MSA works for safer housing for U students and community

Sean Madigan

The Minnesota Student Association passed a resolution Tuesday to form a special committee to examine issues in safe, affordable housing at and around the University at their forum meeting in the Law Building.
MSA President Nikki Kubista authored the resolution, citing a shortage of both on- and off-campus housing in Minneapolis and St. Paul. She noted that student renters are vulnerable to high rent and renters’ fees due to the seasonal nature of their housing needs.
“We need to find out what students want and generate feedback,” Kubista said. “Students are being taken advantage of and they need a voice in housing.”
Along with tuition and affirmative action, housing is one of the MSA’s three major initiatives. The committee will work directly with Brett Rowlett and Patrick Peterson, the co-chairmen of MSA’s Student Life Committee.
“Housing is a big market,” Peterson said. “We need to start talking to landlords and housing organizations. Even though we are students and on a limited income, we want and deserve safe, affordable housing.”
The committee plans to work with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, bring in speakers on social justice and tenants rights, and create a housing exchange program, Peterson said. The housing exchange program would provide students with a World Wide Web site for students to find rental units and roommates.
The association also voted to promote informed decision-making for the Nov. 3 gubernatorial and state elections. MSA representative Sam Tuttle authored resolutions to invite candidates in local elections to campus for a “Meet the Candidates” week and sponsor a debate between candidates vying for the 59B position in the state Legislature.
“Students oftentimes are not represented and do not get the opportunity for personal contact with their representatives,” Tuttle said.
The 59B congressional district covers the majority of the Minneapolis campus. The association will sponsor a debate between incumbent Phyllis Kahn and her opponents Eric Hanson and Robert Fowler on Monday at Coffman Union.
In the wake of gay hate crime victim Matthew Shepard’s beating death last week in Wyoming, MSA resolved to take the stance that hate crimes at the University are intolerable. The resolution, though unanimously supported, drew considerable debate because it does not state any specific actions or programs.