Spring MCSG agenda geared toward reform

By Clark Jacobson

As the students get back into the swing of classes, organizations, and activities for the young semester, so does Macalester College Student Government get back to serving these students. This spring, MCSG focuses on improving Macalester’s sense of community with the MCSG elections reform and the new Lectures Coordination Board while improving upon past programs, such as the Clamshells at the Grille, student organization aide and Program Board activities.

Election Reform

MCSG is currently reforming and rewriting the student government’s dated constitution and by-laws, and they’re “taking this chance to reform the entire elections process,” stated MCSG Vice President

Patrick Snyder. “It begins with identifying what the problems are.”

Snyder reported that “the most obvious problem” with the student government elections is the minimal participation on the part of the campus denizens-only 20% of the student body voted in last year’s referendum, a fact Snyder describes as “flat-out unacceptable.”

“MCSG definitely needs to publicize itself more,” said Domi Lauko, a Macalester first-year student. “Having the election process streamlined and requiring candidates to publicly voice their opinions is the first step towards this,” he added.

Snyder attributes the low participation rates to the fact that “most Macalester students don’t care about MCSG elections…Most of it is the way.the elections have lacked a consistency from year to year, which breeds apathy.”

To some students, MCSG elections simply don’t merit enough urgency for their votes. Nathan Schactman, another first-year student, said that he receives “a ton of emails from MCSG, and honestly they’re just low on my ‘to-read list,’ so sometimes I just overlook them.”

Plans by Snyder and the rest of MCSG are in the works to rewrite the election rules of MCSG, considering heavily how the elections are presented and how advertising works, with concentrations on consistency, coherency, and ease of voting. Snyder stressed the importance of requiring candidates to have a bio and platform for election, along with a public debate in the Campus Center, in order to better inform the student body about the candidates on the ballot.

“My goal is to increase participation in MCSG elections to at least the 50% threshold,” stated Snyder. “How can we consistently be an effective remedy for student concerns year after year? The way to be that remedy begins with election reforms.”

“I feel that the best thing MCSG could do at this point is to make students aware of what it does for them,” said Lauko. “This way, people will become more interested MCSG, start contributing and discussing ideas for it to take on, and possibly even care about who is running the whole show.”

The legislation reform required to change the way MCSG does its elections should be passed by the week before spring break to leave time for MCSG to prepare for elections.

Lectures Coordination Board

The newly established LCB, which looks to coordinate Macalester’s speaking events, already has assigned staff members consisting of Director of Academic Programs Ann Minnick, Assistant Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Bob O’Donnell, and Dean of Students Jim Hoppe. MCSG and Provost Kathleen Murray are currently working towards finding the faculty members necessary to be on the LCB with “the time, energy, and right persona,” said President of MCSG Owen Truesdell ’11.

The LCB is also searching for student members, who Truesdell describes as “people who are interested in expanding the role of lectures on campus to something you do as a community activity.people who have new ideas on how to publicize lectures and interesting ideas on who to bring to campus.” Truesdell hopes that the LCB will garner enough attention as to have a minimum of 500 students attend every lecture put on by the LCB.

“The goal for the board this year will be to start the coordination aspect for next fall-,” said Truesdell, “when the international round table will be, when common fall lectures are going to happen, and what types of people those lectures are looking at bringing.”

Truesdell is working with Build a Better Mac, Mac Dems and Mac GOP to bring a conservative political speaker (something Macalester has been without for three years) to campus on Feb. 24. Truesdell expects that fresh political viewpoints will spur discussion, debate, and learning on campus.

Org Aide, Program Board, and Clamshells

MCSG is looking to streamline their relations with student organizations. There are currently two organizations in MCSG that work with student orgs-one that deals with charters and another that deals with monetary allocations.

“It’s a hassle for [the student orgs],” says Snyder. “We’re aiming for each student org to have one personal contact within MCSG to communicate with.” MCSG hopes to talk with each organization leader to make sure the new structure meets each organization’s needs.

In an effort to reduce waste, MCSG has taken on the job of expanding the Grille’s little-known Clamshell program. Clamshells are reusable food storage containers that can be cleaned after each use and loaned out to students.

Currently, only 100 clamshells are available at the Grille and only after payment, but MCSG plans on fully subsidizing the reusable clamshells. Schactman said that he “would definitely use a clamshell if I got one for free.”

“Ideally this program would take off,” said Snyder. “The idea is that it’s easy for students to be a part of the program.”

Program Board’s Spring Fest is set to include two band performances and a DJ, along with food vendors and other games and activities, though it will not feature the night-time dance it did the previous spring.

“Last year was an experiment,” said Program Board Chair Katie Agnew. “Programs Board felt that [the dance] last year took away from the Spring Fest feel. We don’t capture the spirit of spring if we move indoors at night.” There can be no dance outside because of Saint Paul noise ordinances.

Along with Spring Fest, Program Board intends to offer other events, such as Mac Idol, a Valentine’s Day showing of Casablanca, Oscar Day, Mystery Day, ice skating, snow tubing, and subsidized tickets to “Hair and Jersey Boys” (the musicals), the Harlem Globetrotters and Water Park of America.