In final forum, MSA gets set for summer

The group approved a summer budget and gave an update on its delayed Renter’s Survey.

Blair Emerson

In its final forum of the school year, the Minnesota Student Association unanimously passed its summer budget.

It also discussed progress on its survey of University of Minnesota student renters and elected new leadership for next year.

Incoming MSA President Joelle Stanger said the forum hasn’t voted on the summer budget in past years, but she wanted to change that.

“Really, this is putting agency into forum’s hands to dictate where the funds over the summer go,” she said.

One of the largest summer budget allocations was $4,000 for MSA to host Welcome Week activities.

Most of MSA’s budget comes from student services fees funding, and the group was recommended more than $161,000 in funding for 2014-15.

MSA also allocated $4,600 to pilot a volunteer financial planning program, which will provide peer-to-peer assistance.

The summer budget also provided $500 to continue MSA’s promotion of U-Swap.org, an alternative textbook exchange website.

“We did a little bit of [promotion] this spring, but we’d like to push again in the fall to let [students] know that this is a service that they can use to swap their textbooks,” Stangler said.

Renter’s Survey

MSA member Gretchen Buechler gave an update on the association’s Renter’s Survey, which hasn’t been published in years.

The survey started in 2004 as a way to measure properties’ safety, landlords and locations, but MSA put it on pause for redevelopment.

With the results, MSA members hope to create a revamped website to help students find off- and on-campus housing.

“We’re trying to create a website to host [the] Renter’s Survey and its results so people can learn about different rental properties,” Buechler said.

Elections

The forum Tuesday also held elections for several new leadership spots.

Current MSA Vice President Fiona Cummings was elected to be the speaker of the forum next year. In that role, she’ll preside over all MSA forums.

“I really want to make forum more useful,” she said.

To do this, Cummings said she wants to reach out to more University administrative offices and further utilize MSA’s student group representatives.

Abeer Syedah was elected to be next year’s ranking at-large representative. She got her start in MSA as an intern and has since worked on a number of issues, including the preferred name policy.

In her new role, she said she hopes to boost MSA’s outreach to the student body as a whole.

MSA also elected two new committee directors for next year.

The new grants committee director will be Henry Benson. The director of the facilities, housing and transit committee will be Chase Taylor.

Two directors were re-elected for next year: Ryan Hedblom will lead the student outreach and engagement committee, and Valkyrie Jensen will head the university policies and student concerns committee.