LB discusses engaging student body

LB discusses engaging student body

Oliver Soglin, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, March 23, the Legislative Body (LB) reconvened for the first time since spring break. The meeting started with an open forum for LB members to raise issues or make announcements not already on the agenda.

Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) member and LB Speaker Rebecca Gentry ’23 brought up the idea of recording LB meetings, which the Executive Board had previously discussed. Several LB members, including Student Organizations Committee (SOC) member Linden Kronberg ’22, expressed mixed feelings about recording meetings.

“On the one hand, I hate the prospect of being recorded, it makes me deeply uncomfortable — the social anxiety goes through the roof,” Kronberg said. “On the other hand, as a representative I understand that the things I’m saying I really should only be comfortable saying if I’d be saying them in front of all the people that voted to elect me.” 

MCSG President Fatiya Kedir ’21 questioned whether recordings would be useful.

“We’ve tried live streaming and recording meetings before, when it was in person,” Kedir said. “But when we had those situations there hasn’t actually been an increase in people utilizing that — our livestreams got like a maximum of one view.” 

Kedir also said the recordings might be redundant.

“We already have [MCSG Secretary] Karsten [Beling ’22] taking great notes, The Mac Weekly doing incredible work every week and also our social media updates,” Kedir said. 

At the conclusion of the discussion, Gentry indicated she would not pursue formally proposing recording meetings.

“Overall, because we are open to the public and because we are communicating summaries in multiple ways, I don’t really see the benefits outweighing the potential drawbacks,” Gentry said. 

Associate Dean of Student Affairs and MCSG Advisor Andrew Wells then delivered a presentation on the Office of Student Affairs (OSA). Wells outlined the OSA’s recently revised strategic plan, a set of long-term priorities and goals for the department, created based on student input, dialogue with other departments, quantitative data, and local and international context. 

Wells outlined the strategic plan’s five main priorities: diversity and inclusion, student well-being, student engagement and development, staff development and the development of campus spaces and facilities. Wells also highlighted the role OSA staff can play in communicating student needs to faculty and staff.

“It’s not uncommon for me, when I’m working with a student — maybe they’re ill, it’s a wellness issue — to offer to let your faculty know that you are navigating a personal circumstance that requires some flexibility,” Wells said. “Often students are uncomfortable making that request directly because of the power dynamic with the faculty.”

MCSG Vice President Shreya Nagdev ’22 presented results from a student survey conducted by the Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC). The survey covered a variety of topics including students’ ability to find off-campus housing, pass/fail policies and MCSG transparency and accessibility. 

Nagdev said the survey results showed a need for MCSG to focus on supporting underrepresented students, supporting schoolwide traditions and explaining their role both to students and administrators. 

“We’re not admin’s mouthpiece, but we’re also not the people who are just supposed to complain at administration,” Nagdev said. “We are a group that takes what students’ complaints are, comes up with a solution, presents it, and fights for the things that need to happen. We need to make that clear to students and also administration.” 

The meeting concluded with updates from LB committees. Gentry reported that the FAC had allocated additional funds to the Program Board as well as Mac First Aid, and is preparing for their “Budget Bonanza,” in which the FAC evaluates budget proposals from student organizations.

Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) Chair Kareem Greaney ’21 said the AAC is preparing policy recommendations for Macalester’s Educational Policy and Governance Committee, and Nagdev shared that the SSRC is preparing another survey specifically on Title IX issues.

The LB will meet again next Tuesday, March 30 at 7:00 p.m.