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The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Coquemont talks Student Affairs changes, student involvement

Coquemont talks Student Affairs changes, student involvement

Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) met last week on Thursday, Jan. 25 to talk to Vice President for Student Affairs Kathryn Kay Coquement and discuss class nights, harm reduction resources and MCSG’s special election.

The Legislative Body (LB) was particularly interested in learning about Coquement’s role now that the Office of Student Affairs has seen some changes in leadership positions, with Javier Gutierrez becoming the new AVP and Dean of Students. They also asked about how she wants to interact with student government.

“What does it mean to be a vice president for student affairs?” Coquement asked the LB. “It’s constantly evolving … but what it means is really that I should be an advocate for what’s best for students at an institutional level and with our wider community.”

Coquemont shared that another key way she is able to advocate for students is through trust built with other administrators. She explained the mutual respect she has cultivated enables her to create further positive change for students. 

The LB then posed their own questions starting with Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) Chair Joel Sadofsky ’25, who asked what it means to have two separate positions: vice president of student affairs and dean of students.

Coquemont noted that this model is not new and that the division is, in fact, going back to the previous model, where there were two separate roles from vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students in efforts to increase student outreach. 

“You all want high touch — you want relatability and accessibility to administration,” Coquemont said.

Coquemont was also hired immediately after the 2021 sit-in, where concerns were raised about the administration’s transparency and their care towards students. 

“I also came in at a very specific time on this campus where you just had a sit-in,” Coquemont said. “So I had a lot to think about about how to respond to what my colleagues learned, and how to mend some of those pieces that may need stronger bridges.”

Cabinet Chair Willow Albano ’26 then posed a question about the pilot program — which grants the current vice president and president of MCSG academic credit for their roles in MCSG and an independent study with Coquemont — and asked what her goals are for this program.

Coquemont hopes to expand this pilot program and be able to open it to other roles in MCSG, as well as other student organizations. She emphasized how valuable leadership skills are and how they complement the liberal arts pedagogy. 

In addition, she suggested the formalization of this program as a leadership studies concentration or minor. She explained that this would only happen if it would serve students, and she asked for student input on the matter. 

Junior class representative Tor Olsson ’25 and senior class representative Andrew Snider ’24 asked about new decisions and committees, such as the Inclusive Access Course Materials Program and the Infectious Disease Task Force, both of which currently lack student input.

Coquemont was disappointed with the lack of student voices and said she would work with other staff to get students input on these committees and implementation.  

Sophomore class representative Alec Chen ’26 asked about the high ratio of staff to faculty as a general trend in academia and if it has implications at Macalester. 

Coquemont explained that academic spaces in the United States have moved to needing more health and wellness support. The administration continues to navigate how they can provide an expected level of support within their scope. 

She then posed questions to the LB first asking about her performance in her job, even asking in terms of a letter grade.  

After a bit of hesitation, the LB gave her a grade of A- for what the LB considered excellent communication skills and care towards students, but they noted a lack of transparency around administrative decisions, citing the plan for textbooks as an example.

In the second half of the meeting, representatives then broke up into groups by class year to discuss the results of their class nights. The LB considered these events largely successful.

Vice President Emma Kopplin ’24, Health and Wellness Liaison Emma Rohrs ’26 and Tristan Niedzielski ’25, who is currently running for class representative, announced that they have been pushing for a public health vending machine in the lobby of the library, giving students 24/7 access to Narcan, a nasal injection used to reverse opioid overdose, and other supplies. Additionally, Narcan will be available in all residence halls in AEDs. By filling out a Google form, fentanyl test strips and safer sex supplies will even be delivered to students’ mailboxes. 

President Mariah Loeffler-Kemp ’24 announced that the MCSG office, currently on the second floor of the campus center, will be moving to the first floor of Weyerhaeuser this summer. 

She also mentioned that MCSG is currently holding special elections, with open positions for first-year, junior and senior representatives. The candidates’ forum will be Monday, Feb. 5 at 4:30 p.m. in the Harmon Room on the first floor of the library.

 

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Emma Salomon, Editor-in-Chief
Emma Salomon '24 (she/her) is the Editor-in-Chief, from Ithaca, NY. She majors in History and International Studies with a minor in French and concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. She is passionate and a little too intense about her Google Calendar.   

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