Candidates plot to disband MSA, save students money

Rebecca Czaplewski

Editor’s Note: On April 28 and 29, the student body will elect the president and vice president of the Minnesota Student Association. This is the fourth in a series of five articles profiling the five candidates and their running mates.

In an election year filled with candidates promising to reconstruct the state of the Minnesota Student Association, Jared Christiansen and Matt Hass have a goal to deconstruct the student organization — literally.
Presidential hopeful Christiansen and his running mate are campaigning on the platform to dissolve the organization they describe as nothing more than a “political club” in the next year.
“If someone doesn’t do something now, the fees committee is going to dissolve it in the future,” said Christiansen, a senior in the Institute of Technology. He referred to the committee’s axing of MSA’s funds for the 1999-2000 academic year.
Christiansen, a member of the 1997-98 fees committee, said the trend could continue.
If elected, the candidates said they would concentrate their efforts on gaining the 250 signatures needed to put an option on next year’s ballot to vote MSA out of existence; they would also gain signatures to change the organization’s constitution in order to terminate the student association.
Christiansen said he would try to have the organization limit activities and programs that cost money during his and his running mate’s time in office.
“We’d try to spend as little money as possible so it can go back to the students,” Christiansen said of the organization’s student services fees allocation.
The pair came to the unique resolution for the organization after almost a year of thought. When they questioned the mere existence of the organization, both came to the conclusion that it was unnecessary and a waste of student dollars.
“MSA doesn’t have enough clout with the administration, and they don’t have enough power to do anything on their own,” Christiansen said.
He was an MSA at-large representative for two years and opted out of serving this year when he deemed it a waste of time. Christiansen has also been involved in Students Against Fees Excess. Hass has no previous MSA involvement.
The two also take to task the internal workings of the organization, saying MSA acts as a special interest group for the cultural centers and residence halls and doesn’t represent the majority of the campus population.
“There is a huge misrepresentation of students in MSA Forum itself — they rarely deal with real student issues,” Christiansen said.
Hass added that the organization is seldom proactive on important University issues, such as the Coffman Union renovation. MSA voted to pass a resolution that approved the renovation a few weeks before it was approved by the Student Services Fees Committee.
“If MSA represents the students, they should have actively pursued it, not just wait until two weeks before,” said Hass, a junior in the College of Biological Sciences.
Although both would spend their year in the executive spots mainly concentrating on dissolving MSA, Christiansen said he would like to try to reduce some of the power the student organization currently has in appointing members to the Student Services Fees Committee; he believes that fees-receiving groups should have no influence over the fees process.
The two feel that their sentiments about MSA aren’t lost on most University students. They said they have received a lot of favorable responses to their idea but believe their mission hinges on whether students will vote.
“The people who will support us are the 97 percent of students who don’t vote,” Christiansen said. Hass added: “You can spark the interest, but it’s a matter of getting students to vote.”