MCSG Overzoomer: LB discusses community norms, approves funding for care packages ahead of Chauvin trial

MCSG Overzoomer: LB discusses community norms, approves funding for care packages ahead of Chauvin trial

Ian Witry, Associate News Editor

On Feb. 23, the Legislative Body (LB) approved three items: a new set of norms for its members, funding for care packages for Black-identifying students and a request to publish an open letter in The Mac Weekly to President Suzanne Rivera denouncing Macalester’s investment in Enbridge. 

The LB began by discussing eight community norms proposed to serve as guidelines for LB members. Among other suggestions, the norms encourage LB members to increase their engagement with MCSG and the broader community and invite more guests to their weekly meetings. 

Regarding increased engagement, Student Organizations Committee (SOC) member Ayana Smith-Kooiman ’22 highlighted the importance of making all the important information about MCSG’s activities available in one place. 

“Trying to figure out what we should be promoting via our website and then finding a way to centralize that so students can easily access it… could be a way to increase external engagement,” Smith-Kooiman said. 

MCSG President Fatiya Kedir ’21 suggested that the LB invite and provide a welcoming space for more guests.

“I think welcoming and engaging doesn’t mean that no questions can be asked [by LB members of guests], or no tough questions can be asked,” Kedir said. 

“Simple things like making sure you’re paying attention to [guests] when they’re speaking… would be helpful,” she said. 

The LB then met in breakout rooms for five minutes to discuss proposed community norms in smaller groups. 

The LB then briefly discussed possible outcomes for members who don’t follow the community norms. Members suggested individual conversations to resolve issues. The LB unanimously approved the guidelines in a 20-0 vote.

The LB also welcomed Black Liberation Affairs Committee (BLAC) President Chiagoziem Anigbogu ’21 and Vice President Gabby Whitehurst ’23. 

They spoke about a request written by Kedir to draw $4,800 from the community chest, a yearly fund distributed by MCSG’s Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC), for BLM@Mac to distribute care packages to up to 300 students. 

Although the initiative is intended to address the needs of Black students, anyone can sign up for one — the purpose is to create solidarity among all students.

“The root of this structure is to create solidarity and unity during a very traumatizing time,” Kedir said. “There are certain communities that are disproportionately affected by the harm and trauma, so we foresee that there are certain communities that will be utilizing [the care packages] a lot more.”

The care packages would be gift bags including snacks, a journal, a stress ball, playing cards, a sleep mask, two COVID-safe masks, a reusable water bottle, tea and gum. Each care package would cost $15 to create, totaling $4,500 plus $300 for shipping. 

Whitehurst emphasized that while the care packages won’t address every challenge faced by Black students, they will still be meaningful. 

“[Black students are] facing a lot of food and housing insecurity, and this is not meant to carry any of that burden,” Whitehurst said. “It’s more of a gesture of goodwill coming from the school that I think a lot of people could appreciate right now.” 

Anigbogu discussed the timing of offering these care packages — on March 8, jury selection will begin for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd. 

“I think there’s a lot of trauma and hurt that hasn’t really been dealt with since the summer and this trial is going to reopen that for a lot of students, specifically Black students,” Anigbogu said. 

After hearing from the BLAC leaders, the LB briefly discussed the logistics of creating and distributing the care packages. Kedir said that, in addition to the SSRC’s approval of the funding, Mailing Services approved the use of the Campus Center and SPO boxes to store and distribute the care packages. The Civic Engagement Center (CEC) and Division of Student Affairs have also helped to guide the creation of care packages by offering COVID-safe spaces for students to make the packages. 

The LB voted 20-0 to approve the request for funding.

After approving the community norms and funding for care packages, the LB spent 40 minutes in breakout rooms with representatives of their respective class years discussing student programming, including ideas for activities class representatives could do together as well as events for the whole student body. 

Then, LB members discussed an open letter written by five LB members in support of the Fossil Free Mac proposal to the Macalester Board of Trustees. 

After allowing a few minutes for LB members to read the letter, the LB voted to send it to Dr. Rivera and publish it in The Mac Weekly with 15 in favor and two abstentions.

The LB concluded their meeting with brief updates from each MCSG committee leader.

[email protected]

Correction (Feb. 26): While the care packages mentioned above are intended to address the needs of Black students, they are available for any student.