Spirited community forum discusses MCSG removals, probation

As Bassem El-Remesh ’16 spoke into the microphone at this past Thursday night’s community forum on recent MCSG resignations and suspensions, supportive snaps echoed through Kagin Ballroom.

“I believe that the only people who are allowed to decide my eligibility to serve or not are the students,” El-Remesh said. “I don’t get why anyone other than students would have a say in whether or not I should stay in that position.”

El-Remesh recently resigned from his position as a sophomore representative, the fourth MCSG member to be suspended or required to resign from his or her position this semester.

To address the recent resignations and suspensions, MCSG held the community forum in hopes of creating a safe space for discussion and education.

“We hoped that students would gain a greater understanding of school and probation policies and that [the forum] would be an education process for the legislative board,” MCSG President Kai Wilson ’14 said. “We also wanted administration to get the students’ side of all this because it is a fairly complicated issue and we wanted the administration to see the different ways students were invested in the issue.”

Approximately 20 students spoke at the event, asking questions and sharing personal reactions to such disciplinary measures.

“People’s commitment to their school comes from their leadership positions,” Ian Calaway ’16 said. “I know that if I wasn’t allowed to do anything on campus I would just zone out and I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything myself.”

Speaking into the same microphone right after Calaway, Joe Klein ’16 talked about his suspension as MCSG representative after being placed on disciplinary probation.

“I don’t know the proper way to express it,” Klein said, “but just being told that this community that you value so much, that you love so much, that you’re not going to be able to take a part in it in the capacity that you want, how is that productive to me as a person?”

Editors Note: News Editor Joe Klein ’16 was not involved in the production of this story.

Director of Campus Life Keith Edwards responded to the question posed by Klein and other students.

“I think these leadership positions and athletic involvements are things students care a lot about,” he said, “and before suspension, maybe taking that away, might get attention.”

Student Affairs Advisory Committee Representative Jeff Garcia ’14 also spoke.

“As someone who has been through academic warning, spent a significant amount of time on it,” Garcia said, “I had to put academics first and I think that to say that doing well in academics is contingent upon participation is a little bit hard for some people, especially myself, to swallow.”

Mental health raised as key concern

Arianna Feldman ’16 commented on her experience with disciplinary probation during the forum.

“I felt like I was not wanted on this campus,” she said, “and for someone who does struggle with mental health issues, this semester has been significantly harder because of it.”

Other students supported Feldman and voiced concern about the lack of mental health services available on campus.

“One thing that affects this [discussion] very much is the lack of mental health services on campus for students to turn to when they’re in difficult situations to be able to find help,” Cynthia Scott ’15 said.

Wilson said MCSG will support and push for new mental health initiatives on campus.

“There’s a growing concern here about mental health, and MCSG is looking to push resolutions on increasing support systems for different student groups,” Wilson said.

Students, administrators begin mediating suggestions

After reflecting on the discussions that came out of the community forum, MCSG representatives began to pose suggestions to mitigate the campus’ concerns.

Konnor Fleming ’15, a junior class representative, suggested a clearer statement of the expectations involved in leadership rules.

“Upon my election I was never made aware of these academic standards or to the disciplinary probation standards,” he said. “I think that being told ahead of time could be very important when people are making decisions that could affect their positions.”

Sophomore representative William Theriac ’16 said that these plans are in the works.

“After the forum, we actually talked about the suggestions made in the legislative body and the MCSG executives are planning on writing up a form that has all of the duties and requirements for the positions and will be signed by students achieving the ranks,” he said.

Josh Weiner ’16 proposed another suggestion.

“A lot of people have mentioned that they don’t think the administration should be involved in removing students from MCSG and that it should be purely up to the students,” he said. “So I’m curious if people are serious about having a process where students can remove other students.”

After all that transpired at the forum, the administration is working on keeping the dialogue open between the two groups.

Vice President of Student Affairs Laurie Hamre commented in an email.

“The staff that attended the forum has met to discuss the forum conversation and plans to meet with members of MCSG and other students to continue the conversation,” she wrote. “I trust these conversations will result in some changes, but it is too soon to know exactly what.”