When Macalester students place their votes for a new MCSG president on Monday, Feb. 19, they’ll be faced with three choices: Andy Han ’19, Malik Mays ’19, or, Jed Buchholz ’19.
The candidates, all rising seniors, have been engaging in an intense, week-long campaign. All have reached out to students in the community, hung flyers and posters, and all (as of press time) were planning to participate in a candidate forum on Thursday. Each is focused on fostering tangible change at Macalester.
Han, who is currently on the Academic Affairs Committee, is looking to use his years of MCSG experience to inform a potential presidency.
“I decided to run for president because I want to get things done on campus and use what I’ve learned as a class rep for the past 2 years,” Han said. “I think good leadership at the top will empower class representatives to really make a difference on campus.”
Han wants to pursue policies that will make Macalester a more accessible institution. For example, he hopes to create a ‘Twin Cities scholarship’ to bring students from underrepresented communities to Macalester and create more internship and career development opportunities.
As a member of MCSG, Han led several successful projects, including founding the G-SAT program to help applicants cover the cost of standardized tests. Han is pointing to his experience as the distinguishing feature of his candidacy.
“I’m experienced, dedicated, and I bring results,” he said. “There won’t be a learning curve for me because I know exactly how to run this place.”
Han has more years of MCSG experience than either of the other candidates. But student government experience is not required to run for MCSG president, and Mays hopes to use his outside perspective as an advantage in the race.
“For me, especially during my first few years at Macalester,” Mays said, “I’ve always enjoyed leading by example, I’ve never really wanted to put myself in the spotlight.”
Recently, however, things have changed.
“With a lot of the things going on around campus – after the Trump election, after the walk-in, and my own experiences at Macalester – it got to a point for me where I realized that I could no longer just do nothing about the culture here.” Mays discussed finding ways to better relationships between students and professors.
He hopes to bring the real issues that students face – racial discrimination and mental health, for example – to the attention of professors to encourage them to engage on a more personal level.
“It’s not just about school,” Mays said. “It’s about other aspects of the whole college experience that I think we can improve on. So whether or not I win, I want to start getting student panels together for faculty events that [will] occur next semester.”
By tackling broad cultural issues, Mays wants to foster open communication between Macalester’s various communities.
“I really feel like we can start something different, start a new conversation, make it a priority because these things, they should matter at Macalester… but they don’t right now in a lot of ways,” he said. “I want to come back in five years or ten years and see that things are actually different and that there’s a different culture here.”
As a first-time candidate – Mays has never run for office before, in college or elsewhere – the process of running has been invigorating.
“Of course I’m nervous… It’s something new to me. But at the same time I know that I will put in the work that’s necessary, I’m dedicated, I’m passionate and this is something that’s important to me. The more I think about it, the more I talk about it, the more excited I get about it.”
Bucholz, his rival candidate, is championing more internal changes, with a specific focus on streamlining MCSG to make it a more effective governing body, capable of handling the needs of all Mac students.
His other major concern is the affordability of a Macalester education. Tuition, which will rise to more than $66,000 for the upcoming 2018-19 school year, is projected to reach $90,000 within the next 10 years.
Despite the college’s obligation to meet 100% of demonstrated need, Buchholz is concerned about the effect these hikes will have on future generations of students and the way they could create barriers for students in a lower income bracket.
Buchholz made an unsuccessful run for MCSG vice president last year, but he has served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and as an MCSG class rep in his sophomore year.
All of the presidential candidates, as well as Daswani, encouraged students to vote next week when ballots are sent out on Monday via email. Graduating seniors are eligible to vote as well.
In addition to the race for the Presidency, five other executive positions are open: Student Organizations Committee Chair, Academic Affairs Committee Chair, Vice President, Program Board Chair, and Financial Affairs Committee Chair (FAC). Rising juniors and seniors will also elect one new class rep.
The rest of the MCSG class reps and issue-based officers will be up for election later this semester.