MCSG Overseer: LB votes to charter Building Bridges and SocieTea

On Tuesday, March 3, MCSG held its first meeting after it held its executive elections — during which the Legislative Body (LB) heard from Vice President of Alumni Engagement Katie Ladas.

Ladas focused her appearance on the importance of alumni engagement. She also tried to drum up support for Wednesday’s Building a Better Macalester Day fundraising event.

“There will be different coffee carts out, and different ways we’ll be promoting this day on campus, and we’ll make it very easy to get involved,” Ladas said. “This is a special day for the campus, the students and faculty.”

She also spoke about the rising influence of the college’s Alumni Board.

“The popularity of the board has gotten bigger and bigger each year,” Ladas said.

Current students also serve on the Alumni Board. One of those students is MCSG Vice President and now President-elect Fatiya Kedir ’21, who asked Ladas about the Alumni Board’s mentorship and career development policies and practices.

“I feel like students want to be able to connect with alumni,” Ladas said. “The Alumni Board wants to learn more about the needs of the students so we can figure out what that mentorship program should look like.”

MCSG then heard from three student organizations about their prospective charters: Fork Threat, SocieTea and Building Bridges.

Lucien O’Brien ’22 spoke on behalf of Fork Threat — an amalgam of Pitchfork and Film Threat, two renowned music and film publications, respectively — a monthly art criticism zine with student reviews of concerts, music and films.

“It’s just a little magazine that has music reviews,” O’Brien said. “It’s a lot of fun and we basically just want funds for printing costs. We print through Document Services, so it can add up.”

O’Brien defended the club’s charter against questions regarding leadership structure of the organization, which remains informal.

“Really the only people that are physically putting it together are [myself] editing it, and then we have an art director that does all the formatting,” O’Brien said. “We’re just planning on doing it until we graduate, and we’ll try to find people to fill those roles before we graduate.”

Following Fork Threat, Josh Groven ’22 spoke on behalf of SocieTea — an organization that aims to facilitate discussions of societal issues over tea. Their charter was rejected last semester, but the group has since made improvements to the document in response to MCSG’s suggestions.

“SocieTea aims to engage students in how to argue with one another without a specific agenda in mind,” Groven said. “During the renaming of Neill, that would’ve been a perfect time to have a public forum debate and get people involved in a specific event.”

Distinct from a debate society, SocieTea instead favors casual discussion that draws various viewpoints together to inform and challenge the campus consensus.

“The topics are decided at meetings, so the participants who come to the various meetings we have give their own ideas about what should be discussed,” said Groven.

Finally, MCSG evaluated the charter for Building Bridges, a student org that seeks to create a network of students impacted by and interested in mass incarceration. Inspiration for the org came from the International Roundtable “Incarceration (Un)Interrupted: Reclaiming Bodies, Lands, and Communities” in fall 2019.

“I think as we’re going through college, it’s really easy to be sheltered from the issue of incarceration, unless you have some lived experience,” Ashley Trube ’22 said. “Around the same time as the roundtable, I decided that starting a student org would be a way not just to continue the work of the roundtable intellectually, but to do actual things in the community.”

For the roundtable, Trube organized a talk with Metropolitan State University criminologist Dr. Raj Sethuraju.

“I went to that event and I just want to say how impactful it was,” Kedir said. “I think it’s really hard to do conversations like this justice, and I think you guys did an amazing job. I think Macalester doesn’t do a good job of supporting people who are impacted by incarceration, and I think this would be a great first step.”

The club plans to host on-campus discussions, including a speaker series, as well as projects in the community, including a mural project in the Ramsey County Jail.

The LB voted to approve the charters of both SocieTea and Building Bridges. They will vote on Fork Threat’s charter next week to give them time to clarify the leadership structure and ensure democratic elections — a requirement of all student organizations chartered by MCSG.

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