Madia-Murphy plan is right fit for MSA

Critics of the Minnesota Student Association have hammered away at that enigmatic governing body for years. The group has been pilloried for offering proposals that appear self-serving and substanceless. It has been accused of failing to provide students with a clear and attainable agenda. Much of this criticism, unfortunately, is justified. The group has too often focused on frivolous issues like California grapes and library portraits. Meanwhile, issues that students actually care about, such as rising tuition and transportation costs, are rolled out for public display each year and then pushed aside after more failed attempts at reform.
MSA has limited power. The board’s resolutions are non-binding — which means no one, from a legal standpoint, must pay any attention to them — and it cannot set University policy. It is merely a forum for student leaders to address and debate the issues that most concern students. Under this structure, grandiose visions for change rarely find root and instead lead to empty rhetoric and broken promises. Yet the association fills an important and time-honored role on campus. By pushing and prodding administrators and other powerful people in the University community, its leaders can effect positive change.
It’s important to remember these realities on the eve of this year’s MSA election. The presidential campaign has been filled with the usual gimmicky advertisements, high-powered rhetoric and vague promises. Each ticket wants to jump-start student activism and make the MSA more accountable. Each consists of hardworking, idealistic students who believe in the nobility of public service. One pair of candidates, however, set itself apart from the pack by proposing a series of modest reforms that could actually improve student life. The platform of Jigar Madia and running mate Bridgette Murphy is pragmatic and caters neither to the rigid ideologues on the MSA’s right nor to the idealists on its left. The ticket deserves your vote.
Madia, a sophomore who serves as MSA’s Speaker of the Forum, has a working knowledge of the student governing process. Murphy, a junior, has worked as a volunteer in many areas of student life. Moreover, the tandem has identified several student concerns that form the core of its year-long plan. Among these are placing students on tenure review committees, revitalizing the online book buy-back program and expanding U Card capabilities for use at local vendors. They also propose the creation of a student volunteer network devoted to community outreach and public access to professor evaluations.
These are not high-profile issues that promise institutional change at the University, but they are appropriate goals in light of limitations on the MSA’s power. The tandem risks alienating its constituency by failing to meet any of its objectives, and we also doubt they will be able to achieve each proposal in a year’s time. But the duo has offered a detailed platform that is realistic and largely attainable. As their ticket suggests, student leaders and the MSA can help make the University more accessible and affordable by promoting well-defined and practical measures. That should be their goal.