The Minnesota Student Association is making strides toward shared governance through talks with the Board of Regents, but during Tuesday’s forum, President Bob Bruininks warned them against bringing the issue to the state Legislature.
Students at the University of Wisconsin achieved shared governance by petitioning the legislature, and students obtained the right to formulate and review “policies concerning student life, services and interests,” but Bruininks told forum he would rather keep the issue internal and “work it out as members of the University [of Minnesota] community.”
MSA President Sarah Shook said the group was working on a memorandum of understanding so student government can move forward on a Regents policy establishing shared governance. Principles were agreed upon in discussions, Shook said, but no timeline was put in place.
Bruininks said he expects to see shared governance before he leaves the University in June.
Shook said MSA will continue to ready a legislative platform if it isn’t able to accomplish anything through the Board of Regents.
Any legislative action taken by MSA would be through the Legislative Certificate Program, which Bruininks praised for provoking discussion and “thinking about what is best for the University of Minnesota.”
However, Bruininks hinted that shared governance might not be well-received at the Capitol in the current political climate.
MSA representative Paul Buchel raised concerns over whether the student role would continue to be advisory or if students would get a real vote on issues affecting them and the University.
Bruininks said it was important to work toward consensus between students, faculty and administrators and to work through issues, rather than
simply vote on them.
He did not clearly state whether MSA would have a vote rather than just an advisory role.
MSA representatives themselves are unclear as to what will happen if they have shared governance. Forum passed a resolution Tuesday forming an ad-hoc committee dedicated to shared governance.
“Right now, if shared governance was achieved, we wouldn’t know what do with it,” MSA Legislative Affairs director Nick Saab said.
The Committee on Shared Governance was for representatives who are passionate about the subject and want to put procedures and infrastructure in place for dealing with shared governance, Saab said.
The committee will also function as a way for the Legislative Certificate Program to understand what forum wants.
Like other MSA committees, any decisions made by the ad-hoc committee will require forum approval.
The committee will begin meeting 5 p.m. next Tuesday in the MSA office and is open to the public, although only MSA members will be able to vote on committee decisions.
Paul Strain, MSA Representative to the Board of Regents, said he has been working with coordinate campuses to create “a unified message” for shared governance.
Strain will address shared governance in the student report to the Board of Regents at its December meeting.
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