MCSG OverZoomer: LB votes to charter two orgs, send open letter to The Mac Weekly

MCSG OverZoomer: LB votes to charter two orgs, send open letter to The Mac Weekly

Hannah Goldfarb, Associate News Editor

On Dec. 8, the Legislative Body (LB) convened for their penultimate meeting of the semester. This was the last traditional gathering until January, with the final meeting of the calendar year serving as a chance to reflect on MCSG’s semester. 

The LB began by voting on two organizations’ charters heard at last week’s meeting. The charter for the Macalester chapter of Compassionate Action for Animals passed with 14 votes in favor and one abstention. 

The charter for the Nordic Society, a club that would provide a social space for those students with Nordic heritage and anyone else interested in learning more about it, passed by the same margin.

After passing both charters, the LB discussed an agenda item introduced by Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) member Felicia Peterson ’22. Peterson proposed a new component to Residential Assistant (RA) training that would introduce RAs and first-year students to Macalester staff and administrators. Peterson discussed the proposal prior to the meeting with Student Organization Committee (SOC) member Ayana Smith-Kooiman ’22.

“[Smith-Kooiman] brought up that RAs already have to learn quite a lot of resources, so [Smith-Kooiman’s] idea was if rolling members of the LB would [host] meetings in the same way that there is Sexy training, Dirty training, Pop talks,” Peterson said.

“I wouldn’t say all the Macalester admin, but the ones that would probably impact your life had you known about them,” Peterson continued. “The main example I’ve used in many of my emails is: Who is the Provost? What do they do? How can they help you?” 

Peterson received support from other LB members in addition to Smith-Kooiman. Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) member Lola Brown ’23 recognized that navigating Macalester’s many institutions and positions can be difficult.

“I love this idea, I really think it speaks to one of the continuing issues that we’ve been talking about all year,” Brown said. “We often feel like departments and different places around the institution are super siloed. A lot of that has to do with that students don’t know what exists, where.”

Before moving on, Peterson invited any interested LB members to contact her to continue working on the project.

Next, the LB returned to an issue first discussed on Nov. 17: securing storage space for international students and students on leave of absences.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that students on leave haven’t had access to storage space on campus,” Smith-Kooiman said. “International students can’t take their things as easily, and some students on leave of absences can’t either.”

The LB proposed creative solutions that would provide international students, or students without anywhere to store their items should the college close, with spaces to store their belongings. 

“I would definitely like to say that there is that need and concern,” MCSG President Fatiya Kedir ’21 said. “From a student perspective, that concern has existed all four years that I’ve been here but it’s definitely been exacerbated now. With all the disorder that is occuring, it’s hard to know who to contact.”

The LB resolved to investigate further what resources are available before committing MCSG funds to the issue.

“Even if it doesn’t become a big initiative, I definitely think there’s a need to figure out if there’s a way for individuals who come forward to have that centralized information,” Smith-Kooiman said. 

MCSG then pivoted to discuss effective use of LB meeting time and space. The discussion was initiated by Smith-Kooiman, who noted the dearth in participation among LB at-large members.

“The idea behind this meeting item was just my observation of how MCSG meetings have been going,” Smith-Kooiman said. “I felt that MCSG meetings have been going through the motions and not really engaging with the topics and initiatives that are presented, and struggling to come up with agenda items from week to week.” 

The sentiment was echoed by other MCSG members as well, including Brown.

“There’s a lack of literal initiative, which is why there aren’t any,” Brown said. “I think that so long as we… have that value of focusing on getting things done rather than just complaining, I don’t think it needs to be specified in the agenda.”

After brief committee updates, the LB voted on a forthcoming open letter to The Mac Weekly regarding a preview of this year’s mailer that Macalester admissions was preparing to send to prospective students for the class of 2025. 

The front page of the mailer read “COVID-1619: The Other Pandemic.” On the second page, there was a quote from Professor Duchess Harris from a June 2020 Macalester alumni webinar discussing systemic racism, where she states “Black America is suffering from COVID-1619. It combines the health pandemic with the year enslaved Africans were first brought to North America.” The mailer received wide criticism from students. 

The LB voted in favor of sending the open letter to The Mac Weekly, as well as Harris and Assistant Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid Brian Lindeman ’89, with 16 in favor and one abstention. You can read the letter here.