Building the MCSG you want

By Owen Truesdell

As president-elect of MCSG, I find myself facing a conundrum: I don’t know how students want to interact with their student government. During the campaign I noticed that every presidential candidate (including myself) pledged to increase “openness and transparency,” or something to that effect. This is a laudable goal and one that I am committed to as well, but I struggle with how to accomplish it. In the past, MCSG has held numerous town halls and open fora; we’ve written op-eds and publicized in the Daily Piper. The town halls are under-attended and the op-eds seem to fall on deaf ears (or is it blind eyes?) as students say they still don’t know what MCSG is doing. So while I promise that over the next year MCSG will redouble its efforts to find new lines of communication with you as students, I would also ask that you seek to become more involved. If you feel under-informed about MCSG, tell us! Send me an e-mail, come to our office, or attend an MCSG meeting (every Tuesday, 7 p.m., Weyerhaeuser Boardroom). That said, if you don’t want to be informed about what MCSG is doing, tell us that too. Finding a balance between bombarding students with e-mails and fliers and completely ignoring the student body is tricky. There are obviously a thousand things happening at once at Macalester and MCSG isn’t (and shouldn’t be) at the top of the agenda for every student. But if you want to be involved with important campus issues, please help MCSG work with you by getting involved. And in the spirit of trying to establish direct communication with the student body, I’d like to share what I think MCSG should work on during the upcoming year. I’d love to hear responses, either positive or negative, to these goals. First, I want students to have more input on campus policies. For example, we should push the administration to change the current need-aware admissions policy and students should have a larger voice in areas like Res Life. Second, I’d like to streamline the bureaucracy of MCSG related to student organizations; it’s necessary that student government oversee and scrutinize student orgs, especially when it comes to funding, but this doesn’t have to be a painful process. Indeed, it can and should be a collaborative experience. Finally, I’d like to work with staff, faculty and students to make Mac a more cohesive community. It seems that far too often students are separated from their peers by class year, major and a variety of other factors. And as students, we’re even more separated from the staff and faculty, who are just as much a part of the Macalester community as students are. So I’d like to create more interaction between these different groups on campus. I don’t know what form that interaction would have, but I’m hoping that by starting a conversation about it early in the year, we can achieve something that will make Mac a better place to live, work and learn.

But I’d also like to stress that these are only my ideas and that you haven’t just elected a dictator who is just going to do only what he feels is important. There are 25 other members of student government who are each going to bring their own ideas to the table as well. And beyond them, there are almost 2000 students on this campus, each with their own ideas. I want to hear all of them and then collaboratively decide on a way forward. So, if there’s something you think can be improved at Mac, tell us. We’re elected to make being a student more enjoyable, and we can only do that with your help.

Owen Truesdell ’11 is the President-elect of MCSG and can be reached at [email protected]