MCSG Overseer: Responses to campus hate speech discussed

The Mac Weekly

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This week’s MCSG meeting was centered on a discussion of how the Legislative Body (LB) should address the recent acts of hate speech on campus. President Malik Mays ’19 presented the LB with several ideas.

One of those ideas was to send out a series of statements drafted by MCSG representatives expressing their support for members of the community affected by the hate speech. MCSG did something similar in February 2017 after President Donald Trump signed the first version of his travel ban.

Another idea was for an MCSG committee to draft a resolution to address the college’s administrative response to the instances of hate.

“[The resolution] would be a way to say that we at MCSG are also affected by these [hateful] acts,” Mays said. “[It] would describe how students feel about the event and the administration’s response, and what we want to see from the administration in the future.”

These suggestions prompted a mixed response from the LB.

“I’m not sure that making another list of statements would be the best way to address this issue because these events that have happened on campus in the past two years have piled up,” Diversity and Inclusion Officer Stacy Gerondelis ’19 said. “It might make more sense to make an intentional support-based space [for students].”

“I think that passing the resolution and making the statements would be very well-intended, but, because of how much time has passed since the events, we could also create something that would be more explicit in showing our solidarity,” AAC Swopnil Shrestha ‘21 said. “We could create something where more students would be able to talk about this issue and we could show our solidarity.”

Other representatives suggested that the LB invite leaders of Identity Collectives to discuss how MCSG can better support students in the wake of the hate speech on campus.

“It definitely helps if we reach out to the communities to show that the support is there,” SSRC Chair and Vice President Blair Cha ’20 said. “I think we should invite the leaders of the Identity Collectives to our meetings to see what they really want.”

The LB decided that it will likely not issue a statement or statements of support, rather it will pursue the resolution-writing process and seek input from student leaders on campus.

According to Mays, he and Gerondelis are currently attempting to connect with leaders of both Identity Collectives and other cultural organizations on campus.

Gerondelis is in the process of formulating a list of students to invite to MCSG meetings to discuss what they would like to see from MCSG going forward. While some leaders have already expressed interest in attending MCSG meetings, others have yet to reach out to any members of the LB.

“I have heard that people have felt uncomfortable coming to MCSG meetings to talk about topics that are as personal as these,” SSRC member Em Friedman ’21 said. “So I think [finding] ways to make [the] conversation accessible to everybody, like holding events that aren’t necessarily MCSG meetings, but are other places for people to talk to representatives, is important to show our support.”

At the end of the meeting, when Mays asked the LB members whether they were interested in serving on the committee that will write the resolution, almost every representative responded affirmatively.

Mays hopes to choose one member of the Executive Board to lead the resolution-writing process on Thursday at an executive board meeting and for the process to start next week.

“The students from whom I’ve heard don’t know that it’s something that we’re creating space for in our meetings,” Mays said. “But also, we don’t want it just to be an MCSG project; we should be reaching out to other students so that as many students as possible feel that their voices are being heard.”