MSA Forum focuses on bylaw amendments

At the meeting, MSA also discussed a contingency plan for the organization.

by Bryce Haugen

Tuesday’s Minnesota Student Association meeting mainly focused on the group’s bylaws, which some Forum members said was “a waste of time.”

“Enough of this addiction to bureaucracy and minutia. Let’s get something done,” said Forum member Marty Andrade, who is also a Minnesota Daily columnist.

MSA debated two bylaw amendments Tuesday. One called for the MSA president to automatically serve as one of three student representatives to the Board of Regents. The other asked for an exemption to give the Asian American Student Union representation on the Forum.

Serving as both MSA president and a student representative to the Board of Regents has been immensely efficient, said MSA President Tom Zearley, who penned the failed amendment.

“It’s helped me be a better president,” he said.

Advantages include monthly meetings with top-level University officials in which real change can happen, Zearley said. He said he proposed the bylaw amendment so future MSA presidents would enjoy the same access.

But Forum member Aaron Solem said giving the president both roles is dangerous.

“We’re going to give the president way too much power,” he said.

There are pluses and minuses to the proposed change, said Jerry Rinehart, University associate vice provost for student affairs.

“It makes sense that there be some kind of formal connection between student government leaders and the Board of Regents,” he said.

Rinehart said MSA will make the final decisions.

Earlier in the meeting, MSA tabled a bylaw amendment that would have given the Asian American Student Union a representative to the Forum. Currently, the Minnesota International Student Association represents the group.

The Asian American Student Union has been on MSA for years, and a technicality shouldn’t prevent it from returning, said Kevin Wendt, a Forum speaker and the amendment’s author.

But Forum member Michael Pokawa said the group shouldn’t be given special treatment.

“I’m suggesting an open door policy Ö not singling out any student group,” he said.

Forum member Rick Orr said tabling the amendment will allow for “a process of discussion where we can form a uniform process that every student group could apply to.”

MSA also passed several constitutional amendments during the meeting. Zearley said some amendments, such as a contingency plan if MSA were to dissolve, were essential for the group to remain an official University student organization.

Not passing them “would have put us in a seriously tight bind with the (Student Activities Office),” Zearley said.

During the meeting, Zearley chastised Andrade and others for watching the movie “Dr. Strangelove.”

But Andrade said using time to discuss bylaw changes disrespects the Forum.

“We are reciprocating that by saying we will not waste our time – we’ll watch a movie,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, Wendt asked Forum members for help in making the next meeting more meaningful.

“(Bylaws are) very boring stuff; I’m sorry about that,” he said. “If you’re tired of bylaw changes, please find me something to put on the agenda.”