A look at bids to lead MSA

JP Leider

In general elections citizens sometimes vote for the party instead of the candidate.

But in all-campus elections, in which students select representatives to the Minnesota Student Association among other organizations, no parties exist. Because of the official lack of partisan politics, interested students must learn of the candidates and their platforms.

As a prelude to tonight’s MSA presidential debate, the Daily spoke with both presidential candidates.

Max Page

Max Page came to the University to study film; he was interested in its effects on people and how he thought it could change culture.

However, the day after convocation, Page said, he made a decision that has shaped his life and his studies. After spotting a couple of students standing around with clipboards wearing Sen. Paul Wellstone T-shirts, he joined the University DFL.

“It was probably one of the best decisions I could have made,” he said. “Being in the group has molded me into the person I am and has given me a drive to make a positive change in the world.

“With the College Democrats, it showed me how just a few people can make that change.”

Most in the then-small group were from Page’s native area, the Iron Range, which he said helped him become “very involved” as a first-year student.

Page, now an individualized studies junior, is U-DFL president, a committee chairman for MSA, a community adviser for Middlebrook Hall and an intern for his hometown senator at the state Capitol, Sen. Tom Saxhaug, D-Grand Rapids.

With his degree, Page said, he hopes to go to law school, which would open some doors for him to become an “agent of change.”

“There are some things that I think are downright wrong with society and need to change,” he said. “Some people have asked me if this is practice for running for office – and I just tell them that if you try and plan a career based on running for political office, it’s about ego more than about being an agent of change.”

Issues

Page is running with Monica Heth on a platform of fees reform, addressing textbook costs and fighting tuition increases, among other issues.

In addition, Page said, he wants MSA to become an action-oriented body.

Page said one of the ways MSA can be more visible is by doing more to advocate for restraining tuition.

“We don’t do enough for tuition,” he said. “We don’t (even) do the bare minimum.”

Page said he would like to create a yearlong letter-writing and telephone drive to students’ hometown representatives.

“We need to start calling our senators and representatives from southern Minnesota, from northwestern Minnesota and let them know tuition is important,” he said. “If they understand that, they should help battle the rising cost of tuition.”

Page said he would like to meet with every legislator as student body president so they can put a personal and professional face to the issue.

In addition to tuition costs, reducing textbook costs is an issue for Page’s campaign.

While there are several ways to achieve that goal, Page said, the first is educating professors about the often unnecessary transition to new editions of textbooks.

Also, Page said, a specialized system could be created on the Internet that would provide a forum for University students to trade or sell textbooks.

Page said he would like to see the University go to a textbook rental system.

“We’d like to talk to administration and people at the bookstore about, long-term, going to a rental system or some sort of partial-rental system,” he said. “I know it’s a big university and a broad goal that likely won’t happen in one year, but we should at least look at doing it.”

Noah Seligman, Page’s campaign manager, said the core of Page and Heth’s campaign is MSA action.

“Max and Monica are committed to the belief that MSA can’t just be the voice of the students, it has to be the action of the students,” he said.

He said MSA needs an open-door leadership philosophy that unites campus with student groups, residence halls and the greek community to make MSA more productive and help improve campus relations.

Anthony Dew

When Anthony Dew started at the University his love was science.

But study abroad programs he participated in changed all that.

On one occasion, in Australia, he met a woman who spoke five languages, which he said was very influential.

“It helped me realize the significance of getting a diverse understanding of people from different countries and backgrounds,” he said.

Since that time, he has loved traveling, Dew said.

On another study abroad trip, to South Africa, Dew said he fell in love with politics, specifically in providing better housing options to the masses.

At the time, South Africa was a decade out of the end of apartheid, and people thought they could make a difference, he said.

Dew said he wants to see that mentality in action in the United States.

Dew, who now is studying political science, plans to work on housing issues after college, likely in South Africa.

After coming to the University, Dew partially continued his high school pursuits by joining the track team, although interest in student government quickly drew him away.

“I had all these awesome ideas for the ‘U’ and a few people directed me toward student government,” he said. “At the end of that year I ran for an at-large position, got it and ran for Facilities and Housing Committee chair – I got elected, and the rest is history.”

Patrick Delaney, a former Forum member and MSA chief of staff, is helping with Dew’s campaign.

“He’s a fun guy to work with, a real people person and his values show through,” he said.

Delaney said Dew’s background allows him a unique perspective, but that he doesn’t force his opinions on situations.

“He’s just one of those people that really genuinely have a vested interest in what people feel and think,” he said.

Issues

Now an at-large member of Forum, Dew is running with Jeff Tate on a platform of creat ing safer and more affordable housing, offering better transportation options and creating a “more cohesive campus.”

He said the University needs a new culture, one of civic engagement for the University and the greater community.

The new culture would emphasize service learning, which could offer role models to children in the community who haven’t had that in the past, he said.

In terms of community-building, an important issue is what Dew termed “the minority experience.”

Given the demographic makeup of campus, Dew said, it’s important for students to understand it’s not an “us-versus-them” scenario; his campaign simply wants to create awareness that it is a problem and that all students should feel the University is theirs.

Because of his work as a committee chairman on MSA, Dew said creating safer housing is an extremely important issue.

Because incoming students tend to have less knowledge about housing, he said, landlords often can take advantage by charging high rent or not maintaining the quality of properties.

“There should not be a compromise between having a nice place to live and paying a lot of money for it,” he said.