Editor’s Note: News Editor Joe Klein ’16 was not involved in this story’s production.
Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) has been through a number of unanticipated transitions this year. Sophomore Representatives Joe Klein ’16 and Samuel Doten ’16 were suspended from their positions on the Legislative Body for the fall semester. In late September, Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) Chair Adinah Zilton ’14 stepped down from her position due to academic probation, leading to the third special election of the problematic semester. Representative Bassem El-Remesh’s ’16 resignation from Sophomore Representative led to the fourth special MCSG election.
Now that Klein and Doten’s suspensions have expired, they will resume their seats on the governing body, replacing Jolena Zabel ’16 and Justin Randall ’16 who were elected to fill the representatives’ positions during the fall semester only.
The unusually high turnover did not go unaddressed by MCSG members. In November, the acting Sophomore Representatives wrote an editorial in The Mac Weekly, reassuring the class in a time of inconsistency and confusion. MCSG also held a community forum to address student concerns surrounding resignations and suspensions.
Now, with the spring semester underway, MCSG is working to adjust to the latest transitions and enact change for Macalester’s student body.
Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) Chair Merita Bushi ’14 acknowledged the impact of the tremulous semester, but she expected her committee to run smoothly during the spring.
“Of course AAC isn’t its own silo, so the new dynamic in the Legislative Body as a whole will affect everyone Tuesday (LB) nights,” Bushi wrote in an email, “but the only change AAC is experiencing is a planned switch in representative positions because of study abroad.”
Student Organizations Committee (SOC) Chair Maddie Arbisi ’14 expressed a similar sentiment.
“SOC has not specifically been affected by all the changes this year,” she wrote.
Ellen Washington ’14, who replaced Adinah Zilton ’14 as FAC Chair in October, declined to comment for this story.
A tool that some Executive Board members planned to continue to take into account this spring was input from students. MCSG President Kai Wilson ’14 was among these members.
“The student input that was expressed at our Autumn Community Forum has already been examined by LB reps, executives and me,” Wilson wrote in an email. “We look to hold another outreach event this spring to gauge better feedback.”
Bushi expressed appreciation at the quality of student feedback regarding academic issues.
“One of our biggest carry-overs from last semester is how much we tried to encourage students to speak up on academic issues,” she wrote, “and more specifically to tell us what they wanted. And they did. This year’s survey responses were amazing and so critically thoughtful!”
Arbisi’s committee plans to permanently incorporate the facilitation of student input into their bylaws.
“This year every org has an SOC liaison and the feedback has been very positive,” Arbisi wrote.
“At our last SOC meeting, we decided that having liaisons should be written into the SOC bylaws to ensure that this new tradition continues.”
Wilson’s plans for the new semester include strengthening checks and balances in MCSG’s framework.
“I want to balance MCSG’s legislative branch with a stronger Judicial Council that would review how specific legislation relates to our bylaws and constitution,” he wrote.
Bushi said that the AAC’s interests lay in completing projects new and old.
“I want to figure out how we will finish the great projects that we are still working on,” she wrote, “but also start the conversation on projects ranging from tenure/course evaluations to curricular diversity to academic support to grades to smaller requests such as a microwave in the library.”
She added, however, that the last task might be just outside the range of her committee’s umbrella.
MCSG meets on Tuesday nights in Weyerhaeuser Boardroom.