Newly selected student fees committee approved by MSA

by Seth Woehrle

The selection of a Student Services Fees Committee has historically been a contentious issue, but the Minnesota Student Association’s unanimous approval of the current slate left some prospective committee and MSA Forum members pleasantly surprised.

The Forum had the opportunity to either approve the entire slate of 13 committee members or remove up to two members, whose spots would have been filled by ranked alternates.

Some MSA Forum members attributed the swift decision to confidence in the selection committee that chose the slate.

“The great thing about this meeting was that people put confidence in the fees committee selectors,” said Nick Dehnert, MSA vice president. “They didn’t get personal and people realized that it’s good to have a balance.”

The selection committee is made up of four people, two chosen by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and two by MSA.

One of the approved slate
members, Jason Vorbeck, said he was bracing for a heated debate as in past years.

“I was kind of expecting some drama,” Vorbeck said. “It shows that the Forum is taking a better look at the fees committee than they have in the past, and it’s a result of the reforms that GAPSA and MSA made a couple years ago.”

But before Vorbeck can begin deciding the amounts student groups will receive, he and his colleagues must first be approved by GAPSA on Dec. 3.

The fees committee process has been described in the past as complicated and ineffective, but MSA Forum representative and committee chairman Patrick Peterson said he hoped to bring positive change.

“It’s important, when we issue opinions about where the money should be going, we write longer rationales, we tell more about our process and we’re more open about our decision,” Peterson said. “Groups deserve more than a one-paragraph rationale.”

As a member of both a student group and the fees committee, Peterson is prohibited from
speaking or voting on issues related to MSA.

In addition to approving the fees committee slate, the Forum unanimously voted to take a position on President Mark Yudof’s proposed 13-credit minimum designed to improve graduation rates.

“The perception was that there was a horde of lazy students at this University, and I don’t think that’s true,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, chairman of the Academic Services Committee, which authored the position statement.

The statement criticizes the University for what the committee says is blaming students for the school’s problems – specifically financial aid, advising and orientation.

Also approved, although not unanimously, was a resolution to formally support a fall break for students on the third Friday of October.

Authored by representative Jeff Nath, the resolution maintains that a fall break would allow students and faculty to recover or prepare for midterms and bring the University into line with many other state and private colleges in Minnesota.