Student Forum Report 2-1-2017

Last Wednesday’s student senate meeting began with a moment of silence in honor of MNSU student Adam Ellingson, who died unexpectedly last week. An article in honor of Adam’s life can be seen in this edition of the Reporter.

Presentations were then given by Student Events Team, organizers of the upcoming MACURH conference, and Leadership U.

Alex Wieland and Bradin Schmidt of Student Events Team gave a recap of the group’s events last semester and a preview of what is to come this semester. Among other events, Student Events Team hosted Inflatable 5K, Taxes 101, Foam Party, and Cosmic Bingo, all of which were considered successes. Among the highlights for this spring semester are an electronic dance music festival, Kato Ninja Warrior, and Stomper’s Film Festival.

Student Events Team is a student-run organization. More information can be found at https://www.mnsu.edu/studenteventsteam/.

Gracie Smith and Kate Schmit spoke on the upcoming Midwest Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (MACURH) Regional Business Conference that will be hosted on campus from Feb. 10-12. Smith is chair of the event and Schmit is vice-chair. MACURH is a regional affiliate of NACURH (the National Association of College and University Residence Halls).

NACURH’s mission statement, found on www.nacurh.org, is as follows: “As an organization, NACURH empowers, motivates, and equips residence hall leaders by providing them with skills and resources in order for them to excel and positively impact their campus communities.” MACURH organizes three conferences a year. This is the first conference MNSU has been awarded since 2009. Conference activities will take place in the CSU. The keynote speakers will be Carla Blomberg of the Wishes and More Foundation and former champion basketball head coach Angie Lee.
Registration is closed for attendance, but many volunteer opportunities were available as of last Wednesday’s senate meeting. The conference will be Dr. Seuss-themed.

More information on the conference can be found on its OrgSync page.

Stephen Kopelke of Leadership U encouraged RSOs to participate in the “31 question challenge” as a way to “spotlight their organization.” Kopelke explains that Leadership U “offers free leadership training to all MSU students.”

Senator and executive board reports were then given.

Senator Alex Lucier is a member of the President’s Commission on Diversity. He noted that the Commission intends to update MNSU’s diversity statement which has remained unchanged since 2004. He noted that there is also talk of extracurricular diversity graduation requirements, the idea of a “sanctuary campus”, and a climate study update. Senate vice president Maria Ruiz noted that there are two spots for students on the President’s Commission on Diversity.

The senate passed the consent agenda, which included five items totaling $2,050. $400 was allocated to Mudworks for travel to the National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts in Portland, Oregon. $700 was allocated to the Student Art League for travel to various museums in Chicago. $550 was allocated to Sigma Chi for travel to their Province Seminar in Fargo. $400 went to the School Psychology Society for travel to the School Psychology Association’s Mid-winter Conference in Plymouth. A recommended allocation of $3,000 was removed from the consent agenda for special discussion.

The Veterans Club would use the money to offer events for members in the upcoming academic year, including movies, graduation socials, speakers, travel to veterans job fairs, and travel to Veterans on the Hill. The motion passed without opposition.

President Faical Rayani stated “there are over 700 veterans on our campus [and] that is well above what I believe a student population should be before services are offered to them. There is a director of Hmong affairs and Latino affairs [and] the numbers of those students are close to 700. Veterans are underserved on our campus.”

President Faical Rayani announced that a committee tasked with dealing with the RSO registration process has been organized. President Rayani sent out an email with FAQs regarding the President’s executive order as well as an email with contact information for the Minnesota Attorney General, who has reached out to Minnesota State schools offering assistance to affected students.

Vice President Maria Ruiz went into some depth on President Trump’s executive order which has temporarily suspended travel from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. She notes that there are fourteen students on campus from six of the seven countries and that the Kearney International Center is in contact with all of them. She mentioned that President Davenport participated in a conference call with other Minnesota State university presidents and Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.

President Davenport forwarded a message from Chancellor Rosenstone in an email sent to all staff and students which stated that “in light of the heightened national immigration debate over recent days and weeks, I want to underscore our steadfast commitment to ensuring that our campuses will remain safe and welcoming places of inclusion, hope, and opportunity for all students and employees.”

Ruiz noted that since MNSU is a public institution, it will not be possible to become a sanctuary campus. Ruiz celebrated the success of MSSA’s tabling efforts in the CSU. Eighty-four students came by MSSA’s table and signed up to learn more about MSSA. Ruiz also noted that fifteen delegates from MNSU are needed for this Friday’s upcoming Students United conference. Students United acts as the overarching student government body for all Minnesota State schools.

Speaker Fred de Ruiter mentioned in his report that work is being done to replace ISRS, the Minnesota State database system. De Ruiter emphasized that the system is “in severe need of change.”
Senator Jon Smith gave an update on an investigation that is being done into expansion of MNSU security services off-campus. She mentioned that there has been talk of offering the Safe Walk program off-campus, but that the idea may be an unfeasible mess of red tape.

Promoters of the proposed expansion of the Maverick Adventures program were asked about their plans for the program. The expansion would greatly increase the amount of services offered by the program and would cost the university $250,000 annually. They argued that Maverick Adventures will help with university retention rates and will provide students with an opportunity to meet new people. They said that the success of the indoor rock-climbing wall has provided inspiration for the establishment of an outdoor rental program.

Once initiated, they plan to promote the program through social media, digital signage, and advertisements on gym workout stations. Maverick Adventures would employ two full-time staff members. It was mentioned that an outdoor rental program existed at MNSU several decades ago, but that it was discontinued when its leader left the university. One major issue that was discussed at the meeting was the question of where Maverick Adventures’ rental equipment would be stored. Options include Pennington Hall and the basement of the new Clinical Sciences building, but nothing has been finalized.

Discussion on the planned creation of a meditation space on campus was also held. A motion was passed to email a survey to students to gauge their thoughts on the idea.

Speaker de Ruiter reluctantly opened the floor to a fifteen-minute open discussion of President Trump’s recent executive order that contained no specific plan of action. The general consensus of the senate was one of opposition to the order.

Vice President Ruiz notes that a vigil will be held this Wednesday in opposition to the president’s policies. In an announcement for the vigil sent to all students yesterday, Ruiz wrote that “instead of fear, we come together and light candles in resistance and love. We redefine security as care, support, and protection for each other. We stand in solidarity with our undocumented, DACA-mented, DREAMER, Muslim and refugee students and faculty and the greater community because kindness, dignity, and protection of all people are at the heart of every Maverick.”

University vice president David Jones spoke to the senate saying that a similar conversation of President Trump’s policies is being had in MNSU’s administration. Jones said that there is fear among the administration over how to act. If MNSU were to stand with its values and resist the president’s policies, he said, “there would be consequences.” Jones added that research is being done into what those consequences would be as well as what the impact would be if travel were to be banned from all Muslim countries.

In final announcements, it was noted that two campus tour guide positions are open for this summer as well as an internship position for Around Campus Media, the group that puts together the MNSU student planners.

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