SA hopefuls reveal intended course of action

Emily Babcock

Sabeen Altaf and Michael Hsu want to talk about students, not politics. When it comes to campaigning for the top two positions in the Minnesota Student Association, Altaf and Hsu are everyday people.
Altaf, a College of Liberal Arts junior vying for the MSA presidency, and her running mate, Hsu, an Institute of Technology junior, have a simple agenda: complete student-orientated goals to make student life more convenient.
“What makes us stand out and how we differ from the other candidates is that our goals and platform issues are realistic and they are doable,” Altaf said.
She added that their campaign platform contains issues that appeal to all students from any background, from transportation concerns for commuter students to working on projects with members of the greek system.
The duo is endorsed by Students Against Fees Excess. The group supports keeping student services fees as low as possible by ensuring that each organization applying for fees is fiscally responsible.
“It’s just basically about lowering costs for students,” Altaf said. “I think people should realize that MSA should do something. We want our costs here to go down. Why not?”
Altaf said she and her running mate come from diverse backgrounds, and their differences will help create a positive impact for the student association.
“I’m not afraid to speak my mind on issues,” Altaf said. “We’re willing to take a stance.”
The commuter student has experience working with governing bodies around campus and has been a member of MSA for a year. Altaf has also served on the CLA student board and the Student Service Fees Committee.
Hsu lives in the residence halls and belongs to Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Although Hsu doesn’t have experience in the student association, he said this is an advantage. Hsu said his experience with other campus groups offers a fresh perspective as vice president.
Hsu also served as vice president of finance for the Interfraternity Council, was a member of the Territorial Hall council and co-founded Speak magazine, a publication put out bimonthly by the council.
The everyday issues that he can relate to as a student are what Hsu said he would like to address as vice president. Student concerns about housing, food service and safety are issues Hsu said fall in this category.
“The average student here isn’t necessarily concerned about what resolution MSA has passed,” Hsu said.
Both candidates defined the central role of the student association as the voice of the students and said it is important for all forum members to keep this role a top priority.
“The power it does have is unifying the student voice and making it heard,” Hsu said. “If that voice is loud enough, that is power right there.”
Altaf said it is inevitable that there will be politics involved with the student government. However, through her experience in MSA this year, she said she witnessed the wrong kind of politics, where students tried to further their own personal agendas.
“We need to focus more on students and less on politics,” Hsu said.
Both candidates said they view the tension that exists among forum members as a problem. They agreed strong communication is essential to working with others.
“What needs to be done there is to have strong leadership,” Hsu said. “Forum members need to realize that we are not going to put up with this ridiculous bickering and wasting MSA’s time.”