Student Forum Report 3-15-2017

Last Wednesday’s MSSA meeting featured presentations from Mitchell Hein and Senator Griffin Goode of Student Health Allocations Committee (SHAC), Dean Henry Morris of Institutional Diversity, CSU Director Mark Constantine and CSU Board Chair Tien Bui, and Assistant Chief Information Officer (CIO) Bryan Schneider.

Goode and Hein presented statistics on the value of Student Health Services (SHS) to students. SHS is a full medical clinic that serves 15,000 students each year. 61 percent of users are off-campus and 22 percent are international. Hein notes that SHS provides students with more affordable medicine. SHS is asking for a budget increase of $75,000 for the coming academic year, which would bring the clinic’s total budget to $1 million. This would require a 26 cents per-credit student fee increase. SHS Director Wendy Schuh says that “[this request] is to sustain our services,” not to expand them. 70 percent of the budget goes to staff salaries. SHS is currently located in the basement of the Carkoski Commons building, which is set to be demolished within a decade.

Dean Morris spoke broadly about the importance of diversity on campus, explaining “why we’re doing what we’re doing and why we need to continue what we’re doing.” Enrollment rates for international students and domestic students of color (blacks, Latinos, native Americans, and Asian-Americans) have been rising while the rate of caucasian enrollment has been falling. Morris celebrates the fact that MNSU has been doing a better job than other schools in the Minnesota State system in recruiting a diverse student population. Institutional Diversity aims to “recruit, retain, and graduate” international students and domestic students of color and to close the achievement and opportunity gap between Caucasian students and students of diverse backgrounds.

In their “State of the Union” address, Constantine and Bui proposed a .6 percent increase in funding for the CSU. The primary purpose of the increase would be to permit the CSU to host higher-caliber events aimed at “[increasing] the cultural and educational value of the CSU.” They noted that the CSU has a good record of balancing its budget. They also noted that just as the CSU basement was renovated last year, Mav. Ave. on the main floor will be similarly renovated over the summer.

Assistant CIO Bryan Schneider emphasized the importance of the tech fee and requested a three percent bare minimum increase of the fee. Technology on campus must constantly be improved, he said, and he wants students to have access to better technological services. Among areas in need of improvement, he points to the Academic Computer Center (ACC) in Wissink Hall, which, he says, has remained largely unchanged for two decades.

The following students were appointed to the Students United Delegates Team: Faical Rayani, Johua Hrad, Ray Witte, Abi Saha, Zach Orum, Alex Johnson, Mackensie Cook, Maria Ruiz, Qendresa Isniqi, Emily Christensen, Mohammed AlShammari, Yulia Podorova, Abdulrahmane Abdul-Aziz, Alex Lucier, and Frederick de Ruiter. Senator Lucier’s motion to promote the well-being of graduate students was again postponed.

In his report, President Faical Rayani spoke about student politics at the statewide level. He notes that Students United stands behind a bill co-sponsored by Governor Dayton supporting free open source textbooks. Rayani points out two bills currently in the state legislature.

“One would effectively dissolve the Students United mandatory per credit fee,” he says. “The other would move away from the student government structure which includes consultation of student government.”

He also mentioned plans in the works to create a massive new athletic facility for MNSU. He says that those plans are the reason that the Maverick Adventures program has temporarily “been on the backburner.” Because student funds would be used to build the facility, he says, MSSA would have leverage in the design and decision-making process.

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