MSA reps to improve student awareness

Eight at-large representatives work to improve campus life for students.

Amber Kispert

The Minnesota Student Association often flies under the radar.

Now, eight new representatives at-large have been elected to help improve student awareness and involvement.

Shana Conklin, a political science sophomore and newly elected representative at-large, said she was excited to begin working with the MSA.

“I wanted to get involved with our student government and have a voice in issues that matter on campus to students.”

MSA is the voice of the University because it acts as an outlet for students to be heard about issues affecting their lives.

Jake Piekarski, a first-year representative, said he shared Conklin’s sentiments.

“I believe that it is important that students are represented by a passionate and informed group of student leaders,” he said.

President of the MSA Emma Olson said the representatives at-large take on many responsibilities. These include voting at the MSA forum and committee meetings, as well as leading a lot of important projects, she said.

“Each member finds his or her own niche within the organization,” Olson said. “They will find specific projects that will appeal to them – things they can become passionate about.”

Andrew Harvey, geography senior and representative at-large said one such project he wanted to tackle is the problem with bike lanes around campus.

“It is increasingly difficult to get across campus,” Harvey said, “and sometimes dangerous.”

After only two weeks of being in MSA, Harvey has already put his geography skills to work. He has started designing a preliminary plan for how he hopes to improve bike lanes around campus, he said.

Harvey is also looking at ways to help keep textbook costs down for students. Conklin said he shares this concern.

She said her main motivation for joining MSA was the continuous cost increase of textbooks.

“College students face sky-rocketing book prices,” she said “I would like to help facilitate the new program to allow students to exchange books with students.”

Another concern that Conklin wants to address is student housing. She said she is very interested in working on the Renter’s Guide for the upcoming year.

In 2003, MSA started the guide by conducting surveys about students’ opinions and experiences with housing facilities around the University. The guide is posted annually on MSA’s homepage.

Mark Nagel was a representative at-large as a first-year student and was the primary architect of the 2005 Renter’s Guide.

“I pretty much made the Renter’s Guide on my own,” he said.

Housing is a significant issue that is affecting student lives, Nagel said.

“I think a lot of people are being taken advantage of by landlords,” he said.

Nagel, after studying abroad his sophomore year, is returning for his second year as a representative at-large and said he is excited to get behind the wheel again.

“You get to meet so many people that are from all walks of campus life,” he said.