Members of the Minnesota State University, Mankato Student Government traveled to the Minnesota State Capitol on Monday to lobby for the newly proposed Armstrong project, as well as request funding for various repair and replacement projects across the campus.
Student Government sent six members, including President Anisa Omar, Vice President Andrew Trenne, and Speaker Emma Zellmer to argue on behalf of the University.
The Armstrong project, while still in its early stages, aims to completely tear down Armstrong Hall. The hall was constructed in 1964 and houses many students’ general classes.
The tentative plan now is to replace the building with a green space, and build a new building elsewhere on campus, such as closer to the Performing Arts Center.
With the majority of the building’s classrooms set in the traditional lecture style, the University hopes to provide more flexible learning opportunities for students. As most students will at least have one class in Armstrong Hall at some point in their college career, they hope to provide a newer and more modern style of classroom for students.
Currently, Governor Tim Walz is backing the project, including it in his proposal for bonding.
Through various meetings with Senators and Representatives, such as North Mankato Representative Brand, the student leaders found mostly support for the replacement of Armstrong Hall. “It’s about the future of [MNSU]” said Senator Jeff Brand, in regard to the project.
The other issue brought forward in the meetings was that of the Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) budget. MNSU currently has $82,520,000 in HEAPR backlog, including residential life. During the meetings, the Student Government asked for only $8, covering only five of the 11 repair projects requested.
Student Government stated that if this HEAPR request is not granted, there will most likely be a rise in tuition for the second year in a row.
Democrats such as Representative Brand and Senator Matt Little showed support for both projects, while Republicans such as Representative Greg Boe and Deputy Minority Leader, Representative Anna Neu, showed stronger support for the Armstrong project, while showing hesitancy toward the HEAPR request.
Overall, the Student Government believed the lobby day at the Capitol proved to be very beneficial to not only bringing the issues to legislator’s attention, but also giving them the student’s perspective, and how their votes effect the student body as a whole.
Student Government Vice President Trenne summed up the experience by saying, “For the first time Student Government doing this, we think it went extremely well and we want to continue next year.”
Header photo by Max Mayleben/MSU Reporter.