MSA: A voice of the students

A Minnesota Daily editorial argued MSA needs to change the way it interacts with the student body. One MSA rep. disagrees.

Recently, The Minnesota DailyâÄôs Editorial Board criticized the Minnesota Student Association, the undergraduate student government, claiming we must change the way we interact with students and administration. The Board also incorrectly suggested that MSA is ineffectual and has been unable to influence the administration on key issues like tuition here at the University. According to the Editorial Board, the administration goes ahead with their decisions with little regard for the views of the MSA. The Editorial BoardâÄôs opinion is not only unfortunate, itâÄôs wholly incorrect. The student government here is unlike other school governments that share the constitutional ability to make binding decisions. However, those schools also have bureaucratic tendencies like more branches of government and political parties that bog down the entire cause of students. The Minnesota Student Association and students altogether simply cannot afford to waste time or be slowed down with bureaucracy and more administrative games. Unlike cultural centers or other student groups at the University, we are charged with the difficult task of representing the fourth largest student body in the country, which has remarkable breadth and diversity. But even then, these student leaders have risen to the occasion, despite the Editorial BoardâÄôs empty mockery. Regarding tuition, MSA made huge strides this year when we passed a resolution in favor of capping tuition increases for the next two years. This newspaper ran the story on the front page. KSTP-TV News and Minnesota Public Radio also covered us. The University of Minnesota coordinate campuses adopted the resolution, as did the Student Senate. Gov. Tim Pawlenty also considered it in writing his State of the State speech in January. This very Editorial Board encouraged the efforts of MSA and their work with tuition back in October (one wonders what changed their minds). These achievements and the publicity they received force the administration to be attentive to the studentsâÄô stance. That is progress on behalf of students. That is direct impact on policy. Now, if students were to believe the Editorial Board, all those accomplishments are void because we have no way to enforce their decisions. The purpose of MSA seems to be misunderstood. The student government here acts as an advocate or a voice for the students, not some mock parliament. So as with all conversations, no matter how loud one may speak, the other side can still not listen. So if the administration acts in opposition to the voice of the student body, does that not reflect more on the administration than the students? Saying improvement is needed is rather obvious and only natural for any sort of government body or student group. But calling for us to change the way we interact with students and administration is conveniently vague and unhelpful. Being an advocate, MSA ensures that the student voice stands untainted by being yet another administrative power. Perhaps the path to hold even more sway with the students and administration is to have MSA encourage their fellow students at the Daily to remember the difference between a zealous watchdog and an inhibiting peer, âÄúlest student voices go unheard by the administration.âÄù Paul Buchel is an at-large representative for the Minnesota Student Association. Please send comments to [email protected]