MSA fees request

Rebecca Czaplewski

Nikki Kubista, president of the Minnesota Student Association, began Tuesday’s MSA forum meeting with a speech focused on her hopeful view of a “new MSA,” one without personal agendas and petty politics. But it looks like the old MSA won out Tuesday.
Members engaged in heated debate over whether MSA’s fees request for next year was constitutional. The association asked for $200,000 in student services fees in a request authored by Kubista and Erin Ferguson, MSA’s vice president. The request was forwarded to the fees committee without approval by the forum, which is traditional.
Two resolutions were on the agenda: one that would recall the fees request and another that would approve the fees request but also design a plan that would clarify the fees request process in the future. Neither resolution was passed.
Kubista and Ferguson maintain that, because of an adviser’s approval and the vague wording of the MSA constitution, they followed constitutional procedure when they bypassed the forum in presenting the request. Although both back their request and the constitutionality of it, they realize that things could have been done differently.
“I think one of the things people want to know is, looking back, did we make a mistake?” Kubista said. “We chose a different option, and in hindsight this wasn’t necessarily the best choice.”
The request, which funds MSA’s overhead and bureaucratic costs, was similar to requests in years past.
Ferguson noted that forum members were notified and invited to help in constructing the request, but no members came forward. This invitation was not in the official minutes of past meetings.
“No forum members approached me with concerns of the process until our fees were already in progress,” Ferguson said.
After a question and answer period aimed at Kubista and the executive committee, the forum debated the resolution to recall the fees request. A primary concern was the process of the fees committee. If an organization withdraws their initial request, there is no guarantee the fees committee will give them a second chance. MSA member Brandon Lacy Campos elaborated on the point.
“The fees committee doesn’t want to deal with the internal politics of MSA,” Lacy said. “If it’s pulled back, we could lose the money.”
Jigar Madia, past MSA president, attended the forum. Although he admitted that he hadn’t read through the fees request, he spoke out against Kubista and Ferguson’s action, calling it unconstitutional.
“I believe that students deserve better than what they’re getting. MSA can do better, it just needs to have the will and dedication,” Madia said. “MSA is asking for $200,000 of student money without a debate. This is wrong.”
The forum members could not end the debate on the resolution and resolve the issue. Because of time constraints, they voted to address it at the next meeting.
The forum did pass three resolutions Tuesday: one that dealt with instating an orientation for new MSA members, one that gave support to the Coffman Union renovation project from MSA and one that approved a retreat scheduled for Saturday.
Jorg Rivera and Michael Holland gave a multi-media presentation and question session about the renovation to the forum. After the forum passed the resolution, Holland expressed his excitement about MSA’s commitment to the renovations.
“I think that this represents an exciting opportunity for the students at the University of Minnesota,” Holland said.