New MSA legislative programs are right on track

by Austin Burnett - University Student

A recent Minnesota Daily editorial attacked several new legislative initiatives of the University of Minnesota Student Association.

While I am not directly involved in the undergraduate student government, I have watched over the past few years as student government leaders have worked to build the legislative impact of students at the State Capitol.

There have clearly been both successes and false starts for MSA. For example, the Legislative Certificate Program seems to have been mostly successful in engaging student advocates and forging relationships with elected officials in St. Paul. On the other hand, last yearâÄôs bizarre âÄúRally to Restore Affordability,âÄù which was the brain child of the legislative affairs director, was an embarrassment. I can say this because I was there.

What are the lessons learned? From what I can tell, MSAâÄôs advocacy programs predicated on continuity and discipline seem to work well. What the DailyâÄôs Editorial Board derides as âÄúbureaucracyâÄù is in fact the exact opposite: a grassroots, focused effort to bring together students from all of the UniversityâÄôs campuses so they can boast a unified voice while lobbying.

The other lesson learned is that when MSA is spread too thin, focused on goals that are scattershot at best, new initiatives quickly lose steam. As a result, MSAâÄôs shift to specific programs, away from the failing Legislative Affairs Committee, is a good thing.

I donâÄôt know how much of MSAâÄôs new mindset comes from its rank-and-file members or from its new president, Lizzy Shay, but either way, there seems to be a new sense of purpose in the undergraduate student government. The student body should be proud of this new development, not critical of it.

If this drive is a result of new leadership, those students deserve credit too.

The Daily Editorial Board should spend more time focusing on the things MSA is doing right, not criticizing its plans.