MSA allows voice in forum for smaller student groups

Amber Kispert

Attendance at the Minnesota Student Association’s biweekly forum meetings may soon be increasing.

Last week, the MSA Forum approved a bylaw change that would lower the number of signatures for a student group to have representation on the Forum from 50 to 30.

MSA president Emma Olson said the move would allow smaller groups to take part in student government.

“It will give more students a chance to voice their opinions through their student government,” she said.

Any student group who wishes to have representation on forum must first apply with MSA for a position.

MSA then verifies whether the group has been officially registered with the Student Activities Office for at least one academic year, and the applicant doesn’t currently have voting rights with another group they are a part of, according to the new Title X of the MSA bylaws,

There is no set deadline for when a student group can apply for representation.

Olson said the student government amended the 50- signature rule because some student groups don’t have 50 members.

One of these smaller student groups is the College of Liberal Arts Student Board, whose constitution says the group can’t have more than 40 members.

CLA Student Board president Bethany Khan said she is pleased with the amendment.

“50 signatures is a lot to ask,” she said.

Khan said having groups represented is important so the students’ diverse opinions can be heard.

Whether the CLA Student Board will have representation next year is up in the air, but Khan said she will try her best to make sure they do.

MSA Speaker Mark Lewandowski said it’s now up to the student groups to take initiative.

Ensuring that the representatives actually attend forum meetings will also be important, he said.

Current Minnesota Public Interest Research Group representative to the forum Maria Trafton said MSA’s decision to lower the signature requirement will hopefully result in more involvement from all of the smaller groups.

“Right now there’s very limited student-group involvement in the first place,” she said. “Even lowering it below 30 might not be such a bad idea.”

Trafton said one of the possible reasons for limited student-group involvement on forum is that members have difficulties finding time to dedicate to MSA because they’re highly involved in their student groups.

“It’s hard to figure out where you’re going to put your time,” she said.