Wednesday, July 11, 2007

MnSCU Trustee appointments: Ezra Kazee speaks!

As you know, a few weeks ago the King and the Korb blasted me on the 5000 watt flamethrower, AM 1280 "The Patriot". They interviewed Luke Hellier about his candidacy for the 4 year student trustee to MnSCU.

Adam Weigold also made his case that day as well.

But no one has heard the opinion of the third candidate, Ezra Kazee. I have known Ezra for several years as well and know that he would represent students very well as the student trustee.

Here is Ezra Kazee, in his own words. Responding to questions I posed to him regarding his qualifications, desires and motivations for this post as the 4 year student trustee to MnSCU.

Over the past several months, the process of selecting the next MnSCU Board of Trustee for the four-year university student representative has been going on. This is an astronomically huge position, as this is the students’ voice at MnSCU and on the Board of Trustees for MnSCU.

This is a position that will help and explain to the rest of the Trustees what students are going through, as they are in all likelihood going through it his or her self. This is an advocate for students, an advocate for the future workforce of the state, and an advocate for the future students of our MnSCU institutions.

I have decided to seek this position because I believe in the MnSCU system and the institutions of MnSCU. I believe that we can have the best system when it comes to public higher education in the country. I believe that not only can we have the best system in the country; we can also do it in the most affordable way for students and taxpayers. Our higher education system already provides the state of Minnesota with the highest level of nurses, law enforcement personnel, and educators. These are the people who will be teaching our children, protect our families, and keep us in good health so that we may experience all of those important things that everyone wants to experience.

And I want to see this trend continue on into the future. I want to see the system kept affordable for students. And I want to see the system run efficiently and be accountable to everyone as citizens of Minnesota and students of the system. For if it isn’t, then we have just given a blank check to those in charge, and that is, in almost all cases, bad.

Since I have been at Winona State University, I have been involved in Student Government at many different levels. I have served on the Winona State University Student Senate as a Freshman Senator. I have served as President and Secretary within the Inter-Residence Hall Council as well. I served as the Co-Chair on the Winona State University All-University Cultural Diversity Committee, which developed the Winona State University Cultural Diversity Plan.

I served the students of the 7 State Universities in a wide array of positions in the Minnesota State University Student Association, first as the Student Services Coordinator, then as the MnSCU Policy and Procedure Facilitator, and finally as an at-large board of director. I have also served on a technology task force as well as a task force to develop the website for people with Disability through MnSCU. Through out my service to the students, I have not only gained invaluable experience, I have also seen the inner-working of MnSCU, am intimately familiar with the policies and procedures of MnSCU, and have developed a very good relationships throughout the system, especially with Chancellor McCormick and Vice Chancellor Franz.

However, above all of that, the reason that I am the best person to serve in this position is because I believe in being out-spoken, especially in things you don’t agree with, and giving a straight and honest opinion on anything that I am asked. I believe in listening to everyone’s opinion, and making a determination on what is best. My service will show that I have always stood up for what I believe, and always stood up for what I believe is right. And finally, it is the way I make decisions that makes me the best candidate for the job. A mantra that I believe in was much in the same way the Theodore Roosevelt believed, and that is decisions must be made for the greatest good for the greatest amount of people for the greatest amount of time.

Originally, MSUSA endorsed two candidates at its Spring Delegates conference, myself and Adam Weigold. At the request of St. Cloud State University, a third candidate was introduced after the deadline. Dana Kutcher was given consideration at a conference call, and ultimately rejected from the recommendation. During this process, since both myself and Mr. Weigold were currently on the Board of Directors, the body responsible for making the decision, we both appointed proxies for these decisions.

Our names and information was then forwarded on by MSUSA, interviews took place around the beginning to middle of June. Shortly there after, I found out about a third candidate, Luke Hellier. I don’t know Mr. Hellier personally, but apparently from passing in his involvement with his fathers wrestling promotion in which I was a spectator and he was a referee. I do know some stuff about him, from research I have done. He is a graduate of a private 4 year university up near St. Cloud who is enrolled part time at Minnesota State University-Mankato for his Graduate degree. OK fine. Strictly speaking, by the letter of the law, he does qualify. Granted, he didn’t go through the MSUSA recommendation process as is prescribed, but ok. There have been other trustees who haven’t.

I do have some concerns with his experience and knowledge of the system. If Hellier is appointed, he is going to be on such a steep learning curve that I have concerns over how long it would take for him to truly be effective. Mr. Weigold and myself have both been in the public system for many years, have worked within student government, and are exponentially more experienced when it comes to the MnSCU system then Mr. Hellier is. There are also some concerns about statements he has made about putting liberal professors on the defensive.

Universities should be about open exchange of ideas, not about putting one side or the other on the defensive.

But here is my biggest concern. Those who know me will probably always remember me for my work within the arena of diversity. I have always been an advocate of diversity, and will always work to try and improve diversity. It is my belief that diversity not only enriches all of us as student, but also prepares us for an ever changing world in which globalization is quickly becoming a key element. And we must become open and willing to explore diversity, to embrace diversity, and to make sure that diversity is something that we all understand.

It has been reported that Mr. Hellier has used some rather derogatory terms towards diversity, more specifically towards members of the GLBT community. The specific incident that I am referring to can be found at is at (Thanks to Lisa M. Pintok’s live journal) The words are right there, and Helliers response is that "In the heat of the moment things are said and possibly the homophobic remarks came from them, I would hope that would never happen again." Now, I know a lot of things can be said in the heat of the moment, but how often to discriminatory and homophobic slurs come up. I’m not normally the language police, but at some point we have to say something. To his credit, he at least apologizes. I can’t help though but question his sincerity in these comments though. And I can’t help but wonder if something like this doesn’t say something about his character and his concern toward a system which thrives on diversity.

I just want to make this very clear. This isn’t a Republican-Democrat thing. This isn’t a conservative-liberal thing. Mr. Weigold is a very qualified conservative and republican whom I’d be very honored to have chosen over me. While I don’t always agree with his views, I feel that he is a very qualified candidate and a candidate that the association can be proud of. Even a look into my own political affiliations, you would find that the two recommendations by MSUSA would be a Republican and an independent. (I use the small I in independent so as not to confuse anyone with thinking I’m affiliated with the independent party.)

Let me finally just say that I am always open to discussions and talking. Feel free to e-mail me at either my school address ( or at my personal address (

Thank you for your time in reading this and allowing me to give some of my own personal thoughts on the current situation.

Excellent job Ezra. Shoot him a note if you have any further questions! He's a great candidate and would serve students across Minnesota in a honorable and consistent manner.

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