Student bodies join arms

Growing membership and interest spark new initiatives.

Linda Yang

The Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Association will be working together for the first time ever.

While MSA serves the undergraduate student body, GAPSA concentrates on issues related to graduate and professional students at the University. Both bodies plan to have a stronger relationship this year.

MSA President Taylor Williams said issues like athletic facilities on the West Bank and “open access to research papers and libraries” impact both student government organizations.

MSA and GAPSA will try to pass several resolutions jointly at an Oct. 16 meeting, Williams said. The joint meeting will also involve both groups “collaborating with some platform issues.”

GAPSA President Brittany Edwards will try to attend as many of the MSA meetings as she can to share her experiences with the administration, Williams said, while he tries to do the same.

After construction finishes on the second floor of Coffman Union, MSA and GAPSA will also share office space, Williams said.

He said the collaboration will be “a great connection.”

GAPSA meetings switched to include Duluth reps

GAPSA will be moving from its usual time slot on Wednesday to Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. to include medical and pharmacy students from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, due to their connection with the Twin Cities campus.

A survey completed last year showed graduate and professional students wanted more involvement with the Duluth campus, Edwards said.

Duluth’s GAPSA representatives will participate using the Interactive TV system in Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Room 25, Edwards said. Before, meetings with Duluth graduate students were held via Skype, she said.

“The Duluth folks have been part of GAPSA this whole time,” Edwards said. “They pay GAPSA fees.”

During a trip to meet with representatives last spring, Edwards was surprised “they didn’t know all the advantages that they could get based on the fees they pay,” such as grants.

GAPSA representatives will also put together a platform when they visit the Duluth campus this weekend.

MSA doubles in members

MSA membership has doubled over the summer from 50 to almost 100 students, Williams said.

 The boost is because students can now be part of MSA even if they aren’t an elected member, he said. The new membership category was popular with the freshmen, which Williams said will help lay “a foundation for a strong, large student government year after year.”

Along with increased membership, Williams said hundreds have signed up to receive MSA’s newsletter, which is a good sign there will be “constant communication with students,” especially with those who aren’t really involved with student government.

Williams will also host transparency meetings between MSA’s first and second meetings to talk with students about the organization’s budget.

In the past, the budget would be proposed and voted on right away. The goal of the transparency meeting is to create a more open space for everyone to ask questions about MSA’s finances, he said.