MSA votes to back U’s capital request

The majority of the money would improve the Twin Cities campus.

JP Leider

By almost unanimous consent, the Minnesota Student Association supported the University’s nearly $270 million capital request to the Legislature at Tuesday’s meeting.

The capital request includes $80 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement, which deals with updating, preserving and restoring existing University facilities.

While HEAPR funds are applied systemwide, there are three projects in the capital request specifically geared toward the Twin Cities campus – a $39.9 million expansion of the Carlson School of Management, a $62 million Science Teaching and Student Services Center and $60 million for phase one of a Medical Biosciences Building.

Bryan Fisher, last year’s chairman of the Student Legislative Coalition and the only Minnesota Student Association Forum member to vote against the proposal supporting the capital request, said he thinks too much emphasis was placed on the Twin Cities campus.

Because of this, it may be more difficult to get students from all campuses to lobby at the Legislature, he said.

Legislators from outside the Twin Cities area might not be as likely to support the request, Fisher said, because the plan largely leaves out their districts.

Besides advocating for the University’s capital request in the spring, MSA likely will support the University’s stadium request if there is no special session this year.

University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said neither he nor University President Bob Bruininks has given up on Gov. Tim Pawlenty calling for a special session.

Pfutzenreuter said he thinks the Legislature will keep the stadium and capital requests separate, even if there is no special session.

“I have a lot of confidence in the governor and Legislature not to trade a stadium against a research building or business school,” Pfutzenreuter said.

Earlier in the meeting, a member from the Student Support Task Force facilitated discussion among MSA Forum members mainly concerning the roles of academic and faculty advisers in student life.

Some recommendations made by MSA Forum members were increasing medical student support in CLA, decreasing the student-to-adviser ratio and making sure advisers are familiar with the Academic Progress Audit System and major requirements.

MSA Forum members also debated the merits of requiring all students to meet with their advisers at least once a semester.

Undergraduate students interested in offering input to task forces can do so by attending town hall meetings or by contacting MSA.

Interested students can ask to join a pool of students who will offer input to task forces seeking additional student opinions.