MSA moves forward with internal restructuring

Ellen Schmidt

The Minnesota Student Association is one step closer to revamping its structure to cater to a wider range of student issues.
The group voted Tuesday evening to expand the number of its committees from four to seven, a change leaders say will ensure equal attention is paid to different student issues. Leadership in fall will use the recommendations as guidelines, and the changes could then become official.
The new committees — Campus Affairs and Student Experience, Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainability, University Policy, Campus Infrastructure, Grants, and Health and Safety — will more narrowly focus on student and campus-related issues than the previous four committees, leaders say. 
While MSA’s Student Outreach and Engagement Committee was previously in charge of diversity concerns, the issue has often been an afterthought when it comes to MSA’s work, said the group’s president, Joelle Stangler. 
The addition of a Diversity and Inclusion Committee addresses campus feedback on the topic and provides a distinct place for members to discuss diversity issues, she said. 
“We hope that these committees will identify and work on student issues more readily,” Stangler said.
The group formed a task force in February to look at potential restructuring changes. 
MSA Vice President John Reichl said the recommendations will help the committees more clearly address student concerns. 
“The biggest result from [Tuesday’s meeting] will be a much more focused organization with a core mission more aligned with student issues,” Reichl said. 
At Tuesday’s meeting, MSA representatives also voted for directors to head all of the group’s committees. 
Along with approving the potential recommendations for restructuring, the group tried to increase accountability by adding reserved voting seats in the forum for student group representatives. 
One reason the student group requirements were created was to prevent organizations from voting if they don’t have legitimate interests that pertain to the student body, Stangler said, which historically has been a problem.
Leaders said adding spots for representatives from student groups could help increase the number of first-hand voices at the group’s meetings and allow students to bring up issues they are passionate about. 
A student group will need to be active for at least one year, submit a letter of recommendation and represent a unique interest to the student body in order to send representatives to the forum. 
MSA also amended one of the original recommendations, which would have put a cap on the number of student groups able to vote in the forum.
The recommendations aren’t binding, Reichl said, but they can be used as guidelines for next year’s representatives when they start creating policies in the fall.