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The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Why MCSG is a legitimate tool for student advocacy

Why MCSG is a legitimate tool for student advocacy

As members of Macalester College Student Government’s (MCSG) Executive Board, we want to respond to the opinion article published on Feb. 15 titled “MCSG needs quorum for elections.” We hold nothing against the author and are grateful that their piece highlighted potential gaps in the student body’s understanding of MCSG and in our communication with you all. We hope that by answering some frequently asked questions about MCSG in The Mac Weekly, we can address these issues and invite more students to interact with MCSG. We all care deeply about the student body and believe in MCSG as a structure of shared governance and as an effective avenue for students to make change at Macalester. Although we admit that voter engagement has been lackluster, we do not believe that this invalidates the legitimacy of MCSG. The college would be worse off if the administration and other shared governance bodies made decisions in the absence of student input provided by members of MCSG as they sit on countless committees that are imperative to the decisions and functions of the institution. 

What are the day-to-day operations of MCSG? 

MCSG does a variety of behind-the-scenes tasks that can easily go unnoticed. Our Student Organizations Committee (SOC) helps new orgs get chartered and checks in with already-established orgs. SOC has now reached more than 100 chartered orgs, a post- COVID high. Additionally, our Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) distributes more than $200,000 a year from our student activity fee. FAC allocates funds to the Textbook Reserve Program (created by MCSG), Program Board, The Mac Weekly and every other student org. 

Members of MCSG’s Executive Board meet weekly on Mondays to discuss plans of action on new and ongoing projects and to set the agenda for the weekly Legislative Body (LB) meeting. The LB meets on Thursdays to vote on org charters and funding requests; hear from student groups, administration and a variety of campus partners; and to share updates on the work done outside of regular meeting times. MCSG members sit on many committees including Board of Trustees committees, Strategic Planning & Implementation, Educational Policy and Governance, search committees for vacant staff positions and the President’s Advisory Group, among many others, to advocate for student interest. 

What has MCSG done this year? 

In addition to our “everyday” tasks, we also work on other large-scale initiatives. Last semester, we passed a resolution supporting Mac for Palestine, calling on the administration to end Macalester’s relationships with two study away programs in Israel. We advocated for communication with students about the new textbook program, resulting in a student-announce email to the student body about the details of the contract, an op-ed critiquing the program and implementation and the addition of two students to the contract implementation committee. Since last year, members of MCSG have been advocating for more harm-reduction supplies on campus, resulting in a soon-to-come public health vending machine. We have successfully advocated for financial transparency around tuition increases. Beginning this April, all students will be informed by email each time tuition increases and why. Our liaisons have pushed to create identity-based weight-lifting groups and to improve the appointment scheduling system at the Hamre Center. We have also advocated for transparency and communication concerning the future of the C-House, as well as for Macalester to become a certified wildlife-safe campus.

How do elections work?

MCSG elections are hosted both in the fall and spring, in addition to as-needed special elections. Fall elections are for electing first-year representatives, while spring elections are dedicated to Executive Board members, liaisons and class representatives for sophomores, juniors and seniors. Within these elections, we can also vote for constitutional changes and student referendums. The student body must vote to approve any change to our constitution. Pre-COVID, MCSG elections often had up to 1,000 votes per election. Since then, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in voter turnout. In conversations with other student government leaders, this is a common theme on other campuses. This is something that MCSG members are well aware of and passionate about fixing. For upcoming elections, we plan on hosting information sessions, tabling during the filing and voting periods, increasing awareness of the candidates’ forum and handing out stickers to encourage voting. However, as unpaid students who balance our roles with class, work and other responsibilities, we can only do so much. We rely on the student body to participate by voting for this democratic process to succeed.

What are some things that MCSG has successfully advocated for in the past?

Past advocacy and policy from MCSG are directly responsible for many student services which we take for granted today such as the Open Pantry, free laundry in dorms, the AAC Textbook Reserve Program, our New York Times subscription, ending the use of single-use plastics on campus, the compostable dishware program and passing resolutions supporting Fossil Free Mac. More recent MCSG projects include free menstrual products around campus, increases in RA stipends, a higher textbook reserve budget, free winter break housing for on-campus students and policy changes to allow international students to apply their full financial aid package for any approved study away program. 

What were the constitutional changes made and voted on last year?

Last spring, members of MCSG worked hard to amend MCSG’s internal organizational structure through constitutional changes. The changes include separating the duties of the president and vice president, dissolving the Student Services and Relations Committee and creating the Community Engagement Committee and the Cabinet, which includes six issue-based officers. After a variety of measures were taken to reach out to students about these changes, including hosting a town hall, they were voted on and approved by the student body. 

These changes have been incredibly helpful in decreasing burnout among MCSG members, increasing transparency and interacting with more partners across campus but will take time to settle into. They have not “further exacerbate[d] the problems that MCSG as an organization has.” For example, the president and vice president roles are more evenly distributed in terms of workload. The liaison roles also help distribute workload, plus ensure consistent student representation in critical campus departments and better institutional memory of projects and issues. 

Finally, the Communications and Engagement Committee has increased our social media presence and put on new events to gain input from students. For example, they organized Legi-slay-tion Week this fall, which included outreach from every MCSG committee and a successful presidential town hall. These constitutional changes have and will continue to positively impact members of MCSG by distributing workload, and allowing members to more sustainably support students. 

How can I interact with MCSG?

We are elected by the students to represent the student body, which doesn’t work unless we hear from you! Here are a variety of formal and informal ways to get involved in MCSG:

• Our meetings are open to all and take place from 12-1 p.m. on Thursdays. The location and agenda are shared weekly on Instagram and via the Mac Daily. We have free pizza!

• All members of MCSG are listed on the MCSG website and would be happy to hear feedback or concerns. Additionally, members of the Executive Board and Cabinet hold weekly office hours to hear any issues related to their committee or life at Mac in general.

• Each spring, applications are sent out to join campus committees. You can have a direct say in big issues at Macalester without the time commitment of being on MCSG.

• We host a variety of events throughout the year to try to meet students where they are and collect feedback in a more social space, such as town halls, class nights and Legi-slay-tion Week.

• Follow us on Instagram (@officialmcsg)!


MCSG is a group of unpaid and hardworking students who care deeply about Macalester’s student body. We work daily to build a better campus for the student body. We may have less than ideal turnout in elections, but the number one thing that can increase voter turnout is for you to vote. Our inboxes are always open and we welcome your questions, concerns, feedback and demands and are dedicated to listening, learning and taking action. 


 Members of the MCSG Executive Board Mariah Loeffler-Kemp ’24, Emma Kopplin ’24, Mikayla Giehler ’24, Eliora Hansonbrook ’25, Reagan Kimzey ’24 and Joel Sadofsky ’25 contributed to the writing of this article

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    coraMar 24, 2024 at 4:33 pm

    While I appreciate this response and this is the type of communication I hope MCSG can do more of, I feel like this piece side-steps the issues of legitimacy and voter representation that I bring up in the piece that this is in response to. While addressing these topics adequately is not something that I necessarily expected from this response and I am very happy with the information it provides to the student body about MCSG, I am particularly disappointed that I am quoted out of context in a way that makes it unclear that my comments on constitutional reform have nothing to do with the content of the changes, rather the ways in which they were passed (without consent of the student body).