MCSG Overseer: LB debates Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Board

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This week’s MCSG meeting began with a presentation from a potential new student group, Sunrise Movement at Macalester.

“Sunrise is a climate org,” Dakota McKnight ’22 said. “We work specifically about political involvement and getting students involved in climate activism. Specifically, we focus on climate justice both at the local and national level.”

Sunrise Movement at Macalester is seeking an org charter to help cover travel costs to climate-related protests and events.

Next, MCSG student body President Malik Mays ’19 asked for volunteers to work the ballots on April 4 and 5 during the repeat elections for MCSG Vice President and Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) chair.

An email from Mays to the student body on April 1 revealed that a candidate for the 2019-2020 Executive Board filed a complaint to the Election Procedures Committee (EPC) due to the lack of a polling place during the election period. The Judicial Council and the EPC decided to only repeat currently contested elections.

“Even though the EPC followed past precedent of not having a polling place, it was still in the most updated version of the election code, and because there was no polling place, the EPC found that absence in our election warranted a whole new election,” Mays said.

The Legislative Body (LB) voted to charter three new orgs on campus: Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), Mac Autism and Mac Pep Band. The LB had previously denied to approve a charter for JVP at a Nov. 15 meeting. This time, the LB the unanimously granted them a charter.

Student Organization Committee (SOC) member Jason Kohn ’20 and Academic Affairs Council (AAC) member Ryan Perez ‘20 presented an updated version of their proposal to add an equity, diversity and inclusion subcommittee to the existing Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC). The subcommittee would consist of a diversity and inclusion officer as well as four-to-six at-large members, who would apply directly to the committee rather than run for the position in an election.

The proposal comes from a push from MCSG members to increase support for equity programs such as Open Pantry.

“I want to be clear that this essentially operates as a task force for the SSRC,” Perez said. He explained that, with the subcommittee structure, the SSRC would delegate tasks to the committee.

“We would use the at-large members as the foundation for the subcommittee,” he continued. LB members expressed various concerns about the proposal.

“It’s confusing to restructure the SSRC this way with a subcommittee, and I feel like it doesn’t address the major issues of communications and apathy regarding MCSG and the student body as a whole,” AAC member Garrett Schoonover ’19 said, “I feel like it’s only going to cause more confusion and maybe more issues with communication.”

Multiple attendees at the meeting expressed concern about the current lack of participation in MCSG in regards to the proposal.

“If there are people who are passionate about equity, inclusion and diversity, they should run for class rep,” said Andy Han, former MCSG class representative and guest at Tuesday’s LB meeting. “We already have trouble filling those seats.”

The LB unanimously voted to approve an extra five minutes to the allocated discussion time for this proposal. “I do like the idea of adding at-large members to the SSRC,” FAC member Kaarin Khandelwal ’20 said, “My problem with this is having members who are taking big positions on equity and diversity programs on campus that have no oversight by the LB.”

Perez and Kohn will present the final version of the proposal on April 9, and the LB will vote on it April 16. “There are many ways this could look,” Perez said.

Next, FAC chair Taneeya Rele ’19 presented the FAC’s budget summary for and recommendations for 2019-2020 from the recent Budget Bonanza that took place over March 30 and 31.

Around 70 orgs requested a total of $239,331.12 from the operating fund, and the FAC recommended giving out $187,358.24. The FAC estimated having $152,360 to allocate to these org requests for the 2019-2020 school year, meaning that the FAC recommended more funds than they anticipate having next year.

Thus, the FAC approved a budget cut of 25%: from $187,358.24 down to $147,809.24. This will leave the operating fund with $30,000 for additional allocations and chartering new orgs.

“The $188,000 was cut down to $147,000 which will fit better into the amount of money we actually had,” Rele said. “Keep in mind orgs will be approving these decisions.”