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Throughout this past year, we prioritized our advising platform and were able to work on a task force with the Provost to revamp advising services on campus. The task force made a variety of recommendations, including, but not limited to: the centralization of advising services, increasing the access and timeliness of advising, increasing specialized advising, and focusing on an advising philosophy that is inclusive, holistic, accessible, relational, intentional, and proactive. We would work with stakeholders to begin implementation of these items and provide continual student feedback throughout the process.
Students always talk about how much simpler navigating the University’s resources would be if all the information could be found in one, easy-to-navigate place. Whether that is academic advising, health services, financial aid, or anything else, students want all the information centralized. Now, because of the launch of MyU, OneStop is now really just used for financial aid when it could be used as that central hub of all resources. We will work with the Office of Student Affairs on revamping OneStop so it can be a one stop for campus resources.
It is the job of a college, a department, and/or a professor to provide the information students use to register for a specific class. Two years ago, MSA was able to make teacher evaluations more public and accessible and the next step is to make picking classes a little less ambiguous. We will work with the colleges and departments to begin publicizing more information about a course, including old syllabi and teacher evaluations, by placing them directly into the Course Registration portal of MyU.
Popular PE classes fill up quickly, and that’s no surprise; students want to be healthy and have a little fun! We will work with CEHD, RecWell, and others on expanding the accessibility of these PE classes by including more night classes, more sections, and greater opportunity for first and second years to have seats.
Menstrual care is not a luxury. Tampons/pads are sanitary needs that should be treated as such. Residence Halls don’t provide menstrual care products for CAs or Health Advocates to have on hand, while bathrooms across campus often don’t provide or sufficiently stock them. Some don’t even have proper disposal boxes. We will work with Housing, Facilities, and Boynton to increase the accessibility of menstrual care products across all types of campus bathrooms, like gender-neutral and accessible, as well as in the Residence Halls.
Two years ago, we began advocating for access to quiet spaces on campus where students can retreat, meditate, reflect, pray, etc. These spaces have been slowly introduced across campus, including in some Residence Halls and resource centers. Using data and testimony collected from the utilization of current reflection spaces, we will advocate for the expansion of reflection space across all three campuses, including in Coffman Memorial Union and the St. Paul Student Center.
As we spent last semester implementing the 5 Point Mental Health Plan (z.umn.edu/5pointplan), we noticed a concerning amount of decentralization of mental health resources and a lack of accountability over the issue by University officials. Some offices feel that because mental health is not their immediate jurisdiction, they have no reason to advocate for it. This is an unacceptable attitude towards student wellbeing, and it hinders progress of the 5 Point Plan and other solutions. We need everyone's help to call for a public declaration of the prioritization and urgency of mental health by the highest offices on campus. We will relentlessly demand that all corners of the University prioritize student mental health.
International, LGBTQIA, of color, veteran, low-income, and several other student populations don’t necessarily have the same mental health needs as everyone else; everything from stigma to care can vary across different groups. The unique experiences of diverse student populations necessitate greater attention, outreach, and conversation about specialized mental health efforts. Whether it’s customized education during Orientation, increased conversation in different communities, and/or year-long information on specific resources, we will work with a variety of campus partners to discuss long-term strategies that will meet every population’s mental health needs.
“I just need to talk to someone who understands.” Students go through a variety of unique experiences during their college careers and sometimes don’t know people who get it. While many University offices can provide resources (e.g. professional counselors, etc.), sometimes, all we need is a peer to talk to. Through collaboration between existing support-based student groups, administrative offices, and resource programs, we will work to create support groups and forums exclusively devoted to talking to and listening to those going through shared experiences.
Many students, including those looking to complete a group project or conduct a group meeting, want to reserve classroom space on the weekends. Building security and maintenance currently prevents classrooms from being open on weekends. We will work with University Services, Classroom Management, and Facilities to open one or two additional buildings on West Bank, East Bank, and St. Paul, including for classroom reservations, on Saturdays and Sundays.
There is a lot of dancing happening on our campus. From performance majors to intramural teams to student groups, many people on campus are looking for accessible places to be able to dance and practice. Cheap access to athletic spaces is limited on campus, so we will partner with the Rec Center, Student Unions & Activities, and stakeholding academic departments to find cheap/free space for students to access.
We know the Student Services Fees process is not doing many student groups any favors. The process has been called inaccessible and biased. This year, we worked with stakeholders in Student Affairs to launch a comprehensive review of the Student Services Fees process. We will work on completing these recommendations to ensure the process is equitable and fair.
It’s important for all students to feel represented and advocated for. When it comes to historically-marginalized and underserved communities, we have many incredible centers and programs with passionate leadership. Our University has a unique landscape of students with diverse religious and spiritual identities who do not have a specific University office for their affairs. We will work with the Office of Equity & Diversity and the Office of Student Affairs to implement a specified program centered on religious, spiritual, and secular affairs.
There have been many student movements asking for the stabilization and prioritization of RIGS (race, indigeneity, gender, sexuality) departments. According to the College of Liberal Arts, many of these departments remain under-resourced because there is “not enough demand” for the classes. Students have made several recommendations for increasing demand without spending money, including: cross-listing classes across departments, reviewing syllabi to increase what Liberal Education Requirements they fulfill,introducing classes students have requested, like a course on Hmong people in Minnesota or Chicanxs in the Midwest. We will work with student leaders and administration in the colleges on implementing these recommendations and maintaining responsibility within the college.
Many administrators on campus have expressed interest in moving towards a model of restorative justice for dealing with conduct violations. A restorative justice model is less about punishing and more about a holistic evaluation of the needs of involved parties and the community. Working with many student leaders, we will be active during every step of the Student Conduct Code Review and all other policy reviews on campus. By doing this, we will convince the right people that it is time for us to join many campuses across the country in practicing restorative justice.
Some members of the Board of Regents and State Legislature perpetuate a concerning misperception about our out-of state and international students. These two governing bodies exert a lot of control over the University, including the budget, tuition, and fees, yet they can be distant from students. With the troubling conversations around out-of-state tuition and the subsequent proposal to increase it by 15% per year, it has become clear that some of our Legislators and Regents need to be better informed about the talent, diversity, and experience our out-of-state and International students bring to Minnesota. Using our statistics, testimony, and people-power, we will forcefully reject anti-student bias from the Board Office to the Capitol.
From the student body to the Legislature, many leaders have criticized the University’s administrative spending and budgets. Students seldom have the information necessary to navigate the reality of our administrative finances, so we will work with administrative partners, including the Budget Office, to pursue greater budgetary transparency and create channels focused on collaboration and communication between budget/spending decision-makers and students.
If a student’s tuition rises during their time at the U they deserve every possible resource to mitigate those costs, especially those whose families were not aware of potential tuition hikes. Additionally, prospective, matriculating, and current students all deserve in-depth explanations of their financial options as early as possible. We will work with several campus partners, including the Budget Office and Admissions, to ensure two things: that student populations affected by tuition hikes receive increased access to scholarships, and that each student’s financial planning options are proactively communicated by the University.
We know that during a dark Minnesota winter, night safety can be a concern as early as 5pm. Many students have requested increased lighting throughout campus neighborhoods, but pushback from area landlords has been an obstacle to achieving increased lighting. Residents of any neighborhood deserve to feel safe walking back from work or class. We will collaborate with city and district partners to begin a thorough and passionate campaign devoted to convincing landlords to increase lighting in the neighborhoods.
If you ask students what they want fixed in relation to biking, the Bruininks/Washington Avenue Bridge crossing is mentioned by many because it’s such a cluster. Parking & Transportation Services has been collecting data on the safety of the area and we will collaborate with them and students on innovative ways to increase the safety.
Too many students say they don’t know how to navigate the tunnel system. But with a winter like ours, it’s advantageous to be a literal gopher. Working with Facilities Management and other partners, we will work to make maps of the Gopher Way more accessible in and around buildings and their tunnels. No more freezing your way to the library!
Dozens of students interested in becoming a sustainability advocate throughout the residence halls and Greek Chapter houses have been working with our Sustainability Committee this past year. Having someone around with expert resources and information can drastically improve the sustainability of any residence. We have worked with Off-Campus Living to ensure all Greek Chapters have been reached out to in order to create a Sustainability Chair that would share resources and information. That’s why we will work with all the residence halls and Greek Chapters to collect information, provide resources, and share creative ideas to decrease waste and increase environmental consciousness.
Many leaders on campus don’t know how easy it is to have waste-free events on campus. By including information on waste management programs and organics recycling in student group training, the room reservation system, and in Student Unions & Activities resources, we could drastically decrease the waste produced by events on campus. We will advocate for a prioritization of sustainability by these major event holders by increasing the accessibility of resources and information.
Decreasing dependency on bottled water is a sustainable way to reduce waste and environmental impact. We will work with stakeholders on campus, including Orientation & First-Year Programs, University Dining Services, the Office of Sustainability, and Contract Services to find means to incentivize the use of reusable water bottles and distribute them to all students on campus.