Student Forum Report 11-2-2016

Since more than 500 veterans attend Minnesota State University in Mankato, the Minnesota State Student Association passed the motion to expedite and support the hire of a qualified part-time counselor, despite slight disagreements. Librarian Kellian Clink presented her perceived need for advocacy for veterans in assisting them with adjusting and coping with transitioning to civilian life.

“[The campus] doesn’t have a whole lot of programming,” Clink said. She added that David Schrader, along with a research board, has looked into a Gilda instructor for stress and relaxation, especially for veterans. What the administration discovered is the exercises have been proven helpful.

In light of emphasizing for veteran advocacy, Clink also said, “…I think it is a moral imperative, too. They risked their lives for our country, whatever it is you feel about the war—pro or con—to get this very education that they are here for now.”

The MSSA invited Tien Bui, the students united campus intern, to speak. Along with other veterans, Bui has formed a working group with the administration and started a discussion group last summer. Bui said he has appreciated the support so far and thanked those who have encouraged him and others.

Mark Constantine passed on a clarification from Vice President David Jones that the administration has recently approved the hiring of a part-time counselor who is specialized in veterans’ needs and understands where they are coming from. Currently, however, the administration is also seeking an office for the new employee, but are using David Schrader’s space and coordinating his schedule with the times he is out and the new counselor can use it. The MSSA has also offered use of the attorney office space located in CSU 280.

“The position has been approved for 20 hours,” Constantine said. “It is not the full time that we had talked about at one time, but it’s at least a start for us.”

With that said, Speaker Fred de Ruiter opened it up for the student senators to add their voices to the discussion.

“This is a really great first step,” Cremers said, “and it may draw more vets to the school, knowing they have the support.”

“As student leaders, we must do our best to represent all our students, not just specific groups,” Senator Jacob Royce added.

Senator Connor Martin pointed out that Student Allocations Committee is still examining the budget and in the past, they have decided not to allocate too much money towards anything else.
“I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be a good idea, but it’s just like how we have decided not to give some groups money even though we would like to support them,” Senator Martin said. “If we gave them that much more money without them telling us a plan of how they were going to use it, it may not be a good decision.”

Overall, however, majority overruled, the motion passed, and the students moved into announcements.

Later in the meeting, the MSSA resolved a motion to investigate with Grounds Supervisor Bruce Leivermann for ways that the campus could improve the habitat for bees. Clink made a case for the value to preserve and restore areas into floral habitats so the native bees can benefit from the pollinators.

In other MSSA business matters, the senate members also discussed a further plan for more awareness for a non-smoking policy on campus, based on what information the students had given them. Abdul-Hafeez Nakumbe presented a plan from the feedback and developed a consumer respective report that consisted of several parts.

Part A would consist of the best practices a university can adapt to prevent smoking and part B would develop a plan off future feedback received from MSSA in regards to the various perspectives on-campus.

Based on additional information received from a non-smoking privileged campus, Nakumbe said he will write his report from the answers given him and before a formal interview terminates. He has spoken to two faculty members from the health department. Since he is conducting several policy reviews, he said he would welcome any students’ other concerns they may have.

The policies he will review include conflicts of financial interest with grants and sponsored programs, crime reporting requirements, emergency notifications, graduate assistantship, graduate enrollment, missing residential student, satisfactory academic progress for undergraduate students, student education records, and weapons and firearms

With no more dissent, the senate moved onto officer and senator reports.

Speaker de Ruiter also addressed some of the senate members who missed the MSSA open house held last week and did not communicate their reasons. During the meeting, de Ruiter dismissed a few who had explained, including one who was actually present for an hour. De Ruiter informed the rest they would be speaking with Ethics & Standards.

Senator Cremers gave students an update on the new bus schedule for Route 1B North. It now runs Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. On Friday afternoon, the services end at 4:30 p.m.

As part of her report, Tayler Lyng said that in her meeting with President Rayani and Vice President Ruiz, they had reviewed the sexual assault policies to examine what may be improved. Lyng had also convened with SCAR so they could set up meetings with a SCAR representative to help with victims and their Bill of Rights. Rayani commended Lyng for her diligent and consistent work.

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