MCSG Overseer: LB votes down Mac Republicans charter 17-0

Hannah Catlin, News Editor

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The Legislative Body (LB) spent the majority of this week’s MCSG meeting debating whether to charter the new conservative student organization Mac Republicans. 

After about 45 minutes of discussion, the LB voted overwhelmingly not to charter the organization — with a number of representatives voicing a concern that Mac Republican’s charter is too similar to that of existing conservative organization Mac GOP.

“I do feel convinced that Mac GOP is committed primarily to conservative students and they just open themselves [up] to moderate and libertarian students as well,” first-year representative Rebecca Gentry ’23 said. “The [Mac Republicans] charter as proposed is lacking.”

The Mac Republicans leadership was motivated to split from Mac GOP when Mac GOP’s leadership denied their request to bring a speaker from the national far right student organization Turning Point USA.

But Student Organization Committee (SOC) member Kody Harrington ’23 said that was not a good enough reason to form an entirely new group. 

“Making a new org based [on] one decision that someone didn’t agree with doesn’t really make sense to me,” Harrington said.

To address the dispute among conservative students SOC member Linden Kronberg ’22 instead suggested auditing Mac GOP. 

“[MacGOP’s] failure to live up to their charter — if that is what this is — represents a failure of the SOC and of this body to maintain oversight,” Kronberg said “It does not represent an opportunity for us to break the rules that we have used to judge organizations in the past.”

Several LB members also recalled past instances when orgs were not successfully chartered at the first attempt. Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) and Climbing Club had to go through two and three chartering attempts before they succeeded.

Other representatives worried that if the Mac Republicans are only splitting off because of interpersonal disputes with MacGOP leadership, then the organization will quickly become irrelevant. 

“I just have a fear that your organization might be temporary and not actually permanent on campus,” Diversity and Inclusion Officer Robert Greene ’23 said. “If this board approves $200 for you… I’m just scared of making that impulse [decision].”

Mac Republican leader Anthony Palma ’22 attended the meeting and took issue with this implication. 

“There will never be not Republican or conservative students on this campus, they just feel like they can’t speak out because of the climate on this campus,” Palma said.

“Our college campus and climate… is enough to bring speakers here because they know how shut out people who think differently [are],” Palma continued. “You can give us funding, you can give us no funding, they’re going to come regardless.”

While the majority of LB members’ questions were logistical and based on the proposed Mac Republicans charter, others members were concerned about having a highly-visible conservative group at Macalester.

“I have been tippy-toeing around this conversation because this really hurts, especially you marketing yourself as a new organization where you want to go straight to Republican values,” Greene said. “What does this mean at this current time, especially with the right and… the man in office that recites hate speech?

“[I’m] not saying your group represents that, but I guess I need a definition of what Republican is,” Greene said. 

MCSG President Blair Cha ’20 was concerned about how the group planned to organize during the 2020 presidential election. 

“One aspect that bothered me and then I kept thinking about was whether or not you are planning to rally for the upcoming election and do you understand the impact it might have on… the members of our campus and the kind of pain that’s going to bring to campus,” Cha said.

Palma said that he and other members of Mac Republican leadership would remain accountable for the actions of their organization.

“If someone thinks a certain way and it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights, they’re allowed to think that way,” Palma said. “If your justification of not having a club is because of that, then I hope you guys de-charter Mac GOP as well because I would like you to be consistent.”

Other members of the LB then confirmed that they didn’t necessarily oppose having another conservative group on campus, but were mainly concerned with the Mac Republicans charter.

Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) member Karinna Gerhardt ’20 was one such member.

“I do think we need to be consistent in allowing all voices on campus,” Gerhardt said. “I’m not going to vote no because I don’t think they should exist as a political entity. I think they should not exist as an org because they’re redundant and their charter is not as fleshed out as it will be.

“I don’t think anyone should vote no based on an assumption that Mac Republicans could have a dangerous ideology… at least without proof,” she continued.

With that, the debate concluded. MCSG Vice President Fatiya Kedir ’21 then made a motion to vote on the proposed charter, with zero members voting in favor, 17 opposed, and two abstaining.

As soon as the votes were read out, Palma stood to leave. 

“I appreciate all your time considering this, but it has become evidently clear that this is not the right avenue to work through for us,” Palma said. “We want to pull our charter and we want to work from outside the infrastructure.”

Palma then left, followed by Associate Dean of Students and MCSG advisor Andrew Wells. 

The LB then discussed their thoughts on the debate and vote. Some were concerned about alienating conservative students, while many others expressed frustration with Palma’s actions.

“I understand his frustration on the fact that we might not be supporting him just because of his values,” Kedir said. “But there are many people in this room and on this campus who feel silenced for different reasons but they still go through this infrastructure.”

Greene felt similarly — and pointed out the privilege Palma carries when compared to other students trying to lobby the LB.

“I feel like we allow white students to act in any way and we don’t show retaliation ever, even in classrooms,” Greene said.

Ashley Trube ’22 thanked the board for their handling of the situation. 

“I appreciate your humility today because I came to this campus a year and a half ago as pretty strong conservative… because I’m from Texas, and that’s just how I grew up,” she said. “A year and a half later, I’ve made quite a bit of a change in my ideology.”

However, in Palma’s view, the debate was anything but civil and humble. 

“The one-sided slander that occurred was shameful and embarrassing to our college and the standards we hold,” he wrote in a statement Wednesday night to The Mac Weekly. “I was wrong in thinking leadership issues started from within clubs; the real leadership issue is the tyranny called the MCSG who rarely follows the little protocol they have.”

Wells, who tracked Palma down and spoke with him after the meeting, expressed similar concerns with the tone of the discussion.

“The temperature in the room went way up when he felt like his character was impugned,” Wells said to the LB after returning from his conversation with Palma. “I think it’s important to keep in mind when we have guests coming into the space.”

Wells declined to comment on the nature of his conversation with Palma, but Palma wrote that Wells told him some members of the LB were “out of line” and “should know better.”

Palma’s issues with MCSG, however, transcend this one debate.

“Our campus is open minded only when it is convenient to be, and only with those who think the same,” he wrote. “We should be better as a community and hold higher expectations of our representatives keeping them accountable. 

“So long as the MCSG representatives retain their positions in their kangaroo court, they can and will continue to massacre and attempt to humiliate anyone who dares to think differently or question the mainstream.” 

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