Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alumni Association Update: March 2011

Vote for New Alumni Association Board Members
Seven alumni have submitted applications to serve on the Alumni Association Board. Alumni who are not able to attend the Annual Meeting on April 9th may vote now. All electronic votes have to be made by 5:00pm on Thursday, April 7th. You can view their applications and vote online by clicking here.

Late applicants will also be given the opportunity to apply or be nominated before votes are cast for the position at the Annual Meeting. Although late applicants will have a disadvantage, since their information was not available for those members who voted prior to the Annual Meeting, they are invited to be part of the election, similar to a write-in campaign.

Alumni Association Annual Meeting to be held Saturday, April 9, 2011

The 3rd Annual Alumni Association meeting will be at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th at the Country Inn & Suites in Woodbury, in the Woodbury Room, in conjunction with the student delegates conference in the Twin Cities. All alumni are invited and encouraged to attend. At the meeting we will hold elections, discuss future association goals, and discuss how alumni can become more involved.
Dinner will be provided after the meeting at the Green Mill. Alumni are welcome to watch the students meet during delegates.

Living with Student Debt Survey Results
Forty-seven Living with Student Debt surveys have been completed. The results show us that the average respondent debt at graduation was $32,510 and will take 15 years to pay off. Click here to see the rest of the results and media coverage. Click here to fill out the survey.
Living with Student Debt Video Testimonials:
Justin McMartin, SMSU Graduate, $34,000 in student debt
Josh Martin, WSU Graduate, $19,000 in student debt
Troy Olson, MSU Moorhead Graduate, $35-$40,000 in student debt
Pat Meacham, BSU Graduate, $30,000 in student debt

Executive Director Hired: David Anderson
The Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) is pleased to announce the appointment of David Anderson to the position of Executive Director, effective March 21, 2011. Previously, David served as the Executive Director for the All Parks Alliance for Change (APAC). He also worked with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) in multiple capacities, including serving as the organization’s Executive Director. David graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He currently resides in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota.

Student Conference, April 8th - 10th
The MSUSA Board of Directors and Delegates Assembly will be meeting in Woodbury, April 8th - 10th, 2011. Click here to see the conference documents. Students will be voting on the platform, budget, and holding Officer elections. An awards banquet will be held Friday night. Please encourage any students you know graduating to become involved in the Alumni Association.

Higher Education at the State Capitol
MSUSA supports a 5% tuition cap for four-year universities. The Senate higher education bill caps tuition increases for the MnSCU system's four-year institutions at 4% and for the two-year institutions at 3% . The House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee's bill caps tuition increases for the MnSCU system at 4% for four-year universities and 2% for two-year colleges. For comparison purposes, over the biennium from the 2012-13 forecasted base, the Governor's bill cuts the MnSCU system $75.6 million, the Senate's bill cuts the system $167 million, and the House bill cuts $201 million from the same base. Click here to read the full legislative update.

Students Lobby in Washington D.C.
State Chair Andrew Spaeth and Treasurer Nikki Sabby traveled to Washington D.C. in March to meet with members of Congress. There are a number of critical issues facing students in our system, especially related to loss of funding in the Pell Grant and FSEOG. Click here to read a recap of the trip.

Penny Program Application Deadline Closed

The Penny Program received a record 39 applications during it's March 15th deadline. Click here to see what school the applicants were from and how they heard about the awards. Award winners will be announced at the end of April.

Legislative Update 3/28-4/1

This was a big week in the 2011 Legislative Session and MSUSA students were very active advocating for their peers. On Tuesday, both the House and Senate heard and passed the Higher Education budget bills. Bemidji State had 8 students and Southwest had 4 students that met with more than 10 legislators to let them know our opposition to the highest cuts to higher education in the history of the state. On Wednesday, 8 more students from Winona State lobbied at the Capitol and met with a few more legislators to advocate on the behalf of the students.

Below is a recap of the activities at the Capitol this week:

Both the House and Senate took up the respective higher education omnibus bills on the floor on Tuesday. In the Senate, Higher Education Chair Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, explained SF 924 to members. She said there was a 10.3 percent reduction for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, with cuts to the central office and campuses. Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, offered an amendment that implements Gov. Dayton's higher education proposal of a 6 percent cut to higher education. In order to pay for the increase in funding, Pogemiller is proposing a new fourth tier on the income tax that effects 2.3 percent of all tax filers. Pogemiller said the budget is about priorities this year, and higher education is a priority. After much discussion about the germaneness of the bill (raising an income tax in the higher education bill), the amendment was not adopted.

Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, said lawmakers have failed to demonstrate that they believe in higher education. She said higher education is the economic engine of the state and provides a return on the state's investment and contributes to the economy. Sheran said a yes vote for the bill advocates for increased tuition payments, canceled courses, faculty lay-offs and a significant brain drain in the state.

Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, offered an amendment to repeal the language in the funding policy statute 135A.01, that states it is the intent of the Legislature to provide at least 67 percent of the revenue to public postsecondary institutions in state appropriation. Members spoke that even in times of budget reductions, it is still the intent of the Legislature to support high quality public postsecondary education. The amendment failed unanimously.

Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said lawmakers are jeopardizing the future of higher education campuses with the cuts in the bill. In response, Chair Fischbach said the committee was able to put a little more money into the state grant program for students, and make reductions that will not cut so deep. After much discussion on the bill, the Senate higher education finance omnibus bill was approved by a vote of 37-27.

The House later took up their version of the higher education finance omnibus bill, HF 1101. Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee Chair Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, explained the bill and said making the reductions in the bill were not easy, but he believes it's a better alternative than Gov. Dayton's bill that increases taxes. Nornes said the goal for this bill was to make sure students do not bear the brunt of the reductions. He also said the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the University of Minnesota are expected to make up one-third of the lost revenue through tuition increases. Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, said that maybe the bill will send a message to higher education institutions that they need to start controlling their costs.

Also in his remarks, Chair Nornes recognized Chancellor Jim McCormick and President Bob Bruininks in their retirement this year and thanked them for their leadership to the state of Minnesota.

Three amendments were adopted and incorporated into the bill. The first was a provision introduced by Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud, that prohibits the use of state or federal funds to support human cloning, or to pay for any expenses incidental to human cloning. The Senate version of the bill carries this provision.

Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona introduced the other two amendments that passed. The first amendment sets the salary for the chancellor, vice chancellors and presidents at or below the governor's salary of $120,000; and prohibits the chancellor, vice chancellor and president contracts from providing a bonus payment. The amendment passed by a vote of 89-38. The other amendment authored by Rep. Pelowski requires the Board of Trustees to do a comprehensive evaluation of the structure of the system and report to the Legislature with recommendations for improvements to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering postsecondary education.

The House higher education omnibus bill was approved as amended by a vote of 69-60. The next step in the process is conference committee, where the House and Senate will meet to iron out the differences in the two bills.

On Monday, the House of Representatives passed it’s omnibus tax bill that included a reduction in the renters tax credit from 19% to 12%. This will mean a person paying $500-a-month in rent for the year will have their tax return cut by $420.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the State Government Innovation and Veterans Affairs bill. This bill included $945,000 for the Higher Education Veterans Campus Centers program. MSUSA worked very hard this year to have this program funded in whole and maintain services to veterans on MN college campuses.

Today, the Senate is hearing the K-12 funding bill and the House is working on Judiciary and Public Safety.
Conference Committees on the Higher Education bill should start early next week as the House and Senate begin to work through the differences between the two bills.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

$1,000 JPS Scholarship Applications Due April 1

The $1,000 Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship application is due this Friday, April 1, 2011. Applications can be emailed, faxed (651-224-9753) or mailed in (applications must be postmarked by April 1st).

Jared was the student body president at Winona State University in 2007 when he suddenly passed away from Wilson's Disease. This scholarship was established by the Minnesota State University Student Association in his memory.

Only MnSCU student leaders (BSU, MSU Moorhead, MSU, Mankato, SMSU, Metro, SCSU) with at least a 2.5 GPA are eligible to apply. They can be any major, any year, and international students qualify as well.

Watch this quick video to learn more. Click here to download the application.

We're also accepting Board member applications until Wednesday, March 30th. Click here to find more information and the application.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Legislative Update 3/21-3/25

The Senate Higher Education committee met Monday afternoon to take up a variety of bills including the governor's higher education proposal, SF 897, authored by Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, which as a reminder contains a 6 percent reduction to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. As the committee puts together their omnibus bill, members laid SF 897 over for possible inclusion. Chair Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, said committee members will take up the omnibus bill Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. and hear testimony from interested parties. The committee will then reconvene in the evening to take amendments.

The House Higher Education Policy and Finance committee met Tuesday afternoon to go through the omnibus bill and take testimony. The committee returned in the evening to finish testimony and take amendments to the bill. After multiple proposed amendments, the bill passed as amended by a vote of 8-6 and was referred to the Ways and Means committee.

President Pat Johns, Lake Superior College, told committee members that his college is trying to serve more students at the same time lawmakers are proposing a tuition cap of 2 percent at the two-year colleges, which limits what the college can do to serve these students. Johns said the Board of Trustees should set tuition rates after the colleges and universities go through the consultation process at the local level.

One of the amendments adopted that affects the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system includes an amendment by Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, that says none of the direct appropriations for operation and maintenance of the system may be used for new transformational initiatives. The tuition cap for the University of Minnesota was amended to an increase of 5 percent each year of the biennium. Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, also attempted to amend the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system's tuition cap in the bill of 2 percent for two-year colleges and 4 percent for four-year universities, to an "up to" 5 percent increase each year for both two-year and four-year institutions. The amendment did not pass. Rukavina attempted another amendment to increase tuition each year for the system to 4 percent each year. This amendment also failed.

Chair Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, said higher education has not caused the state deficit, but to right-size the state, lawmakers have to balance the budget in a way that sustains itself. Nornes said he realizes it's going to be painful and wishes it didn't have to be done.
The Senate Higher Education committee met Wednesday afternoon and into the evening to mark-up the higher education omnibus bill. Presidents Edna Szymanski of Minnesota State University Moorhead and Larry Litecky of Century College requested the support of committee members for local control of tuition. The Senate higher education bill caps tuition increases for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system's four-year institutions at 4 percent and for the two-year institutions at 3 percent. This is a slight change from the House higher education bill that caps the state universities at 4 percent and the two-year colleges at 2 percent. President Litecky said that honoring the local control of tuition-setting is a concern for all the colleges and universities in the system. Litecky said the result of tuition caps and the cut in the bill could mean fewer class offerings for students. Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, said that cuts to the system today will cost students and the state additional money in the long run, because students will not be able to get the classes they need and therefore will not be able to graduate on time.

In addition to the tuition caps in the bill, the bill cuts the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system $167 million over the biennium from the fiscal year 2012-2013 forecasted base. For comparison purposes, the governor recommended a cut of $75.6 million over the biennium from the 2012-13 forecasted base, and the House bill cuts $201 million from the same base. The Senate bill brings the system's annual base down to $546.8 million, the House bill reduces the system's base to $529.8 million, and the governor's recommendation brings the system's base to $592 million.

The Senate bill also specifies that if there are any salary savings to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system caused by legislation that limits, reduces, or eliminates salary increases in any other bill, that savings is to be used to mitigate tuition increases or allocated to institutions under the Board of Trustees allocation model.

The Senate bill also includes the provision on senior citizen tuition age, as does the House bill. The language reduces the age of a senior citizen in statute to be eligible to receive reduced tuition back to age 62 from 66 (the statute was changed in 2010 from 62 to 66). Also similar to the House bill, the Senate bill sets a statutory amount for the tuition and fee maximum used to calculate the state grant award to the highest tuition and fees charged by a Minnesota public college for two-year programs, and the highest average tuition and fees charged by a Minnesota public university for four-year universities. The bill also sets the living and miscellaneous expense allowance, or LME, at $7,000 each year.

After a few amendments, none that affect the system, committee members passed the bill as amended, by a vote of 7-6.
The Senate Finance committee and the House Ways and Means committee both met Thursday afternoon and took up the respective higher education omnibus bills. Both committees approved the bills without any additional amendments, and sent them to the floor. Once the bills are taken up on the Senate and House floors, they will go to conference committee to work through the differences between the two bills.

Both the House and Senate State Government Budget proposals include funding for the Higher Education Veterans Campus Centers program that was set to lose it’s funding on July 1, 2011. The Governor also recommended funding the program again and adding to the permanent base funding. This will provide the program consistent funding for the future.
Please follow MSUSA on twitter at @MSUSA1967 for real time legislative updates.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Penny Program Application Deadline Closed

Below you can find a breakdown of the March 15, 2011 Penny Program applicant information.

Universities & Number of Applicants
St. Cloud State University - 17
Winona State University - 6
Minnesota State University, Moorhead - 4
Metropolitan State University - 3
Southwest Minnesota State University - 1

Two-Year Colleges & Number of Applicants
Minneapolis Community & Technical College - 3
Anoka-Ramsey Community College - 2
Rochester Community & Technical College - 2
Fon du Lac Tribal & Community College - 1
North Hennepin Community College - 1
Lake Superior College - 1

Total Applicants - 9 Male, 30 Female, 39 Total
Federal Fellowship - 2 Male, 3 Female, 5 Total
State Fellowship - 1 Male, 3 Female, 4 Total
Community Service Scholarship - 6 Male, 24 Female, 30 Total

How did you hear about the program?
School Website - 19
Professor/Instructor/Advisor - 12
Word of Mouth - 5
Student Email - 4
Student Government Office - 4
Volunteer Site - 2
Brochure - 2
MSUSA - 1
MSCSA - 1
Warrior Leadership Retreat - 1

The Board will be announcing the award winners in late April. Thanks to everyone for applying and spreading the word about the Penny Program!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Organizing the Millennial Generation #2

Although there is no one-size-fits-all description of the individuals within a generation, there are some distinctive traits for the Millennial generation that, when considered carefully, can influence how we organize on college campuses. This “Organizing the Millennial Generation” series will examine several of these traits in greater detail. The second of these examinations is below. Enjoy!

Millennial Trait #2:
Raised in a Child-Centric Environment
Many of those in the Millennial generation need structure and explicitly clear explanations in order to complete a task. This trait stems from the fact that parents of most Millennials were heavily involved in their child’s lives from a very young age. Thus, Millennials are accustomed to having things carefully explained.

Implications for organizing:
When handing out instructions to your organizing team, each step should be broken down and laid out in a linear fashion. Never assume that someone will just figure things out. One of the easiest ways to undermine a person’s motivation (and correspondingly undermine your organizing effort) is to place them in a situation where they don’t know what to do.

I’ve witnessed countless instances of volunteers being placed in a situation with little or no instruction (I may have been the one neglecting to give them adequate instruction once or twice in my life). This almost always goes very poorly.

For example, if a person is asked to do some tabling in the student center but not told to be active and approach students, not told how to initiate a conversation, and not given some suggestions on what to say, the chances of that student simply sitting there at the table and watching people pass by are sky high. The moral of the story: don’t miss out on the golden opportunity volunteers provide by neglecting to give them clear instruction.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Legislative Update March 14-18

Legislative Update
March 18, 2011

House higher education committee releases budget bill with cuts to the system

Early this week, the House Ways and Means committee adopted the budget targets, including a 15 percent cut for higher education. Committee Chair Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, said, "We feel that these numbers are living within our means, and that we'll be able to meet the necessary needs of the state in the numbers reflected in this target." Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, offered an amendment that reflects Gov. Dayton's proposal of a 6 percent reduction to higher education. The amendment did not pass. With the approval of the targets, the finance committees got to work right away crafting their spending bills.

The House Higher Education Policy and Finance committee released their bill Thursday, which includes significant reductions to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Lawmakers looked at both the 2012-2013 forecasted base as well as the 2010-2011 base, which drives different percentages. If reduced from the 2012-13 forecasted base (which is what the governor's proposal does), it's a cut to the system of 16 percent. If reduced from the 2010-2011 base, it's a cut of 13.3 percent to the system. Either way you look at it, the reduction brings the system's annual base down to $528.7 million.

The bill caps tuition and mandatory fees for a Minnesota resident undergraduate student at 4 percent per year for the state universities and 2 percent per year for the state colleges. A provision is also included that encourages the Board of Trustees to offer entering students a plan providing stable tuition for students pursuing two-year or four-year degrees.

The bill provides language that holds back 1 percent of the fiscal year 2013 appropriation to the system until after the Board of Trustees demonstrates the system has achieved at least three of five goals: increase the number of graduates or degrees, diplomas and certificates conferred; increase the enrollment of students of color; increase the number of students taking online or blended courses or the number of online or blended sections; increase persistence and completion rates; and decrease energy consumption. The Board is also required to place the highest priority on meeting the needs of Minnesota employers for a skilled workforce. They are to focus on efficient delivery of higher education, eliminate duplication throughout the system and provide an education that prepares students for the workforce needs of Minnesota.

Other provisions in the bill include reducing the age of a senior citizen in statute to be eligible to receive reduced tuition back to age 62 from 66 (the statute was changed in 2010 from 62 to 66); and language regarding transfer that reads by Feb. 15, 2012, the Board of Trustees must adopt a policy requiring every college and university in the system to grant credit for a course taken for credit at any of the colleges or universities in the system. The transfer provision also addresses the transferability of credits from 2+2 programs, including the Anoka STEP program.

In relation to the state grant program, the bill makes whole the 2012-13 state grant projected deficit of $34 million, and sets a statutory amount for the tuition and fee maximum used to calculate the state grant award to the highest tuition and fees charged by a Minnesota public college for two-year programs, and the highest average tuition and fees charged by a Minnesota public university for four-year universities. The bill also sets the living and miscellaneous expense allowance, or LME, at $7,000 each year.

The bill can be found at:
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/docs/H1101DE1-1.pdf

The spreadsheet can be found at:
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/docs/HED_2011sessionBudscenariostwoA.PDF


The committee is expected to mark-up the bill Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. If they do not finish by the end of the scheduled time at 2:15, they will reconvene at 5:30 p.m. to pass the bill. The Senate is expected to release their higher education finance bill early next week. Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said it will be a busy couple of weeks as bills move to the Finance and Ways and Means committees and then to the floor. Koch indicated the finance bills would make their way to conference committee and to the governor’s desk prior to the start of the spring recess April 18.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said, “The budget is the main thing.” He continued to say that the Republican leadership thinks they have a good balance with opportunity for anyone who wants to be part of the process. Zellers said the intent of the aggressive timeline is to move the process quickly instead of waiting until the last week of session.

Elimination of higher education mandates included in omnibus bill

Committees heard multiple bills this week as they worked to put together their respective omnibus finance bills. The House Higher Education Policy and Finance committee heard HF 849, a bill introduced by Committee Chair Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls. The bill proposes eliminating four higher education mandates in statute. Nornes said as committee chair he has been looking for relief from mandates this session and chose to eliminate four that include; the prohibition of higher education institutions entering into agreements with credit card companies to market to undergraduate students; the mandate that requires notice to be provided to students regarding possible impact of obtaining a job in certain fields for students with a criminal record; the requirement that to the extent possible bookstores sell clothing made in America; and the requirement that public employers purchase or require employees to furnish uniform or protective accessories that are made in America.

Committee members amended the bill to remove the repealer of the mandate that requires notice to be provided to students regarding possible impact of obtaining a job in certain fields for students with a criminal record, and then laid the bill over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill. With the release of the higher education omnibus bill yesterday, the committee included two of the four repealers; the requirement for public institutions to sell American-made clothing and apparel in their bookstores to the extent possible, and the requirement
that public employers purchase or require employees to furnish uniform or protective accessories that are made in America.

Congress votes to provide three more weeks of federal government operations

The U.S. House, Senate and the Obama administration will continue current fiscal year budget negotiations with the passage of the sixth continuing resolution, or CR. On Tuesday, the House approved the measure by a vote of 271-158 that will prevent a government shutdown through midnight April 8. There were 54 Republican members that voted against the bill that makes $6 billion in cuts from fiscal year 2010 funding levels, citing frustration with what they have said is too little of a reduction. House Republican leaders acknowledged that a longer-term bill
that sees the federal government through the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30 is preferable, but blamed the Democratic Senate and President Obama for failing to put forth an alternative spending bill that can
pass. The Senate passed the continuing resolution by a vote of 87-13 on Thursday. The $6 billion reduction includes $2.1 billion in rescissions of funds that have not been used; $2.5 billion in earmark terminations;
and $1.1 billion to financial services/general government programs.

Congressional members have returned home to their districts for a week-long recess, but congressional leaders continue negotiations in Washington in the hopes of finding a compromise on the current fiscal year budget. President Obama has reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring the maximum Pell Grant award remains at $5,550.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

MSUSA Washington D.C. Trip Recap


Students from the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSUSA), Minnesota State University Student Association (MSCSA), and the Arizona Student Association (ASA) came together in DC to advocate on behalf of public higher education and the students at their respective systems and institutions. Students participated in a full day of federal issue and legislative training before meeting with legislators. The training was similar to the lobby games MSUSA hosted this year. The time spent working through our messages and practice meetings had a dramatic impact on our level of proficiency and ability to keep our meetings moving in the direction we wanted.  

The 2011 Federal Advocacy trip was extremely effective and timely.  There are a number of critical issues facing students in our system, especially related to loss of funding in the Pell Grant and FSEOG.  The US House of Representatives budget bill would cause over 7,900 students in MnSCU to lose some or all of their Pell Grant funding. Thousands of students in Minnesota will also lose SFEOG funding, which in FY2009 supported over 24,000 of the lowest income Pell-eligible students in the state.


Overall, our meetings went really well. Many were held with legislative staff. A couple of highlights include the meeting with Representative Keith Ellison, who was able to personally meet with the student group and asked to help author an amendment regarding the SELF loan.  Representative McCollum indicated she would like to use one of our student’s stories on the House floor when the Pell Grant funding is discussed in the budget bill. Representative Kline, the Chair of the Education in the US House of Representatives, was able to send his Senior Legislative Assistant on Education to our meeting. The meeting with his staff was very productive. The opportunity to meet with legislators and their staff is important to establishing relationships with key decision makers on federal higher education issues.

The trip was a great success and should be a great starting point for follow up with the legislators and staff we met with and for potential in-district meetings on our campuses.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Legislative Update 3/7 - 3/11

Legislative Update
March 11, 2011

Legislative leaders propose reductions of 16 percent to higher
education

Republican leadership announced the budget targets this week. Senate
Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said government needs to live
within their means. She said leadership implemented aggressive budget
deadlines, and now the targets are turned over to committee chairs who
will work to meet the March 25 deadline.

For higher education, the budget target is about a 16 percent
reduction, which brings the proposed spending level for all of higher
education to $2.505 billion. Gov. Dayton's budget proposal for higher
education puts the fiscal year 2012-13 spending at $2.745 billion, a
difference of $240 million.

We now turn our attention to the higher education committees in the
Senate and House to see how they recommend spreading the cut. Republican leaders said today that the finance committees will be working overtime to put together the budget bills. The Senate Higher Education committee has said they expect to pass a budget bill March 23, and the House Higher Education committee has indicated discussion of a budget bill in committee on March 22. Senate Finance Chair Claire Robling, R-Jordan, said, "This earlier deadline will allow us to get done on time, and I
think you are going to see that."

In addition to the state government cuts, the House’s budget plan
includes cuts of $300 million in income taxes for low and middle class
Minnesotans, and the Senate plan includes $200 million in tax cuts for
businesses.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s spokesperson Katharine Tinucci said the governor
believes a budget is a reflection of values and priorities, and these
cuts will hurt school children, taxpayers, businesses and seniors. House
Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville,
described the dilemma facing lawmakers and the governor, "We have very
diverse beliefs about what is best for the state. I’m not sure how we
are going to resolve it."

Tuition freeze bill receives second hearing

The bill that freezes tuition for the 2012-2013 biennium at the
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the University of
Minnesota, was heard in the House Higher Education Policy and Finance
committee this week. The bill was heard previously in the Senate Higher
Education committee. HF 856, introduced by Rep. Chris Swedzinski,
R-Ghent, also holds tuition increases to the annual percentage increase
in the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, for every year thereafter.
Swedzinski said the bill provides long-term tuition guidance for
students and their families.

Travis Johnson, President of the Minnesota State College Student
Association, or MSCSA, said his organization does not support a tuition
freeze, but rather a tuition cap, and said he would like to see a
predictability measure in place going forward. Johnson said tuition
increases should be limited to ensure a college education remains
affordable.
Andrew Spaeth, Chair of MSUSA spoke to the growing concern of tuition costs. He said, “If we continue on the same path as we have been going my youngest brother will pay double what I paid for my college education.”

Russ Stanton, Director of Government Relations with the Inter Faculty
Organization, or IFO, testified against the bill and said the IFO
advocates for low tuition. Stanton said the Minnesota State Colleges and
Universities system is a highly efficient system and tuition rates are
among the lowest in the state. He said the IFO does not like the idea of
setting tuition rates in the public arena, but rather should be left up
to the Board of Trustees.

Dawn Reimer, Chief Finance and Facilities Officer at North Hennepin
Community explained to committee members that a tuition freeze will have
a significant impact on the college's students and employees. Reimer
said students come to the colleges and universities in the Minnesota
State Colleges and Universities system because of the system's high
quality instructors, innovative programs, and state-of-the-art
facilities, labs and technology. With a tuition freeze and cuts to state
appropriations, Reimer said growth in innovations and new programs at
the college will be limited, physical improvements will be stalled, and
quality education will be compromised.

Remier told committee members that the Board of Trustees currently
makes final tuition decisions based on data provided by the colleges and
universities, and the Board requires each institution to consult with
its students concerning its tuition and fee proposals. Remier said at
North Hennepin Community College, Budget Task Force meetings are held with employees and students to work on the budget; and ensures budget cuts, operating efficiencies and other revenues are incorporated into the budget before tuition rates are determined.

As the committee begins to craft its omnibus bill, this bill was laid
over for consideration.

Higher Ed Veterans Assistance Program Receives Hearing in the Senate
The Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee heard SF449 this week. Representatives from The Dept. of Veterans Affairs and MSUSA and MSCSA testified in favor of extending the program. MSUSA Director of Government Relations reminded the committee that passing the bill does not mean the program gets funded and that the Committee should work hard over the next few weeks to ensure the funding for this crucial program remains intact. Gov. Dayton included funding for the program in his budget.
All eyes are on Washington as March 18 draws near

With Congress passing a continuing resolution last week to fund the
federal government at fiscal 2010 levels until March 18, the U.S. House
and Senate work to pass a bill before next Friday. Senate Appropriations
Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, introduced a continuing resolution
that maintains funding for many higher education programs at fiscal year
2010 levels. You may recall the House passed legislation that cuts $61
billion in spending, including higher education.

Today, House Republicans released a three-week continuing resolution to
keep government operating that cuts $6 billion in spending. In order to
avoid a government shutdown, a short-term funding bill is almost
unavoidable, especially with negotiations between the House Republicans,
Senate Democrats and the White House at a stalemate. House
Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, said, "This is simply an extension to give negotiators more time." The House bill is
expected to be voted on Tuesday.

Public policy agenda for the American Association of State Colleges and
Universities

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities, or AASCU,
has released their legislative priorities and positions on higher
education issues at the federal and state levels. AASCU has said their
advocacy efforts in 2011 will focus on the policy principle of
"Delivering America’s Promise" in four policy areas including;
affordability, access and attainment, accountability, and
competitiveness. To learn more about the four areas of AASCU’s public
policy agenda, go to: http://www.aascu.org/ppa/2011/.
This week at the Capitol MSUSA Director of Campus Organizing will testify against the Voter ID proposals in the Senate.
Expect most of the focus to be on budget work now, and we’ll soon see how drastic the cuts to MnSCU will be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Organizing the Millennial Generation #1

Although there is no one-size-fits-all description of the individuals within a generation, there are some distinctive traits for the Millennial generation that, when considered carefully, can influence how we organize on college campuses. Over the next few weeks I’ll examine several of these traits in greater detail. The first of these examinations is below. Enjoy!

Millennial Trait #1: Technologically Savvy
Millennials are used to (and often most comfortable with) communicating via technology.

Implications for Organizing:
For many of those in the Millennial generation, good ol’ face to face conversations can be very intimidating. Most young people would rather create a Facebook event or send out an email rather than starting up a conversation. This is a significant problem because almost every effective organizing tactic requires an unhindered ability to walk right up to complete strangers and begin a conversation.

Electronic organizing (i.e. organizing via email and social networking websites) is largely ineffective when done alone. Electronic organizing is only effective when it is used as one small component of a larger, primarily conversation-based organizing scheme.

Campus organizing can be a challenge due to the relatively large number of Millennials who find initiating a conversation intimidating. One way to overcome this is by holding a training session on the basic art of conversation. I know… it sounds silly, but creating a safe environment where students can practice initiating conversations before they actually have to go out and do it in the “real world” can be very effective.

Even with training, some people simply won’t have what it takes to initiate social interaction with complete strangers. Put these people to work doing things to help your organizing effort in other ways (e.g. putting up posters around campus, designing a marketing campaign etc). Knowing an individual’s strengths is the key to effectively plugging them in to your organizing effort.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One week left! Penny Program Applications Due March 15th

Penny Program applications are due Tuesday, March 15th. MnSCU students with at least a 2.5 GPA are eligible to apply. Only three applications have been submitted so far!

One student will receive $5,000 to do a public service internship in Washington D.C.
One student will receive $2,500 to do a public service internship in Minnesota.
One student will receive $1,500 for their commitment to community service.

The internship does not have to be secured at the time of application. Students have up to one year to begin their internship.

Click here to download the application.

Watch this video to learn more about the program.

Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennyprogram.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Legislative Update 2/28-3/4

The much anticipated revised state budget forecast came out on Monday
morning, and Minnesota Management and Budget is projecting more than a billion dollar improvement from a $6.2 billion budget deficit to a
$5.028 billion deficit for the fiscal year 2012-2013 biennium.

Lawmakers and Gov. Dayton are still faced with a very large budget
problem, and disagree on how to resolve it. Republican legislative
leaders want to balance the budget through spending cuts, and Dayton is
proposing raising approximately $4 billion in revenue through an income
tax on the wealthy.

Also on Monday, five of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustee members were confirmed by the Senate Higher Education committee. The confirmation is to be taken up next by the full Senate. The trustees include: Duane Benson, Phil Krinkie, Alfredo Oliveira, Thomas Renier and Michael Vekich.

A six-member conference committee adopted a report yesterday on alternative pathways to becoming a licensed teacher after they reached consensus with Gov. Mark Dayton earlier. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill this week and send it to the governor for signature.

Under the measure, alternative licensure candidates who meet all criteria would be granted a two-year limited license, which the Board of Teaching may renew for an additional year. Candidates must have a 3.0 or higher grade-point average or a waiver from the Board; pass basic reading, writing and math skills exams; and obtain qualifying scores on board-approved content and pedagogy exams.

Opponents of the bill have said allowing teachers without traditional educational training, including 10 weeks of student teaching supervised by a licensed teacher, will compromise the quality of teaching.

In Washington, the U.S. House passed a continuing resolution yesterday by a vote of 335-91, that avoids a government shutdown for two weeks. With House Republicans approving a bill earlier that would cut $61 billion from programs and agency budgets over the remaining months of the 2011 fiscal year, the House needed to pass a continuing resolution with March 4 drawing near, that buys them more time given the strong opposition to the bill by the Democratic Senate and the President. Over the next two weeks, leaders in both the House and Senate, as well as the White House, will attempt to negotiate a bill that keeps government running through September 30.
Senate Higher Education committee members heard from students and faculty with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the University of Minnesota on Wednesday about the role higher education plays in their lives and in Minnesota, and the impact of cuts to the two systems. Geoff Dittberner, Vice President of the Minnesota State College Student Association, said that without a strong Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, it would be impossible to meet the state's workforce needs, and he urged committee members to keep in mind the system's principles of access, opportunity and success; high quality learning; enhancing the global economic competitiveness; and innovating to meet educational needs.

Caitlin Stene, Vice Chair of the Minnesota State University Student Association, or MSUSA, told committee members that state university system students ask how they can push the system to be the most innovative in the nation, and the state cannot afford to restrict access to higher education. Chair of MSUSA, Andrew Spaeth, told members that the organization's 75,000 students would urge them to keep in the forefront of their minds that these students are the workforce of tomorrow.
The issue of credit transfer was once again a topic of the House Higher Education committee on Thursday with the presentation of HF 717. The bill author, Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, said he introduced the bill to continue advancing the discussion of transfer and push well-intended institutions to move the issue forward. The bill requires the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to adopt a policy requiring colleges and universities to grant credit for a course that is taken for credit at any college or university in the system.

Following Abeler's presentation of the bill, Mike Lopez, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, spoke to the "Improving Transfer of Credit" report the system prepared in response to legislation from last session that required the system to develop and implement a plan to improve credit transfer within the system.

Lopez walked members through the Smart Transfer Plan which includes; establishing course outlines available on all college and university Web sites; e-Transcripts, which is an electronic transcript process for transfers within the system; a policy that clarifies that DARS and u.select databases are the official repository of course equivalencies between system colleges and universities; enhancements to the student appeals process, and information available to students; and continuous training for college and university staff who advise students in the area of transfer.

Chair of the Minnesota State University Student Association, Andrew Spaeth, told committee members that in coordination with the Office of the Chancellor, the student organizations completed a survey on transfer and continue to work together to make progress. Spaeth said the Board of Trustees has been involved and open to hearing students' concerns and recommendations regarding transfer. Travis Johnson, president of the Minnesota State College Student Association, said he appreciates that the issue of transfer has received attention from the Legislature and the Board of Trustees and he views transfer as an area for continuous improvement.

The bill was held over for possible consideration in the committee's omnibus bill.

Also, the House and Senate took up the alternative teacher licensure conference committee report on the floor. The Senate passed the report by a vote of 46-19, followed by the House vote of 81-50. Sponsor of the bill in the house, Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said, "If there's one message from this bill it is this: This bill raises standards. The standards for alternatively licensed teachers will be higher than the standards that apply to traditionally licensed teachers." Lawmakers in opposition to the bill said the bill is too open and doesn't stipulate enough quality assurance. Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, said she worries some alternative licensure programs will not hold high enough standards.
Gov. Dayton is expected to sign the bill early next week.
On Monday, the Senate Higher Ed Committee is hearing a bill that would require the MnSCU office to reduce all spending by 10% from current levels. This bill was authored by Sen. Miller from Winona.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Make Your Opinion Known!

Are you opinionated? Are you frustrated by the dearth of opportunities to demonstrate your clever, witty, and enlightened observations? Do you desire lesser beings to bow down to your superior intellect? If you answered yes to any of the preceding questions, well frankly you’re a huge jerk… but also we’d love to hear from you!

We’re looking for students to share their perspective and, more specifically, bring to light some of the challenges of being a university student in this day and age. Your personal stories are an invaluable tool the MSUSA staff can use to advocate more effectively for your interests.

Please, please, please, follow the link below and take a moment to fill out the brief survey (seriously, it should only take you 5-10 minutes tops). There is a much better chance your wildest dreams will come true if you do! (NOTE: this is only true if your wildest dream is to make the MSUSA staff happy)

You can fill out the survey entitled, "The Student's Perspective" by clicking here!