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Student Senate Opposes Charting the Future in 8-1 Decision

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Students, SMSU faculty, and speakers from MnSCU discussed Charting the Future (CTF) in an open forum Nov. 13 before the Student Senate. After the forum, Senate moved to oppose implementation of CTF in an 8-1 vote.

The system-wide collaboration effort aims to enhance access to higher education and deliver greater success to its students. CTF has come under scrutiny for its lack of transparency and trust, spurring faculty groups from all seven MnSCU state universities to vote no-confidence in Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.

Speaking on behalf of MnSCU at the Student Senate meeting were Vice Chancellor John O’Brien and System Director Jaime Simonsen.

“If we do Charting the Future right, it is for the benefit of the students,” said O’Brien.

Senator Vogt brought up the issue of class sizes under CTF, with some believing sizes will increase. According to O’Brien, MnSCU does not determine how large classes are, and that sizes are set by individual campuses.

Members of the open forum expressed their thoughts on the effort of CTF, noticing problems in a lack of diversity in its representation and trusting the plan.

Eight implementation teams, including teams for Student Success and Diversity are helping CTF act on its goals. Though MnSCU stated in a 2013 report on CTF that student diversity is “one of [its] greatest assets,” some argue the teams aren’t diverse enough.

“I can’t understand how we can move forward with the lack of diversity,” said Jeff Kolnick, Professor of History. “Let’s start over and realize a big mistake was made. Let’s move forward together.”

Of the 150 members on the implementation teams, 72 are either students or bargaining units. It was discussed whether this is enough representation.

“I’m impressed by the quality of the students,” said Simonsen. “When students talk, everyone listens. To me, more important than the numbers is the quality.”

CTF faces transparency and trust concerns after some parts of the proposal made public were redacted. O’Brien said that these hidden parts were trade secrets, which are unlawful to make public under the Minnesota Data Privacy Act.

“There has to be trust embedded in that information,” said Faculty Liaison and Professor of Political Science Douglas Simon. “I’m not saying the chancellor doesn’t have what’s best for students in mind. There was a hiccup along the way, and we need to examine what that was.”

After the forum, the Student Senate debated CTF, deciding to oppose its implementation 8-1. This decision was taken to the Delegates Assembly held Nov. 14-15. Here, the Minnesota State University Student Association, who acts as the voice of all students, discussed whether to stay involved with CTF.

“It would be regrettable to not have MSUSA’s support,” said O’Brien.

A decision on CTF was not made at the Delegate’s Assembly. At the discussion, delegates from St. Cloud State and MSU Mankato asked to withdraw from MSUSA. After being denied, both schools walked out, ending the meeting.

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Student Senate Opposes Charting the Future in 8-1 Decision