MCSG debates allocations, bylaws: Spirited discussion over Hegemonocle funding

At their weekly Tuesday night meeting, the Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) legislative body (LB) focused this week on additional budget allocations for certain student organizations and approving general bylaws for the legislative body.

Outing Club, FIA*STARSA, Active Minds, and the Asian Pacific Awareness Month were among the student organizations requesting additional allocations. The body granted all funds requested with little discussion, but there was resounding approval for the proposals.

A deeper discussion arose around the Hegemonocle request for additional funds for the semester. The humor publication requested $1600 to fund the printing of their two standard editions for the semester and a new smaller publication, or “zine.”

“We’ve had increased membership,” said Joe Evers ’14, who was present at the meeting along with fellow Hegemoncle editor Michelle Einstein ’14.

However, the FAC recommended only $1000 for the group. A lengthy discussion followed.

“I think it’s ridiculous to punish an org for doing well,” said Austin Clowes ’16.

William Theriac ’16 agreed, saying that he saw the request for additional funds as “an org trying to respond realistically” to their sudden and dramatic growth.

FAC Chair Ellen Washington ’14 said the LB should not view the reduction in funds as underappreciating the Hegemonocle, but to look at the situation as “being fair to other orgs.”

“FAC is trying to find a balance,” added Peace Madimutsa ’17, a member of FAC.

After a lengthy discussion, the LB reversed the FAC decision and approved the original request of $1600, with wide support coming from other representatives, describing the Hegemonocle as a “model org” and a publication that they looked forward to during the semester.

Revising MCSG bylaws

The other extensive discussion of the night circled around approving the general revisions for the MCSG bylaws. The bylaws were introduced at the Feb. 18 meeting so that the legislative body could review them over the course of the week.

“There were general word changes…basic stuff like that,” said MCSG President Kai Wilson ’14, adding that some of the points brought up over the course of the week “were taken into account.”

The legislative body also worked to clarify the distinction between excused and unexcused absences, and who of the legislative body had the authority to classify an absence as excused or unexcused.

James Lindgren ’15 moved to amend the section of the bylaws about absences, adding the stipulation that “the status of an absence (e.g. excused or unexcused) is at the discretion of the MCSG Chief of Staff.”

The amendment was approved, after discussion as to how Chief of Staff Ian Calaway ’16 decided what constituted an excused or unexcused absence.

“It’s situational,” Calaway said simply.

Merita Bushi ’14 raised another point regarding the implementation of the bylaws.

“I’m slightly concerned about us passing this and it being effective immediately and us not following them right away,” she said. “I’m curious about what we can do to hold ourselves accountable.”

Several other representatives recommended that each member of the board make the effort to familiarize themselves with the bylaws.

“There are a lot of people getting […] diligently trained to read the bylaws,” Wilson said.

The body passed the updates to the bylaws with a majority vote. Theriac was the only vote in opposition, but because he was concerned with the bylaws’ language surrounding the executive branch in the updates. The MCSG president would now be the sole person allowed to bring issues forth to the judicial council.

“The [MCSG] president is not at the top of the exec branch,” Theriac said after the meeting. “Executive authority does not rest with the president, it rests with the executive council as a whole.”

He had suggested that three of the six executive council members should be in agreement to make the situation “more equitable.”

Wilson thanked the representatives for taking the bylaws very seriously and for their comments.

“There was a lot of time spent on this,” he said.

Upcoming resolution votes

Two new resolutions were also introduced at the meeting. One will promote greater awareness of TGI (trans*, gender-nonconforming, and intersex) persons on campus, and the other will support the Real Food Campus Commitment Action Plan.

The TGI resolution was introduced by Samuel Doten ’16, who brought the conversation to the table in order to open a “greater conversation about […] trans issues on campus.”

Guests Amy McMeeking ’16 and Oliver Schminkey ’16, members of the Health, Gender and Sexuality task force, spoke to the importance of the resolution for them and their work. The resolution was based off a survey that the task force issued last semester, and it asked students about “things that were welcoming, things that weren’t so welcoming,” McMeeking said.

“All these things are personally important to making me feel safe on campus,” said, Schminkey, who identifies as trans*.

The resolution will be discussed in greater detail and voted upon next week.

The Real Food Campus Commitment Action Plan was introduced by Lindgren and a guest, Laura Humes ’16. The commitment was instituted last year and involves having 30% “real food” available for the whole campus. Lindgren, Humes, and Karen Weldon ’14 drafted an action plan to be implemented over the course of the year to make the 30 percent goal possible.

“We’re really setting an example with this,” Lindgren said.

Macalester is one of the first colleges in Minnesota to commit to having 30 percent more real food. The Action Plan was introduced to receive input from MCSG and the wider campus community, and will also discussed and voted upon next week.