MCSG votes to disqualify candidate, addresses discrimination and new textbook policy

MCSG votes to disqualify candidate, addresses discrimination and new textbook policy

Maddie Heinz and Emma Salomon

Please be advised: This article contains discussions of the Title IX office and Title IX process, transphobia, homophobia and hate speech.

Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) discussed a violation of standard election procedure and discussed transphobia and homophobia on campus at their meeting on Tuesday. Representatives from the Financial Barriers Working Group (FBWG) also came to the meeting to discuss the proposed new textbook model.

Students joined the Legislative Body (LB) to listen and voice their opinions and concerns, particularly for the portion of the meeting on the proposed textbook policy.

MCSG allotted much of the night to Daryll Seneque’s ’23 violation of the rules of the Election Procedures Commission in the ongoing student election for Student Organization Committee chair. Seneque did not attend the required candidates’ debate, which is grounds for disqualification. With this precedent in mind, the LB voted unanimously to disqualify him.

The LB then moved into a conversation about transphobia and hate speech on campus. The conversation followed allegations of transphobia against Seneque that circulated publicly on social media last week, but members pointed out that the recent incident may point to a systemic issue on campus. MCSG President Shreya Nagdev ’22 started the discussion.

“This is a very tough conversation to have and of course I want to state that transphobia has absolutely no place both at Macalester and MCSG,” Nagdev said. “It is not what I believe, it is not what anyone who has been part of the Macalester ideals believes in.”

LB members specifically criticized Title IX for its lack of action against perpetrators.

Students expressed disdain towards Macalester for its handling of issues with discrimination and transphobia in the past.

“Macalester is very proud of the ways it tries to fight these problems… but if we are looking to improve things… we need to point out how the current methods have been failing and what ways we can reinforce that,” junior class representative Colman Smith ’23 said.

The LB voted 17 to one to create an ad hoc committee to address discrimination and bias issues. The committee plans to change the bylaws of student elections to keep hate speech out of MCSG.

The ad hoc committee also plans to draft a resolution to condemn transphobia and hate speech that will be sent out to all of the Macalester community. LB members suggested that MCSG should reach out to the Macalester trans community specifically, which has been directly affected by the aforementioned hate speech.

The LB also discussed the new proposed textbook payment model. Representatives from the FBWG Library Director Angi Faiks and Assistant Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid Brian Lindeman ’89 explained the goals of the Barnes and Noble First Day Complete program.

After talking to faculty members, students, members of academic affairs and financial aid advisors, the FBWG hopes this program could get rid of the burden of textbook prices on students, specifically low income students. The program would charge students a flat fee of $414 per semester regardless of their course selection.

“Everybody pays for textbooks in one way or another,” Faiks said. “It’s more of a burden to some people than others, but it is a big charge… it’s a growing charge. [We] have to think about a variety of ways to help that does not impact your learning and your ability to take any classes you want to take.”

LB members and guests raised many concerns with the proposal. Students cited a high price tag and criticized the inability of the financial aid office to provide students with money to purchase textbooks.

Lindeman and Faiks responded that there may be an option to opt out of the new textbook model. Faiks and Lindeman above all stressed the importance of hearing from students and urged students to voice their opinions and concerns in a survey about the proposed program.

“Please, please, please encourage your friends and your colleagues and your classmates and everyone here at Macalester, your whole community, [to fill out the survey],” Faiks said. “We want to hear as much as we possibly can. It really means a lot to us.”

The evening was busy, but MCSG found time to approve three funding allocations to student organizations: MCSG passed additional allocations unanimously for Macalester Climbing Club, Outing Club and Mac First Aid. Funds for upcoming events pertaining to the United World College International Day of Peace and Latinx Heritage Month were approved as well.