Debaters raise issues of fees, student apathy

Ingrid Skjong

Minnesota Student Association presidential hopefuls and their running mates outlined their platforms Monday during the MSA Presidential Debate at the Coffman Union Theater.
The eight candidates explained their positions on issues such as student fees, Coffman Union renovations and student government involvement. They also fielded questions from the audience of about 40 people.
“I think you need to know why you’re voting for who you’re voting for,” said Michelle Latvala, a sophomore child psychology major. She attended the debate to help solidify her voting decision, she added.
For the candidates, getting in front of the public was a welcomed opportunity. Radio K broadcasted the debate live.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting the right impression across,” said presidential candidate Adam Miller, who is endorsed by the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils and The Minnesota Daily.
Four panel members representing University Scholars, Students Against Fees Excess, University-DFL and the cultural centers each asked the candidates a question concerning their organizations.
Students Against Fees Excess asked the candidates how they plan to arrest conflicts surrounding student fees. The ticket of Sabeen Altaf and Michael Hsu is endorsed by SAFE.
Five students filed a lawsuit against the University’s Board of Regents in February contending the automatic payment of student fees is unconstitutional.
Vice-presidential candidate Brook Anderson said she was concerned that if one organization folded because of lack of fees support, the rest would quickly follow suit.
The financed organizations are viewed as an important component of the campus’s diversity. Although some students are concerned that fee payments will not help them directly doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from them, said presidential candidate Kevin Nicholson.
With apathy regarding MSA increasing, candidates stressed the importance of making it a more student-friendly arena.
“Students aren’t feeling represented and they don’t understand how student government works,” Anderson said.
Vice-presidential candidate Hsu said increasing communication between students and leaders is key to correcting the lack of student participation. Six percent of students vote in the MSA elections.
For Nikki Kubista and Erin Ferguson, improving MSA for students begins with running the association in a more grass roots, constituency-based manner.
“For me and Nikki (grass roots) is not just a buzz word,” Ferguson said.