On Tuesday night, the Legislative Board (LB) met to discuss misinformation surrounding the process of divestment in Enbridge and a new job opening in the works at Macalester with President Suzanne Rivera.
Rivera came to the MCSG meeting in part to clarify some facts surrounding her role in Macalester’s investment in Enbridge in response to profanity and name-calling in emails and on Twitter.
“I, as the president, do not control the college’s investment strategy; the board controls that,” Rivera said. “I think it’s legitimate to ask the board to consider getting rid of those things, but the president has nothing to do with their acquisition.”
She also explained that she is not delaying the process by sending the decision to the Social Responsibility Committee (SRC). Rivera also pointed out that she’s not supposed to comment on the issue until the SRC makes its decision.
“I believe it improves the chances that the board will look favorably on the proposal, but I don’t think it’s my place to skip that process and essentially cut students, faculty and staff out of the decision making,” Rivera said.
“I know that that is frustrating to people, but the accusation that it is a delay tactic or that it is imposing bureaucracy on a process unnecessarily I actually think is unfair and not correct,” Rivera continued. “I think that in the long run, it is not good for students for me to violate a policy that requires student input on something.”
Rivera said that the board could call an early meeting if it decided to, but she cannot make that decision.
“I don’t think people realize that the board is my boss, not the other way around,” she said.
Finally, she reminded the LB that she supports student activism, and while there are legitimate questions circulating, the profanity and name-calling need to stop.
“I understand where students are coming from,” Rivera said. “Make sure that you’re addressing your request to the people who actually are in control and could change the decisions, rather than beating up people who are trying to support you and advocate for your position.”
Rivera also joined MCSG this week to receive student opinions on a tentative position and job description, currently titled vice president for institutional equity and community flourishing. This senior position, created by Rivera, will guide Macalester’s inclusivity efforts and work on issues from diversity in admissions to cultivating a more supportive environment for all.
“Right now, our campus approach to inclusion and equity is very diffuse, meaning that there are a lot of people in a lot of different offices, but they all report up through different chains of command, and they don’t necessarily have to coordinate with each other,” Rivera said. “I’m imagining that this person is someone who will hold us all accountable for moving forward.”
LB members asked questions about the preliminary job listing, including bringing up previous issues, such as some professors choosing not to take recommendations from the senior leadership team in the past.
“In my experience… a lot of what the response has been is there’s nothing that can really be done,” Student Organizations Committee (SOC) member Ayana Smith-Kooiman ’22 said. “Recommendations can be given but professors can’t really be told what to do within the classroom.”
“Fostering is not about forcing. It’s about encouraging,” Rivera responded. “I would expect that this person could… help faculty re-examine not only what they’re teaching but how they’re teaching.”
Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) Chair Hannah Gilbert ’21 questioned what the term “community flourishing” entailed.
“Traditional diversity officers tend to be expected to handle what I would call floors instead of thinking about ceilings… meeting the minimum requirements, not violating regulations, not allowing discrimination,” Rivera replied.
“I’m really trying to position this role as someone who gets us to dream much bigger than that,” Rivera said.
The LB will reconvene after spring break.