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This week in the Minnesota Daily

A number of interesting stories and opinions in today's Minnesota Daily, including a cover story on Governor Pawlenty's proposal to provide Minnesota high school students who graduate in the top 25% of their high school class two free years of tuition at any state college or University, and an additional two free years for students majoring in science, technology, engineering, or math:

The program, dubbed Achieve, would begin in fall 2007 if the Legislature adopts it. Any family with a gross income of $150,000 or less would be eligible, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

University professor Lawrence Jacobs, director of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs’ Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, called the proposal “pretty generous,? but said he was concerned that the proposal did not include a way to fund the program.

“Any time a politician makes an attractive proposal without telling how to pay for it, you have to be skeptical,? Jacobs said.

Jacobs said he could not think of any way the state would fund the program.

Given that the state legislature is now out of session until fall, the proposal cannot be addressed until then.

The governor is running for re-election this fall.

The governor's challenger in the September Republican primary will be Sue Jeffers, familiar to many around the U's campus as the owner of the popular bar and eatery Stub and Herbs, and a vocal opponent of the city's smoking ban for restaurants. The Daily profiled Jeffers a couple of weeks ago, and I confess that I didn't read to the end of the article. If I had, I would have noted here her opposition to the proposed light rail corridor along University Avenue, and to the U's funding and support of student groups:

Jeffers said she does not support a new light-rail transit line through the University Avenue corridor, which she sees as "an obscene waste of money."

The proposed line would link downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, with stops at the University.

But Jeffers said mass transit does not encourage new development, solve traffic congestion or pay for itself. Instead, she said, light-rail transit lines harm small businesses during construction and increase crime in the area.

Jeffers said University tuition under Pawlenty has gotten out of control. One way to keep college costs down is to reduce the amount of funding that goes to student groups through student fees, Jeffers said.

"Did you know the University has a goat club?" Jeffers said. "There's a phenomenal amount of these clubs that are out there. Well, they need to be self-sufficient. If you want to have a goat club, then all the goat people get together, chip in your five bucks and you can have your goat club." Jeffers said she heard about the club a few years ago from a bar patron.

"When did it become the University's role to sustain student groups?" Jeffers asked.

Besides the parades, speeches and festivals Jeffers has to get through, she was able to reduce the remaining stages of her campaign to one step.

"Kick Tim Pawlenty's butt," she said.

In this week's Daily, Student Activites Office adviser Erik Dussault offers to clear up some of Jeffers' misconceptions about student groups:

Jeffers suggested that the “phenomenal? number of student groups need to be self-sufficient. In fact, while student groups may apply for grants or other funding resources on campus, they are all self-sufficient.

When student groups register through the Student Activities Office, they do not automatically receive any funding. To register, they are required to have five members and pay a $20 fee.

Registered organizations can request funding from the Student Services Fees pool; however, only about 30 of the 700 annually registered groups apply. University students coordinate the public fees process each year, making all fees decisions and allocations and they welcome debate.

Additionally, the “goat club? Jeffers refers to is most likely the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Sheep, Goat and Llama club, devoted to giving veterinary students experience working in their field of study. This club is self-sustaining. It receives no money from the college or the University. Each member pays a $5 fee to belong, and they also raise funds through activities, such as selling T-shirts.

Next, a Daily editor sits down with President Bruininks to find out what he's working on this summer--the short answer is the stadium, other building projects, and the strategic positioning process, but you can read the full interview here.

And finally, staff, students and visitors to campus are being treated to free lunchtime concerts on Northrop plaza throughout June and July, as part of a campus tradition dating back more than 50 years:

“Summer at Northrop? was launched in 1954, when the Minnesota Orchestra performed for University students, faculty and staff members during their lunch hour on Northrop plaza.

The original event was in appreciation of the University’s offering of Northrop as the orchestra’s temporary home.

In the 52 years that have followed, more than 20 concerts from local and international artists have taken place annually through June and July. This year 24 free concerts are scheduled, including salsa, country and jazz.

If you expect to visit campus this or next month, check the concert schedule.