MCSG amendment addresses eligiblity requirements

Macalester College Student Government passed a new amendment recognizing representatives’ duty to understand the leadership eligibility requirements outlined in the Student Handbook last Tuesday with a 17-6 vote, just exceeding the two-thirds minimum for an amendment.

President Kai Wilson ’14 drafted the amendment in response to the Community Forum on Nov. 14, where students expressed their concerns after members of the administration declared four MCSG members ineligible to serve in leadership roles or represent the college.

“It [is] a provisional first step that representatives expressed a need for,” he said.

He added that the amendment does not create major changes, and he expects follow-up conversations, to define exactly how Macalester treats campus policy.

Although students are already supposed to have read the handbook upon coming to campus, the amendment emphasizes that point for MCSG representatives.

“It’s not [really] a major step in any direction,” he said. “It’s an acknowledgement that representatives actually know the school policy and what standards they are held to and that they are responsible to understand the student handbook and MCSG constitution and our bylaws and be able to communicate them.”

Dean of Students Jim Hoppe said that he approves of the amendment because it reinforces that representatives need to understand the rules of the community they serve.


“I think, concerns about this semester aside, it is good to reiterate MCSG’s responsibility to engage in campus policy and the amendment will benefit the student body,” Hoppe said.

Hoppe explained that the administration can rule a person ineligible to serve if they are placed on Strict Academic or Disciplinary Probation. In both cases, the student is deemed ineligible to represent the college in athletics, theater, internships, study abroad or any other leadership positions. Student employees placed on probation must leave positions that represent the college, but may continue working in another department.

According to the Student Handbook, a student is put on Strict Academic Probation when “they are liable for academic probation for a second consecutive semester or when the Committee considers their record to indicate serious academic difficulties which warrant the addition of specific criteria to be met during the next semester in order to be removed from this probationary status.”

The necessary criteria usually includes maintaining a grade point average above a 2.0, without a class grade of a C- or incomplete as a full-time student with 12 or more credits.

“With Strict Academic Probation, we want to make sure we are setting you up to focus on academics,” Hoppe said.
According to the Student Handbook, Strict Disciplinary Probation is one level above Disciplinary Probation. A student receives Disciplinary Probation when “his/her behavior is unacceptable within the college community.” Strict Disciplinary Probation usually adds, “ineligibility for service as an officer or member of any college organization or committee; restricted participation in any intercollegiate activity; ineligibility to receive or maintain any award from the college; prohibition from attendance at social events; restricted entrance into various college buildings; and restricted contact or total disassociation from members of the Macalester community.”

Disciplinary Probations end after a specified amount of time, but usually one year. Additionally, students have the right to appeal all probations on a case-by-case basis.

Hoppe said probation does not prevent involvement on campus.

“We don’t prohibit participation, just the representation part,” he said. “It doesn’t tell someone they cannot be involved.”

He said that these are the only reasons listed that a student can be explicitly declared ineligible to serve or represent the college. He added that other cases could arise, like a hypothetical situation in which two students could not occupy the same space for some legal or other reason. In that event, one could be asked to stop participating.

He neglected to hypothesize further, but said that any other cases would prevent students from participating in organizations throughout campus, not just leadership positions.

He said he hoped the amendment would raise student awareness of handbook policies moving forward.

The vote

Wilson presented the amendment to the Legislative Body on Tuesday, Nov. 25. At that meeting, the body approved several wording and logistical changes to the amendment. Wilson did not expect the vote to be close.

“Not quite sure why it was so close,” he wrote in an email. “Some reps didn’t think it was the responsibility of a rep to communicate school policy when constituents had questions.”

The final version of the amendment stated that candidates would need to read the MCSG constitution and Student Handbook, instead of attend a presentation by the president.

Junior Representative James Lindgren voted against the amendment because he said it seened rushed and inadequate.

“I think the board felt rushed by it being the last meeting and felt the need to do something,” he said.

He said that he did not sense major support for the bill from anyone but Wilson and that it was put to vote before considering all possible options. He also did not approve of the bill establishing the position of MCSG in a larger college hierarchy. Instead of acknowledging the administration requirements, he favors the creation of eligibility requirements to be put in the MCSG constitution.

“I am comfortable with just establishing our own eligibility criteria,” he said. “In the end it might be the exact same, but it doesn’t matter.”

He drew a parallel with the United States constitution and the Magna Carta to make his point.

“[The U.S.] constitution is modeled off the Magna Carta, but it doesn’t say ‘see page 2 of the Magna Carta,’” he said. “We have our own thing.”

He acknowledged that the comparison was not perfect, but it revealed the importance of self-determining criteria.

Wilson said that he is open to further discussions, but he did not think MCSG could deviate from the existing Student Handbook policies.

“I don’t know if MCSG can say, ‘Change those policies,’” he said.

Lindgren said he is interested in meeting with the five other members of MCSG that voted against the amendment and the currently ineligible Joe Klein ’16 and Sam Doten ’16 who will return as sophomore representatives next semester to discuss their opinions of the amendment.

“The group of eight might meet and talk about if we are on the same page,” he said.

All eight will be present next semester so they will be very close to the two-thirds majority necessary to repeal the amendment.