State of Student Association Address Spring 2013
It is that time of the year again- elections are upon us! Student Association has been working incredibly hard for months now on initiatives as voiced by you, the students. I have been fortunate enough to witness the tenacity of this organization for the past two years and am confident that whoever wins the upcoming election in April will continue a legacy of advocacy and success. With that being said, do not forget to vote April 4th and 5th via an email ballot.
Many students ask “what does Student Association do?” and the simplest answer to that question is we advocate student concerns to faculty, staff, and administration here on campus as well as to legislators at the local, state, and federal levels. We started off the year completing the street signs initiative that has been in progress for over five years. This initiative began after a call by students for a campus that exudes more school pride and a campus Strategic Plan that wanted a defined edge to campus without placing a harsh barrier such as a fence or a building. With help from multiple fundraising partners, students were able to witness the signs being installed this past October. SA has also made large strides in a very difficult initiative this year: Parking. Arguably one of the most commonly cited complaints students make to our organization, Student Association created an ad-hoc committee this year to investigate the current parking system. After many hours of research and discussion SA presented a new and more efficient parking structure to the administration. It may not be a parking ramp, but students can expect to see changes in the parking system soon.
Our Marketing and Communications Committee (MAC) has been busy this year producing surveys to gather data on the student opinion. Some noteworthy initiatives include the Library Hours Survey. This survey is being revamped and students can expect to see it in their inboxes soon. It will then be presented to staff in the library with the hopes of extending library hours to times that work better for students study schedules. MAC and the Legislative Certificate Program were involved in creating a Duluth Business Expansion survey to gauge student’s reactions to the new BlueStone Lofts construction as well as student centered business projects. MAC received a 10% response rate and the Legislative Certificate Program will be presenting this survey to the members of the Duluth City Council in the coming weeks.
Advocating to the legislature at local, state, and federal levels is not an easy task, but our External Affairs Committee and Legislative Certificate Program took it in stride. Students were invited to attend “Support the U Day” along with the other four coordinate campuses to urge legislators to fund higher education. Students also had the opportunity to attend Bulldog Lobby Day on March 6th to speak with legislators specifically about how UMD is important to them and how funding for their education is increasingly important. Student Association accompanied these lobbying efforts with packets of information for legislators on tuition rates, a “Put the Public Back in Public Education” Petition, as well as a postcard campaign with stories of student debt. These initiatives were a success! These same committees have also been attending city council meetings and events such as the State of the City Address given by Don Ness to speak with the Councilors about issues affecting students such as renting and housing ordinances. Coming in May, the Legislative Certificate Program and the Student Legislative Advocates will be embarking on a capstone project to Washington D.C. to lobby our national legislators and urge them to find more sustainable ways of funding higher education.
Two senior members of our organization Molly Tomfohrde and Kelsey Becker have been sitting on the rebranding task force for a year and a half representing student voices on the new brand. Students have probably seen the “Those Who Can Duluth” brand displayed throughout the school, and perhaps noticed the student rollout event in front of the first-floor bookstore. Student Association was solely responsible for the student rollout aspect of this brand and Kelsey and Molly did a fantastic job on this initiative. As part of this rollout students had the option to participate in a contest to write the next “Those Who Can Duluth” short story that will be published.
Our Fund Allocation Committee (FAC) conducted two rounds of funding for student organizations. In the fall FAC funded 86 student organizations on campus for a total of $60,000, and 11 groups for $5,000 in the spring. I want to highlight to students that 76.4% of SA’s budget is handed back to student organizations through the Fund Allocation Committee. We take great pride in being able to help student organizations be able to pursue the initiatives important to them.
These are just some of the things that SA has been working on, and every week our members are meeting with faculty, staff, and administration to continue making UMD a better place. We have students that sit on each of the major six campus committees as well as numerous other boards and subcommittees. We urge students to come to us with any complaints that they may have no matter how big or small, or check out our Facebook, Twitter, or website for more up-to-date information on our initiatives.
I would like to end this address by thanking everyone in this organization for an amazing two years. I have been proud to be a part of such an outstanding group of student leaders and cannot wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for us.
Hannah MummHannah Mumm
Student Association President