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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minutes

Page address: https://www.mnsu.edu/mssa/docs/minutes_years/minutes/2005-2006/83105.html

73rd MSSA Senate
August 31, 2005

 

73rd Senate Special Meeting called to order by Speaker Megan Brandt

Opening Statement-President Rob Wills
Pearl S. Buck, one of the most popular American authors of her day, humanitarian, crusader for women’s rights, editor of Asia magazine, and philanthropist, said “All things are possible until they are proven impossible.”

 We as an organization are at a crossroads.  We are here today to discuss a transition that we certainly do not welcome nor could we have anticipated or prepared for.  I implore all of you in the next hour and in the days ahead to be ethical and objective and very open minded. We need to focus our energy on why we were elected, and that ultimately is for our fellow students and the betterment of this university.

Open Forum
Zach Biesanz-MSU graduate, 2004
Discussion of MSSA M#03.24.04E  ROTC Program
Apparently, the administration has chosen not to recognize this motion.  This is unacceptable.
Senate is an important body.  A motion should not be allowed to expire.  The administration has not done anything in regards to this motion.
As senators get to know each other go out to eat together.  Remember to respect each other.  What happens in this room does not have to affect personal relationships.  You are representing a constituency.  Let senate stuff stay in the senate room. Senate will give back ostentatiously what you put into it.  It is exciting to make and see the changes you made.

Adam Weigold
 A lot of you are probably confused as to what's going on... and perhaps some of you just don't care.  But I'm guessing that most of you want to hear from me about what's going on.

If you haven't noticed, or if you are one who doesn't know me that well, I like to question things.  The only way to keep people honest with you is to ask them tough questions.  The only way to have a healthy environment for learning is to question things, and not just take things as they are told to you.  This presented a challenge after I was elected because the current administration at MSU has shown a history of shutting down those who do so.  Whether it was Professor Roberts, who was fired for insubordination for questioning the administration on actions that ruined our nationally renowned aviation program, to the attempted censorship of KMSU for reporting financial aid mistakes this university has made, this University has been in the public spotlight for attacking those who question it.  Even behind the public spotlight, this is frequent.  I've met fantastic professors who were given bad performance reviews for questioning things, I've talked to students, who questioned whether staffing selections in Health Science courses could damage many students abilities to get licensed by the state, who have been bluntly told that they are risking they're academic career by going over the University's heads and asking the questions to the department of health.  And even small things, to two students, Leif Knutson and Mike Ritter, who decided to parody the riot in Mankato and create t-shirts with a funny logo, something that was clearly in the student's legal rights to do and were threatened with lawsuits and holds on they're academics.

After I fought with MSUSA this summer to gain a cap on tuition, a cap which saved money for every student in this room, the University started treating me differently.  I was one of approximately a thousand students who were affected by a policy put in place a year and a half ago at this University that retroactively recalculated our completion rates.  This policy was actually only implemented to fix the financial aid problems that KMSU was censored by reporting.  I and many other students were unjustly put under academic probation as the University changed the rules of our academics after we already started, just like putting a “no parking” sign by your already parked car.

But the advisors that the University provided to me and others sent us a clear message, “not to worry”, we were only effected to make the policy easier to implement, and our probations and suspensions were only formalities.  I even have written documentation making it quite clear to me that if the only reason I was under probation or contract to avoid suspension was completion rate, that new contracts will be reissued.

After I was elected, and after I started asking questions that made this University nervous and lose some money that's in your pockets right now, the policy was enforced differently.  I was told by the Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Olson that, “Maybe if you just let Rob take over for a semester or two, maybe then you can work on your classes.”  He also made references to my faith by telling me that, “Maybe now is a good time in your life to do mission work.”

My classes and academic career are more important to me then this job with student government, but I didn't react to the offer given to me as I did not want to sell out those who voted for me and worked on my campaign.
I'll be the first to admit and tell you quite frankly that my grades have not always been that great, but that aside, I have always met justified requirements.  When I formally appealed the decision to suspend me until summer of 2006, I was notified that not only was my appeal denied, but my suspension was extended until fall of 2006.  This made me sick to my stomach, as the intent was to halt my education so I couldn't re-run for election, something I never wanted nor intended to do anyways.  I have written documentation showing these two dates of suspension.

I don't expect anything from the senate on my case.  Those of you I have already talked to I made clear to you that you can do whatever you want to do.  I'm sick with the treatment and discrimination I not only received, but have seen from this University's administration.  MSU could be great, but it needs new people in charge to do so, people who accept an environment of open dialogue and questioning without holding knifes to your back.  I especially don't expect President Wills or the Speaker to do anything huge, as I am sure, based on things the administration told me this summer, that they have already been told they can be held accountable if they speak up against the University.

The University sees this body not as an independent voice of students, but as employees and University officials, even to the point where they can decide who is in the leadership and who is not.

Rob Wills, since Monday morning has been acting as student body president.
 This is not due to me resigning, I did not.  This is due to the administration performing a coup of the student government because my philosophies did not agree with their ideologies.

The only advice I'll leave, many of you who I consider to be close friends, is to work together.  Don't argue about small staffing positions that cost $50,000 here or there when there are fundamental and deeply entrenched problems at Mankato State.  Either this University or the state legislature needs to pass policies or laws that create a more open environment for questioning.

Thank you for your time this busy week, I'll stand for any question.
 
Mike Kimball- MSUSA State Chair-MSUSA will assist in anyway to help with
this transition.  Any resources we have will be available to you.

Sadredin C. Moosari, former faculty Dept. of Chemistry & Geology 
It is important to look at the complexity of this situation.  It is important to look at what happens to people who speak out against the party line.  I was reprimanded. for speaking out for students.  What you do here can affect you very negatively.  You need to consider what is right and what is wrong.  Senate has powers.  You can solve issues with those who have greater powers.  Remember MSU will ignore its own rules when it will benefit them. There are faculty that have been on fixed term for 10-15 years.  The university chooses to ignore this. 

Approval of Agenda  Agenda stands approved

Officer Reports
President Wills
Welcome back.  I hope all of you had a great summer and are now ready to get back to the books and ready to work here in Senate.
We as a student organization need (as I stated in my opening statement) to look objectively at this transition.  Objectively, we do not have sufficient evidence to at this time to fight policy.  We need to be role models, we can not hold one student above all the others.  We need leadership to be held to the same standards as the rest of the students in this university.  We need to accept responsibility and be accountable student leaders.

Every senator here is a leader.  Every senator here has people who believe in them.  Everyone here has people who trust that they will be objective and ethical.  Everyone here also has at least one difference from the person next to them (gender, origin, age, height, political standing, major, residency) the list ones on.  In the darkest of times, there are shinning and defining moments.  Destiny chooses us, we can let it tell us what we can or cannot do, or we can do something with it’s opportunities and make dreams reality.  This is our chance, with everyone watching to show the university we will stick together for a common good and represent students to the best of our abilities.

The hardest lesson one can learn when becoming a leader is that one person cannot do everything by themselves.  We all need to be empowered.  This event taking place right now has not happened before; I had no knowledge of any of this until May and was led to believe it would be handled painlessly.  I’ve made commitments to others because I was elected Vice-President not President.  I will however, fulfill my responsibility to the best of my ability per the constitution of this organization.

This year, we have an opportunity like no other, one that will give every individual a chance to lead.  In economics, every country should produce the one thing it does best and trade for the rest.  In theory, this is how efficiency is achieved.  Since I cannot give every minute of my day to every issue there is (and nor should you-we are here to get our degree first and foremost, senators will be asked and able to take us where we have never gone before.  I am anxious to work with all of you and I look for this 73rd Senate to have a very successful as well as enjoyable year.  See you next  week.

Speaker Brandt
Everything we are doing now is based on the constitution.  As a Speaker it is up to my
interpretation of the constitution.  We have great contacts-Joel Johnson will be a great help,
you can email him.  We will be working on committees.  If you have questions on what will be
happening next, we can help you.

Open Senate Discussion
Senator Brunner-The administration has not responded to the reason for this suspension.
Joel Johnson-Questions about policies are on line.  I encourage you to read those.  This is your
senate.  I will assist you to the best of my ability.
Senator Brunner-Is the university refuting the claims made by the former president?
Joel Johnson-That is private data, I can not speak to the question.
Senator Bender-We want to give the former President a chance. We are here for academics but
we want facts so everyone has a chance.
Joel Johnson-We can not give private information, as we are bound by federal law.. We can answer questions on policies and procedures.
Senator Kendhammer-Do we have a Constitution Commission?
Senator Kendhammer-If we choose to appeal the decision of the Speaker, how do we do that?
Senator Dye-Basically, do you think the administration will help us on things that affected Adam like the percentage of students impacted by the change in policy regarding completion rate computation and retroactivity at MSU?
Joel Johnson-I will take that to the administration and try to get numbers for you.
Senator Dye-I have talked to many students that voted and they want to know what has
happened, they feel their vote was taken away from them.  Can we call for an investigation
to help for us.
Speaker Brandt-Adam  is no longer a student.  He therefore no longer can be president.
As far as advocating for one student that is not in my role.
President Wills-We will do what the senate wants. If you want to pass a motion we will help you however we can.
Senator Cichy-If we lobby to make special exceptions for one student we are opening an
unparalleled can of worms.  Other students could be special too.
Senator Isker-I think the investigation he wants is for all students, not just for one.
Senator Bender-This is going to affect everyone-I was uninformed as how he stands as a student.
I think the constitution should stand.

Announcements
Speaker-Next week we will have parliamentary procedure training, your role, and the structure of Senate at 3:00 on Wed.
Vacancy elections will be held Sept. 27.
Khumar Raza-SLD&SL is accepting donations for Katrina devastation.
Senator Bender-Football game tomorrow night.
Joel Johnson-A number of our students have been affected by the hurricane.
Senator Isker-Campus Crusade after the football game
Senator Bender-Congratulations Senator Isker on being  the fastest MSU pizza eater

Closing Statement-Rob Wills
Ideas, according to classical economist John Maynard Keynes, shape the course of history.  This year is that opportunity we have been waiting for, this is that shining and defining moment.  This year you will lead us with YOUR ideas!  My sincere goal is that we will do this ethically, objectively and to the best of our ability because people believe in us and so do I!!

Adjournment  Meeting adjourned at 4:40