MSA introduces two new programs

The programs will represent student interests at the state Legislature.

by Jenna Wilcox

The University of Minnesota Student Association is taking the first step toward getting student voices into the state Capitol.

On Tuesday, MSA introduced two new programs âÄî Twin Cities Advocacy Corp and the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition, which would represent students and their interests at the state Legislature.

The two programs will split the job of representing the University community. TCAC will focus on the Twin Cities campus and will be a subdivision of MSLC, which will cover all five University campuses and the Graduate and Professional Student Association. TCAC will act as a âÄúfilterâÄù between MSA and the Capitol.

MSA already runs the Legislative Certificate Program to lobby at the Capitol, but the organization feels that the program has not been successful enough.

âÄúWhat weâÄôve seen in the past is that [the current programs] arenâÄôt working very well âÄì both in the leadership positions and also what each group was supposed to be doing itself,âÄù said Chris Tastad, director of the Twin Cities Advocacy Corps and chairman of the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition said.âÄù

The main goals for the TCAC will be promoting legislatorsâÄô awareness about MSA and getting student input, Tastad said.

Tastad also said the program will help to develop stronger relationships with the coordinate campuses in the University system. He interviewed applicants to the program after the MSA forum.

This collective coalition is not a new concept. MSLC existed 10 years ago, but the group fell apart in 1999 due to multiple problems with bureaucracy and finances, Tastad said.

âÄúWeâÄôve taken these things into consideration and revamped it,âÄù Tastad said.

Each campus will be responsible for funding its own chapter of the program. $500 was approved at the last forum as âÄúseed moneyâÄù to plan out future expenses.

âÄúI have a feeling we wonâÄôt use all that money,âÄù Tastad said.

Elections galore

After getting word that another former at-large representative decided not to return to their position this year, MSA held an election to fill the vacancy. Paul Rudeen, Mary Zahurones and Tim Jackson  âÄî who had lost the election at a previous forum âÄî were nominated. The three freshmen had similar goals involving outreach and freshmen awareness. But Zahurones won the election with a total of 15 votes.

âÄúI want to let freshmen know that weâÄôre here,âÄù she said. âÄúI didnâÄôt know about MSA when I came [to the University].âÄù

Another election was held after a failed attempt at filling both Student Senate Consultative Committee seats at the Sep. 8 forum. But senate members remained uninterested and it wasnâÄôt until Becky Mohn spoke up that the forum finally had a nomination.

âÄúIf no one else does it, I will,âÄù Mohn said.

After her nomination, Mohn was quickly elected and the forum broke into applause with relief.

Fans rule

At the forum, MSA voted to formally adopt the Big Ten Fan Code for the students at the University, which created guidelines for fan behavior at games.

The code was created at the Big Ten Sportsmanship and Spirit Conference held at the University of Iowa in July 2011, and was adopted by the Association of Big Ten Students in August. The association encouraged all Big Ten schools to adopt the new code.