MSA to push against marriage amendment

Students debate whether campus gov’t should take stances on issues.

Jade Lomeli

Minnesota’s looming same-sex marriage amendment will be among the biggest issues the Minnesota Student Association  will address when traveling to the University of Iowa this weekend.

MSA President Taylor Williams said members will discuss ideas with student leaders from other peer institutions at the Association of Big Ten Students Summer Conference.

MSA will focus on the upcoming vote on the marriage amendment, a bill that would define marriage between “one man and one woman.”

The group will partner with a Minnesotans United for All Families student organization in opposition of the amendment, Williams said.

In May, the University Senate voted to oppose the marriage amendment.

MSA will also be programming with the University’s Queer Student Cultural Center to teach students how to register to vote and discuss what their decision would mean.

In addition to the marriage amendment, Williams said MSA should encourage students to vote against the voter ID amendment.

While the University of Minnesota student government chose to take a stance on a political issue, other Big Ten universities disagree with its methods.

Joe Rust, Purdue University’s student government president, said the student government would not take a political stance as MSA did.

If the majority of the student body felt a certain way about an issue, Rust said they would help any way they could without taking a side.

 “We don’t think that student government should be used as a politically motivated organization,” Rust said. “We are a student service organization to make sure students have a voice.”

University of Iowa  student body president Nicholas Pottebaum said the student government has never endorsed an amendment or a political candidate during his involvement.

But, he said he believes that if the majority of a governing body wishes to hold a stance, they should do so.

There may be other ways to support a movement rather than a full-time presence on campus, though.

“There are other mobile grassroots efforts that are probably more integral to having electoral success and might not necessarily be yelling and jumping around on campus and telling people to vote for something,” Pottebaum said.

‘Everybody should have a voice’

Oana Mihai, a graphic design junior at the University, said MSA’s choice to have an opinion and advocate against the marriage amendment is adequate.

“It might cause people to act different, but I think in the end everybody should be able to have a voice,” she said.

Kate Brickman, press secretary for Minnesotans United for All Families, said the student branch would have volunteers working everyday until the election, collecting pledges and making their presence on campus known.

The student initiative of Minnesotans United for All Families could be overwhelming to some people, said Katelyn Johnson, a clinical lab science senior.

She said, however, that she likes that a student group on campus will be taking a stance on what they believe.

“There should be both sides to this marriage amendment,” Johnson said. “People for it and against it.”

Minnesota for Marriage, a campaign that supports the amendment, did not respond to a request for comment. The Student Unions and Activities desk said there was no indication of a student group on campus for Minnesota for Marriage.

Once school starts there will be a big push to get students involved, said Laura Hoffman, a student leader for Students United for All Families.

“We are hoping to canvass campus, the dorms, off campus and in Dinkytown very often until the election,” she said.

Other initiatives, issues

At the conference, Williams said the group will discuss other initiatives MSA will work on, such as giving students the ability to view professor evaluations and create an online apartment database, which would help students pick an apartment best suited for them with descriptions of the apartment and landlord history.

They will announce their goals to increase diversity, student awareness and address political issues.

“We want to pick issues where we can make a big impact,” Williams said.