Board looks to fill open seats

The group that advises Coffman’s policy changed its admittance process.

by Elizabeth Cook

Many students go to Coffman Union for a daytime nap on the couches or a place to eat and study, but it’s these students who could also have a say in how the place operates.

The Student Unions and Activities Board of Governors will begin accepting student applications at the end of February. The group plans to have the positions filled by April.

This is the first year the application process will be used to pick members. Students used to be appointed through individual colleges, but with the merging of colleges, the board decided to open the process to everyone.

Because of the new setup, this will be the first time the board has only 13 members, down from 23 in the past. Open positions will include three executive positions and eight at-large member spots.

Two of the positions, the representatives from the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, are still filled through appointment.

Because of past interest, organizers believe all the positions will be filled.

The board makes decisions about the majority of happenings in Coffman, including its policy, budget and the allocation of student space on the second floor, said Kate Ringsak, president of the Student Unions and Activities Board of Governors.

Students, through the board, created noticeable change in Coffman.

Prior to the building’s renovation, students were surveyed on what they wanted in the new space; 57 percent said they wanted an Asian restaurant available. Now there’s Panda Express, she said.

The board also decides when and where fliers or posters, like those by the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, can be displayed, Ringsak said.

“If you want to hang things up in the Union, they would need to go through us and be presented to us,” Ringsak said.

Part of the job is to “meet with appropriate parties to voice student concern,” said Kate Larson, assistant director of marketing for student unions and activities.

The position is great for résumé building, Larson said. It also teaches skills such as public speaking and decision making.

“Members develop a variety of non-academic experience,” she said.

Neuroscience senior Om Padhye is now serving his fourth year on the board.

He said next year’s members should be unique and with different ideas, but have the same reasons for being on the board.

“The general qualities (include) someone who can see things going on around them and want to make change,” he said.

But some students don’t know much about the board, like aerospace sophomore Francis Muenyi.

“I wouldn’t know (about the board),” he said, “Only if I took time to look at a poster. It would help if they advertised more.”

Time constraints can also be a hassle for some students. Larson said it’s approximately two to three hours a week, while Ringsak said the commitment varies depending on the time of year.

“I’m trying to focus on my schoolwork,” Muenyi said. “Some of these activities aren’t meant to fit everyone’s schedule.”