MSA criticized for hasty OK of committee

Raiza Beltran

The Minnesota Student Association approved selection of the Student Services Fees Committee on Tuesday in about five minutes, prompting criticism from some members.
Some student representatives said the 24-2 vote bypassed important procedures and did not allow thorough deliberation.
Cultural center representatives and members of other student organizations said they plan to reassess the election process at MSA and Graduate and Professional School Assembly meetings later this month.
The student fees committee — one of the most powerful student and faculty groups on campus — will decide on the allocation of funds for student groups next semester.
Thirteen nominees, recommended by MSA representatives and members of GAPSA, were on hand to answer questions at the MSA meeting Tuesday.
But some student representatives said they lacked time to prepare questions for the new committee members.
Matt Brauer, MSA senator and Queer Student Cultural Center board member, said he was the only person who posed a question to the nominated members.
“There was a lack of process,” Brauer said. “This is the single-most important decision MSA makes all year, there was a general feeling that it was rushed.”
But MSA President Ben Bowman said he disagreed with members who thought the process was too hasty, adding the protocol for approving the fees committee mirrored previous MSA actions.
“The panel was presented, and the forum had every opportunity to ask questions,” he said. “They could have tabled the motion.”
But Coffman Union’s closing earlier this week hampered his administration’s ability to provide timely information about the committee nominees, Bowman said.
Rafael Espinosa, a College of Liberal Arts sophomore and La Raza Student Cultural Center board member, said he was shocked the resolution was passed without the cultural center’s knowledge.
“We were busy with the move (from Coffman Union),” he said. “The decision included funding which we definitely need because of all our cultural events.”
Brauer was also concerned that the fees committee did not reflect the student diversity. Two women and two people of color were elected to the 15-member committee.
“(The fees committee) is not going to be impartial to the needs of the student groups,” he said. “The collective ideology is unbalanced.”

Raiza Beltran welcomes comments at [email protected]y.umn.edu. She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3222.