Three calls for campus community reform

Student government heard from three members of the campus community about possible updates at Minnesota State.

The first was Junior Brooke Van Gelderen. She explained that her request for a parking ramp grew from her observation of a lack of parking space for students.

“Campus population is rapidly growing, but we don’t have enough spaces or spots for these growing numbers,” Van Gelderen said.

She said confusing parking rules result in many parking tickets for students. Van Gelderen said she believes a parking ramp is a better alternative than building another parking lot.

“There is almost no more room near campus to build another lot that wouldn’t disrupt a current building. Plus, no one wants to walk more than a mile to get to campus,” Van Gelderen said. “The further a lot is from campus, the more dangerous it is at night.”

Van Gelderen suggested building the parking ramp in Lot 1, which is currently designated as Dark Green.

“It’s closer to campus, away from the main road when walking to sporting events. It wouldn’t disrupt any buildings or the views of campus,” Van Gelderen said.

Van Gelderen said she would like student government to push forward such a project in the coming months.

“My missions for MSU, Mankato, are to have finalized plans to build a parking ramp by the end of the academic year,” Van Gelderen said. “I would love to have the student government support for the project. I believe that it will benefit the student body and the campus overall.”

In other student government news, Christopher Corley, Dean of Library and Learning, updated senators on his vision for developing a learning commons at the campus library. Corley reached out to library faculty and students to discuss what they would like to see change.

“What we have learned is that the documented benefits of learning commons include broadening the role of the library on campus and collaboration across student learning services,” Corley said. “Many people have described transformative changes in help-seeking behavior on the part of the students.”

MSU sent teams to visit several universities throughout North America that were already implementing such ideas. There were several aspects in common among these university libraries.

“They all emphasized community, the joy of reading, inquiry, a passion for life-long learning. They included research and technology assistance and technology spaces that fostered information literacy skills, creativity, and information,” Corley said. “They all had flexible space.”

From students, Corley heard a willingness to use services that were easily available; therefore, the library made several improvements to reflect this.

“We developed an IT service next to our printer bar, and we have much higher use there of the services,” Corley said. “We moved the writing center from the lower level of the library to the upper level of the library, and we have already seen a 17% increase in the use of the writing tutors.”

Corley said potential partners might be Accessibility Resources, the Center for Academic Support and IT Solutions.

“Many, if not all of these services, are currently located in the lower level of the library, so we are really talking about lifting those areas up and giving them the visibility,” Corley said. “What we want is a main floor, easy access for our undergraduate students.”

In his report, Senator Godswill Chinedu Emedo discussed the conditions of international students working for Sodexo, which runs dining facilities in CSU as well as the dining center.

“With my past years as a student, and also as an international student, I feel like my fellow international students are not being treated equally and being paid what I think they deserve,” Chinedu Emedo said.

International students working on campus are currently paid $10 per hour. Off-campus jobs pay more, but international students cannot take those jobs due to legalities.

“Being an international student, you can’t work off campus,” Chinedu Emedo said. “I personally feel like Sodexo knows this stuff, and that is why they are taking advantage of international students. Most of their workers are international students.”

Chinedu Emedo challenged the president of the university and the president of student government to look into the matter, especially considering the upcoming expiration of the Sodexo contract.

“We students, we bring money into this corporation. We fund them,” Chinedu Emedo said. “Before they [the university board] sign anything into that or place any signature, can we have a review of this contract as students?”

Chinedu Emedo said he is not merely expressing his views on behalf of other international students. It is something he experienced as well.

“I’ve worked there for three years,” Chinedu Emedo said. “This is firsthand. This is not a situation where I don’t express myself. I express myself, and I know what goes on.”

Chinedu Emedo asked his fellow senators to use the means available to them in order to raise awareness concerning the way Sodexo is treating international students.

“Please, we are calling for help. This is a cry for help,” Chinedu Emedo said.

Header photo: Christopher Corley talked to students about building a learning commons in the library. (Dalton Grubb/The Reporter)

Write to Tracy Swartzendruber at tracy.swartzendruber@mnsu.edu

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