Rebecca Czaplewski

The desire to break with tradition caused a division among some Minnesota Student Association members Monday afternoon.
Some MSA members declared the group’s student services fees request “unconstitutional” because it wasn’t presented to the association’s forum — as it had been in years past — before MSA President Nikki Kubista and Vice President Erin Ferguson brought the 1999-2000 request to the committee Monday.
The request was similar to MSA’s fees request in years past.
“The forum was left out in the dark,” said MSA Speaker Ben Bowman. “Three or four people made this decision. This is not a proposal of a MSA collective.”
Bowman’s problem with the request wasn’t the items on it but the process through which it was developed.
Kubista and Ferguson pointed out the vague wording of the constitution as the reason behind the debate. They said MSA members were notified that the request was being drafted and all members were invited to add their input. They said most members didn’t respond.
“Nobody really stepped up to be included, but people were aware of what was going on,” Ferguson said.
Kubista maintained the request was constitutional even though it didn’t go through forum.
“We were advised that it didn’t need to go through forum, and we took that to heart,” Kubista said.
The request included a fees proposal for the Diversity Events Fund and the Council of College Boards, both organizations that receive financial support from MSA.
Brett Rowlett, co-chairman of the diversity fund, said fees awarded to their group are essential in making the University a more diverse campus. The fund hosts special events with an emphasis on diversity and awards grants to student organizations. Rowlett noted the importance of the fund through a recent study that put the University last in minority enrollment out of Big Ten schools.
“We feel so strongly that the DEF program is a contribution to campus,” Rowlett said.
MSA also addressed goals members hope to attain with the help of student service fees, such as increasing voter turnout in MSA elections. The current voter turnout is less than 5 percent; members plan to put questions that concern students on the ballots as a way to give more students reasons to vote.