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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

December 6th, 2006 MSSA Newsletter

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/mssa/newsletter/1/

Textbook Prices Are Big Issue

books

MSSA asked and students responded; textbook prices are a major issue. In a survey conducted by MSSA this fall, 47 percent of participants said they want the primary focus of MSSA to be on lowering textbook prices.

This issue was more important than academic standards and increasing student friendly services. A motion passed at the October 25 Senate meeting recommends re-launching the Text Book Price Containment Committee. In the past this committee was comprised of faculty, administration, bookstore personnel and students. The committee’s primary focus will be the rising cost of textbooks, and it will serve as a way for students, faculty, administration and staff to work together on the issue. 

The committee is not an MSSA committee, but the motion shows MSSA believes it would be a good idea to re-launch the committee.  The committee would help alleviate some stress put on the MSSA to get something done.

This committee would increase the knowledge of the textbook issue to students. A need for more information was proven in the fall survey when 48 percent of participants said they would like more information on this issue. The Government Accountability Office conducted a study and found college textbook prices have risen at twice the rate of annual inflation over the last two decades.

Tuition Will Continue to Increase

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Logo

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Board of Trustees has approved the legislative budget for 2008-2009, which includes limiting tuition increases to an average of no more than 4 percent in each of the next two years. The 4 percent increase will be the smallest tuition increase since 1999. The increase will cost full time students approximately $100 per year. The board unanimously approved the budget request. The proposed budget includes funds for covering inflation, technology improvements and academic innovations.
“We are asking the state to invest in initiatives to expand recruitment and retention of students traditionally underserved in higher education; support academic excellence and innovation, especially in the areas of science and math; and make crucial technology updates,” said Chancellor James H. McCormick.
Student associations for the colleges and universities had asked for no tuition increases. McCormick said he regrets the system has to propose a tuition increase, but noted that the increases will be smaller than in recent years.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system includes 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota. The system serves about 240,000 students per year in credit-based courses and an additional 130,000 students in non-credit courses.

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stress

Campus Recreation Proposal

campus rec

Last spring a Campus Recreation and Fitness Facilities Proposal was presented to MSSA. The proposal has five initiatives; improve campus recreation fields, construct a multi-purpose stadium, convert Field 3 to a Soccer Pitch, install synthetic turf to at the multi-purpose stadium and Blakeslee Stadium, and install a bubble at Blakeslee and the Tennis courts. MSSA has been involved in this proposal since its release, because the cost of this plan is an issue which would affect student fees. The total cost is estimated to be $14 million, which would cost students approximately $115 in activity fees per year.

President Afolayan and Vice President Frederick have been involved with this proposal and have clearly stated MSSA wants the university to use all other possible sources of funding before increasing student fees. Both Afolayan and Frederick, along with Speaker Jered Jackson, are on the committee to finalize the proposal. The committee has agreed to inform students through the university Web site, open forum discussions and any other means necessary to allow students to have an active voice in the decision making process with the proposal.
For more information on the proposal and to see the layout visit, http://www.mnsu.edu/campusrec/.

Homecoming Task Force

homecomingMSSA has established a Homecoming Development Task Force to get more people involved with planning and participating in Homecoming events. The task force was formed because Homecoming uses student activity fees to fund events.

There have been four goals established for the task force: review and evaluate the past three Homecoming celebrations; recommend events to engage the city of Mankato; recommend events to engage all sectors of the Minnesota State Mankato community; and make recommendations for future Homecoming celebrations.

The task force will include members of the 2006 Homecoming Committee, MSSA Student Affairs Committee, alumni, staff/faculty and administrators. The task force will make recommendations about Homecoming. It will not be planning or making changes to events. The Homecoming Committee, a part of IMPACT, will be presented with the recommendations.

Academic Affairs

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The current course repeat policy is one of several various academic policies under review by MSSA due to its effect on academic standards. Currently, there is no limit on the amount of times a student may repeat a course. A new proposal would allow students to only repeat a course twice. The policy also states the last grade received in the class will be the student’s official grade.
           
An open forum was held on September 28 to receive feedback from students on the proposed policy. Panelists included Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport, MSSA President Afolayan, MSSA Vice President Chris Frederick, and Reporter Editor in Chief Tom Froemming. Davenport said that the current policy is not common among universities. He also said that the proposed policy would be one of the changes that could help increase the university’s academic standards.
           
Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Olson said the current policy would prevent some students from enrolling in certain courses, because they may be taking it for the fourth or fifth time.

Student Health Insurance

insuranceMSSA is looking for student input on the possibility of requiring all students to have proof of health insurance to help curb student fees. Christine Connolly, Director of Student Health Services, spoke to MSSA at the Oct. 25 meeting to ask for student input on implementing a pilot program requiring all students to have health insurance.

If health insurance is required, health services costs will be offered at a lower price and student fees will decrease. Currently, student fees are used to pay for services for uninsured students. The pilot program will be important because it will allow the university to offer better plans at lower costs. Connolly also said that requiring students to have insurance is an option many Minnesota universities are taking. Under the proposed plan annual costs will decrease, while many of the benefits would increase as compared to the current plan for students who chose to buy the university’s insurance plan. Students will not be required to purchase insurance from the school.

A plan to start the program was approved by the 2002-2003 Senate, but was placed on hold by administration. President Afolayan is interested in getting student feedback about required insurance before taking any action on the issue.

For more information on student health insurance visit http://www.mnsu.edu/shs/clinic/insurance.html.

Wind Power on Campus

wind powerStudents for Sustainability president, Mark Schiller, attended the October 11 MSSA meeting to inform senators of the possibility of implementing wind power on campus. He presented a petition signed by 1,200 students who support Students for Sustainability’s efforts, challenging the University to invest in wind power as soon as possible.

The University has already conducted a $5,000 research project regarding whether Mankato is efficient for wind energy. Carlton College and St. Olaf College, both located in Northfield, Minn. have been using wind power. Research has shown that Mankato is 5 percent more efficient than Northfield.

The proposal is projected to cost $2.5 to $3 million. Students for Sustainability is working to get a grant from Xcel Energy to cover the initial cost. Also, Xcel would be required to purchase the energy created from the wind turbine, which would be approximately $300,000 per year.  The worst-case scenario would be the University pays for the wind turbine, and would produce $1 million revenue annually after the first 16 years.

For more information on wind power at Carlton and St. Olaf visit http://apps.carleton.edu/campus/facilities/sustainability/wind_turbine/ or

http://www.kare11.com/news/investigative/extras/extras_article.aspx?storyid=133871

Senator Visits D.C. to Lobby for Students

Casey Carmody

Casey Carmody, Arts and Humanities Senator, went to Washington, D.C. as part of the MSUSA Fall Lobbying Trip in September. Delegates from MSUSA met with local government officials regarding issues affecting college students. Carmody attended a meeting of the Advisory Committee for Student Financial Assistance, which provides advice to Congress regarding student financial aid policy.

The main issue discussed at the meeting was tuition. Other concerns addressed were textbook prices, simplifying the mathematical equations regarding estimated family contributions, and increasing Pell Grants. Pell Grants are given to low income students, which are not expected to receive any financial contribution from their family. Carmody said a survey regarding textbook prices will be conducted by the MSUSA.

Student Survey Results

Do you want to see the results of the student survey that was filled out this past semester? It dealt with everything from what issues should be addressed, alcohol problems, the new smoking policy and others.

Check out the results

Feedback

Do you have news you feel is important for students to know? Send news items to the newsletter editor at mssa@mnsu.edu. The newsletter will be published on a regular basis during the academic year. The next newsletter will be published after the beginning of the Spring Semester.