Seeking council

City councils adding a student member would benefit both students and cities.

by Daily Editorial Board

Last week, Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, introduced a bill that would permit city councils statewide to establish an “ex-officio,” nonvoting student member position to be filled by an attendee of a local institution of higher education. This would give students a chance to have input, if not a vote, on decisions that affect them as inhabitants of the city where they attend school and the opportunity to promote better understanding between campuses and surrounding communities.

Students at the University of Minnesota are no strangers to the effects that city ordinances and policies have on their lives. From the Minneapolis Social Host Ordinance passed last year, to the rules governing street parking and snow removal, city decisions have major consequences in the daily lives of students.

The Minnesota Student Association had worked with the Minneapolis City Council on a similar idea in the past but abandoned the measure after it seemed unlikely that council members would be willing to make the changes to the city charter necessary to establish a student representative spot.

The new legislation would make it easier for city councils across the state to include student voices, although they would not be required by law to do so. Ex-officio student members of city councils can be an important bridge between the student community and the rest of the city, while also standing up for student concerns that frequently go unheard.

Despite the division in the state Legislature over taxes, the budget deficit and many other issues, both parties should be able to get behind a bill that would make it easier for students to have their voices heard in city hall, both here in Minneapolis and across Minnesota.