MSA amends bylaws to tighten spending rules

by Amber Kispert

Much like the national government, the student government doesn’t always agree on everything. The president sees something one way, and a representative sees it another.

After much debate, the Minnesota Student Association passed an amendment to their bylaws at Tuesday’s forum stating that any expenditure exceeding $500 needs to be submitted in writing to the executive board for approval.

Nathan Olson, MSA representative to the Board of Regents, presented an initial amendment that any expenditure over $250 needs to be presented to the executive board.

Currently, any expenditure over $1000 is presented to the forum for approval, and the addition of this amendment will help increase transparency, Nathan Olson said.

“It’s going to help us know exactly where our money is being spent,” he said. “We want to make sure that we are using our funding properly.”

Stephanie Payne, chairwoman of the Academics and Services Committee, suggested to MSA that it change the amount from $250 to $500.

Another reason for the proposal of this amendment to the bylaws was to get on the Student Services Fees Committee’s good side, Nathan Olson said.

“It will look good to the fees committee because they are always on our case about our spending,” he said.

Julia Krieger, grants chairwoman for the Diversity Education Fund, said she supported the proposed amendment because the more transparent MSA is, the more trust it will receive from the fees committee.

MSA lost a significant portion of their funding this year because they were not as transparent as they could have been.

“The fees committee loves lots of documentation, and lots of transparency,” Payne said.

MSA President Emma Olson and Vice President Ross Skattum were not in favor of the change.

“We always let people know what we are spending money on,” Skattum said. “It seems like an unnecessary step at this time.”

Emma Olson said an amendment requiring approval for spending exceeding $500 is superfluous.

“If I didn’t spend a dime, I would be happy,” she said. “I’m not here to spend money, I’m here to advocate for the students.”

Skattum said he feels MSA should trust them to spend the money wisely and not add an additional step to the process.

Records of MSA’s spending are always available for view, which is why Emma Olson and Skattum said they don’t see the need for the bylaw amendment.

“Anybody at anytime can look and see what is going on,” Skattum said.

Nathan Olson said he agreed with the president and vice president on that point, but added that not everyone is made aware of the spending.

“We have things documented, but the executive board is not made aware of those expenditures on a day-to-day basis,” he said.