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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Lower Tuition, Diversity, Student Involvement Hot Topics During Debate

by Jon Swedien
April 06, 2006

The issue is you. The three candidates for the MSSA president and their teams all said getting students involved in decision-making and bridging the gap between students and the administration were there biggest concerns during the presidential debates held in the lower level of the CSU Wednesday.

Presidential runners Gabe Afolayan of the Mavericks Standing Up group, Mike Bruner of the MavStudents group and Joey Neigum of the group Students for Students all voiced their ideas on how to promote student involvement.

Neigum’s ideas centered on better advertising for MSU events by moving more ads into Myers Field House and the Taylor Center where he says more students walk by than the SLDL area of the CSU. He also proposed more online methods of reaching students, such as surveys or online advertisements.

Afolayan proposed reversing the idea of MSU as a “suitcase college” by increasing the limited hours of the library on the weekend and keeping the student union open seven days a week to get students more involved on campus. He also said he wanted to “fix the tracks” of communication between the student body, senate and administration. His running mate, vice presidential candidate Chris Frederickson, proposed that the Reporter, because student fees fund it, should run a page each edition about MSSA activities.

Bruner said he feels the current MSSA senate is out of touch with regular students and his team, MavStudents, was composed of regular students who would not serve special interests. He said that keeping tuition low will help student participation because now many students are consumed by a single or multiple jobs.

All candidates said keeping student fees low was a high priority. Bruner said he didn’t believe current students should have to pay for renovations that they would never use in their college career, which would have been the case in some of the proposed renovations.

“My first goal is to keep student fees and tuition as low as possible,” said Neigum. Frederick, running alongside Afolayan, said fiscal responsibility was one of his main goals.

The topic of diversity was also discussed. Afolayan spoke of getting past a limited idea of diversity. He said diversity was not just about a few minorities but had to deal with factors including age, marital status, where one lives; things that affect everyone.

Bruner stressed the importance of diversity in the global working place, saying that without it students would be ill equipped. He said he was for “real diversity” and not just “statistics.”

Neigum proposed adding a diversity position into the senate to promote diversity.

A poster put up by the MavStudents came up in the debate. The poster had a picture of President Davenport and it said “wanted” below his name. It quoted Davenport as saying it’s not his job to talk to students. Bruner, who designed the poster with his team, called their campaign “creative” and said the poster was “mild” at worst. Bruner said he was censored by the administration that initially allowed the poster and later asked him to take it down. He said he contacted a member of the ACLU in Minneapolis who said the group was within its rights to put up the poster because Davenport is a public figure.

“I wouldn’t start by making a wanted poster of the president,” said Afolayan about campaigning.

“It is not wrong to call someone out when they made the wrong choice,” said Bruner. “It is what is to be expected.”

Afolayan said the poster “wasn’t trying to be funny.” Bruner said he thought Davenport was a regular guy and felt if elected he could work with him.

Bruner repeatedly said his team would represent regular students and not special interests groups.

Afolayan called his team proactive, and said they would be proactive on both sides to students and the administration.

Neigum called for participation by all 14,000 MSU students. He said that if he didn’t receive one vote but each of the others received 7,000 votes, he would feel like he succeeded because the students got out and voted.