LB talks code and admin transparency

LB talks code and admin transparency

Evelyn Kent, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, April 12, the Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) met to review the Financial Code, a letter regarding administrative transparency and the charter of a new club. They were also introduced to the chairs of the Staff Advisory Council and the Faculty Advisory Council, as well as the project director for a recent Department of Justice grant.

MCSG President Shreya Nagdev ’22 introduced Angela Haeg, the co-chair of the Staff Advisory Council, and Beth Severy-Hoven, the chair of the Faculty Advisory Council, to the Legislative Body (LB). They each discussed their current roles on the presidential advisory committee and their work with Nagdev. Haeg emphasized that there has been increased engagement between President Suzanne Rivera and the Staff Advisory Council, with their inclusion on task forces, hiring committees and an invitation to speak at the next Board of Trustees meeting. 

Next, Project Director for Macalester’s Department of Justice Violence Against Women Grant Cali Mellin  introduced herself to the LB. She explained that the purpose of the grant is to address domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on campus, through an award of $300,000 over the course of the next three years.

The focus for the first year will be on forming a plan, and the following two years on implementing it. The project areas include building a community-coordinated response team of students, faculty and local advocacy organizations, reimagining and expanding public safety’s response and including culturally sensitive and trauma-informed trainings for staff and faculty. 

“One of the main things that this grant is letting us do is prioritize folks who are not usually centered in this work,” Mellin said. “We’re specifically naming BIPOC students, international students, LGBTQIA+ students and students with disabilities.” 

She also plans to partner with Residential Life and the Title IX office to reimagine prevention strategies including bystander training as well as working to improve victim services to provide more support for students beyond a Title IX complaint. 

Community Engagement Officer Ayana Smith-Kooiman ’22 asked how this work was being promoted to students on an institutional level, to which Mellin replied that at this point, it is mostly word of mouth. However, in the future, they plan to work with leadership to get the information to students.

Following, the Event and Space Task Force, represented by Julie Arhelger and Andy Williams, presented their findings and recommendations following the formation of the task force in late 2021 by Rivera. They recommended improving and increasing the transparency of the reservation system, increasing self-service and maximizing the use of existing spaces while maintaining their historic uses. Multiple LB members questioned student inclusion and equity in the process and around possible changes, to which Arhelger replied that student feedback would be their next step. 

Next, Nagdev made a request for LB members to submit short videos about “Academic Demystification,” asking for videos of members explaining personal experiences with the pass/fail system, withdrawing from a class and taking a leave of absence.

A representative from the newly revived Macalester Autism Community presented their charter to reestablish the club on campus, focusing on the benefits of a supportive community for autistic students on campus. The club was previously disbanded in 2019. The charter was approved unanimously by the LB. 

Next, various updates about committees and cabinets were given. The textbook solutions committee has finalized a proposal which will be presented to senior staff on April 25 and voted on by the LB afterwards. Vice President and Chair of the Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) Jordanella Maluka ’23 shared that the student survey will be distributed next week, and that the SSRC is in conversation with the Hamre Center about changes to their health insurance next year. 

Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) Chair Rebecca Gentry ’23 gave an overview of the changes and edits made to the financial code. The changes included increasing the operating and travels funds and decreasing the capital fund, price capping single-student organization events at $4,000, revising rideshare policy, replenishing the reserve fund and creating a minimum threshold for the operating fund. An increase to the textbook reserve fund, previously approved by the LB, is also included.

Gentry said that with a few final updates by the FAC, MCSG has the next week to make comments and changes, and then will vote on it in the following meeting. 

Finally, Tor Olsson ’25 shared a “Letter regarding Administrative Transparency,” and recommended that the LB vote on approving and signing the letter the following meeting, to send to administration as a collective body. Olsson said the letter was inspired by a recent meeting with Dean of Students Kathryn Kay Coquemont, and that the intention behind it was to provide a push for more administrative transparency. 

This suggestion was met with both agreement and opposition by various members of the LB. Smith-Kooiman suggested holding off on voting on the letter to gather more information from other parties involved, and Maluka requested getting a faculty member or the MCSG advisor to look over it. 

However, concerns were raised about complicating relations between MCSG and administration. Representatives Jonah Wexler ’23* and Joel Sadofsky ’25 criticized the letter for not being harsh enough on administration. 

“If we as MCSG can’t ask …  the administration for what we think is right, then we sort of don’t have much of a point of existence,” Sadofsky said. 

*Jonah Wexler is an opinion editor for The Mac Weekly

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