Members of the Minnesota Higher Education and Workforce Development Division visited MCTC Sept. 19 as part of their Listening Tour. The tour has been designed as a means of getting feedback from students throughout the state and discovering what they want changed in the state’s education system.
The members included senators Terri Bonoff, Greg Clausen and their staff.
“It’s extremely important being here with you today, to hear your dreams and aspirations,” Clausen said. “Your dreams determine the quality of life we have in Minnesota.”
Clausen called education the building block of Minnesota. He noted that the Minneapolis/St.Paul area had the 44th largest economy in the world and needed current students to keep that growing.
“We want you to share your stories with us so we can understand the natures of students,” Bonoff said.
District 61’s Scott Dibble was in attendance to represent the MCTC area.
“I am extremely proud of this institution and campus,” he said. “It’s the most diverse campus of its type in the state.”
After the representatives introduced themselves to a packed Multipurpose Room, they were asked several questions by the student body that had been organized at an earlier Student Senate meeting.
One student asked about the rising cost of tuition after the two-year tuition freeze, currently happening at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Bonoff asked the audience how many of them were in student loan debt and over half the room raised their hand. While they didn’t have a direct solution to rising tuition, the representatives suggested ideas to cut back college costs — such as taking more college credit classes in high school or increasing financial aid access.
Another student asked about the rising cost of textbooks, noting that the rate of increase was much higher than that of tuition. Bonoff said that she wanted to see more open source textbooks while Clausen said that he wanted to see more professors having the option for students to buy a more cost-friendly online version of textbooks.
The representatives later answered a question about students with a criminal background applying for jobs. Bonoff answered by bringing up the recent passing of the Ban the Box Bill. The bill prevents companies from asking an applicant on their application if they’ve been convicted of a felony. This gives the applicant a chance to explain their story when they’re asked in a potential interview.
The tour’s next stop is in Moorhead at Concordia College on Sept. 24. It’s last stop is at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities on Sept. 26.
PHOTO: Senator and Minnesota Higher Education and Workforce Development member Terri Bonoff speaks to MCTC staff and students as part of a Listening Tour. (Courtesy of the tour’s Twitter page).