Student reps still needed on campus committees

By David Cox

For the first time in recent memory, student positions on various Administrative and Board of Trustee Committees remain unfilled this late into the school year. Positions remain open on nine committees, ranging from the Media Board to the Social Responsibility Committee (SRC).

According to Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) President Jess Hasken ’07, there has been less student interest this year than in any of her previous three years at Macalester, noting that all positions on committees had been filled within the first three weeks of school last year.Hasken said one of the main reasons for the lack of participation falls at the hands of MCSG for not publicizing the process early in the year. Only recently have flyers been put up around campus advertising student participation opportunities. The late start has likely meant that students didn’t have time to arrange their schedule around committee work, Hasken said.

“We didn’t get on the ball early enough,” Hasken said. “Committees had already set their meeting time by the time students started applying, so the meetings often conflicted with their schedules.”

Hasken said that MCSG is still taking applications, and will continue to do so until the committee positions are filled. After students apply for a position, they are appointed by Hasken and her choices are validated by the External Relations Commission. This year marks the first time that the validation step has been part of the process.

With the recent push by MCSG to get students more actively involved with the Board of Trustees, Hasken said she doesn’t feel that the lack of student applicants lends any support to the argument that students should not have more say within the Board of Trustees. She said that the majority of applicants have presented a desire to be on a Trustee committee rather than an Administrative or Faculty one.

Hasken said that all members of the MCSG executive board are required to serve on a committee, but besides that, all students are welcome and encouraged to apply for positions.

“We look to get as broad a base of students as possible,” Hasken said.

Though the lack of student involvement appears to be largely a logistical issue for some students, others say that student participation on committees does not actually empower the student body.

“It’s superficial. It’s just something to put on your résumé,” Israel Madanat ’09 said. “This school is only concerned with procuring money in order to stay up with the US News rankings. When student interests conflict with this agenda students are given things such as committee work in order to make them think they actually have some say in these issues.”

Kyle Wortman ’09, who ran for the MCSG presidency last semester, said that committees don’t do enough to address issues that students feel the most passionate about, such as tuition and Study Abroad opportunities.

“Study Abroad was one of their big spiels when they were trying to convince me to come here, now I may not even get to go,” Wortman said, citing the college’s decision to turn down over 20 Study Abroad applicants last year.

Carleton Hanson ’09 served on the Dean of Students Advisory Committee last year, but is not serving on any committee this year due to scheduling conflicts. Hanson said he had a good experience serving on the Committee and felt his input was genuinely taken into account by non-students on the committee.

“It is a direct chance for students to give input,” Hanson said. “It’s probably more helpful for faculty and staff to be on the ‘in’ and to keep up with student trends.”

Though students were not directly involved with the decision-making, Hanson valued the opportunity for students to speak their minds.

“Students don’t have final say on issues, but they’re able to contribute, and they took what we said seriously,” Hanson said. “We had voice but not a ton of power, which is better than nothing.”