MCSG leadership change; goals and implementation


Emma Salomon, Associate News Editor

This fall, the Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) has seen a change in leadership with the vice president, Bobbie Pennington ’24, becoming president after Jordanella Maluka ’23 stepped down for personal and health-related reasons. The change in leadership was made official on Oct. 10 when Maluka sent an email to the entire student body explaining the transfer of power.

“I am incredibly thankful that I was appointed and trusted with this role but unfortunately, I am stepping down from my duty as MCSG President for the best of the organization and for myself,” Maluka wrote. “Going forward, as per the MCSG bylaws, Bobbie will step in and serve as President and you can reach him for any MCSG-related questions.”

According to MCSG bylaws, if a president has to take time away, the vice president assumes the role of the acting president until they can return. When the president is no longer able to complete their role, the vice president is appointed president. 

Early in the semester, Pennington served as acting president, as well as vice president, when it was unclear when Maluka could return to her role.

The beginning of the year for MCSG is the busiest. MCSG must oversee first-year representative elections, set up and appoint members to committees, hire staff members and run events such as the fall retreat — all of which were headed by Pennington. 

“It was a lot all at once,” Pennington said. “It was consuming basically all my days and all my nights for a long time. It did affect me quite a lot, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it. And because I wasn’t expecting it, I hadn’t prepared for it.”

As a result, many of Pennington’s personal goals had to be put on the backburner in the beginning. 

“[The interim job] definitely did delay what we’re trying to do now,” Pennington said. 

During most of this setup work, Pennington, other members of the executive board and senior staff members had many conversations about MCSG leadership moving forward and what leadership would look like. 

“Eventually, we started to realize that Jordanella needing to be away was a longer-term thing,” Pennington said. “Through multiple discussions, we came to the agreement that the best thing to do moving forward was … for me to formally step into the role of president.”

Becoming president is a goal that Pennington himself has considered.

 “The president role isn’t what I had filed for. Was it something I planned on doing later? Most likely,” Pennington said.

 Pennington is an established member of MCSG with experience as a class representative, as well as involvement in many committees including the Social Responsibility Committee and the student employment taskforce. Pennington also served as a Strategic Planning Champion. 

 With all this under his belt, Pennington had been thinking about stepping into this position at some point in his career. 

 “I think I was more than prepared to step into this role, but thought that I would do the vice president position before,” Pennington said.

Aside from the current vice presidential election, most of this transition has already unfolded. Pennington and MCSG are setting up the student government for a year of changes and improvements. Pennington detailed his and the executive body’s plans to increase engagement within MCSG and with the student body. 

Within MCSG, Pennington hopes to foster a more welcoming community in an attempt to make the body more effective and respectful to students’ needs.

“I think showing up as a unified student government is going to do a lot more than coming as a student government that is completely opposing itself,” Pennington said. 

In regards to engaging the outside community, Pennington wants to support students and their organizations better. 

“I want to make a lot of tangible changes, because we often speak about representing the student body, but what does representing do if you don’t actually advocate for change the student body needs?” Pennington said. 

Additionally, to engage in the community in a more informal way, MCSG is planning social events for the whole student body such as “Kagins,” parties held in Kagin Ballroom, and sponsoring charitable events. Pennington hopes that these events will increase not just engagement with MCSG but also make himself and other MCSG members better understand Macaleter students’ needs. 

Most of Pennington’s goals for MCSG have been reflected in the changes that MCSG has made already. Pennington cited programs such as getting free menstrual products in all first-floor bathrooms across campus, MCSG’s input on college videography consent, their work with a comprehensive plan and their work in the implementation of the strategic plan as work they have accomplished.

“I want to set up MCSG so that after I leave the school it is in a better place to serve students than when I came into this role.” Pennington said.  

Sophomore representative and Interim Chair of the Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) Mathilda Barr ’25 was the sole candidate who ran for the vice presidential election held to replace Pennington.  

As Pennington’s schedule filled up with interim president responsibilities, Barr was implemented as interim SSRC chair. Before this year, Barr served as an at-large member  — an unelected representative who is not a voting member — on the SSRC starting in spring 2022. This year, she is serving as a sophomore class representative. 

In the candidate forum on Oct. 31, Barr emphasized that her main reason for running was to continue the important work she does on the SSRC.

“I believe that … filing for vice president and running for this position is the most concrete way to set and show the support and success of SSRC this year,” Barr said.

At the forum, Barr also talked about similar goals to Pennington’s such as increasing engagement with students.

“I think part of building community on campus has to be revising old ways of trying to reach out to the campus that clearly isn’t working,” she said.

Barr discussed how the SSRC has been tabling instead of having formal events with low attendance.

“You have to be where the students are and where the voices are,” Barr said.

The vice presidential election closed on Friday, Nov. 4 and with no one running against Barr, the results are all but official. 

With a new vice president and president, the organization is poised for a productive school year, but engagement with MCSG remains a top priority for Pennington.

“Knowing who your representatives are and how to engage with them is really important even if you never have to engage with us, but we hope that you do it in a positive way.” Pennington said. “Please know what MCSG stands for and know that we are here for you!” 

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