Student Forum Report 3-1-2017

Most of the March 1 student senate meeting was taken up by six presentations.

Rick Straka, Vice President for Finance and Administration, presented information on the university budget. MNSU is requesting $178 million from the state legislature this year. Governor Dayton has recommended that number to be $150 million, but that decision is ultimately up to the state congress. He notes that two-thirds of the university budget comes from tuition and that the remaining third comes from state allocations. He mentioned that there is a proposed three percent tuition increase for the next academic year. This would represent an increase of around $110 per student.

David Cowan of the Parking Advisory Committee presented on the committee’s budget. He noted that more money is needed for improvement of parking lots. The committee collects revenue from bus fares and parking space fees and Cowan pointed out a number of proposed parking fee increases. Senator Connor Martin asked why parking violation fees are so much more expensive on campus than throughout the rest of the city. Cowan responded saying that campus is much smaller than the city of Mankato and that demand is very high for parking on campus.

Richard Kier presented on the bike-friendly campus movement. The League of American Bicyclists awards the title of “bike friendly” to cities and campuses based on a list of pro-bicycling criteria. Mankato and North Mankato are already bike-friendly cities and Kier would like to see MNSU follow suit. Of the League of American Bicyclists’ four rankings – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum – Kier recommends that MNSU begin by aiming for bronze. Among the potential benefits, Kier cites “reduced parking, transportation, and healthcare costs,” “congestion reduction,” and “sustainability.”

Students United Chair and former MSSA Vice President Joe Wolf presented on Students United’s proposed student fee increase. He notes that the fee (currently at 43 cents per credit) has not been altered since 2006.

“We need a fee increase,” he says. “We’ve been very fiscally conservative with the money we’ve saved in this period.”

Wolf explains that the increased revenue would be used to provide the salary of the newly-created Students United staff position of Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

Senator Martin, Chair of the Election Commission, went over the commission’s rules and regulations. The MSSA election will take place on April 11.

Senator Jacob Royce presented on the Gender Unicorn. He spoke about “misgendering,” or referring to people by a gender with which they do not identify, which he called “unacceptable.” He argued that the term “you guys” is not a “gender inclusive term” and should not be used.

Three students were appointed to MSSA committees: Katelynn Ogunfolami to Student Affairs and Public Relations, Kwadwo Owusu to Student Affairs, and Noah Olson to Public Relations. $3,700 were allocated to campus organizations: $250 to the MSU chapter of the Structural Engineering Institute for a trip to the Structures Congress in Denver, $1000 to Student Today Leaders Forever for a trip to the College Pay It Forward Tour in Pensacola, $450 to the Sociology Club for a trip to the Midwest Sociology Society Convention in Milwaukee, and $2,000 to the Geotechnical Engineering Club for a trip to the National GeoWall Competition Top 20 at the GeoTechnical Frontiers Conference in Orlando.

In his report, President Faical Rayani noted that MavTube, an online streaming service for MNSU, will soon begin broadcasting every MSSA event.

In her report, Vice President Maria Ruiz, noted that there is talk of converting two gender neutral bathrooms in Otto Recreation Center into gender neutral locker rooms.

A motion proposed by Senator Lucier was postponed until the next meeting.

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