MCSG determines year-long goals

After the recent round of elections brought in a new Vice President and new class representatives, MCSG went on a weekend retreat. The retreat was fun—students stayed up late playing Mafia with Dean of Students, Jim Hoppe—but also serious, as they spent the bulk of their time setting goals for the year.

“The point of the retreat is just to get us focused and comfortable with one another so we can work well together as the year progresses,” student body president Ian Calaway ’16 said.

One of the priorities they established for the year was what Calaway called “connecting communities”: an effort by MCSG to strengthen their own connection to Macalester’s students, staff and faculty, as well as helping students connect with one another.

“We want to be seen as a group of individuals that you can ask any community-based question and you’ll get an answer,” Calaway said. “While MCSG may not be able to help you, any MCSG member should be able to point you in the right direction.”

Student Services and Resource Committee (SSRC) chair and student body vice president Jolena Zabel ’16 echoed that point, saying that the SSRC is trying to look at how they can best engage with student movements and discussions happening on campus.

“We want to look at the dialogues that happen on campus and student movements and think about unique ways to bring those conversations to an intentional space,” Zabel said. “I think it’s something we want to take as part of our mandate.”

At the retreat, MCSG worked out the details of several big projects they will be undertaking this semester: working with an outside committee to review their organization, revising the MCSG bylaws, and starting a student government radio show on WMCN.

Committee will review MCSG

A review process is normal procedure for most student governments, although according to Calaway, MCSG hasn’t been reviewed in a long time—and possibly has never been reviewed at all.

“We’re not being audited,” Calaway said. “We want to identify what our weaknesses are and what our strengths are and then adjust accordingly.”

They are also hoping that the review process will help MCSG set long-term goals.

“I also see it as a great opportunity to transcend the difficulties that come with the annual turnover rate of MCSG executives,” Calaway said. “After we have this review, I’m hoping we can set some long-term goals for the organization that will help us have some continuity over the years.”

The review committee will be made up of two student government advisors from other colleges, two staff members, one of whom is also an alum, two students affiliated with MCSG and two students unaffiliated with MCSG. On Oct. 10th, MCSG will send a self-study to the committee to review.

According to Calaway, the self-study will discuss the structure of MCSG, as well as detail some concerns that they have and some changes they would like committee feedback on before they choose to implement them.

The committee will have several weeks to review the report before they come to campus on Oct. 26 and 27. They will have dinner and a chance to meet with MCSG executive members to discuss the self-study on the night of the 26.

“That Tuesday is when it kicks into high gear. They meet with the various committees of MCSG,” Calaway said. At 6 p.m. that evening, MCSG will also be serving pizza in Davis court so, as Calaway put it, “students, faculty and staff from around the community can come in, get some dinner, and also talk to this review committee about their experiences with MCSG as well as their concerns.”

After the dinner event, the committee will attend the MCSG meeting at 7 p.m. Following their visit, they will have several weeks to compile a report and then will send it back to MCSG in early November.

The committee’s report will be sent directly to MCSG. They’ve opted not to make the full report public, because the privacy will allow committee members to be more honest when critiquing specific members’ behavior. According to Calaway, MCSG will read the committee’s report and send out an abridged review that includes everything except specific personal suggestions for MCSG members.

“Hopefully we’ll have the report by mid November,” Calaway said. “We’ll have a few weeks after that to process the information, and then, starting spring semester, we’ll be able to make some sweeping changes if need be.”

The Omnibus Bill

The second major project MCSG is undertaking this semester is the omnibus bill. The bill was introduced at the MCSG meeting on Sept. 22 and will be up for debate at the next meeting on Sept. 29. The bill offers a chance for MCSG’s executive board to pare down and organize the current bylaws.

Currently, the bylaws are a 43 page document, split up into 14 sections including one on the election policy, one on the student organizations policy, and one on the Lectures Coordination board. Calaway plans to remove these policies from the bylaws and have them stand on their own.

“What we want to do is cut out some of those sections and make them policies,” Calaway said. “We have a financial code which is separate from the bylaws. You go to that document if you want to know what the financial policy is. But if you want to know what the election policy is, you have to go through these bylaws, go to page 38 and then read through them. It makes it an unmanageable document.”

Additionally, according to Calaway, the bylaws are “riddled with contradictions.” The omnibus bill will offer MCSG executives an opportunity to rid the document of some of these inconsistencies.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to make it easier to read and more cohesive,” Calaway said.

MCSG’s new WMCN show

As part of their push to connect with the broader Macalester community, MCSG will be hosting a show on Macalester’s radio station, WMCN. The show will take place Thursdays at 6 p.m., and will be hosted by a rotating selection of MCSG executive board members
“MCSG will have a radio show focusing on campus concerns and campus issues, specifically things that are coming through MCSG, like resolutions and bills,” Calaway said. “We’ll also highlight newly chartered orgs, as well as any org that wants to be on the radio station. It’s going to be a lot of discussion, and talking about what’s going on in the community.”

Calaway also hopes that the radio show will serve as an archive of student government activity. Each week’s show will be posted on the MCSG website.WMCN and MCSG hope to form a longer-term partnership so the show can continue in future semesters.

“We don’t have a lot of history. It’s difficult to go back and get a history of what students are thinking,” Calaway said. “I think this will be critical. I’m hoping that when big issues come up—for example, the student assembly that happened last spring—MCSG can have a discussion about it on the radio show saying exactly what’s going on and clearing up confusion.”

Look for information on what MCSG’s various committees have in store for the semester in next week’s edition of The Mac Weekly.