MSA Rushes Budget Through Forum



The actions of the Minnesota Student Association this past Tuesday while passing its budget are regrettable.

To be clear, the actual process of drafting the budget this year is actually to be commended. The process is much more open and transparent compared to the prior year, and MSA is to be applaudedfor giving much better notice of the budget creation process.

However this is not about that. This is about the way that MSA’s leadership rushed the budget through forum, about the poor ordering of the first forum, and about the disrespect the leadership shows to members who, though eager to learn, have yet to master parliamentary procedure and MSA’s rules.

Tuesday, Sept. 9marked the first forum of the year, and as such the budget was the focal point of the meeting. Being the first meeting of the new school year there were also many new members of MSA to whom forum was an entirely new experience.

As debate began on the budget, a friendly amendment was entertained to move some funds allocated for printing to increase stipends for the CFO and other officers. This was rejected since forum felt the stipends were sufficient for a non-audit year, but strong support existed for the cut to printing on its own, especially given MSA’s executives has in-housed its printing, reducing copies down to a mere two cents a copy.

However, it is apparently not possible for parts of the budget to be cut outright. MSA can’t it appears, return money cut from the budget, or realize they won’t need as much funding for next year. Apparently if money is to be cut, it must also be spent elsewhere in the budget instead.

A second amendment was offered immediately after to merely cut the printing funds, and the gentleman who proposed it was ridiculed for his lack of knowledge of the aforementioned fiscal rule, and of parliamentary procedure as a whole. The fact is, the procedure was not gone over until directly after the budget was passed, in a most unbecoming way.

After the failure of the friendly amendment, and the resulting confusion regarding the second proposed amendment, the budget was moved immediately from debate, and rammed through forum without further time for any additional amendment proposals.

The leadershipof MSA recognized the resulting confusion in the wake of the second amendment and acted quickly. People publicly objectedto this evenin the midst of forum. Chunks of the budgetcould have been better spent elsewhere, such as expanding the Grants Committee’s funding so that the money goes back out to student groups. Or, even better, the cuts could have translated into reduced fees costs for students.

Instead MSA decided they should ridicule new members, and not allow for a proper debate over expenditures of over $177,000.

That’s no way to run an organization.

It is painfully clear that MSA did not wish to allow for a full debate, not only because they took advantage of the confusion of its members, but also because parliamentary procedure was gone over immediately following the passage of the budget, rather than prior to the budget debate. Keeping one’s members ignorant until your objective is reached is not an acceptable procedure for a group that claims to represent the entirety of the University of Minnesota’s student body.