MSA highlights partof this year’s agenda

MSA’s goals are to work on tuition increases, late-night buses and a stadium.

Chad Hamblin

The Minnesota Student Association’s new president, Tom Zearley said building a new on-campus stadium is not as important as addressing tuition increases at the University, which amounted to 15 percent last school year and 13 percent this year.

“Everyone is sick of tuition increases, and if you can find someone that isn’t, I don’t know where they came from,” Zearley said.

Zearley said three of MSA’s goals this year are to make internal changes in MSA, get a late-night bus on campus and reduce tuition.

Two years ago, the State Legislature cut the University’s funding by $185 million, which was partially responsible for the tuition increases. This year’s legislative session will renew the University’s operating budget.

Shawn Olson, a chemistry senior, said his tuition has increased by almost $4,000 during his time at the University.

“After four years, that’s just absurd,” he said. “If (MSA) can actually do something to this tuition, which has been really a bother all these years, I’d love it.”

MSA, the undergraduate student government at the University, still supports an on-campus stadium. Zearley said MSA will work with the University Stadium Advocacy Committee, a group specifically dedicated to the issue.

Last year, lobbying for an on-campus stadium was one of MSA’s biggest issues.

“We don’t see the stadium as the number one priority,” Zearley said.

John Barber, a nutrition science senior, said he hopes MSA continues to work for an on-campus stadium.

“Playing at the Metrodome is a joke for college football,” he said. “Going to Madison football games is a completely different atmosphere.”

The University has never considered using tuition money to fund an on-campus stadium, said Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer.

Late-night bus

Last year, MSA funded a two-week late-night bus pilot program that picked up approximately 5,000 passengers and cost approximately $15,000.

MSA plans to fund the program for the entire school year. Zearley estimated it will cost $200,000.

“Once we nail down where the money is coming from, it’s a go,” Zearley said. “We’re hanging on by a thread, but it’s a strong thread.”

Jacqueline Brudlos, a spokeswoman at Parking and Transportation Services, said she could not confirm whether the late-night bus would happen, even if MSA gets the funding.

Internal changes

Zearley and other MSA leaders said they hope to make some internal changes to MSA.

For example, they plan to follow up on resolutions they pass, as well as make sure Forum members are more respectful during debates.

New Vice President Amy Pierce said MSA had poor leadership three years ago that hurt its reputation with University administrators.

“There were a lot of things that had to be fixed,” she said. “So students were right in saying, ‘What’s MSA doing? Where’s our money going to?’ “

“We’ve been recovering the past few years from what MSA was,” Zearley said. “We’re getting that respect back again.”

Although MSA made many drastic internal changes two years ago, Zearley said he wants to make sure student government continues to grow.

To help foster that growth, Zearley said he wants to increase student awareness of what MSA does.

“The goal of MSA is to make (students’) lives better at the University, whether they care about us or not,” he said, “We’re here for all the students.”

Every undergraduate at the University is a member of MSA, and can speak at the committee meetings. Students are also allowed at Forum meetings, but must speak through a Forum member.

The first Forum meeting is at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 21, in the Coffman Union Theater.

“I’m very excited for this next year,” Zearley said. “We have a lot of potential for doing a lot of great things.”