Student Senate discusses alcohol policy, lobbying

The monthly Student Senate meeting Thursday also discussed making portions of teacher evaluations public.

Bryce Haugen

University Legislative Network grassroots coordinator Mike Dean asked members of the Student Senate on Thursday to help fight for increases in funding for higher education.

At the monthly Student Senate meeting in Peik Hall, Dean said the future of the University depends on student involvement in lobbying the Legislature. The meeting also included discussions about alcohol policy and teacher evaluations.

“This legislative session, you have the power to affect the outcome,” Dean said.

He said the University needs to secure funding increases this year to avoid increasing tuition more than the currently slated increase of 5.5 percent. That won’t happen unless the Legislature hears from students, faculty and staff, he said.

“I hope the results aren’t what happened two years ago, but it’s up to you,” he said to the student senators.

Two years ago, the Legislature trimmed University funding by $185 million.

Dean invited student senators to attend “Lobby Day,” which is held annually at the State Capitol. He also urged them to join the Legislative Action Network, which has more than 14,000 members throughout the state.

After Dean spoke to the group, student senators brainstormed possible ways to get students engaged.

Suggestions included sending e-mails to students and Dean attending meetings of other University student government organizations.

Senate alternate Aaron Rapport, from the Council of Graduate Students, said most students need enticing to get involved.

“Speaking in person works much better than e-mails and phone calls,” he said. “Give them breadsticks and they’ll love you for it.”

After their discussion, student senators agreed to form a committee charged with “disseminating the message” to students. They also decided to target younger students.

“Young students are the ones that will be the most passionate about it because they’ll have to pay the higher tuition,” said student senator Stephanie Hvinden, who represents the Nursing College Board.

Alcohol policy

In a general discussion about alcohol policy, Nathan Wanderman, Student Senate chairman and student representative to the Board of Regents, suggested the University open on-campus bars on all or most of the four campuses.

“There is no reason to not have a bar on campus,” he said.

He said a bar in Coffman Union would provide a great revenue source for the University and would promote campus safety.

Many Twin Cities campus senators nodded in approval. But through a live video feed, the University’s Crookston campus senators said the idea was dead on arrival at their campus.

When Wanderman asked for volunteers to study the idea, the room sat silent – and discussion ended.

Teacher evaluations

In other business, the Student Senate agreed to draft a resolution encouraging teachers to make public the student response portion of teacher evaluations.

Student senators said they wanted to make publication mandatory, but were told that is against state law.

“Without mandated release, the (evaluation) is basically useless right now,” Wanderman said.

The Student Senate will address the resolution in December.