Student Senate, City Council hold joint meeting

Student Sens. Daniel Frank (left) and Dylan Diede (right) vote at the Oct. 26 UND Student Senate meeting. Photo by Nicholas Nelson/The Dakota Student.

UND Student Senate met with Grand Forks City Council members to talk internships, university and city planning and community earlier this week.

Senators were joined at the Oct. 26 meeting by Pete Haga from the mayor’s office, city business representatives, city administrators and UND administrators.

The first topic touched on was internships available to students.

UND graduate student and Grand Forks city intern Allyssa Wall began with an overview of what the city is trying to do to make internships easier for students to find.

“We’re looking at how to form at internship program and apply it to different departments within the city,” Wall said. “The program is developed to be hands-on, real world experience. Students will be learning hands-on, so you can say to an employer, ‘This is what I did and why you should hire me full-time.’”

Haga talked about the influence the university has on the city, and how the two places need to work together to solve issues.

“The English Coulee has been nagging the city for quite some time,” Haga said. “We have real smart people here. They can identify real solutions to real questions. The students and faculty have a real impact on the community. We want to provide not just internships but real-world experience.”

University and city planning was a topic where senators were vocal about the need for more services, events and things to do for students.

“Students are hungry for having anything on campus,” Sen. Chase Johnson said. “We’re an 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. campus. There’s nothing drawing me here, there’s nothing connecting us to downtown or to the 42nd (Street) area.”

Governmental Affairs Commissioner Sean McClain agreed, but added there is a disconnect between the university and the city.

“There’s a lack of space for everyone to come together,” McClain said. “There’s also a lack of good entertainment options.”

The last idea discussed between the groups was community events. The main problem most agreed on was the lack of a place that listed all events that students could access.

“We need like a one stop shop, a way to let students know all the things that are going on,” City Council member Crystal Schneider said.

Council member Terry Bjerke, said he believes the university needs to change its stance on what businesses it brings in for students.

“Your biggest problem is your own university,” Bjerke said. “This is a self-contained city. You need to totally privatize it. There are too many buildings. They need to let the private sector come in. I don’t know what the city can do.”

The meeting ended with senate and city members agreeing to work on ways to solve each of these issues in the upcoming weeks.

Senate meeting

Senate followed that meeting up with its weekly meeting, spending much of the time in informal discussion about the talking points discussed with city members.

“We need to get businesses to recognize students a little better,” Sen. Derek LaBrie said.

Governmental Affairs Commissioner Jon Knutson agreed with earlier statements about UND being its own city and questioned how that could be changed.

“UND is its own little bubble, the freshmen are on always just on campus,” Knutson said. “We need to do an internal audit and get constituent feedback.”

From the discussion, senators were split up into three work groups formed by Student Body President Tanner Franklin and Vice President Brett Johnson to work on the issues: A communication group, an input for space group and an internship group.

The communication group will work on ways to get events organized into some sort of calendar for students. They will also be working on internship opportunities.

The input for space group will work on planning for the Memorial Union, the medical school and future planning for the university.

The internship group will work on how to better market internships and communication with students about those opportunities.

Megan Hoffman is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].