With around 50 ongoing or in-progress platform items to complete, the Minnesota Student Association at the University of Minnesota hopes to maintain momentum for spring semester.
This fall, MSA focused their efforts on 10 areas: accessibility, sexual assault, dining services, off-campus housing, mental health, transportation, St. Paul campus, government advocacy, inclusive campus climate and Greek life.
A majority of proposed initiatives covering dining services, off-campus housing and St. Paul have been completed, while initiatives in other areas still await action.
One of MSA’s goals for the semester was to engage with legislators in preparation for the spring legislative session, said MSA President Trish Palermo.
MSA has partnered with local lawmakers like Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, to draft five pieces of legislation targeting renters’ rights and medical amnesty laws.
In November, MSA launched a campaign aiming to spread awareness about mistreatment of student renters. Along with the campaign, they released a list of six University-area landlords who have repeatedly violated University policy.
Since then, Dinkytown Rentals, one of the accused landlords, successfully appealed to be removed from the list after fulfilling several guidelines.
“The fact that it went public is motivating some people who have been on the list for many years to get off of it now… which is good,” said Kendre Turonie, program director for the Off-Campus Living office. “My goal would be for no landlords to be on this list. I want all of them doing a good job and doing right by their tenants.”
MSA also created a taskforce to make recommendations for a contract with a new dining service. The current contract with Aramark expires in 2020.
Currently, the taskforce is finalizing its report by talking with various groups on campus to gather information, said James Farnsworth, co-director of the committee.
The University’s deadline to make a decision on whether to extend the current vendor’s contract or take bids from other vendors was originally set for the end of the year, but has been delayed until January 2019, Farnsworth said.
The committee’s recommendations will be shared at the first forum of the new semester, which will be held on Jan. 23.
Additionally, MSA expanded Gopher Chauffeur, the University of Minnesota’s free student taxi service, to run six days a week starting this spring semester, though logistics like additional employees and costs have not been finalized.
“I really can’t emphasize how proud I am. In all my years of student government, I’ve never had things happen so quickly,” Palermo said.