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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/mssa/news/html/aprilforum.html

Politics, Candidates and Cotton Candy

Outdoor recreation, athletic and fitness facilities proposal referendum main topic of discussion

by Jon Swedien

Issue date: 4/5/07 Section: Campus News
Gabe

MSSA President Gabe Afoylan
addresses the crowd during the
open forum Tuesday in the
basement of the CSU.

Media Credit: Raymond Starin

The Minnesota State Student Association held a hodge-podge open forum Wednesday in the Centennial Union's Hearth room. It included question and answer sessions with Director of Campus Recreation Todd Pfingsten, the MSSA presidential and vice presidential candidates, and the MSSA senate candidates.

The main topic of discussion, since candidates for president and vice president didn't need to be discussed, was the outdoor recreation, athletic and fitness facilities proposal referendum. The referendum proposes an increase in student fees to improve Minnesota State's recreational facilities. The referendum will be voted on along with the MSSA elections Tuesday.

While using student fees for campus recreation projects seems unprecedented, Pfingsten said other schools in the region have used student fees to fund such projects. One student asked if the proposal would benefit athletes primarily or the average student. Pfingsten said the proposal would certainly help athletes, but it would also help students. An outdoor track, Pfingsten said, would open up room inside Myers Field House. He also said lighted fields would mean students could play football or softball games at night when they may have more free time. He also said the improvements will make the recreational facilities safer to students.

"Typically the student body does not have the opportunity to have the power of decision making," said MSSA President Gabe Afolayan. "This is your opportunity to say yes or no."

The referendum, however, is not necessarily binding.

Student Senator Mike Norton said since the MSSA presidency is uncontested he is worried few students will vote and the referendum won't be representative of the entire student body.

The referendum allows students to choose from three choices. One choice is to vote for no for the proposal and give no additional funds to campus recreation. Choice A is to increase student fees by $80 per year. Choice B is to increase student fees $130 per year in addition to the $80 increase included in proposal A.

If proposition A is implemented, it will include improvements to existing fields, add lighting to the baseball fields, add fitness trails, add two tennis courts, reconstruct the existing tennis courts and include the construction of a new outdoor track among other improvements.

In addition to the improvements outlined in A, proposition B will add a bubble over field three. It will also add synthetic turf to Blakeslee Field as well as other beneficial changes.

A pamphlet from the campus recreation department implies that a "no" vote could lead to the reduction of recreation programming because of safety concerns with the current fields.

Vice President of Finance and Administration Richard Straka tried to put the proposal into context. He said that of the numerous additions to the campus, including academic buildings and the new dorm, this plan was the only improvement being funded by student fees.

MSSA presidential candidate Chris Frederick, vice presidential candidate Casey Carmody, and a handful of incumbent and hopeful MSSA senators also fielded a few questions from students who made the open forum.

Jon Swedien is a Reporter staff writer