MCSG mourns loss of Kai Davis

MCSG mourns loss of Kai Davis

Ella Pinkert and Andie Walker

Please be advised: this editorial discusses the passing of Kai Davis. This loss is still new, and it has impacted all of us in different ways. This article contains mentions of suicide, and though it contains no graphic details, it may be upsetting for some readers. For a list of support resources on and off campus, please visit this page.

On Sept. 22 the Legislative Body (LB) meeting centered around the recent passing of Kai Davis, who was a member of the class of 2021. Earlier in the day, the administration announced that Davis died by suicide.

The announcement made for an emotional meeting, with MCSG President Fatiya Kedir ‘21 beginning by checking in with the LB members. Afterward, Kedir invited people to share their reactions and reflections about the difficult news.

One concern brought up was the way in which the Macalester administration handled the announcement. Members expressed frustration with the administration’s response and argued that the approach needed to be changed.

“It is very upsetting the way that the school responds to suicide, and it’s been the same way,” Student Organization Committee (SOC) chair Briah Cooley ’21 said. “They really need to do more than just send an email and a vigil.”

Others argued that the onus should not be placed on grieving or struggling students to ask for accommodations.

“Everything should be canceled,” said interim Vice President Shreya Nagdev ’22. “It shouldn’t be put on the students who are really in grief, who knew the student personally, to ask for extensions or forgiveness.”

LB members also spoke on how an unhealthy campus culture has exacerbated mental health issues, as students have to decide whether to prioritize academic success or mental wellbeing.

“I think there’s a real expectation of perfectionism among Macalester students, and an expectation that ‘busy is good and stressed is better,’ and that if you’re not those things you’re not succeeding,” Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) chair Hannah Gilbert ’21 said.

MCSG also discussed the accessibility and quality of mental health resources offered to students in the wake of the tragedy. Many agreed that the introduction of the module system and the ongoing pandemic have compounded these difficulties.

Cooley voiced concerns about how heavy workloads can make it “really inconvenient” to use the school-provided resources, a problem that could be heightened by the module system.

Lastly, the LB discussed steps that it could take as an influential organization, including addressing the student body as a whole or taking a more personal approach. Kedir and other members acknowledged the difficulty of finding a response that serves everyone in the community.

In response to the LB’s discussion, Associate Dean of Students and MCSG advisor Andrew Wells expressed his support for board members.

“It’s difficult to figure out the way to move forward that will be sensitive to people’s needs, and honor their pain and honor their process when people’s pain and process is unique for every individual,” Wells said. 

Cooley finally stressed that focusing excessively on academics can be problematic.

“At the end of the day, we’re humans, and we need to remember that human life is more important than all this stuff that we’re doing in academia, and I think people forget that,” Cooley said.