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MCSG Overseer: Administration and LB debate representation

Discontent swept through the Weyerhaeuser boardroom at MCSG’s latest meeting after Campus Activities and Operations Director Joan Maze addressed the Legislative Body (LB). Maze discussed Program Board’s (PB) recent plan to use off-campus event funds to bus students to protests of their choosing. Maze said she recognized that the LB’s motivation for allocating funds to politically affiliated protests comes from a desire to support students and encourage them to stand up for what they believe in. She nevertheless firmly reversed the right of PB to use a Facebook poll in the matter. Maze’s reasoning was that PB is not a funding source, nor is it a politically-driven organization.

Maze’s chief concern with the decision was that all student voices would not have equal representation due to the school’s overwhelming tendency towards liberal perspectives. Maze instead said that if MCSG members want to support their fellow students, they should use their positions as unbiased representatives to direct students who want to attend politicized events to take advantage of resources already available to them. These include applying for funds through the community chest or teaming up with a campus org whose mission aligns with the opinions they wish to express.

Many members said that they felt that by keeping to this hands-off approach, MCSG was being held back from fulfilling their duty as voices of any and all who feel underrepresented at the school to enact real change. Criticisms of Maze’s comments flew across the room.

Sustainability officer Collin Dobie ’19 said, “I just think that the issue of representation bias doesn’t mean you shouldn’t represent the voices of such a large part of our campus who believe in science, and equal rights for everyone, and those issues that just really aren’t political in the way that economic policy is political.”

“I don’t understand my job if it isn’t to advocate on behalf of marginalized communities,” Diversity and Inclusion officer Chris Mendoza ’17 said, speaking in a similar vein. “When those marginalized communities are under attack on a policy level… these are people whose personhood is being questioned, and I don’t understand why, as a body, we can’t do tangibly more.”

Student Organizations Committee chair Johannes Davies ’18 said he disagreed “vehemently” with Maze and PB chair Olivia Doe ’18 said she was “appalled” by the approach the administration was taking to the issue.

Addressing these opinions, Maze said in reference to LB members’ positions as members of both the student body and MCSG: “You have to choose one or the other in different spaces, but you don’t have to be silent.”

MCSG President Merrit Stüven used a brief reading from a section of the MCSG Constitution to end the contentious discussion with a legal definition of why it should be in their power to directly support students, explicitly stating her solidarity with her cabinet.

Additional topics discussed during the remainder of the night included the spring semester lecturer Nikki Giovanni, an American poet, activist and educator who gained fame during the Black Arts movement. Director of Business Services Technology Amy Holter from the Financial Systems department finished the meeting with an announcement about the impending switch from the old time clocks used to track student employment hours to a new system accessed through 1600grand.

February 10, 2017

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