MCSG Overzoomer: LB discusses the module system, student workload

MCSG Overzoomer: LB discusses the module system, student workload

Ian Witry, Staff Writer

At this week’s MCSG meeting, The Legislative Body (LB) discussed a resolution directed toward Macalester’s Education Policy and Governance (EPAG) committee. The resolution suggests changes to the module system based on a summary of students’ opinions, including that “the structure of the module system has failed to accommodate for the mental health concerns of students.” 

After about 40 minutes of discussion, the LB did not hold a vote on the resolution. Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) chair Kareem Greaney ’21, one of the authors of the resolution, concluded that more work needs to be done in order to address all of the LB’s concerns.

“I’d rather do it right the first time,” he said. 

The resolution cites less time to comprehend material, more time spent on classes each day — especially for STEM students — and the expectation that students produce similar quality work to a normal semester in a shorter period of time. 

It also says that members of the Macalester community feel that the institution does not hear their voices, and that there is a need for student input following the change to the module system. 

Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) member Felicia Peterson ’22, an author of the resolution, expressed her discontent with Macalester’s initial decision to limit the option of S/SD/NC grading to classes outside of a student’s major, minor or concentration for the fall 2020 semester, despite having allowed this option for any class during the spring. She said that the Macalester did not prioritize student well-being. 

“I want to express the frustration that myself and other students experienced when they saw the reverse of the grading system, despite the fact that we were still in the same pandemic when they first made that decision,” Peterson said. 

According to Associate Dean of Students and MCSG advisor Andrew Wells, EPAG reverted back to allowing S/SD/NC grading for any class on Sept. 24 primarily due to challenging circumstances regarding the grand jury findings in the Breonna Taylor case, as well as the death of late classmate Kai Davis. 

In order to receive student input, the resolution suggests that EPAG host an open meeting at which all members of the Macalester Community could share their concerns. 

The resolution also suggests that EPAG provides the Module 5 class schedule prior to registration for Modules 3 and 4. 

“I know a lot of seniors personally [who] have been stressed out about not knowing if they need to… take extra classes during Module 5,” Student Organization Committee (SOC) chair Briah Cooley ’21 said. 

FAC chair Hannah Gilbert ’21, while agreeing with the resolution, asked a question about whether the authors had reached out to  EPAG about Module 5 scheduling. 

“I’m curious if [the authors of the resolution] have done any outreach to [EPAG] to see what their timeline is now versus what you’re asking them to shift it to,” she said, “If you haven’t, [I’m] suggesting maybe reaching out to them.” 

Peterson said that she hadn’t, emphasizing the complexity of the issue.

“I’d definitely love to reach out to them,” she said. 

Other suggestions in the resolution include adding a break halfway through each future module, reducing synchronous class time and further supporting students in financial need due to the pandemic. 

The LB also discussed more broadly the amount of time students are expected to spend on classwork. 

Chief of Staff Daryll Seneque ’23 took issue with teachers assigning three hours of work per class hour, which, considering a standard schedule of about twelve class hours each week, amounts to 36 hours per week. 

“School shouldn’t feel like a full-time job,” Seneque said. “It should feel like we’re learning… not working to learn,” he said.

AAC member Austin Wu ’23 raised the concern that he and other members of the LB are full-time students.

“I think professors have to balance that because the prestige of the academic institution depends to a degree on the rigor of the instruction,” he said. 

Others disagreed, including Vice President and Chair of Student Services and Relations Committee Shreya Nagdev ’22.

“Though we are full time students there is a lack of understanding that students are working, taking care of loved ones, and are running many many initiatives that admin should be doing,” she wrote in the chat. 

President Fatiya Kedir ’21 concluded this part of the discussion by reiterating the importance of the resolution and encouraging the LB to continue putting comments and edits in the resolution document. 

The LB voted 20-0 to approve an allocation request of $2598.99 to Macalester’s radio station, WMCN, as recommended by FAC. The funds would go toward replacing two pieces of equipment necessary for operating the station that recently stopped working. 

MCSG also welcomed three guests from the Department of Multicultural Life (DML) and Title IX to their meeting.

First, Hana Dinku and TK Morton, Director and Assistant Director of Diversity Education, Leadership and Inclusion at the DML, respectively, led a discussion to address divisions. The two acknowledged the disconnects between organizations on-campus, especially with regards to social justice. This results in an inefficient use of resources, according to Dinku. 

“You can have meetings and a lot of bureaucracy, but nothing really happens,” she said, “I think there’s got to be some sort of coalition building.”

Dinku encouraged the LB to connect with her and Morton about meeting again to discuss in more detail how the DML and MCSG can work together.  

Later, MCSG invited Title IX Coordinator and nondiscrimination officer Regina Curran to explain how federal Title IX regulations have changed this year

The LB also agreed to hold an ad hoc meeting for any member interested in helping coordinate MCSG’s actions on and after election day.  

The MCSG will not meet again until after the election, at which point representatives will discuss event planning, including Winter Ball activities. 

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