This week’s MCSG meeting began with a presentation from Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) member Fabian Bean ’18 on a bill proposing that MCSG allocate $3,000 per year to subsidizing free bus passes for students doing off-campus internships.
Initial discussion of the bill took place two weeks ago, but further discussion and a vote had been set for this week’s meeting.
Under the proposal, administrative body to be determined would have distributed up to 75 free bus passes during the fall semester, with any remaining coupons to be distributed in the spring.
Students with internships and/or unpaid off-campus opportunities could apply for a pass with a copy of their Handshake Experience form or an email from an Internship Office employee or workplace supervisor.
Students would be able to obtain up to three $40-value passes over the course of the semester, depending on whether they went to their internship one, two or three times a week.
Bean and the SSRC had not decided how the coupons would be distributed, or whether students would be able to refill their pass or receive a new card each time they ran out of money.
“Passing this bill now without those details bound in writing allows the SSRC to evolve whatever the system they devise to be best in the future,” Bean said. “I didn’t want to put anything in writing that would constrain that development.”
The Legislative Body (LB) was not sold.
“I do feel a little uncomfortable with passing a bill for a program that hasn’t been fully formed yet,” Shelby Witherby ’18 said. “It’s a lot of responsibility for the SSRC to figure out the rest of the details at this time and over the summer.”
Associate Dean of Students Andrew Wells had a further concern – about the legality of the program.
Wells said that decisions about bus pass dissemination should ultimately be up to Reservations and Info Desk Manager Robert Hernandez, who is in charge of the Metro Transit Subsidy program. Bean said that he had not contacted Hernandez about the bill yet.
“I don’t know what agreements Robert has made with the transit authority, and I don’t know if the bill you’re proposing is going to violate what he has agreed to,” Wells said. “It’s a program that Robert manages, and it’s a program that Robert needs to be consulted on.”
The LB ultimately voted not to pass the bill, with the understanding that next year’s MCSG could continue working towards a transit subsidy for student interns.
“I think a lot of people are saying that this bill is a work in progress, and I don’t think that us voting on it today would change the importance of it,” President-elect Malik Mays ’19 said. “It will still be an issue that we have to address next year.”
“I think [that] the future LB recognizes that this issue affects a lot of students here at Macalester,” he continued. “It is a work in progress, and the bill’s issues could be solved within the next month.”
The rest of the evening consisted of reflection by the committee chairs, with especially heartfelt final words from the graduating seniors.
“I’m just so blessed and honored to come into this space with you all,” Vice President Ariana Hones ’18 said. “I am so thankful for all of the hard work that people have put in this year, and I think we have made really positive change [by] being part of the student government.”