MCSG Overseer: Free bus passes to support student internships

Margaret Moran

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This week’s MCSG meeting began with a vote on a bill written by Students Services & Relations Committee (SSRC) member Fabian Bean ’18 to fund a transit subsidy program for Macalester students.

The bill would allocate $3,000 to purchase 150 bus passes for students with off-campus internships. These students would receive a $40-value bus pass that would allow for 20 rides during non-peak hours or 16 rides during peak hours, when prices are higher. Students can currently buy these $40 passes for $20.

“Many majors encourage and require internships as part of their major requirements,” Bean said. “There is a need on campus for increased financial support for students who are pursuing unpaid academic and career-related opportunities.”

Bean also addressed why the Legislative Body (LB) is responsible for meeting this financial need as opposed to the Civic Engagement Center or the Institute for Global Citizenship – institutions sponsoring volunteer and study abroad opportunities respectively.

“I spoke to Donna Maeda [of the IGC], and she fully supported it because currently only volunteer opportunities are supported by the CEC,” Bean said. “Funding internships is necessary too, because a whole pillar of our institution is civic engagement and developing ourselves for our futures.”

The LB passed the bill. It anticipates that students doing internships next semester will be able to apply for the free bus passes at the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

Next, MCSG Vice President Ariana Hones ’18 announced that the Menstrual Health Project has been approved by Facilities Services and that menstrual products will be made available in several bathrooms before the end of the semester.

Hones developed the Menstrual Health Project to provide free menstrual products to students in bathrooms on campus. The products will be made available in all-gender and women’s bathrooms first, but the SSRC hopes to distribute them in men’s bathrooms in the near future.

Facilities Services has ordered six dispensers, and will be putting them in three bathrooms in the Campus Center as well as three all-gender restrooms in the DeWitt Wallace Library. Facilities Services plans to install the dispensers within the next two weeks.

Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) Chair Chris Pieper ’18 then announced that it will review Minnesota Public Interest Research Group’s (MPIRG) budget appeal next week.

MPIRG’s leadership has requested additional funding from MCSG for the 2018-2019 academic year to fund their MACcess Sampler Day, an honoraria for two to three speakers and their Campus Conversations events.

MACcess Sampler Day, which was held for the first time this year, provides local high school students the opportunity to tour Macalester and eat a meal at Café Mac in an effort to increase Macalester’s racial and socioeconomic diversity while connecting with the surrounding community.

The event garnered a highly positive reception, and MPIRG is interested in holding it again during the next school year. MPIRG requested additional funds for bus passes to ensure that low-income high school students can afford to attend, but the FAC denied its $100 request – reasoning that the admissions office or Civic Engagement Center should sponsor the event instead.

“We asked MPIRG why they chose to have the student activity fee go towards MACcess, and they said that other departments including the CEC and admissions already have pretty limited budgets, and less tokens,” Pieper said.

Pieper also noted that admissions thought using the student activity fee to fund MACcess was appropriate from a philosophical standpoint.

The LB will vote on all budget appeals next week.