Tuesday, January 31, 2012
My purpose was to visit with the Metro State MSUSA Campus Committee.
Shortly after arriving on campus I ventured into the New Main building with its shining glass façade. I made my way down the circular medieval staircase to the second subterranean level. There, amid the dark, I noticed a beam of light begin to form in the distance. As I stood there in tense anticipation the beam crept across the floor and ultimately spilled onto my feet. I proceeded with caution, carefully placing one delicate step ahead of the other. As I drew nearer to the source of light I saw a visage of great familiarity begin to materialize. Before I could fully comprehend what was happening I found myself peering through the glass of the Metro State Student Senate office. On the other side of the glass, as if I was peering down through the surface of some magical pool of water, Dea price appeared. She waived me into the room as if she was expecting me. Perhaps this is because we arranged the meeting several days prior.
As I sat down in the Student Senate office, Metro State campus committee members began to appear. In what seemed like a blink of an eye all were present except the noble Diversity Specialist, Francis Cristobal. At the time, Francis was making his way to St. Cloud for the Power in Diversity conference. This was a most-worthy excuse.
The remaining Campus Committee members (Dea Price, Brian Wemerskirchin, and Angi Daus) and I began to have a conversation about the nature and function of the MSUSA Campus Committee on the Metro State campus. Many excellent points were made including some from the Campus Committee members themselves.
I left the meeting with a sense of hope and optimism. The four courageous souls that comprise the Metro State Campus Committee are focused on making the MSUSA-Metro State relationship strong. With their leadership as a guiding light, I am confident in the reality of that outcome.
Onward and upward to the next campus!
Monday, January 30, 2012
The first week of the 2012 legislative session included short floor sessions and a handful of committee hearings. One of the more contentious issues last week was the Senate Rules and Administration committee vote to approve the Senate budget, which includes cuts in staffing for the DFL and non-partisan Senate staff. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, read a statement Friday that said it was a painful first week of session in the Senate. He characterized the budget cuts to the DFL Caucus staff as a “partisan attack on hard-working men and women that work for the State Senate.” Bakk said the majority did not cut any staff and misled members of the Rules Committee with inaccurate information. Senate Deputy Majority Leader Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said the Senate Republican caucus made their cuts in staff last year. Ortman also said she has been meeting and communicating with Bakk regarding the budget.
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is scheduled to present its bonding request of $278 million to the House Higher Education committee tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12:30 in the State Office Building. The system will then present the request to the Senate Higher Education committee Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. in the Capitol.
The Capitol hallways will be bustling with the usual activity through Wednesday this week, then lawmakers are scheduled for a legislative break for precinct caucuses Feb. 2-7.
Gov. Dayton is scheduled to give the State of the State address Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7:00 p.m. in the House Chamber. The State of the State is an opportunity for the governor to address both the Senate and House with a focus on his priorities for the current session. Dayton’s priorities include a bonding bill, a jobs plan and a potential Vikings stadium.
In Washington, President Obama is set to release his 2013 budget Feb. 13. Obama’s budget is the first step in the 2013 appropriations process.
House Higher Education Policy and Finance committee members heard from Director Larry Pogemiller with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE) last Thursday. Pogemiller told members that Gov. Dayton believes there’s a higher education agenda we all can act on and spoke about the need for collaborations between higher education, K-12 education and the workforce. He discussed what he believes to be some of the challenges and opportunities for higher education, including ramping-up postsecondary readiness, assuring student access to quality choices, responding effectively to demographic changes and pending workforce shortages and evaluating and improving postsecondary quality and productivity.
When asked how he views the role of the Office of Higher Education, Pogemiller said they are an executive agency that informs the governor on higher education issues. He also said part of what he will implement is, “Beefing up the research function.” Pogemiller said it is MOHE’s responsibility to help inform the governor and legislators with the appropriate research.
Director Pogemiller also spoke to the state grant program. He described the program as balancing access and choice and allowing students and their families the ability to decide how they access postsecondary. Pogemiller spoke of the impact the federal Pell Grant changes will have for fiscal year 2013. He said the federal changes will create modest reductions, less than predicted. The total loss in Pell Grant funds to students at Minnesota institutions is estimated at $6 million. Approximately 1 percent of Pell Grant recipients will lose their full Pell Grant award; other Pell Grant recipients may see smaller awards, but some of these reductions and losses will be offset by increases to the student’s state grant.
As for the state grant, MOHE is currently projecting a spending balance of $6.9 million. Pogemiller said the number will be finalized with a report to the Legislature mid-February. He said if the balance holds, MOHE will recommend allocating it to reciprocity and the living, miscellaneous expense allowance, or LME. Pogemiller said somewhere in the range of $3-5 million would be allocated to the LME.
Thank you to Melissa Fahning from MnSCU for preparing this legislative update.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I see many great opportunities for MSUSA. MSUSA has many hard-working students, from the Officers, Board Members, Campus Coordinators, to every student that gets involved. The staff is committed to the mission of MSUSA, and there have been many successes. There are exciting things happening at the organization, including a potential move to a student-owned building, Lobby Corps during the legislative session and congressional visits to campuses this spring.
I am spending my first week meeting with the State Chair, MSUSA staff, MSCSA staff, and the MnSCU Chancellor and staff. There is a lot of work for me to do, and I am ready to take it on. Please contact me at email@example.com if you have a question for me or want to give me any suggestions. I work for each student at the seven state universities, and I will work hard for you.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Previously, Elsbeth served with the Minnesota State University Student Association in a number of roles from 1997-2008 including the position of Director of Research and Policy. She also worked as a law clerk in Mankato, staff attorney for Legal Aid in Pine City, student senate advisor for Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and legal instructor at Minneapolis Business College.
Elsbeth received her bachelor of arts from Drake University before pursuing and receiving her Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa College of Law. She currently resides in Dellwood, Minnesota.
Established in 1967, MSUSA is an independent, non-profit organization funded and operated by students. MSUSA serves the students attending Minnesota’s state universities in Bemidji, Mankato, Marshall (Southwest), Moorhead, St. Cloud, St. Paul/Minneapolis (Metropolitan), and Winona.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
As another semester comes to an end and we welcome in 2012, I would like to take the time to reflect back on all that we have accomplished here at MSUSA. It definitely has been a busy semester, especially since we were without an executive director for the full semester and Shannah Mulvihill our Director of University and System Relations was on maternity. Though we were short handed the staff and officers continued to carried out the mission of MSUSA. We held three successful board member and campus committee conferences as well as a full delegates assembly conference. Our student leaders have all worked hard on their respective campuses, spreading the work of MSUSA and engaging more students in decisions that affect them!
Johnathan Bohn, Director of Gov Relations and I traveled to Washington DC twice this past semester, once in July and once in September, taking along other students each time. While there discussing the Pell Grant and how outlining how potential cuts to the maximum or eligibility requirements would affect MN students, we developed many contacts which have helped launch MSUSA on a national level. Our campus committees, board members and students of our association worked tirelessly to collect signatures for our petition in opposition to the proposed Pell grant cuts. In one of the most successful campaigns in our associations history, we collected 2,100 signatures from university students. In partnership with our sister association, Minnesota State College Student Association, we presented the petition, with over 4,200 signatures, to the MN congressional delegation in a press conference held at the Minnesota Capitol. Education Trust, a new partner of our association, helped to launch the creation of this idea, but our students really took hold of this project and worked to educate as many students as they could on their campuses.
Our federal contacts also came to use when our association was invited to participate in a series of events with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) when they visited MN. The CFPB opened their doors July 1, 2011 and serves to protect consumers from predatory practices lending and other financial issues. The morning round table discussion allowed for people from across sectors of Minnesota to discuss openly the financial issues facing the people of MN. Our association presented on student loan and credit card debit, an epidemic sweeping the nation and affecting many people, current students and alumni, in Minnesota. That evening, I represented our association and students across Minnesota who are affecting by the rising cost of college and experience the reality of student loan and credit card debt. Many students from both our association and MSCSA were present to share their story with staff of the CFPB.
Our association was also invited to participate in the Governor Dayton's Job Summit, representing students in the discussions of how to fill the workforce gap. The message heard at the Job Summit continues to resonate in our meetings at the MnSCU System Office. Employers across Minnesota are looking for skilled workers with a variety of education levels. Chancellor Steven Rosenstone presented a strategic framework to the MnSCU Board of Trustees that addresses the workforce gap and MnSCU's role in meeting the needs of MN but most importantly outlined three fundamental commitments of the system. We have been and will continue to be actively engaged in these conversations as the system works to meet these commitments.
I am also proud to announce the publishing of our association's first Annual Report. Director of Communications Jered Weber worked to compile the successes of this past year. With the release of this past year's annual report we can look toward the future and prepare for another epic adventure.
Spring semester will be filled with another riveting legislative session which is set to include conversations of transferability issues, voter identification and the rising cost of textbooks. Each campus has organized a Lobby Core and dates are set for them to visit their campus representatives at the Capitol. Our association will also continue working on student financial literacy, debt protection and awareness and adovating against predatory lending practices affecting students.
With a new year, new initiatives and the resent hire of an Executive Director, this spring semester is guaranteed to be full of just as many successes as the last. Our board members, student officers, staff and campus committee members are committed to continue work on our strategic plan and to represent, inform and organize students across Minnesota. Look for another student association email in your campus email mid-January and sign up to receive MSUSA updates to stay engaged in the work that affects you as a student in Minnesota!