GAPSA might withdraw from student legislative lobby

Emily Ayshford

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly’s executive board proposed a resolution last week requesting GAPSA withdraw from the Student Legislative Coalition.

“Graduate and professional students are paying a tremendous amount of money, and they’re not seeing the benefits,” GAPSA President Chris Frazier said.

Frazier said the coalition, whose main goal is to provide students with a voice on legislative issues, has been ineffective for the past few years, and she thought students lobbied more effectively before the SLC was formed in the mid-1990s.

“Prior to 1994, it worked,” she said.

Frazier said the coalition, despite a budget of more than $100,000, has failed to educate students about legislative issues and candidates. She said more of their budget, which is funded by a refusable $3 student fee, goes toward rent and staffing.

Kevin Vogeltanz, an SLC representative from the University’s Morris campus, said he is not pleased with GAPSA’s resolution.

“We’d like to have GAPSA’s support,” he said. He agreed, however, that the SLC needs some “retooling” to see if it actually needs the budget it has.

“I’m an advocate of rebuilding and reorganizing, and I’m opposed to stripping it down and calling it quits,” Vogeltanz said. He blames member turnover and inexperience for the group’s difficulties.

Frazier said if GAPSA passes the resolution tonight, the group will carry out their obligations with the SLC until the end of the year because students have already paid for it.

Because GAPSA and the Minnesota Student Association have a joint resolution mandating if one of the two groups takes action on an issue the other must at least consider it, MSA will discuss GAPSA’s resolution at their upcoming forum Tuesday. Although MSA President Josh Colburn said he agrees with many of GAPSA’s complaints, he said he doesn’t know if MSA would also disband from the coalition.

Colburn also said MSA and GAPSA will form a joint committee to advocate for graduate students and undergraduate students at the Legislature. He said the committee would focus on issues affecting the Twin Cities campus, such as new buildings or a new football stadium.

However, both Colburn and Frazier said there should be some way all University campuses could be represented by a unified voice.

“We need something that allows us to talk about these issues, to lobby for these issues and to coordinate efforts between these campuses that doesn’t have us tied to finances and personnel,” Colburn said.