In its new platform for the new school year, the Minnesota Student Association administration vows to focus complete attention on tuition, housing and affirmative action issues.
President Nikki Kubista and vice president Erin Ferguson hope to generate renewed enthusiasm and student participation for campus-wide involvement in student government.
To combat rising tuition costs Ferguson said the association’s tuition task force will challenge last year’s 3 percent tuition hike. The association wants annual tuition increases to remain consistent with the rate of inflation, 2.5 percent, she said.
Kubista points to a discrepancy between the percentage of tuition raise and University President Mark Yudof’s $50,000 salary increase.
The task force will pressure Yudof and the Board of Regents through grass-roots petitioning to reduce the tuition increase on next year’s budget proposal. The task force plans to work closely with Jennifer Molena and Scott Roethle, student representatives to the regents.
The association will target renters’ rights and what they believe to be spiraling housing costs.
MSA and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group have collaborated to spearhead a task force devoted to affordable housing for students and other low-income renters statewide.
Last year the two organizations began work on a renters’ rights guide. Kubista said she hopes to have the guide updated and ready for distribution this year.
Traditionally, students have fewer consumer protection resources because their housing situation is transitional, said MPIRG executive director Lee Schuster.
Many students are first-time renters and have little if any credit history, Schuster said.
Kubista suggested that MSA team up with local student papers to print a list of best and worst landlords. Kubista hopes to form coalitions with University Housing and Residential Life and Student Legal Services. However, MSA has not yet contacted the housing or legal services departments.
MSA’s affirmative action initiative will be addressed more subtly, through education, Kubista said.
Ferguson wants to work with the Coffman Union Board to present more speakers and debates. Ferguson hopes that a series of MSA-sponsored events will lead to a major event with a debate between prominent advocates and opponents.
“People can’t talk about issues (in diversity) without using correct P.C. language,” Kubista said.
Kubista hopes to work with other student organizations to co-sponsor events and underwrite grants to fund the various projects. Co-sponsoring events brings organizations together with a greater number of diverse interests, she added.
Kubista wants to bring attention to MSA events over the entire year rather than simply one month a year during elections.