New MSA leadership talks plans for future advocacy

Amy Ma and Rebecca Cowin won the undergraduate student government election with 51% of the vote and will assume their new positions in July.

From left, newly elected MSA President Amy Ma and Vice President Rebecca Cowin pose for a portrait outside of the Northrup Auditorium on Sunday, April 19.

Kamaan Richards

From left, newly elected MSA President Amy Ma and Vice President Rebecca Cowin pose for a portrait outside of the Northrup Auditorium on Sunday, April 19.

Samantha Hendrickson

Last week, the Minnesota Daily sat down with the newly elected Minnesota Student Association President-designate Amy Ma and Vice President-designate Rebecca Cowin. In the interview, Ma and Cowin discussed their upcoming goals, advocacy initiatives and plans to serve the student body during COVID-19. 

Ma and Cowin won the 2020 student government election with 51% of the vote and will officially start their new positions on July 1. 

How do you feel about winning the election?

Ma: It’s really exciting. I don’t think either of us really imagined the process to look the way it did with the COVID-19 situation, but I think we adapted and made the best of what we could. I’m really excited about the number of people who engaged in the elections, and I hope that we’re able to continue moving forward and implement this work.

Cowin: It’s definitely humbling and exciting to see the votes and all the people on campus that really believe in making [the University] better for every student.

Are there any specific goals and initiatives that you are hoping to put into practice in the fall, or any particular advocacy work that you are looking forward to? 

Ma: Our three main priorities were food insecurity, campus safety and college affordability. In some ways, this COVID-19 situation makes them look different and also highlights the importance of them. There’s been a lot of work with dining contractors and how we can implement food co-ops or grocery stores so that students can have more affordable and acceptable options.

Cowin: It’s hard going into the year. We don’t know what the rest of the summer and the fall is going to look like for students. Either way, it’s trying to implement these projects in whatever capacity we’re able to, but also making sure we’re fully supporting students with emergencies and sudden changes.

Is there anything about MSA internal culture, a culture that some have complained about in the past, that you would like to change?

Cowin: There have been a lot of complaints about the internal culture, which is valid. That kind of history should be acknowledged going into this role. Two of the things that can be really big going into next year are that we’re making sure that everyone feels valued and supported in our organization. The other step is keeping in mind that we all do share similar visions and intentions of making the campus better for the students we serve. 

How do you plan on serving the student body under current COVID-19 circumstances?

Ma: It’s definitely a difficult time for all of us. MSA has done a good job connecting with administrators, and I can continue those relationships. I’ve done some work in my current role as student senate chair, and made sure voices and needs are represented in the emergency committees that exist, and continuing to push for any changes that we see.

Cowin: Another thing that is gonna be an issue is picking up support and resources for recent graduates. We know it’s going to be kind of hard for a lot of graduates to get jobs, so making sure they still have support and opportunities after they graduate and leave the university.

What are you most excited for in your roles as MSA’s new leadership? 

Ma: All of it. I would say especially the advocacy work and the people, having been elected in this role in such a public process by a surge of energy for all the things that we are really excited to run on. Being able to approach these issues with a new perspective will be really cool. 

Cowin: For me, the thing that’s energizing is what people are passionate about. I’m really excited to see all those different projects and advocacy that our campus wants to see done.

What is your hope for MSA this fall as an organization?

Ma: I hope we’re back on campus and able to work with each other, and be energized in the ways that we usually are able to. I really hope that members are able to find a project or initiative that they’re really passionate about and feel like they’re contributing to by the end of the semester.