GAPSA discusses forming Student Body Supreme Court

A resolution was passed asking administration to be more transparent in major decisions.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly board members discussed the creation of a Student Body Supreme Court Wednesday and passed a resolution with the Council of Graduate Students that would ensure University of Minnesota administration consult with faculty and students regarding significant changes to graduate and undergraduate programs and services. COGS Senator Boyd Cothran co-sponsored the resolution and said he hopes the University will make an effort to include students in major decisions in the future. The resolution comes as a response to the lack of inclusion and transparency to students and faculty in deciding to restructure the Graduate School, which came as a shock to many. âÄúHopefully what this will do is communicate to them that something like the closing of the Graduate School should never happen without consulting us,âÄù Cothran said. âÄúWe want to remain as an active part of this transition, and the way the dissolution was done before, we felt we werenâÄôt part of it at all.âÄù GAPSA board members also discussed a resolution to create a Student Body Supreme Court, which, if approved, would hear complaint appeals by student organizations, GAPSA Vice President for Grants Kevin Wendt said. Any student organization that receives fees and is registered with Student Unions & Activities would decide whether it wants to be under the control of the Court. Wendt said students currently have to go straight to the administration to file a complaint, which he doesnâÄôt like. âÄúI donâÄôt like the idea that itâÄôs [Vice Provost for Student Affairs] Jerry RinehartâÄôs job to tell the students what to do with their money,âÄù Wendt said. âÄúI think appeals should go through another student organization and then to the Board of Regents.âÄù GAPSA and the Minnesota Student Association would fund the Court for its first year and would also be the first organizations to fall under the jurisdiction of the Court, Wendt said. The resolution was not passed, however, because some members of GAPSA had concerns about the magnitude of the proposal and conflict of interest, since theyâÄôd not only be paying for it, but also be under its authority. âÄúThe Student Body Supreme Court is an interesting conceptual framework for student governments, but realistically, the preexisting system works as is,âÄù GAPSA President Kristi Kremers said. She said she thinks GAPSAâÄôs efforts at this time should be more focused on the Graduate SchoolâÄôs restructuring. Andy Nguyen, president of the Asian-American Student Union , however, said he thinks the Student Body Supreme Court is something he would be interested in. âÄúFrom a student standpoint, people would be a little bit more understanding rather than the administration,âÄù he said. Wendt said he will amend the resolution to gain GAPSA support. As a joint resolution, both GAPSA and MSA must approve the motion. MSA Vice President Trisha Thompson said she thinks there needs to be more clarity on the resolution and what it would mean for MSA before it is passed. WendtâÄôs next step is to find an undergraduate student from MSA to sponsor the proposal. If he is successful, discussion will continue at the next MSA forum meeting on March 3.