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MCSG Overseer: Student Government Debates On-Campus Housing

This week’s meeting of MCSG included a presentation from the Strategic Planning and Analysis Committee (SPA), the group responsible for performing preliminary research on pressing campus issues.

During the 2018-19 academic year, the group is tasked with researching the potential advantages and disadvantages of increasing the amount of student housing available.

The issue is of particular relevance for several reasons. The size of the class of 2022 stretched Macalester’s housing stock to the point that the college had to facilitate the move of nearly 40 students off campus.

In part due to high enrollment, and due to other concerns, the college is strongly considering building new student housing on the lot at 1449 Grand Ave. that it bought last year.

Any new housing would have the potential to generate significant revenue for the college.
“We have talked about how the bottom floor of this housing would likely be other businesses,” Program Board (PB) Chair Soniya Coutinho ’19 said. “A lot of businesses on Grand [Ave] – the land is owned by Macalester and we rent out to businesses. That’s a central option.”

The PB also discussed making a third year of on-campus residency compulsory as a potential profit-making endeavor.

Coutinho, while expressing uncertainty about the feasibility of such an initiative, acknowledged that the revenue generated could help compensate for the cost of a new building.

An additional residence hall would also allow the college to update older dorms, such as Dupre Hall and Kirk Hall, and potentially make space for large-scale projects – for example, an additional cafeteria.

According to the Associate Dean of Students Andrew Wells, the space would “likely have a program element to it,” much like the Cultural House. However, he noted, the community would likely be geared toward juniors and seniors.

“There would have to be programming, like RAs, but we would have to change it to fit the different age group,” Coutinho said. “Things like career development is one idea. We’re thinking about community on and off campus.”

While the final decision regarding the use of the lot will fall to the Board of Trustees, the SPA was uncertain as to when a judgement would be made on the matter.

Additionally, the meeting included a vote on the student organization charter submitted by High-Power Rocketry at Macalester. It passed unanimously, with one representative abstaining.

The vote on the charter for the potential new book club, A Novel Idea, has been tabled until further notice.

October 23, 2018

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