A Campus Campaign

The Minnesota Daily MSA Voters' Guide 2005

;Amy Jo Pierce & Katie White
by Stephanie Gregory
[email protected]

With experience, knowledge, and dedication, Amy Jo Pierce and Katie White say they’re ready to lead the Minnesota Student Association.

Pierce, a political science junior, is running for MSA president. White, a political science sophomore, is running for vice president.

Pierce began her involvement with MSA during her first year at the University. During her sophomore year, she advanced to vice chairwoman of the Campus Relations Committee. Her MSA involvement has been enjoyable, she said.

“It has helped me to have a better understanding of important issues facing students as well as develop a relationship with many leaders within the University community,” she said. “I think this brings to the table a lot of qualities that the president needs.”

White is also the Residence Hall Association president. In her first year at the University, she was involved in the Residence Hall Association and MSA as a liaison. She said she is delighted about running with Pierce.

“Amy has done such a great job taking up initiatives and creating something new with it,” White said. “And I desire to take on the same role.”

The candidates said they have many goals they would like to see implemented next year, with increasing student involvement in shared governance with the University as the most important.

If students are more involved in student issues, they won’t be in a reactive position when decisions are made, Pierce said.

“With this policy Ö students are always sitting on committees and making decisions about affecting student life, student services and student interests,” she said.

They also said they want to address tuition concerns, an appropriate student-benefits package for the proposed new stadium, the fees process, textbook prices and the University community.

Pierce and White said they’re ready with a plan of action for the issues and are optimistic they will make a difference.

“When students work together, they can accomplish so much,” White said.

In her personal life, White said, she has achieved a second-degree black belt in karate and loves to run and read nonfiction.

“Both give me a chance to have time to myself,” she said.

Pierce also pushes herself in many ways. She is on the Twin Cities Swim Team, has completed a triathlon and plans on competing in the North Mankato Triathlon and the Twin Cities Marathon this summer, she said.

Pierce and White said they do not always agree on every issue. But it helps to look at all views on issues, Pierce said.

They also believe this allows for more meaningful discussions, they said.

“We have a lot of good discussions on current events and disagree openly, but on student issues, we agree on what is best for students and are both dedicated to that,” Pierce said.

Rubens Feroz & Katy Tagudin
by Eddie Glenn
[email protected]

Rubens Feroz and Katy Tagudin said they plan to bring positive changes to the Minnesota Student Association that will still be felt years after they graduate.

Feroz, a finance junior, is running for MSA president. Tagudin, a political science sophomore, is running for vice president.

Feroz and Tagudin said that in the last few years, there has been a disconnect between MSA and undergraduates. The gap has gotten so severe that many students are unaware of what MSA does, the candidates said.

Feroz and Tagudin said they can close the gap and make MSA a powerful force at the University.

“Students don’t understand the magnitude of what MSA can be,” Tagudin said.

She and Feroz share a vision of MSA bringing together and working with students, college boards and administration to improve campus life, they said.

“The voice of MSA is supposed to mirror the voice of the students,” Feroz said.

Both candidates said MSA needs to reach out to students to represent them better.

The candidates shared ideas such as passing out fliers to all incoming first-year students to inform them of what MSA does. They said it is MSA’s responsibility to make itself available to everyone on campus.

“If you’re not happy with something on campus, you can go to MSA,” Tagudin said.

The candidates said MSA should also work with other student organizations and governing bodies, especially the college boards. Every college has one, but college board members do not have voices in the MSA Forum.

“If you have these college board presidents as voting members, they’re gonna care about what’s going on, and the MSA is gonna mean something to them,” Feroz said.

This idea would fundamentally change what MSA does, which Feroz and Tagudin said is what the University needs.

The candidates said the University administration needs to include students in making decisions.

“The students need to be able to hold the administration accountable,” Tagudin said.

She and Feroz also said the University needs to set attainable goals addressing issues students care about. These goals include improving off-campus housing.

Another goal is making the campus area safer, they said. The candidates plan to have MSA work with the University Police Department and extend the Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator run time to midnight, they said.

Also, the candidates said, the administration needs to commit to keeping college affordable. That means keeping tuition low and deferring costs of an on-campus stadium so the burden does not fall on students.

Feroz’s leadership experience and Katy’s fresh ideas will bring a balance to MSA.

Tagudin and Feroz said they want to give students “the best experience possible.”

Tom Meyer & Alex Newman
by Angela Gray
[email protected]

Changing the student fees process to give students more of a voice is a major focus for Tom Meyer and Alex Newman, who are running for Minnesota Student Association president and vice president, respectively.

Meyer is an Institute of Technology sophomore. Newman is a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts.

The team is well aware of the duties of MSA, Meyer said.

“Those duties revolve around distributing the University students’ money,” he said.

Meyer said he would like to change the current process to a neutral check-off system, in which students would decide which organizations and groups to give money to.

“The current system is wrong and unconstitutional. Students should have more of a voice,” Meyer said.

Meyer and Newman are active in campus groups and have the Campus Republicans’ endorsement.

Meyer is the Campus Republicans chairman and said he is very involved in campus politics. He said that he was surprised when he heard about how Student Services Fees are distributed and wanted to get involved.

“My goal for the upcoming year is to create clubs to sponsor student activities, like tailgating and other fun activities for the University,” Meyer said.

Newman is the vice president of Students for Family Values, a CLA senator and a member of the MSA committee that distributes the Diversity Education Fund money.

Newman said he has been working to organize a guest appearance by Michelle Easton, a conservative political activist.

Meyer is studying neuroscience, and Newman is studying philosophy and religious studies.

Meyer said the issues he and Newman are representing separate them from the other candidates.

“Few of the candidates are touching on the distribution of fees,” Meyer said. “The current fee system is unfair, and we want to save the University students’ money.”

Another major goal for MSA would be to spread awareness, because few students know what it is, Meyer said.

“When I was campaigning and talking to students around campus, it surprised me how much information students lacked about MSA,” he said.

Meyer and Newman said students should care about MSA because it is a representative of them and their money.

Meyer is a graduate of Appleton High School in Appleton, Wis. Newman is a graduate of North High School in Minneapolis.

Both said they are ready to stand up for students and accomplish their goals.

“I think both Alex and I have strong convictions on the main issues and similar futuristic views for MSA,” Meyer said.

Emily Serafy Cox & Colin Schwensohn
by Liala Helal
[email protected]

Tuition should be the top priority for student government, said Minnesota Student Association candidates Emily Serafy Cox and Colin Schwensohn.

Serafy Cox and her vice presidential running mate said students are hurt by the University’s increasing tuition costs. High tuition has made college less accessible for low-income students and has left many with huge debts after graduation, they said.

“We really want to champion this issue at the State Legislature, and we have a proven record of effectively lobbying representatives,” Schwensohn said.

He said the University can be a driving force in changing the “national trend of underfunding state higher-ed” because it is one of the largest undergraduate student bodies in the nation.

“MSA needs to take a strong stand on this issue, and it needs a strong leadership,” Schwensohn said.

Getting students to the Capitol to lobby for the University would have a large impact, Serafy Cox and Schwensohn said.

“If we don’t say anything, they’ll ignore us, and we can’t allow ourselves to be ignored,” Schwensohn said.

Serafy Cox is a fifth-year dance and women’s studies student originally from Madison, Wis. She is the MSA Legislative Affairs Committee chairwoman and helped organize Lobby Day at the State Capitol to urge more University funding.

Schwensohn, is a microbiology junior from Minneapolis. He is a College of Biological Sciences senator and is on the Student Senate Consultative Committee for the University Senate.

Serafy Cox said she thinks many people believe increasing tuition is inevitable. That attitude is what makes it occur, she said.

“If you don’t do something about it, of course it’s inevitable,” Serafy Cox said.

The candidates said they are also concerned about student housing.

They said housing conditions and affordability still need to improve. They also said they want to repeal a city ordinance that makes it illegal for two unrelated people not living in residence halls to share a bedroom.

They would also push for a U-Pass that all students receive, which would give them unlimited rides on Metro Transit buses, the candidates said. The idea could be integrated into student fees and would be very cheap because of how many would be purchased. The candidates also want to work with Metro Transit to increase routes around the area.

Serafy Cox and Schwenson said they want to change campus attitudes of apathy about MSA.

“If MSA starts working on tuition as its number one priority, more students will care about MSA,” Serafy Cox said.

Serafy Cox and Schwensohn said they want to make it clear to students that they are fully in support of General College.

“It’s there for a reason – it definitely serves its purpose,” Serafy Cox said. “Having a separate college is the only way to ensure access (for many minorities).”

The candidates are endorsed by University DFL, College Greens, Women’s Student Activist Collective and the Queer Student Cultural Center.

Kristen Denzer & Luis Garcia
by Derrick Biney
[email protected]

Improving the quality of services at the University is a main component of Kristen Denzer and Luis Garcia’s platform for MSA president and vice president, respectively.

Last year, Denzer voted for the Zearley-Pierce ticket, because the candidates promised to start a late-night bus on campus, and that program has not been put into effect, she said.

Garcia said, “We are sick of broken promises.”

He and Denzer hope to change that by expanding transportation services, Garcia said.

Denzer said, “We want to put the late-night bus into effect and extend the hours of the Washington Avenue (Bridge Circulator) to midnight. We want to extend the connector to reach 15th and Como, Washington and Huron, and add a stop at Appleby Hall.”

Denzer said she and Garcia want to continue to work on Project Lighthouse, a campuswide initiative designed to improve overall conditions at the University.

“We want to focus on the lighting issues and meal plans of Project Lighthouse,” Denzer said. “We want to be at the table when the University is making decisions that affect students.”

Both candidates spoke about increasing students’ awareness about MSA because of the organization’s involvement with the affairs of students.

“We are dedicated to working towards all of our goals,” Garcia said. “All of our goals are obtainable.”

Both candidates are political science and psychology students.

Denzer is a second-year student from Cottage Grove, Minn. She studied abroad in Mexico and took a test that gave her 15 credits for her language requirement.

Because she took classes during the summer, she will have enough credits to graduate early next year.

Denzer is also currently the chairwoman of the University Senate Student Affairs Committee and said she has enjoyed being a member of a Student Judicial Affairs committee that hears appeals from expelled students. Last semester, she was president of Habitat for Humanity.

In October, Denzer went to Michigan State University with MSA leaders to see how the student government works there.

Garcia is a fourth-year student from Aurora, Ill. He has been an orientation leader, undergraduate teaching assistant, undergraduate research assistant and is currently a legislative intern for the State Senate.

Garcia said his experiences have given him the ability to relate to people of diverse backgrounds, different ideas and different political views.

“We have so much experience beyond the University (of Minnesota),” Garcia said.

Garcia’s work with legislators has shown him that students have a great potential to be effective, he said.

“The student body needs to keep connected with the legislators,” Garcia said. “We need to maintain a constant presence at the Capitol.”

The candidates said they think they have what it takes to serve the student body.

“People say we are the outsiders’ campaign,” Garcia said. “Outsiders can bring in new ideas. MSA needs new blood, and that’s what we are.”