MSA finalizes selection of executive board members

by Bryce Haugen

The Minnesota Student Association elected new leaders Tuesday at its final meeting of the school year.

At the annual special-elections meeting, next year’s MSA Forum members chose the group’s new executive board. The 10-member board, along with Forum members elected in last month’s All-Campus Elections, will take office July 1.

Before Tuesday’s votes, outgoing President Tom Zearley offered his final remarks as MSA’s leader. Zearley said he hoped next year’s MSA “(goes) way beyond where we went this year so we can best represent students.”

But Zearley will remain active in MSA because a special selection committee reappointed him as one of three MSA representatives to the Board of Regents. Outgoing Vice President Amy Jo Pierce and Forum member Steve Wang will be the other two representatives.

Zearley said he reapplied for the position because experience is helpful in a job with such a “learning curve.”

“It’s going to take the new members awhile to figure (the job) out,” he said.

Zearley, who will technically be a member of the Forum, said he will seek an exemption from Forum attendance policy so he can focus on school and stay out of the new president’s way.

After Zearley spoke, members re-elected Forum speaker Kevin Wendt. Wendt faced a challenge from Forum member Monica Heth. MSA President-elect Emily Serafy Cox wrote in an e-mail Monday that Heth is one of the candidates who “share (the progressive caucus’s) vision for MSA and what MSA should be working on.”

The Forum elected every candidate listed in Serafy Cox’s e-mail except Wendt and former Forum member Zeb Anderson, who was ineligible to run.

Several Forum members said they were concerned about how the progressive caucus – a coalition of liberal Forum members formed after last month’s elections – might divide MSA along political lines.

“(MSA) doesn’t use a party system. I dislike the idea that we’re trying to create two parties,” said Rick Orr, outgoing MSA Academics and Services Committee chairman, who lost his re-election bid.

MSA Vice President-elect Colin Schwensohn said the caucus, which has met once, isn’t a party but a place “where you have like-minded people coming together and organizing.”

“It’s not exclusive,” he said.

Forum member Nathan Wanderman said candidate endorsements happen most years, but the progressives were particularly effective this year. He said they picked a particularly worthy pool of candidates.

But Forum member Aaron B. Solem said the new Executive Committee is underexperienced and lacks much-needed institutional memory.

“They’re going to have a tough road ahead of them in the next year,” he said.

Next year’s executive board members will include: Academics and Services Committee Chairwoman Jasmine Austin, Campus Relations Committee Chairwoman Kelly Kubacki, Diversity Education Fund Committee Chairman Max Page, Facilities and Housing Committee Chairwoman Katie White, Legislative Affairs Committee Chairwoman Christina Baldwin and at-large representative Robert Olson.

The Forum also elected Orr, Nic Allyn and Will Kusch as Student Senate Consultative Committee members.