MSA stands for the Minnesota Student Association, otherwise known as the undergraduate student government of the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities campus. Through a series of forums, committees, and executive board elections, the organization strives to improve student life/campus climate, policy advocacy, and leadership development for UMN students by advocating students’ comments and concerns to the administration.
MSA consists of three different sections to improve many aspects of campus life for students: The first is the forum, which is the legislative body. The forum meets every other week, on Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m. Attendees include At-Large Campus Representatives, undergraduate Twin Cities Student Senators, and Student Group Representatives. These students discuss various pressing items like budgets and campus climates; they also have voting rights for MSA elections. In addition to the aforementioned individuals, other undergraduate students are welcome to attend forum by registering as a general member of MSA. By doing so, they can bring their own voices to the table, though they will not have voting rights.
The next section of MSA is the Executive Board, which meets weekly in the Coffman Memorial Union. There are seven members of this board, who decide on new initiatives, determine the forum schedule, and advocate via administration. The President and Vice President of the Executive Board for the 2017-2018 school year are Trish Palermo and Erik Hillesheim. Undergraduate students can attend the meetings alongside Palermo, Hillesheim, and the other five members of the Board by contacting its Chief of Staff. Upon attending, students can comment on topics of discussion.
The final aspect of MSA is the committees, which also meet every other Tuesday. These committees are Health and Wellness, Sustainability, Infrastructure, Academic Affairs, Grants, Campus Life, and Diversity & Inclusion. The committees work in small groups in an attempt to enact positive change in each category, while simultaneously working on specific projects (either alone or in small groups). All students, regardless of MSA affiliation or the lack thereof, can sign up to join a particular project that a committee is working on by filling out a Google form, accessible through MSA’s website.
Some examples of initiatives passed by MSA you may have heard of are course evaluations, where MSA pushed for end-of-semester course evaluations to be public; the grocery shuttle, which runs every Sunday from campus to a nearby Cub Foods for students without cars to get groceries; Humans of UMN (our campus’s version of HONY); Welcome Week; the Gopher Chauffeur; including wheelchair accessibility across campus, and more. The MSA is currently working toward implementing a fall break on campus, as our university does not currently give students time off in the fall. Student government representatives believe the fall break would give students a chance to improve overall physical, emotional, and mental health.
One way to get involved with MSA as a freshman is through its intern program. Though competitive, this program gives incoming students a chance to get exposed to the student government and MSA. Responsibilities may include attending the events explained above, being present at trainings and cultural events around campus, holding office hours and creating/executing a project by oneself or with other interns. The application is generally due by September, and it is followed by a round of in-person interviews prior to selection. If you’re interested, be sure to contact MSA or keep tabs on its social media! More information regarding MSA and its intern program specifically can be found on its website.
The above information was constructed with help from msa.umn.edu. For detailed information, please visit that page.