New MSA of icers sworn in at public ceremony

by Emily Babcock

For the first time in more than a decade the new Minnesota Student Association president and vice president held an inauguration ceremony.
President Nikki Kubista and Vice President Erin Ferguson addressed a group of about 75 people Thursday on Coffman Union Plaza after being sworn in by former MSA Forum speaker Kristian Elverum. Elverum also swore in Ben Bowman as the new speaker of the Forum.
“This represents the end of campaigning, and now it is time to start working,” Ferguson said.
Kubista emphasized her commitment to follow through with her campaign promises and change the association’s reputation of “kids playing politics.”
Natala Menezes, a campaign adviser, said the public inauguration was necessary to show the student body their student government is approachable.
“I think when we ran the campaign, we were about not making MSA behind closed doors,” said Menezes, a College of Liberal Arts senior. “Even if students are walking by, they hear that we are talking about things like tuition.”
Former president Jigar Madia addressed the audience by summing up his term and wishing the new administration well.
Madia said his term was peppered with successful campaign promises like creating U-Corps and organizing a gubernatorial debate. However, he said his term lacked the mobilization of students.
“This is the greatest challenge for Nikki and Erin,” Madia said. “But I believe they have new ideas and they can positively change the student government for years to come.”
Kubista said she is most excited to start working on the tuition issue. She will be attending the Board of Regents open forum meeting at the end of May to present a petition demanding a lower tuition hike.
“Students are in the middle of getting ready for finals and maybe don’t have time to rally in the streets,” Kubista said. “But student government does.”
Kubista suggested that students can organize and support issues like they did the 1970s.
Sarah Laemmle, a CLA senior who attended the ceremony, said the MSA pair shouldn’t have a problem reaching out to student concerns.
“I feel like they do listen to what students have to say,” she said.
Organizing forum meetings for next fall is a priority, Ferguson said. Instead of just asking students to approach MSA about concerns, it would be more effective for the association to organize meetings with specific issues like child care or off-campus housing, Ferguson said.
Inauguration festivities will end Saturday with a potluck gala to introduce newly elected forum members to other campus leaders.