Driving Change in Higher Education.

Policy Update

News You Can Use: 03/28/17

Groots student of the month: Asha Hurreh

Asha Hurreh Photo

Once a month we will be showcasing a student that has done excellent work with our Groots initiative. The Groots initiative is a grass roots campaign to get students involved in building support for an issue by showing legislators how many people a certain problem effects. This month MSCSA is highlighting Asha Hurreh, a student senator at Normandale Community College.

If you’ve ever been stopped on Normandale Community College campus and asked to sign a letter to your legislator requesting them to support a 1% tuition cut, you may have been stopped by Asha Hurreh, and she doesn’t even have to pay tuition yet.

Asha is an 11th grade PSEO (Postsecondary Enrollment Options) student who is in her second semester at Normandale Community College. She joined student senate last semester when MSCSA Treasurer Isaac Jahraus convinced her to go to a meeting to see what it was about. Asha realized that by joining she would have a voice on campus and she could represent a group of the many minorities that attend Normandale Community College.

Last fall, Asha became a GOTV intern at MSCSA and asked students to pledge to vote. She really enjoyed the work and found that tabling is a successful way to talk with a lot of students. “The hardest part of tabling is initially approaching students, but once you get going, students usually agree with what you are saying, and if not that’s okay.” Since last fall, Asha has taken what she learned about tabling and is now using that method to grow support for the Groots campaign.

From the beginning of the campaign, Asha has been working hard to get signatures to show support for a 1% tuition cut. “For many students as soon as I say ‘cut tuition’ they ask where they should sign. They agree that tuition is too high.” Asha has been supporting the Groots campaign not only on campus, but she also spent her spring break gathering signatures from around her community. She went back to her high school during parent-teacher conferences, and her and a friend went to their different places of worship to ask people for their support.

“There are so many people that have to pay tuition and also have other responsibilities like full-time jobs and taking care of family. By helping now to make change, I hope that when I get into their shoes I won’t have these same worries.”

Do you want to get involved? Sign our petition to tell your legislators to decrease tuition
by 1 percent!

News You Can Use: 03/07/17

Get your pens ready, it’s budget consultation letter writing time!

Students have the opportunity to consult with their campus administration regarding the campus’ budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. After the consultation is complete, during the spring, student senate presidents letters to the Minnesota State Chancellor and the Board of Trustees regarding how the consultation process went.

Now is the time to begin your letter! MSCSA has resources available to assist you with this process. There will be a question and answer session on Thursday, March 16 at 3:00 PM. Please see the details below.

The first draft of your letter needs to be sent to the MSCSA office for review and feedback by Monday, April 3, by emailing sbeck@mscsa.org.

Questions? Contact MSCSA Outreach Coordinator Samantha Beck at sbeck@mscsa.org

Check out the video below for more information and guidance!

Budget Consultation Q & A
Thu, Mar 16, 2017 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM CDT

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (872) 240-3311
Access Code: 614-791-253


News You Can Use: 03/02/17

Groots student of the month: Matthew Stonich

Matthew Stonich photo

Once a month we will be showcasing a student that has done excellent work with our Groots initiative. The Groots initiative is a grass roots campaign to get students involved in building support for an issue by showing legislators how many people a certain problem effects. This month MSCSA would like to highlight Matthew Stonich, student senate president of Mesabi Range College-Eveleth.

Matt is graduating from the Graphic Media Designs, Visual Communications program at Mesabi Range College-Eveleth this coming May. After graduation, Matt plans on finding a job with an advertising firm in Duluth, MN. Graphic design started out as a hobby, one Matt didn’t think he could make a career out of. So he started at Hibbing Community College and while taking an accounting class, he realized it just was not working for him. “My dad told me, ‘do what you want to do with your life,’” Matt said. It was this advice that made him realize he could take his passion and turn it into his career. This led Matt to Mesabi Range College-Eveleth and the school’s student senate.

Through getting involved in his school’s student senate, Matt was able to meet and talk with a lot of people on campus. These connections made him want other students to get involved in the school and help bring the campus together.

For Matt, being involved in the Groots initiative allows him to meet other students on his campus. “Everyone knows we have a student senate, but they don’t know what we do. I’m trying to show we are more than a group of friends meeting, we are making change.” Every student on-campus, even those that are not involved, has seen Matt around campus. He has run activities, done class raps, and anything else he can to get other students involved on campus.

A 1% tuition cut is important because if there was lower tuition, students could work less, allowing them to be more involved on campus, in the form of clubs and organizations through their programs. The more student involvement, the more opportunities there is to bring in speakers, go to expos, and meet potential employers. Doing these things will make students more successful and will build the Mesabi Range College-Eveleth campus.

“Being involved in student senate and the Groots initiative allows me to get out on campus and meet everyone. All together we can build a stronger campus and community.”

Do you want to get involved? Sign our petition to tell your legislators to decrease tuition
by 1 percent!

News You Can Use: 02/07/17

President Nelson testified on equity at the January
Board of Trustee meeting

At the Jan. 25 Board of Trustee meeting, President Minda Nelson testified to remind the board of the equity issues currently facing Minnesota State students and to urge them to begin a plan to address these issues.

President Nelson called for a campus-based and a system-based approach to equity, and said that a guiding plan needed to come from the system office. “While some campuses have the resources to thrive on their own, others need more help than a small campus department can provide.”

The Board of Trustee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee recently met and came to the conclusion that system-wide benchmarks and strategies need to be identified in the areas of equity. President Nelson reminded the Board of the letter MSCSA sent to the committee in September outlining four proposals to begin addressing equity in Minnesota State. It was suggested that by including students in these discussions, the equity benchmarks would be widespread and encompassing of all stakeholders.

President Nelson’s testimony concluded that while work is being done in the Minnesota State system on equity, a plan is still missing. She stated, “We want to partner in addressing these issues, but that requires engagement from the Board and the new chancellor.”

Below you can read President Nelson’s full testimony at the January Board of Trustee meeting.

The sound of silence.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

That is what has made the last 12 weeks so hard for us as student leaders, to hear the silence of the governing board of the Minnesota State system on one of the most pressing issues on our college campuses – the opportunity gap facing so many of our students.

At the September retreat, Board members asked for suggestions on what you as a board could do to address the issues of equity on our campuses. We took that question seriously, and developed a response on some realistic ideas that could be addressed by the board, in a letter to the Chair of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee dated October 14. A few weeks later we testified at the October Board meeting with Students United outlining our ideas and concerns around the lack of progress on campus climate issues and the opportunity gap. After the meeting all we heard was silence.

At the November Board meeting, Students United Chair Joe Wolf testified again on these issues. His testimony was met with silence.

The IFO sent a letter on November 30 to Trustee Anaya and Chair Vekich in support of our letter. The response to that was silence.

Then on December 8th, we sent a follow-up email to Chair Anaya requesting a meeting to discuss these issues with her. Again only to be met with silence.

Finally, on January 9th we received a response to our concerns from Chair Vekich. The letter’s first paragraph said that the system is committed to equity because we have a committee to address that. A committee does not demonstrate a commitment. Especially when that committee has only met 14 times during the last 35 meetings of the Board of Trustees in the last 3 years. And during those meetings action was only taken a couple of times.

The letter failed to address our underlying concern and our point that the Minnesota State system does not have a strategy to address the opportunity gap. In March of last year, the College Board issued a report on how to best achieve diversity and inclusion goals. One of the key findings is that,
A growing body of research confirms the importance of alignment based on mission across programs, functions, and offices to create the greatest potential for achieving diversity goals. Research confirms that a more holistic approach to diversity strategies – developing a mission that includes the benefits of diversity, implementing strategies to foster interactions between students, and assessing strategies for impact and effectiveness – can help institutions achieve the benefits they seek.

The problem is that 54 different strategies to address equity is not going to work. The research has shown that. We need both a campus-based and a system-based approach on equity. While some campuses have the resources to thrive on their own, others need more than the help that a small system department can provide. We need a guiding plan from the system.

We felt optimistic by the discussion from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee yesterday that system-wide benchmarks and strategies need to be identified; and that idea was outlined in our first letter to the committee. Now is the time for the board to come together to develop those benchmarks and bring key stakeholders like students to the table to develop them.

Students of color on our campuses are tired of being ignored. The struggles that they go through on a daily basis are likely unimaginable to many people in this room. The smallest of these is the self-doubt that they face, wondering whether they really belong because there is no real support system for these students on our campuses.

We agree that work is being done in this area, some of it very positive like the increase in diversity of campus presidents and the human resources practices. Yet, the system still lacks a strategy.

We want to be a partner in addressing these issues, but that requires engagement from the Board and the new Chancellor. Our students will no longer accept silence from this board and will continue to speak out about inaction.

In September 2016, MSCSA sent a letter to the Board of Trustees outlining four proposals that were necessary first steps to address the equity challenges facing Minnesota State students. The four proposals included:

  1. Require that a new System Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan be created within 12 months.
  2. Double the size of the Equity and Inclusion Office in the system.
  3. Bring an equity lens to the Board of Trustees.
  4. Create benchmarks and timelines to develop more culturally competent curriculum.

The letter concluded by saying “While we cannot get ahead of the next chancellor, these issues cannot wait for that chancellor. What we propose will help lay a solid foundation of information that will propel the next chancellor forward.”

Read the full letter President Nelson mentions in her testimony and see the
Board of Trustee’s response.


Update: 02/15/17

Read the letter President Nelson sent to Chair Vekich on February 14 in response to his letter
from January 9.

News You Can Use: 11/11/16

How gotv 2016 made election day great

After two months of pledging students to vote, senates across the state celebrated Election Day with “I Voted” photo booths. Each event was unique and reflected the spirit of the campus. A few examples of the celebrations that occurred are:

  • Riverland Community College-Owatonna had delicious Get Out the Vote cupcakes. 
  • Rochester Community and Technical College went all out with decorations and had a delectable ice cream social. 
  • Anoka Ramsey Community College-Coon Rapids celebrated with lots and lots of balloons.
  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College had really fun photo props and fresh, hot coffee.
  • Century College, North Hennepin Community College, and Hennepin Technical College shared awesome photos of students at their photo booths.
  • Student Senate President, James De Hoyas of Riverland Community College-Albert Lea made local news talking about the importance of student participation in the election.

Century NYCU 110916  NHCC NYCU 110916  RCTC NYCU 110916  RiverAL NYCU 110916  RiverAustin NYCU110916

There are many examples of campuses that went above and beyond with their photo booths, but what needs to be highlighted is that each senate worked together to make this one of the best years for the Get Out the Vote campaign MSCSA has ever had.

The work wasn’t easy but it was crucial. For every student talked to, every conversation that occurred, and for every class rap that was made, we made a difference. We were able to show that the voices of over 12,000 students truly do matter. Showing students sample ballots, helping them find their polling place, and assisting them in completing their voter registration all helped with students being able to find their voice and make it heard. However, the work does not stop here.

Get Out the Vote is only the first step in our robust legislative agenda. It is how we show the Minnesota Legislature that it’s time to listen to the voices of students. The results of the Get Out the Vote campaign will magnify our voice at the legislature this year, and help us fight for lower tuition and student debt. This legislative session, we will mobilize students around these issues and work hard for a better future for Minnesota community and technical college students. MSCSA would like to thank everyone that participated in Get Out the Vote 2016 for all their hard work and dedication.


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