Candidates want to make changes within MSA

Minnesota Student Association presidential candidate Ashley Sierra and running mate Chris Montana said they want to see some changes within the organization.

To begin with, if elected, they said they will encourage MSA Forum members to be more active on campus and for the organization to be less exclusive.

“Student government should not be about who you’re buddies with,” Montana said.

Sierra and Montana, who said they are active in the University DFL, said they are campaigning on Student Services Fees reform, housing statutes, lobbying the State Legislature and better student body representation in MSA.

The two said they specifically want to reform the student fees money allocation process, which Sierra said she clashed with earlier this year.

“I think people will find that we are the only candidates that have extensive experience with the fees process,” Sierra said.

Sierra is co-chairwoman of the Queer Student Cultural Center and said she has written fees applications. As a member of the Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors, Montana said he also has experience with the fees system.

The two also said they are proponents of MSA lobbying the Legislature year-round alongside established grassroots lobbying organizations.

An on-campus stadium is something Sierra and Montana said they see as a nonissue.

“We believe the stadium is going to happen anyway,” Montana said. “Personally, I would pay $400 a semester for a stadium, but I don’t think everyone would, and that is a viewpoint we need to represent.”

The team said it believes MSA is promising a student contribution to a stadium before finding out what students are willing to pay.

If elected, they said, they also hope to address a city over-occupancy ordinance that might have unfairly affected many students living off campus.

As first-year Forum members, Sierra and Montana said they are proud of not being afraid to go against the majority.

During Tuesday’s Forum meeting, which pledged to limit student contributions for a Gophers football stadium to $50 a semester, Montana said he was censured for making a statement considered slanderous against MSA.

“We are not a representative body of this University,” Montana told the Forum on Tuesday, garnering the reprimand.

For MSA to become more representative, Sierra and Montana said they want to reach out to student groups and commuters.

But Campus Republicans representative and former student Orlando Ochoada said he worries the Sierra/Montana team agenda could get mired in partisan politics.

“If they have a DFL- dominated Forum they’ll probably do fine,” Ochoada said. “But a large conservative body, or even a small vocal minority, could make things really rough for them.”

Queer Student Cultural Center executive director Alison Blomster has worked with Sierra for a year and a half. She said she believes Sierra would be able to set aside her political affiliation and focus on students.

“I think their platform is far-reaching and really encompasses all students,” Blomster said. “(Sierra’s) ability to listen to students regardless of political affiliation makes her a great leader.”