Chairman proposes dissolving DEF grants committee

Elizabeth Putnam

Since Patrick Peterson became chairman of the Diversity Education Fund two years ago, the number of applicants has increased 100 percent.

The Minnesota Student Association created the grant program six years ago in an effort to increase funding for activities that promote diversity.

After an emergency meeting on Oct. 21, Peterson proposed to eliminate and streamline the committee by handing over its responsibilities to the Executive Committee.

“The committee that approves the grants doesn’t do any advocating like our other committees,” said Peterson. “The committee has to have approval from the Executive Committee anyways, so why not just let them approve the grants?”

However, the proposal has caused opposition among Grants Committee members.

Committee member Jeff Nash said he had no knowledge of the meeting until two days afterward.

“The chairman never consulted members of the committee in pushing the disbandment,” Nash said. “I read the resolution a couple of days later and was surprised at the idea.”

Nash said the Executive Board now has the power to give money to whomever they want and can do so without a formal meeting.

“There is too much done behind closed doors,” Nash said.

Nash said there is tension between members of the forum and the Executive Board.

Member Hank Long said he
wasn’t notified about the meeting either.

“The Executive Board does have the final say, but the committee can have influence over their decision,” said Long. “Isn’t that the point of having a forum?”

Harry Savage said he was also not notified about the meeting. He said he realizes the practicality of the decision but believes it’s undemocratic.

“It’s fundamentally eroding the democratic process,” Savage said.

Savage said he is uncertain about the motive behind the decision but that it sacrifices the fundamentals of MSA.

“The Grants Committee goes through an intensive process when looking at the applications,” Savage said. “The Executive Committee is involved with so much other work.”

Members think the resolution will give the Executive Board more power, MSA President Dan Kelly said. Kelly is also a member of the Daily’s board of directors.

“There has been some concerns, but by eliminating an unnecessary process, the overall result will be more efficient,” said Kelly.

Peterson will lose his job as chairman if the Executive Committee approves the resolution. However, Peterson plans on staying involved with MSA.

Peterson said the possible change would not affect the application process.

Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]