MSA reaffirms stadium fee support

An on-campus stadium would not be academic in nature, but extracurricular.

by JP Leider

After heated debate and multiple amendments, members of the Minnesota Student Association reaffirmed their commitment to supporting a mandatory student stadium fee at their meeting Tuesday.

The original intention of the proposed position statement was to call for any student fee supporting the stadium to be optional.

The position statement would have mimicked one the Graduate and Student Professional Assembly issued at its September meeting.

The authors of the bill, MSA President Emily Serafy Cox and Rep. Christina Baldwin, said they brought it to Forum’s attention because of a possible legislative session that would deal with an on-campus football stadium.

After several amendments and much discussion, the provision calling for stadium fees to become optional was removed, among others.

Lynn Holleran, an associate to the Office of the President, expressed concern about making a stadium fee optional.

“The challenge with an opt-out fee is that we couldn’t issue debt because we wouldn’t know (funding levels) year to year,” she said.

Forum member Rick Orr echoed Holleran’s sentiments.

“They can’t ask for money they don’t know they have,” he said. “An opt-out fee is just not going to happen.”

Also, Orr said if MSA called for an opt-out stadium fee and the University didn’t comply, it would “make us look less effective.”

MSA Vice President Colin Schwensohn supported the idea of an opt-out fee.

He said that because an on-campus stadium would not be academic in nature but extracurricular, having an opt-out fee would be a good course of action.

“With the exorbitant rates of tuition increases, we need to watch where we charge students. Any additional fee is something for serious debate,” he said.

After more deliberation, MSA passed the update position statement 17-11-0, which said MSA would support the University’s request to the state for an on-campus stadium if officials set student contributions to a maximum of $50 per semester and that the contribution would be called a “Stadium Fee” both officially and in non-official situations.

The term “Stadium Fee,” has been in contention during the planning process of the stadium.

Some University officials have argued that since there will be a non-stadium benefits package associated with the $50-per-semester fee, it would be better termed a “University Fee.”

Serafy Cox said she disagrees.

“It makes sense for it to be called a stadium fee because that’s what it is,” she said.

Serafy Cox also said that she would like to see significant student oversight in the administration of the fee because it won’t go through the standard fees process.

Phil Esten, special assistant to the athletics director, said after the MSA meeting that the University is not currently planning for an opt-out contingency.

He said the University is placing emphasis on a special session.

“Right now, we’re putting our time and effort into getting our bill passed (at the Legislature),” he said.