ArticlePage address: http://www.mnsu.edu/mssa/news/html/partingwords.html
Parting Words From The President
On his way out, Gabe Afolayan, the president of the Minnesota State Student Association for 2006-07, shares his two cents on students, administration, organizations and everything in between.
by Gabe Afolayan
Academic Standards and Advancement
The introduction of doctoral programs signifies prestige, growth, and most importantly the increase of academic standards. Most students have no idea that the university is taking steps to increase academic prestige and standards. Moreover, most students have no idea that MSU has a ton of successful alumni who have done great things- CEOs, philanthropists, and scholars. Probably worst of all, is that students are unaware of incredible faculty research that goes on year round. The leadership of President Davenport, Provost Olson, and administration will be tantamount to the success of university advancement in the near and distant future. Status quo in academics is unthinkable and our administration recognizes that fact.
When I refer to financial entitlement, I am referring to the opinion held by many groups and administrators on this campus that feel that finances allocated to their area is permanent and an inalienable right. So I pose these questions when I see this behavior: whose money is it? And what is the purpose of every university dollar? These questions seem simple but I've found that this is a difficult question to answer for many within our university. We have a serious lack of accountability in spending. This year's student senate asked tough questions about how monies are spent, many were surprised to find that students do care about where there tuition and fees are spent. I would even add that some became defensive. Approximately 2/3 of students on campus have financial debt loads of at least $10,000. This year's senate kept that in mind and responded accordingly. This year's senate stood for fiscal responsibility- the simple concept of matching revenues with expenditures during a business cycle. In previous years, the senate was comfortable raising student fees when it was obvious that a majority of students didn't support the increase- mainly because they never see the benefit of the cost. If money is allocated to a program or initiative, the initiative should be assessed and either revamped or cut. I guarantee you that if groups or directors knew that they would be held accountable for their funding, they would act accordingly. This would only promote efficiency and excellence.
If you don't get involved with extracurricular activities on campus before you graduate, you are not only missing out on valuable involvement experience, but you're also setting yourself up for some difficult professional interviews post-graduation. Naturally you would also be wasting about $104 in student activity fees if you're a full-time undergrad student. Get out to athletic events, you've already paid for them and we have great talent at this university- it's worth skipping a weekend trip home from time to time. Go to international nights (e.g. Africa, Japan, and Southeast Asia). Believe me; you don't need to buy a plane ticket to get international experience on this campus. Everybody is welcome to international nights and you'd be astonished at how engaged and entertained you are. The same goes for the movies shown on campus. I know it's difficult to sacrifice hours at work to get out to activities but you'll regret your student life experience years from now if you never participate in anything. Next year students and student groups alike have plenty of reason to be excited about homecoming. The MSSA substituted the traditional music concert for a big-name comedian on a trial basis for next year. In addition, five lucky recognized student organizations are now eligible to receive $1000 in funding by sponsoring a student event during homecoming week (call 389-2224 for more information). Other activities include a bonfire and the parade moving to Saturday. It's going to be an awesome two week celebration so plan on checking it out next year.
Alcohol Abuse Stigma
The common viewpoint held by the surrounding community is that MSU is a big party school where students drink and destroy property and livelihood. The viewpoint also extends to the fact that the civil disturbance in fall 2003 is a reflection of all students past and present. If there were ever a stigma to place on an institution of higher learning, this is one of the worst. The value of our degree is impacted by the public perception of the university. This negative opinion is also held by the Mankato city council who until just a couple of months ago didn't realize that granting multiple liquor licenses within a two block radius wasn't exactly catering to positive citizen engagement. MSU students are the greatest gift to this community in educational, economic and social capacities. This is one of the reasons I whole heartedly supported the Homecoming Development Taskforce. Homecoming is one huge event where the university should be able to celebrate its heritage- not where the surrounding community can take up arms to defend themselves against dangerous college students.
Representing 14,000 Students
How do you make all the right decisions for such a large and diverse student population? I don't think it's really practical, but striving for the greatest good was always my goal. Students getting involved in the surveys, open forums, and other outlets were helpful in meeting this objective. There are so many student issues I learned about this year in my interactions, but I can't begin to imagine the issues that weren't brought to the attention of the student senate. Occasionally a large group of students would take the time to come to the MSSA meetings to voice their concerns and one of the toughest parts of the job was taking a stance which may not have directly support them, but was in the collective best interests of all students. Ideally, I would have loved to do everything that everyone wanted, but the harsh reality is that every decision has far-reaching implications to be taken into account. I tried my best to make information-driven decisions, and I tried to be as objective as possible. I hope that you all appreciate the tough task of advocating for all students as an MSSA representative.