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The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

MCSG discusses Residential Life, Board of Trustees updates

MCSG discusses Residential Life, Board of Trustees updates

 On Thursday, March 7, Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) held their weekly meeting to discuss updates on Residential Life and the recent Board of Trustees (BoT) retreat. 

The meeting began with introductions from Executive Director for Residential Life Kyle Flowers and Residence Hall Director Luca Faulkner. Flowers outlined his main topics of discussion: changes in winter break housing, housing selection and the housing and dining contract. 

Flowers first updated the Legislative Body (LB) on the performance of the new winter break housing program that was tested this year. Flowers described the program, which allowed students to continue living in their on-campus housing throughout winter break, as “wildly successful.” He explained that this program benefited both international and domestic students who could not or did not want to go home. 

After winter break, Residential Life collected feedback on the housing program to gauge whether it should be continued in the coming years. 

“I’ll be formally recommending that we continue this pilot to be a permanent process for housing and Residential Life moving forward,” Flowers said. “It’s a huge testament to students who are advocating for that, so I’m really excited to share that.”

Flowers then explained updates in housing selection, formerly known as room draw. The name change was conducted to make the process of finding on-campus housing sound less like a lottery.

“We wanted to call it housing selection to help students know that we’d like to help our students find space on campus rather than just hopefully click refresh every second for 30 seconds — that process is stressful,” Flowers said.

Updates in housing selection include new contracts and timelines: semester-long contracts were introduced for students who study away, and rising juniors and seniors will select rooms before rising sophomores this year.

“We’ll have at least 200 beds for our rising juniors and seniors,” Flowers said. “That’s a huge thing that we hear from students, that ‘I can’t find space, there’s no space for me.’ We have space, and we’d love to work with you to find the right space.”

Flowers then detailed some changes that will be made to residential halls for the next academic year based on student feedback. Two current male-only single-gender floors, Bigelow 1 and Doty 2, will go back to being gender-inclusive floors with gender-inclusive bathrooms.

“We found that a lot of our female-identifying students are choosing more single-gender spaces than male-identifying students, so we are responding to that,” Flowers noted.

Flowers also brought up the challenges of making Kirk accessible and gender-inclusive and how Residential Life is listening to student concerns and thinking of solutions.

Flowers concluded his talk with updates on the housing and dining contract, which has doubled in length this year and includes a new housing and dining exemption committee, a new request for cancellation contract committee and a new cancellation fee schedule. He added that Residential Life is increasing its list of virtual residential halls tours.

“If you hear about Residential Life starting committees, that’s why,” Flowers said. “We want more students to be involved in those conversations; we want more staff and faculty to be part of those conversations.”

The floor was then opened for questions. Residential Life & Dining Liaison Philomena Shuffleton-Sobe ’26 asked for clarification on the contract’s new cancellation policy. Flowers said that because late cancellations of rooms limit what other students can access and limit the time that Residential Life has to fill that space, a schedule with fees has been implemented. Canceling before March 31 has no fee, canceling between April 1 and May 12 results in a $250 fee, between May 13 and July has a $500 fee and so on.

Flowers clarified that cancellations will be handled on a case-by-case basis by the committee instead of a strict policy.

The meeting then transitioned to the updates on the BoT, presented by Student Liaison to the BoT Bobbie Pennington ’24. Pennington, who had just returned from the California retreat with the BoT, detailed the scheduling of the retreat, what was discussed and what he learned.

Pennington explained that before the retreat, he met with the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC), residents of the Cultural House, members of Macalester’s Undergraduate Workers’ Union (MUWU) and Mac for Palestine. These four groups reflect the four main topics that Pennington reported to the BoT, which were the inclusive access textbook model, the planned demolition of the Cultural House, the formation of MUWU and the call for divestment and to end study away programs in Israel.

Pennington added that the dialogue about student concerns extended beyond his report to the Board.

“The only time that I speak in an official capacity is when I am delivering a report, which is not a two-way conversation,” Pennington said. “But I did address everything that came up in this meeting. A lot of the Board’s work, even just convincing Board members to be passionate about a topic, happens outside of those spaces. So I can assure you that over breakfast, lunch and dinner, we were chatting about really important things.”

MCSG President Mariah Loeffler Kemp ’24 then shared that the Department of Institutional Equity requested MCSG to co-sponsor a Women’s History Month Lecture and Event that will take place on Thursday, March 28. The LB voted with 19 in favor of co-sponsoring the event and one abstaining. Loeffler-Kemp continued with an update from a meeting she had with Vice President for Student Affairs Kathryn Kay Coquemont regarding the multiple sexual assaults on campus.

Loeffler-Kemp said that Coquemont provided a list of things to share with the LB, which include the increased Public Safety presence on campus and a plan to expand security cameras in stairwells and elevators.

The meeting concluded with committee and Cabinet updates. AAC Chair Joel Sadofsky ’25 noted that they made a public comment to the U.S. Department of Education’s committee in support of a provision that would ban federally-funded colleges (such as Macalester) from automatically charging students for books and materials, and Shuffleton-Sobe outlined Cafe Mac’s meal planning for Ramadan.

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