Adam Miller and Jill Sanders have diverse interests and backgrounds, but they see themselves as a team that can provide great balance for the Minnesota Student Association.
Presidential candidate Miller, a Carlson School of Management junior, and running mate Sanders, a College of Liberal Arts senior, want the association to be more interactive with students, rather than operating as a forum for student groups and senators.
Besides just being a voice for students, the candidates want increased communication within the organization as well as outside the forum walls. The student government should listen to students but also provide information for them, Sanders said.
“It should be a place where all students can get information and all students can get resources,” she said.
“Not just the ones that want to be politicians,” Miller added.
The candidates, who are endorsed by the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils, also want to link the resources available with the student group to other organizations around campus.
“MSA has the potential to provide that networking and resources to connect different groups that might feel similar about issues,” Miller said. “There is a great potential for that.”
He added that being a leader is about being able to deal with a group and put a positive spin on the group’s work. It’s not about lecturing and only finding mistakes.
Miller has been a member of the forum for two years, serving on the legislative affairs committee where he met with regents and legislators. He was also a member of Middlebrook Hall council.
Sanders said her leadership experience comes from a grassroots perspective. As president of the Asian-American Student Cultural Center, she collaborates with other organizations to work on issues and projects.
Miller said he would like to establish a lobbying group for University students to work with the Student Legislative Coalition, a student lobby group for the University’s Twin Cities and coordinate campuses.
About a year ago, the MSA forum passed a resolution to sever all ties with the coalition. The resolution stated that it was unfair for each campus to have two votes on the coalition’s board when the Twin Cities campus gives significantly more money to the group. However, then-president Helen Phin vetoed the bill.
“There are some unique Twin Cities issues,” Miller said. “That is the point, not to replace the SLC, but to compliment it on the issues that are important to students in the Twin Cities.”
Creating an Internet cafe for students in Coffman Union is also on the to-do list of the candidates. Miller and Sanders said by meeting with committees planning the renovation, they could create a casual atmosphere where students can access the Internet.
Sanders said she also wants to organize a separate tenure committee consisting entirely of students that could write recommendations to University tenure committees.
“No one understands the teaching abilities of an instructor as well as the students do,” Miller said.
Sanders said that even though it has no binding authority, the student association is powerful because it is the students’ voice. If students have an issue, they should be able to approach the student government to receive support.
“Student government is about students bringing up the agenda,” she said. “I don’t think forum members should set the agenda.”
A lawsuit filed by five students against the Board of Regents asserting that mandatory student service fees are unconstitutional is an example of an issue that should be debated in the forum, Miller said. The courts might make the ultimate decision, but a posture by the students could affect the approach the University takes.
Taking a position on the lawsuit is an important reason for the existence of MSA, Miller added.
“If we don’t say anything, (administrators) are going to assume what we think,” Miller said.