MSA flips view on political promotions

MSA also approved a fees request for $147,400 in Student Services Fees.

by Bryce Haugen

Amid heated debate Tuesday, the Minnesota Student Association reversed its position regarding endorsements on campus election ballots and approved its annual fees request.

MSA approved a position statement Nov. 30 that recommended the removal of endorsements from All-Campus Elections Commission ballots. But that decision was nonbinding, and Forum member Shaun Laden succeeded in preventing the change Tuesday.

The debate occurred while MSA was considering the commission’s proposed rule changes, some of which – such as the endorsement removal – MSA requested. Changes require two-thirds support, which the endorsement removal failed to receive. The Nov. 30 position statement had only required a simple majority.

“It’s not the end of the world,” said Nathan Wanderman, the Forum member who authored the initial position statement. “I feel that good policy lost the battle here.”

He said removing the endorsements would create “more educated” elections by forcing voters to read about the candidates, not just their party labels. The endorsements have disproportionately benefited University DFL-endorsed candidates, said Wanderman, who is a Democrat.

But Laden said endorsements are helpful for students who lack time or initiative to read lengthy position statements.

“It’s a way to make the process easier for students,” he said.

Other rule changes passed without debate, including one that will change where the All-Campus Elections Commission distributes candidate information packets. Instead of handing them out in Coffman Union, members will hand them out in residence halls.

In other business, MSA approved a request for $147,400 in Student Services Fees for the 2005-06 school year.

At the beginning of the meeting, Forum member Ashley Sierra motioned to remove the fees-request approval and election-rule changes from the agenda.

Sierra said the fees proposals should have been sent to members before the meeting “so we’re not put into a corner Ö voting on something we haven’t had a chance to look over.”

MSA President Tom Zearley said the items needed approval at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We won’t rush through this, though,” he said.

After a short debate, the motion to remove the items failed.

Sierra said she was disappointed.

“It’s been like this all year,” she said. “I would have liked to have had time to form my questions ahead of time.”

MSA narrowly rejected a motion by Laden to remove the $1,400 budgeted for an MSA parking pass from the fees request.

“You’re the student-body president, but you (should) have to find parking like the rest of us,” said Forum member Marty Andrade, who is also a Minnesota Daily columnist. “Let the president take the bus.”

Zearley said the parking pass helps him survive financially because his MSA commitments prevent him from getting a job.

“My overall goal is to try to make this a position more accessible to all students, regardless of their financial standing,” he said.