Disputes remain as MSA chooses Fees Committee Selectors

Peter Johnson

While every student pays student fees, where the money goes might often seem a mystery. Many groups that receive student fees funding are specifically identified on the fees statement. However, there are many more groups whose funding is obscure.
The University Student Services Fees Committee decides how the money is distributed for these groups, which range from the University Young Women and various student cultural centers to the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.
Last week’s Minnesota Student Association forum meeting centered on the approval of nominees for the Fees Committee Selectors — students who choose other students to decide how to fund these groups.
The MSA used a new method to select Fees Committee Selector nominees this year. Before, they were selected by the president and vice president, but now are chosen by a new subcommittee and approved by the MSA Forum.
The two candidates — Catherine Pfleuger, a German and geography junior, and former MSA presidential candidate and previous Student Senate vice chairman Aaron Street — participated in a question-and-answer session focusing on their qualifications.
Pfleuger addressed issues of diversity, involving fees distribution among student groups. A lawsuit, dismissed in March, was filed to dispute the University’s mandatory student fees policy and some student groups whose political stances are sometimes considered controversial.
“I believe diversity is important,” Pfleuger said. “I’ve been involved with Diversity Connections, where you get together and discuss issues like diversity.”
Street previously worked on the joint MSA/GAPSA task force which enacted the change.
Outlining his qualifications, Street said, “It is important for someone involved in the reform process to see things through.”
Student Rep. Jason Vorbeck said, “We began this process last May — there were a lot of bumps in the road but we ended up with two very strong candidates.”
President Matt Clark supported both of the candidates, and said the new selection process was an improvement.
“The critical aspect is that we developed a process that we think is fair and a dialogue which allows others to talk to the candidates,” Clark said.
Some MSA members thought the process had major flaws and that the pool of applicants was limited.
“People who are not in MSA and who aren’t friends with someone in the Executive Committee wouldn’t have known about it,” said MSA Senator Tim Lee.
At-large Rep. Rebecca Stempfler agreed.
“While (the Forum) may know that they’re choosing selectors, the campus at large doesn’t know what’s going on,” she said. “We can’t be limited to people who are our friends.”
The two nominees were approved by a vote of 29 in favor to five against, with five abstentions.

Pete Johnson covers student life and welcomes comments at [email protected]