Proposed changes would alter MSA’s funding structure

Rebecca Czaplewski

The Minnesota Student Association’s student services fees request is a lesson in going back to the basics, mainly because it was based on MSA fee requests of years past.
The request, which was submitted to the fees committee in early January, will change the structure of how MSA allocates their funds, essentially running it like a nonprofit group rather than a club. MSA Vice President Erin Ferguson said this was the way MSA had structured their funds in years past.
MSA currently gets their funding from student services fees; the new request would supplement this money with grants from outside sources such as Coca-Cola. They will continue to ask for the same amount of student services fees. For the 1999-2000 school year, they requested $200,000.
“This is a return to the way the budget was the year before last,” Ferguson said adding that last year’s MSA President Jigar “Madia cut a lot of stipends and staff funding.”
Primarily written by Ferguson and MSA President Nikki Kubista, the request contains a major change in its increased allocation of funds to human resources in areas such as staffing fees and stipends. In turn, this will make MSA spend less on programming, forcing them to look at outside sources for funding of programs.
“We’re trying to shift out of program costs and into resources,” Kubista said. “This will leave us more time for fund-raising.”
The fees request also calls for increased stipend funding. This would allow more University students to be involved in MSA because of the stipend they would receive.
YeeLeng Hang, student government consultant, said the nonprofit label probably won’t make much of a difference as MSA and most student organizations usually file for tax-exempt status. MSA has been tax exempt since 1954.
“It doesn’t impact their status,” said Hang. “But it may have a difference on how they allocate their appropriations.”
The MSA forum is currently debating the constitutionality of its fees request. Ferguson and Kubista presented the request directly to the fees committee, rather than the traditional route of first presenting the request to forum.