MSA president talks votes

Tracy Ellingson

A day after another election year came to a close, Minnesota Student Association President Helen Phin spoke about the role students must play in the upcoming year at the state Legislature, as well as in the selection of a new University President.
“Yesterday was indeed a major milestone in American politics,” said Phin in her State of the Campus Address on Wednesday during an MSA open house in Coffman Memorial Union. “But more importantly, it was a major milestone for higher education.”
Phin told about 25 students who attended the event that the new Legislature will markedly affect the lives of students and higher education.
“Yesterday the nation chose the people who will determine if it is the government’s responsibility to share the responsibility of higher education with the citizens,” she said.
This year MSA members played an active role in encouraging students to vote. Through sponsorship of a “Rock the Vote” concert and two political debates — one featuring U.S. Senate candidates and the other highlighting state representatives — and creating voter registration pamphlets, the group’s members registered more than 4,000 students to vote in this election.
“We have worked so hard to make sure that students vote,” Phin said. “Now that students have gone to the polls, we need to make sure our legislators address their concerns.”
Since the beginning of the year, MSA members have said developing a stronger student voice is a top priority. Phin said tuition is an issue that MSA members, including herself and Vice President Eric Hanson, continuously watch.
Phin said MSA will strive to keep the University a leader in progressive education. “Eric and I are committed to working with the administration and the Legislature to make this happen for the University. We hope you will join our team,” she said.
MSA members also want students to raise their voices when it comes to current issues, such as the University presidential selection. After the open house MSA members and other students met to discuss what qualities they want in a new leader. University President Nils Hasselmo has said he will retire in June.
The meeting was the group’s second opportunity to compile a list of these qualities. Seven students attended an earlier meeting in October and eight attended Wednesday’s discussion. Phin will compile the suggestions into a general statement from MSA, which the group will then give to the presidential selection committee for consideration.
The selection committee is expected to name a successor to Hasselmo in January.