Special elections replace MCSG representatives on probation

Editor’s note: Joe Klein is an associate news editor at The Mac Weekly. He was not involved with the production of this story.

The sophomore class elected two new MCSG representatives after two representative-elects were suspended due to participation in one of Kick Wells Fargo Off Campus (KWOC)’s direct action campaigns.

Following KWOC’s blockade of the doors to Weyerhaeuser Hall during their sit-in protesting Macalester’s decision to retain its Wells Fargo contract, the college placed participating students on disciplinary probation. The terms of the probation required involved students in leadership positions on-campus to step down from their roles for a semester.

Jolena Zabel ’16 and Justin Randall ’16, will be replacing Joseph Klein ‘16 and Samuel Doten ’16 for the Fall semester. MCSG members have stated that the sophomore special elections and the temporary replacements are not in violation of the MCSG bylaws.

Following news of the disciplinary actions, the Executive Board, including newly elected MCSG Vice President Rothin Datta ’16, was charged with handling the issue. Given the political nature of the situation, in which MCSG was caught between upholding the student vote and respecting the administration, the decision to accept the temporary resignation of the two sophomore representatives and allow for a special election was a compromise.

MCSG also expressed concerns about the disciplinary actions taken against the KWOC students, in particular with regards to the two sophomore representatives, but were told by the administration that the student government did not have influence in the conduct board.

“Both of the representatives took their probation in good stride, and after we spoke with them, they were both completely for us having representatives in the Fall,” Datta said. MCSG considered taking a stronger stand but ultimately decided against it.

“[Joe and Sam] thought it would be wasteful for us to leave positions empty for them, to make a statement along those lines,” said Datta.

MCSG President Kai Wilson ‘14 stressed the desire to be fair.

“This was a joint decision between the MCSG and with Joe and Sam,” he said. “We wanted to respect the decision of the conduct board and also respect the decisions that the sophomore representatives made.”
The suspended representatives still attend Legislative Body meetings and committee meetings and are allowed to speak in those meetings. However, they are unable to vote, as they are not officially members.

“Joe is on my committee [Student and Social Relations Committee], so he has responsibilities as far as we can allow him to have with the probation,” said Datta.

The probation does complicate issues, however.

“They’re not participating in anything that a normal student who wasn’t on the committee wouldn’t really be able to participate in,” Datta said.

The compromising positions were taken as a desire to accommodate all sides.

“We want to respect both sides and have open communication between KWOC and the administration,” Wilson said.
He expressed that MCSG did not intend to take a stand against KWOC, and that there was a desire to be an inclusive community.

Former sophomore representative Joe Klein mentioned the integral role that Dean of Students Jim Hoppe played in helping with the situation. Hoppe serves in an advisory role to MCSG. Given the lack of precedent for having elected MCSG representatives step down due to disciplinary probation, Hoppe advised the students on how they can respect the conduct board’s decision by proposing that they participate in unofficial capacities.

Klein stated his desire to see MCSG move beyond the disciplinary probations.

“Despite restrictions on my ability to be a representative, I still appreciate that our perspective can be shared,
because we were elected by our classmates, but also don’t want to defy my probation,” said Klein. “I want the class to be able to have full representation and have five members who can speak and vote on MCSG.”