MSA okays new budget and positions

Directors will head the Legislative Certificate Program and comm.

Cali Owings

The Minnesota Student Association approved its 2010-11 budget and two new positions during forum Tuesday.

MSA President Sarah Shook created a director of strategic communication and a political director for the Legislative Certificate Program, but the forum had to approve their stipends.

Dan Garon, who will serve as the director of strategic communication, said his plan to centralize communication will improve MSAâÄôs advocacy and outreach.

Garon has been a public relations consultant for technology companies since he started his business, Press Advance, in high school.

He will receive a $2,500 stipend for his role.

“I think forum saw the value we are getting from Dan,” MSA Representative John Worden said.

Forum also approved the appointment of Thomas Trehus as the new political director for the Legislative Certificate Program âÄî an MSA initiative that teaches students to lobby at the Legislature.

A program director is responsible for communicating with program participants and organizing initiatives. In the newly added political director position, Trehus said his role would be to attend Higher Education Committee meetings at the Capitol.

Before both candidates were approved, Sean Niemic, an MSA representative, asked Shook to clarify her relationship to each of the appointees.

Niemic said he and other forum members were concerned that Shook was giving stipend positions to her friends.

Shook told forum that she and Garon were roommates, but she had appointed him to the position before they signed their lease.

Niemic said he would have voted for Garon because of his qualifications but thought Shook should be more transparent.

Trehus was recommended for the position by Ryan Kennedy, the former director of the Legislative Certificate Program, Shook said.

MSA passed a change to its bylaws, stating that those appointed to stipend positions by the president will be approved through forum. Currently, the only way forum approves appointments to stipend positions is through approval of the budget.

MSA representative Paul Buchel said, in the past, forum has approved candidates first and then their stipends.

In a separate budget issue, the $7,000 in the budget reserved for the Do What Matters program will now go to a yet-to-be decided engagement initiative.

Much of the debate surrounding the budget at the first forum was concerning the replacement of Lend-a-Hand, Hear-the-Band with Do What Matters.

Shook said the Office for Student Engagement will pilot Do What Matters for another semester and will repropose a partnership with MSA when they have more evidence to support their program.