Student Government holds open forum

Student Government held an open forum Wednesday to educate students about choices they’ll be making in next week’s student body elections. 

Voting starts at 8 a.m. Monday closes at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Students can go to mnsu.edu/voting to vote. In addition to voting to student government positions, students will be voting on proposed fee increases for both the Student Activity Fee overall and the Athletics fee.

The proposed SAF increase is 11.86%, or $1.04 per credit hour. Student Activity Fees help fund student groups such as Student Events TEam and Maverick Food Pantry. The proposed increase in the Athletics fee is 21.83%, which will amount to $1 per credit hour. The Athletics fee helps the 603 student athletes at MSU, and provides all students with free access to most athletic events.

If both fee proposals are approved, a student taking 15 credits fall semester would see their fees increase by $30.

Presidential candidate Roshit Niraula and his vice president candidate, Rebekka Jay, were asked questions about what they would do next academic year as president and vice president. (They are the only team running student government’s highest offices.)

They saidthey are looking into helping students with mental health, and plan to communicate with the Counseling Center to provide more student consultation. 

“That way, students don’t run out of visiting the Counseling Center midway through the semester, and they’re able to better connect with the resources that are available to the students,” said Niraula. “One of our priorities going into next year would be getting the conversation started with different campus groups, whether it be Faculty Association, whether it be through support from other sources and in getting the conversation started on how we can implement wellness days.” 

Niraula said he is running to represent the students. 

“I’ve always looked for places where I can feel more connected and belong. Student government has really helped me feel more connected here on campus,” Niraula said. “I think we have a tremendous team (Mavericks United) that I’m running with for the next academic year, and I think we’ll be able to get some things done.” 

One topic discussed at this forum was the student fees mentioned at last week’s budget meeting. Niraula said it is important for students to vote yes, as these fees will help support over 20 programs on campus. 

“It supports homecoming, it supports Maverick Food Pantry, it supports Campus Recreation, Maverick Adventures, all of those different things that the students want, and it’s all of those things that sets us apart from other colleges,”  Niraula said. “I think it’s really important that we continue to serve on these different departments, the different programming, and the different clubs that we have here on our campus as a whole. That’s why I believe that students should go ahead and vote yes.” 

Director of Athletics Kevin Buisman spoke at the forum about the intercollegiate athletics fee. He said this increase will help relieve some of the fundraising pressure on student athletes and allow them to return to being students and athletes.

“The student fees really, in our case, support operations, recruitment, team travel, lodging, meals, those types of things. We don’t use any student fee money for salaries. We don’t use any student fee money for scholarships,” said Buisman. “I think there’s a misconception that it’s funding scholarships and salaries and people maybe don’t necessarily agree that that’s where they want to invest their dollars, but it’s simply for the team operations, meals, lodging, travel.” 

Buisman mentioned that some of the other colleges in Minnesota have higher athletics fees, while MSU has the lowest total fee amount of any four-year institution in the system. He said they are only asking for a $1 increase to rationalize what is important to them. 

“We’re still sensitive to any kind of fee increase. What we felt we could rationalize was the loss of purchasing power due to inflation. And so we really just sort of looked at what do we need to have in terms of fee increase support to offset that loss, and it just happened to be right at $1,” said Buisman. “The priority was offsetting that loss of purchasing power. And that’s where we settled on $1 and not going any further beyond that.” 

Header photo: Student Government held an open forum Wednesday to educate students about choices they’ll be making in next weeks student body elections that take place 8 a.m. Monday till 6 p.m. Tuesday. (Lauren Viska/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at Lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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