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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Allocations, activities presentations move forward

by Brittney Hansen

Issue date: 11/8/07 Section: Senate News

When one door closes, another one opens. MSSA filled an undeclared vacancy yesterday, just as yet another undeclared senator resigned. They Huynh is a 17-year-old freshman from California with dreams to someday help end gang violence in her hometown. She is also a member of the MSU Step team, APAC, the Vietnamese Student Association, NAACP and CAP.

"I think the main problem facing many students is the feeling of being left out and not knowing what to do or where to go," she said. "If you do not know what you're doing, people look down on you."

Michael Fagin presented on behalf of Institutional Diversity. The Office of Institutional Diversity covers an wide variety of student organizations aimed at promoting ethnic diversity at MSU, and Fagin stressed that programs are funded based on need for the program, not on the size of a particular ethnic group. Fagin also pointed out tremendous diversity within traditionally labeled ethnic groups.

"In the Asian Pacific American Community, the funding of programs and activities might include Hmong Culture Day, Vietnamese New Year, Cambodian New Year, the Asian American conference. While it may not be the largest on campus ethnic minority, but the diversity within exceeds others," he said.

MSU also hosts the largest Pan-African conference in the western hemisphere, which brings in far more revenue than any other programs under this umbrella. Fagin was quick to point out, however, that it should not be disproportionately funded over other programs because of that.

The Office of Institutional Diversity puts on more than 100 programs each year, and when initiatives that take place in the International Student Office are coupled with the domestic diversity that MSU has, there is not one week at MSU that does not provide the opportunity to be involved in a diversity program.

Dr. Leah White gave a presentation - as a Speech Communication professor and as a head-coach of the Forensics Team - also known as the competitive speech and debate team, joked that some people often ask her if "forensics" is anything like "CSI." The team is open to any undergraduate students, regardless of previous experience.

"I don't ever want to be in a position financially where I have to hold auditions," she said, adding that she was more than willing to work with any student at any skill level to improve their public speaking skills.

There are more than 20 students actively participating on the forensics team, as well as several graduate students who serve as assistant coaches.

White said the purpose of the team was to improve public communication skills through attendance at speech tournaments, much in the same way as athletic activities. Forensics is similar to a track team, as there are multiple events but the performance in each of those events determines how the team places as a whole.

"Participation in forensics is proven to be one of the most effective ways of developing critical thinking skills," she mentioned. The competitive season begins in late September and concludes in late April. Students attend invitation tournaments during the "pre-nationals" season, which allow students to qualify for the national tournaments in April.

In 2006, MSU returned to a Top 10 standing for the first time since 1991 as a nationally ranked forensics team

"We have had 5 All-Americans over the last six years," she said, adding that each year less than 15 are typically chosen as All-American students nationally.

The forensics team does some of its own fundraising by hosting tournaments, and the majority of MSU Student Activity Funding allocated to the forensics team goes toward travel expenses to tournaments.

• The MSU Women's Center aims to foster a healthy, safe and engaging campus community, said director Deirdre Rosenfeld. She said the Women's Center enables the participation of women students in both their personal and educational pursuits at MSU and provides programs, connections, advocacy, services and leadership opportunities for all MSU students.

"We don't discriminate based on sex or gender, or in any capacity," said Rosenfeld.

Of the Women's Center's $222,869 budget this academic year, only 15 percent is funded through student activity fees. The rest comes from fundraising and the MSU general fund. The center provides services such as sexual violence support services and education and is currently looking to fill a full-time position for a Sexual Violence Education Coordinator, previously held by Lindsay Gullingsrud.

The Women's Center will be sponsoring "Love Your Body Day" with a Health and Wellness Fair Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the CSU Ballroom. This event - coordinated by Merlita Tiew - aims to promote positive, healthy body images of women and girls and to raise awareness to women's health issues.

• Off-Campus Senator Andy Wilke raised many concerns about the current state of the Student Leadership Development and Student Learning Center. Samantha Eckerson is currently filling two administrative positions as the Campus Kitchens Coordinator as well as the Greek Life Coordinator. Jumpstart recently had a new appointee advisor and Student Events Team recently hired a new staff advisor to begin this week. The SLD&SL currently is without a director and Wilke said that he was unaware of any searches to find a new director.

MSSA also passed several motions:

• The Student Allocation Committee motioned to allocate up to $600 to the Psi Chi/Psych Club to attend the Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapy Conference in Philadelphia. The Psi Chi/Psych Club has already fundraised over $700 and students will pay about $300 each.

• The Student Affairs Committee made a recommendation that the Tenant Association be placed on the spring election ballot to be removed from the constitution, as it had been defunct since 2001 and did not appear to be anything but a landlord/tenant "gripe session."

• The Student Affairs Committee will examine the feasibility of allowing a drop-off point for the Red Eye Shuttle at the All-Seasons Arena since many city bus services do not run in the evening.

• The Student Affairs Committee will also give an initial report to student senate on the proposed Tobacco Free Policy by December 5, 2007.