Bostrom discusses senior survey results

Oliver Soglin, Staff Writer

This week’s MCSG meeting began with a presentation from Assistant Director of Assessment Nancy Bostrom, who shared results from two surveys on community engagement. Both surveys took place during Spring 2019. One surveyed class of 2019 seniors, and the other Macalester alumni.

Bostrom reported that over 90 percent of both seniors and alumni responded that Macalester contributed “some,” “quite a bit” or “very much” to their ability to effectively engage with communities. However, the positive responses were not equal across groups.

“We did find that female students were significantly more likely than male students to say Macalester enhanced their capacity for effective community engagement,” Bostrom said.

Bostrom also reported on structural barriers to such engagement. International students, U.S. students of color and first-generation college students were all more likely to report time or transportation constraints to participation.

After Bostrom’s presentation, the LB heard updates from Executive Board members. MCSG Vice-President and Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) Chair Fatiya Kedir ’21 asked for volunteers to manage the Open Pantry during spring break, and Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) Chair Ayushi Modi ’21 updated the LB on the status of the operating, capital and travel funds.

Inspired by the LB’s mental health discussion at the Feb. 18 meeting, the LB then had a stretch break and mental health check-in, led by Olivia Nyman ’22.

Next, Program Board Chair Alex Ang ’22 and Office Manager Lizzy Burton ’21 presented a bill to dissolve the Lectures Coordination Board (LCB) and split the $50,000 LCB budget between the Program Board and MCSG. The bill allocated $20,000 to MCSG to increase funding for student orgs and designated $15,000 per semester for the PB. Burton cited the inefficacy of the LCB as a reason for the change.

“Every semester and every year [the LCB] is struggling to find students to fill the position,” Burton said. “There’s supposed to be six students on the committee and there’s only two this semester.”

PB planned to use the $15,000 to fund a major speaker each semester, with the intention of dipping into their rollover money from previous years to cover extra costs. Although the LB passed the bill, this plan was complicated by proposed revisions to the financial code.

Modi announced several proposed financial code revisions, including clarifying the purpose of the reserve fund, eliminating the five-dollar spending limit on clothing items, and incorporating travel funding into the financial code. The point of contention was a proposal to stop rolling over the PB’s funds each year — a proposal the PB had been unaware of.

“The FAC recommends this because every year the Program Board has a huge rollover,” Modi said. “And that money doesn’t actually get used by student orgs or the Program Board.”

Ang pointed out the Program Board’s increased budgetary needs.

“Costs have been increasing as we increase accessibility,” Ang said. “This year we used rollover money to get a Winter Ball venue that could accommodate more people and make it easier to get tickets.”

Associate Dean of Students and MCSG Advisor Andrew Wells encouraged the FAC and Program Board to meet separately to work out a resolution.

“This seems to be a case of ships passing in the night,” Wells said. “Everyone should sit down to discuss their overlapping and competing needs and find a path forward.”

Burton, Ang and Modi agreed to Wells’ idea, and the LB ultimately decided to postpone voting on any part of the financial code revisions until after spring break. Concerned that Modi was being unfairly blamed for the confusion, Wells took the opportunity to remind LB members to come to meetings prepared.

“I don’t want [Modi] to be thrown under the bus,” Wells said. “She sent out the draft and everyone on the LB and Executive Board had access to it.”

Student Organization Committee Chair Camden Moser ’20 presented the revised charter proposal for Fork Threat, a monthly art criticism zine. At last week’s meeting, the LB had asked the organization to guarantee a democratic leadership structure.

The revision, however, did not fully assuage those concerns; The LB rejected Fork Threat’s charter by a vote of 9-10-5.

SSRC members Rebecca Gentry ’23 and  Dylan Larsen ’20 then reported on the Minnesota Association of Private College Students conference that they attended. The conference hosted speakers and discussions on mental health and food insecurity.

The meeting concluded with a reminder that the filing period for Class Representative and Cabinet Officer positions is now open.

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