Parking and transportation priority for MSA candidates

by Rebecca Czaplewski

Editor’s Note: On April 28 and 29, the student body will elect the president and vice president of the Minnesota Student Association. This is the last in a series of five articles profiling the five candidates and their running mates.

Minnesota Student Association presidential candidate Brett Rowlett and running mate Irene Kao say they have an agenda based on more than just the usual campaign promises — they’ve got the experience and commitment to get their goals accomplished.
“We’re doing something different,” said Rowlett, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts. “We’re not making promises and then not following up on them.”
As candidates for the executive positions in the student organization, their platform boasts 11 issues they said are important to University students.
Improved parking and transportation at the University are one of Rowlett and Kao’s main concerns. They would like to implement special student and faculty parking rates at University parking lots, along with an Express Connector between the Minneapolis and St. Paul campus.
Rowlett said students, faculty and staff should pay less to park in University lots than those who are not affiliated with the University.
For Rowlett and Kao, expanded use of the U Card is tied in with parking issues — they hope to implement the U Card to pay for student parking, among other things on campus.
Although they would like to see future U Card use expanded to off-campus businesses, they say smaller, more realistic goals for on-campus use must be accomplished first.
“If it’s successful, then it’ll be a selling point to other businesses,” said Kao, a junior in CLA.
Resurrecting the 10th Avenue Campus Connector route is another goal the two said they will strive for.
While they admit past candidates failed to make good on promises to bring the route back, they said they’ve already started the process by collecting signatures and talking with students.
The duo also aims to improve the MSA Web site, amend the hours and selections of University Dining Services and give students the option to purchase a reduced-fee “U-Pass” — an unlimited access Metro Transit bus pass.
Both acknowledge that their long list of goals might seem difficult to accomplish, but Rowlett said he already has plans in motion; he hopes to divide specific issues to each of the three smaller committees within MSA to ensure every issue gets attention.
“Then it’s only three or four issues per committee; it’s more attainable that way,” Rowlett said.
Rowlett has been a member of MSA for more than a year; he is co-chairman of the Student Life Committee and chairman of the Diversity Events Fund Committee.
Kao has one year of MSA experience. She is also a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority and an orientation leader.
The pair, who have been endorsed by the General Assembly of Cultural Centers and the U-DFL, said they’ve proved their commitment to the issues by gaining the student signatures needed to add two referendums on this year’s ballot; one deals with the 10th Avenue bus route and another with the U-Pass option.
“Lots of candidates promise the same things,” Rowlett said. “We’re trying to do things that show how we’re different.”
Ultimately, the two hope their accomplished goals will put the student organization in a positive light.
“We want to accomplish things and try to get things done by the end of the year,” Kao said. Rowlett added: “We’re trying to make it an organization that students respected and accomplishes changes.”