MSA lacks votes to act on GC

The resolution called for keeping current enrollment levels and program length.

JP Leider

Opponents of the General College closure are regrouping after the Minnesota Student Association narrowly voted down at its most recent meeting a resolution opposing part of the General College’s transition into a department next year.

The resolution, which failed by two votes, 20-21, with two abstentions, would have called for maintaining current General College enrollment levels and program length. Current plans call for an eventual enrollment reduction ” from admitting 875 students each fall to 475. Also, program length will be reduced from two years to one year.

Although the failure of the resolution was a disappointment, it did reopen discussion about General College, said Lily Shank, an officer in the General College Truth Movement and member of the equal access coalition.

“People have told us the decisions are set in stone, but ever since MSA has brought it up, people have been talking about it,” she said.

Shank said she saw the resolution as an endorsement by the undergraduate student body, and its passage would have caused University President Bob Bruininks and other administrators to “sit up and listen.”

During last week’s meeting, Forum members debated, sometimes fiercely, both for and against the resolution.

Resolution author and MSA Vice President Colin Schwensohn said the debate was adamant and involved, but that it probably didn’t help uninformed Forum members make a decision.

“People saw the (resolution) as a referendum on the General College and its existence,” Schwensohn said.

However, the resolution dealt only with the transition, he said, and was not meant to rehash last year’s position statement in which MSA voted to oppose the closure of the General College.

“A lot of people felt that we need to admit people based on merit only,” Schwensohn said. “More than that, some people feel the community college system is in place to help students who wouldn’t meet criteria otherwise, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.”

Schwensohn said he will pursue other avenues in affecting General College’s transition now that the resolution has been defeated.

“People feel very strongly about diversity on campus and access to a land-grant University; that’s an emotionally evocative idea,” he said.

A contentious vote

Some controversy followed the close vote, as a new senator representing the General College was unable to cast his vote.

After some restructuring in the University Senate, the General College now has one student senator and one alternate. Student senators are granted membership in MSA Forum.

However, until the University Senate notifies MSA of the new senators, they have no voting privileges, said Speaker of Forum Kevin Wendt.

The General College e-mailed the name of its new senator, Nick Wilson, to the University Senate in the early afternoon the day of the vote, which then was relayed to Wendt.

However, Wendt said he did not check his e-mail until after Forum.

“General office policy is that if you want to be added, you have to give a reasonable amount of time ” I usually tell people the day before,” he said.

Although a vote from the General College senator could have brought about a tie, the resolution still would have failed since it lacked majority support from Forum members.