Kaler, other admins hear student concerns at MSA forum

At the last forum of the semester, Kaler talks tuition, transfer students.

by Jenna Wilcox

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler made his first appearance at a Minnesota Student Association forum Tuesday night, which gave many students the opportunity to ask questions and learn about his plans for the future of the University.

Student representatives pressed him on recent changes to transfer admissions, tuition increases for students in the Carlson School of Management and asked for advice as student government leaders.

MSA also hosted several other top University administrators for a town hall meeting where students, even those who arenâÄôt involved in MSA, could ask questions.

Becky Mohn, an MSA representative who transferred from Duluth in 2009, took the opportunity to ask Kaler about the new cut on transfer students.

âÄúI see it as something the University should take a second look at,âÄù she said. âÄúA lot of students could have started out here, but theyâÄôre trying to save money.âÄù

Mohn believes she probably wouldnâÄôt have gotten into the University if the cap was in place before she transferred because she came with few credits.

But Mohn is graduating in May and said she considers her time at the University a success. She has been involved in student government, greek life and other campus leadership opportunities since transferring.

Kaler said the key for transfer admissions is looking at each application carefully to determine projected success. After hearing MohnâÄôs list of extracurricular activities at the University, he said he thought her record would have projected success.

âÄúItâÄôs probably unfair of me to say if you have a small number of credits you wonâÄôt [be successful] but the numbers show that,âÄù he said.

Forum Speaker Drew Horwood had concerns about the new initiative to increase tuition by $2,000 in the Carlson School of Management by 2015.

A Carlson student himself, Horwood said he wondered if splitting tuition by college would accurately reflect the cost of attendance at each college, or if it will have negative repercussions resulting in a âÄúfree for allâÄù of colleges increasing fees.

Kaler said while he believes the increase will lead to additional conversations about using this model for other colleges, no other college has come forward yet. The money is also specifically for hiring additional faculty to teach Carlson students, so he said he didnâÄôt see it as the beginning of a trend.

âÄúWeâÄôre the only Big Ten school that doesnâÄôt charge a differential tuition for programs,âÄù he said. âÄúThat means the Carlson school is at a disadvantage compared to other Big Ten competitors.âÄù

StudentsâÄô concerns

This year was the first time MSA merged the annual Student Town Hall with a regular forum. The meeting acts as a special concerns forum where students participate in a Q&A with various figures from the University.

Guests included Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for student affairs, James Turman, director of Recreational Sports and Denny Olsen, director of Student Unions and Activities.

Turman responded to inquiries about a new recreation facility on the West Bank. With about 13,000 students living near that part of campus, he said he has been receiving many emails asking about another center.

Turman said his goal is to pre-design the building next semester and try to get approval. However, the majority of the money for the project will have to be fundraised.

One student took the opportunity to inform Rinehart about her difficulties getting in contact with the vice provost regarding her concerns with disability services.

Rinehart apologized for the circumstances and recommended she see him after the meeting.

âÄúWe try to do our best in responding to students and I would hope thatâÄôs not the experience most students have with our services,âÄù he said.

Colter Heirigs asked Olsen about transportation concerns he and other students have experienced since the bus stop at Coffman Union closed.

Before light-rail construction began, the Coffman Union bus stop was the second most used stop in the Twin Cities, according to Olsen.

He told the forum there have been talks with Parking and Transportation Services to figure out what will happen in conjunction with the light rail. He said the buses will return to that area of campus before construction is completed, but they are not sure when.