Minnesota Student Association holds first meeting of the year

During the meeting, MSA approved its budget, cutting from some areas.

JP Leider

In its first meeting of the academic year, the Minnesota Student Association approved a roughly $170,000 budget, up from $147,400 last year.

Although MSA received $15,000 less in Student Services Fees than in the previous year, a large rollover allowed for the increased budget.

Forum members signed off on $30,000 in seed money for a community service concert, $55,000 for grants, $8,000 for transportation initiatives and about $25,000 for stipends and salaries.

They also sliced several budgets – namely from the neighborhood initiatives, lobbying and $4,000 for a conference.

MSA President Max Page said such cuts are misleading.

Last year, Page said, MSA spent only $78 of the $1,000 it budgeted for neighborhood initiatives.

“The money is still there; it has gone up in the form of (the community service concert),” he said.

Page said the cuts to the lobbying budget are necessary – MSA is shifting to a more frequent, smaller-group form of lobbying, rather than relying solely on Lobby Day.

One of the budget items debated at Tuesday’s meeting concerned the $10,578 “Other Projects” fund.

The fund is supposed to be amorphous, Page said, to allow for funding initiatives proposed by Forum members later in the year.

MSA used more than $4,500 of the $7,650 budgeted last year for “Other Projects.”

MSA Vice President Monica Heth said MSA didn’t see “great results” last year because of a lack of big projects, though the previous administration spent far less than was budgeted.

“The whole point is we want MSA to do something,” she said. “If we have to use the money to do that, we will.”

The University did not gain from the previous administration’s overly frugal mentality, she said.

Should the initiatives, like the community service concert, prove a smashing success – difficult to attain in the inaugural year – MSA would request more money next year, Heth said.

In addition to the budget debate, Forum passed a resolution noting the import of the MSA renter’s survey.

Facilities and Housing Committee Chairman Adam Engelman said no resolutions existed expressing the importance of the renter’s survey to Forum and students.

Students fill out the survey regarding the quality of landlords and housing, which MSA then compiles and releases to the public.

The survey is scheduled to go online next week.

A new speaker

Tom Meyer replaced outgoing Kevin Wendt as speaker of forum.

Meyer, president of the Campus Conservative Cultural Program, ran unsuccessfully for MSA president in 2005.

“In the past, MSA has been a pretty irrelevant group and has seemed it has the potential to be good,” he said. “The current administration has ideas that have an actual impact in this year and years to come.”

Meyer said his conservative background will help even out debate in Forum.

“I’m not going to lean either way in anything, but at the same time if the Forum is overwhelmingly liberal there’s not much the speaker can do to change that,” he said.

Students interested in joining the MSA Forum may run for one of four at-large representative positions Forum will elect at its Oct. 3 meeting.