MSA elects at-large representative Gauthier as new Forum speaker

Seth Woehrle

The Minnesota Student Association chose a successor Tuesday afternoon to fill its recently vacated Forum speaker position.

Matt Gauthier, an at-large Forum representative, was elected by the MSA Forum over Harry Savage, an Institute of Technology senator allowed to sit on Forum.

The former speaker, Matt Abdel, resigned on Oct. 22 because of conflicts with MSA President Dan Kelly – also a member of The Minnesota Daily’s Board of Directors – and others in MSA leadership.

After resigning, Abdel became a representative and Vice President Nick Dehnert served as interim speaker.

Speaking before the Forum, Gauthier said he would be unbiased.

“One giant thing I can bring as speaker of the forum would be, since I’ve only been here for four weeks, I don’t owe any political favors,” he said.

The Forum started out with three candidates for the speaker position: Gauthier, Savage and the team of Bakari, Savage and Eman Eshmawy, who said they would rotate the position between them every other week to ensure impartiality.

After an initial vote, none of the candidates received enough votes to constitute a majority. Because they had received the smallest number of votes, Bakari Savage and Eshmawy were dropped from the ballot.

A second vote established Gauthier as the speaker, but Harry Savage said he believed there was an element in the Forum that supported him in opposition to traditional leadership.

“(MSA) is really divided like we’ve never seen before,” Savage said. “It’s sort of like the whole presidential election thing.”

Minutes after taking his position, Gauthier used his new gavel on an amendment that hit close to home.

The amendment, authored by Kelly, aimed to temporarily set the stipend MSA would pay its new speaker at $375. That amount is for serving from that night until the end of the school year, April 15.

The current stipend provides the speaker with $2,350 per year.

Because Kelly’s amendment was defeated, the Forum must still decide how to divide the yearly stipend between Abdel and Gauthier.