BY: NICOLE WEISJAHN Staff writer August 14 2020
Fall semester is rapidly approaching and with it comes a wave of uncertainty. While it’s become relatively clear how classes will be conducted in the coming months, there is no clear path for the various student activities and organizations at Metropolitan State University.
I spoke briefly with Hamisha Alkamooneh, head of the Metropolitan State University Student Association, to talk about what the upcoming fall semester is going to look like.
According to Alkamooneh, MSUSA will continue to conduct their meetings online over video-conferencing platforms like Zoom, as many other student organizations have been doing since Governor Tim Walz’s original stay-at-home order at the end of March. In terms of what the association plans to focus on in the coming school year, MSUSA has a full plate. “So we have five objectives that we decided on for the year,” Alkamooneh says, “Civic engagement, racial equity, textbook affordability, pandemic response, and food and housing and security.”
There are plans in the works for monthly food drives, voter registration and assistance; along with a Zoom event addressing police brutality, possibly involving people from Minnesota State Legislature, sometime in September.
Most events in the upcoming semester will be held virtually. Alkamooneh mentioned a possible podcast in the works which, in addition to talking about current news, would be an avenue to advertise for specific virtual events and direct students to where they can make no-contact donations for events like food drives.
When asked about what Alkamooneh was worried about as we drew closer to the fall semester, she noted concerns about tuition rates and sick policy, “Usually instructors each have their own sort of set of rules and it’s completely random.” MSUSA is hoping to have that be directly addressed by Metro State staff so there is a clear policy for students who do get sick.
MSUSA is looking towards the future as well and what that will look like, specifically for student workers. Alkamooneh mentioned many student workers have been working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Metro State’s policy states that student workers must be on campus in order to work. MSUSA is pushing to have that changed, Alkamooneh says, “It’s much more inclusive [to work remotely] if you have kids, if you live far away from campus; whatever, it gives you more options.”
As with many colleges and universities, Metro State is currently experiencing low registration rates. In relation to MSUSA, Alkamooneh isn’t worried about the low numbers. She’s not anticipating any cuts to student activities or organizations. There’s money in reserves to cushion the blow of crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. The reserved funds allowed them to refund the student activity fees from Spring Semester 2020.
“The other thing, too, to keep in mind is that a lot of the budget for these student organizations anyway is based—they’re spending their money on events that people are attending,” Alkamooneh says. The money that student organizations don’t spend this year will go back into reserves for future spending.
Nothing is set in stone. Until fall semester comes, there is no telling what it will bring. The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new normal that we all must adapt to. After speaking with Alkamooneh, MSUSA has plans in the works for the fall semester to (virtually) continue on, business as usual.