Gabel addresses campus safety, masking requirements at MSA forum.

President Gabel answered questions regarding topics like masking requirements, UMPD, academic scholarships and more.

University+of+Minnesota+President+Joan+Gabel+fields+questions+from+the+Minnesota+Daily+in+her+office+on+Tuesday%2C+Feb.+25%2C+2020.

Image by Emily Urfer

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel fields questions from the Minnesota Daily in her office on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.

by Madison Roth

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel attended Forum for the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) on April 12 to answer questions that MSA members had sent to her.

Some of the topics Gabel covered included masking requirements, campus safety, University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD), response to mental health crises, University dining and more.

“We advocate for what we think is best for you all and the University,” Gabel said. The MSA meeting with Gabel was initially set to be in-person, but it was later moved online.

In the meeting, Gabel talked about several initiatives that are currently in progress, like the raise in minimum wage for student workers.

“We have a whole task force going on for those of you who work on campus,” Gabel said. “That is something that is underway.”

Gabel also talked about masking and why the University chose to keep masks in classrooms.

“We are still requiring masks in classrooms because that was the request of the faculty,” Gabel said. “We could have asked to remove masks in the classroom, but that felt contradictory to what we committed to in the beginning of the year.”

According to second-year student and MSA ranking voting member Carter Yost, several members of MSA were happy about how the Forum with Gabel went.

“I, and other MSA members and students watching on Zoom, were really thrilled about the opportunity to hear directly from the President about updates on initiatives and her thoughts on policies and programs,” Yost said.

Yost added that dialogue between Gabel and students is crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page and the meeting with Gabel is the perfect opportunity to do that.

“Both MSA and the President’s office were pleased with how it went and are looking forward to doing this again in the future,” Yost said.

Yost also shared his thoughts on campus mental health initiatives like Gabel’s recent mention that a social worker will be joining the UMPD staff.

“It’s encouraging to see the administration take seriously student calls for stronger mental health services on campus,” Yost said. “I think it’s an imperfect solution to an incomplete system of mental health services, but it’s a step in the right direction and a display of a shared interest in better supporting students.”

Ajibola wrote she felt the meeting with Gabel went really well. Her email said she “was very thankful Gabel took the time to come and talk with students.”

Ajibola added that there were some parts of the meeting that she said she thought could have gone better.

“I wish that we did more outreach to the student body besides just social media. Oftentimes the voices that need to be heard are never in the room. It is our job as student government to bring them into the room and have their voices heard,” Ajibola wrote.

For ending remarks, Gabel expressed her excitement to have this opportunity and looks forward to talking with MSA in the future.

“Every year we want to get better at working with you and being your partner,” Gabel said. “To be more productive every year, that’s the goal.”