims to increase positive relations between University students and their neighbors living in neighborhoods surrounding campus, primarily Marcy Holmes, SE Como, and Prospect Park. The committee hopes the liaison project will open communications between neighbors and fight the negative stereotype sometimes associated with college student renters. Academics and services The Web site Complain.umn.edu is academics and servicesâÄô newest initiative. The committee is encouraging students to âÄúcomplain like crazy,âÄù and the Web site would provide a forum for students to express their concerns with campus issues ranging from campus connectors to University Dining Services . The Web site would help eliminate the middleman in University complaints. Students would post their issues, and MSA representatives would scope the posts for trends, chair of academics and services Dustin Huibregtse said. The committee aims to have the Web site up and running before winter break. Another campaign on the docket for academics and services is a âÄúbe pozâÄù day to encourage students to be positive. âÄúWeâÄôre trying to change the way students look at health, student careers and what it means to be positive,âÄù Huibregste said. âÄúWe want people to look at the world with excitement, ready to take it on.âÄù The committee plans to partner with other student groups to expand the day, including exercise and nutrition themes, the âÄúbe poz pledge,âÄù and various activities to help relive stress and encourage positive thinking. The âÄúbe pozâÄù day is still in the planning stages, but is expected to take place sometime during the winter months, when bitter weather drags down studentsâÄô morale. Legislative affairs The legislative affairs committee is focusing on making legislators and lobbying more accessible to students. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA ) will be a large piece of legislation MSA will vote on and lobby for. Once MSA votes and takes a stance on the act, the legislative affairs committee hopes to rally students. âÄúWe need to see what students think about this instead of rich white guys in the Senate,âÄù sociology junior and chair of Legislative affairs Paul Buchel said. âÄú[Lobbying] is a way for students to be involved and informed, but itâÄôs a way for senators to be informed [about what students want] as well.âÄù Support the U Day , which happens annually in the spring, will also undergo some changes. Traditionally, the day has been divided between a rally at the state Capitol and lobbying legislators for student legislation and funding for the University. Based on student and faculty feedback, however, legislative affairs has shifted the focus this year to spend more time training students on lobbying and less time on rallying. âÄúIâÄôm excited to see what this year in MSA brings,âÄù MSA speaker of forum Mark Lewandowski said. âÄúWe are the student body government, and we want to help students have the best experience possible.âÄù