[email] MCSG's continued lack of support to broad-based student of color efforts

From: Yongho Kim
To: Michael Barnes
Cc: Ben Johnson, Will Clarke, Jessie Buendia ; Grace Awantang ; Mattie White
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2004 11:40 PM
Subject: Diversity Weekend account


I will discuss what you and Ben told me about Diversity Weekend with Will Clarke, Grace Awantang and Jessie Buendía and try getting back to you soon.

In the meantime,

1. Account Number

Ben asked me what account Diversity Weekend is using – as shown in the cover letter of August 27th, (http://www.macalester.edu/pb/diversity/weekend/2004/proposal.mergeletters2.doc), it is 95-3012-6130-9278 (Adelante!’s account).

2. Projected Expense Increase.

You said that our requested amount of funds increased as a reason of us not having funds approved by other departments. While we are still waiting to hear from a number of departments, the amount requested increased solely in function of the fact that the Entertainment Committee (marked as “To Be Decided” in the previous budget) settled for a cost of $1,700 and Publicity Committee proposed making evaluation forms available for a cost of $36.20. This resulted in Total Projected Expenses increasing by $1,736.20. Our August 27th request had a Total Request amount of $7,767.27, while the new September 14th request had increased to $9,504.27, increasing by $1737 (I am not sure why the numbers don’t match exactly and there is $0.80 cents of difference) This increase has been distributed between MCSG ($1084.50) and PB ($800), which may seem like a large increase from your budgetary standpoints (40% for MCSG and 47% for PB), but not for the Diversity Weekend committee’s total budget (22%)

Check it for yourself-

August 27th proposal

September 14th proposal

Thus the increase in Projected Expenses should not be perceived as a failure on the part of Diversity Weekend committe to raise funds from other sources, but as a consolidation of the program plan which was not finished by the time the proposal was submitted and should rather have been expected, since the Entertainment portion had been listed as such.

3. Relation of MCSG and PB’ sponsorships.

Will told you that Diversity Weekend will not happen at all unless we receive all the funding requested, and MCSG is postponing decision until September 21st, which is when PB will make a decision regarding funding. The rationale is that if PB decides not to fund Diversity Weekend, MCSG’s sponsorship will become “wasted money”. While I have not yet talked with Will to this respect, I can tell you that Diversity Weekend’s current pressing danger is solvency, not comprehensiveness.

I will update you that at this point seven departments are supporting Diversity Weekend, which makes up 30% of our projected expenses. If MCSG (40%) were to approve funding for Diversity Weekend and the remaining departments (12%) followed suit, I can arrange emergency funds from other cultural orgs and supportive groups to fill some 10% and cut the rest in the form of foods and honoraria. For example, ¡Adelante! could transfer $400 it has received for a party towards Diversity Weekend’s keynote speaker, and this procedure is not subject to FAC’s approval – of course the organization would be screwed during Spring audit sessions, but that would at least “patch” Diversity Weekend. Or we could hold a Keynote Lecture and not invite the lecturer to dinner. It would be a HORRIBLE situation, but at this point Diversity Weekend committee will obviously not give up on the entire program just because 20% or 10% of funds were unfulfilled. And the issue of what to do with the money received is a matter for the Diversity Weekend committee to decide, not for you to decide for us and decide to not sponsor it altogether.

But we are not doing such drastic cuts because the situation is not that bad, and it is MCSG’s (well, and PB’s) decision to make the situation as pressing as it has turned currently.

4. MCSG’s continued lack of support to broad-based student of color efforts

In the first proposal, I had stated the following in the cover letter of the Sponsorship Request:

We are aware of the consistent lack of understanding towards needs of coalitions of students of color and thereof lack of support from MCSG towards Diversity Weekend. This would be a good starting point for the Student Government to show a supportive attitude for goals that aim beyond the immediate needs of individual racial and ethnic student organizations.

My knowledge is Diversity Weekend is thin and I only know of its five years of history through comments by students of color who graduated last year, Mac Weekly coverage, and general feelings perceived at the current Diversity Weekend committee meetings. You had requested me to retract such “blanket statement” accusations, and I did so since I was not basing it on direct experience. I will add some weight to the above statement with the following:

One perspective is this: the Diversity Weekend committee, as a group, put hundreds of hours over the Spring and Summer of 2004 to arrange funding, reach out to the community in the form of local newspapers and radio contacts, setting up a delicate balance of committment for panelists and performance groups whom we need to hold for the October 7th-10th timeframe while not being able to promise them a definite contract, and maintain a transparent process to the Macalester community in the form of public emails and web information. Then, MCSG board members return from summer break, have one or two meetings on the matter while sitting at the Campus Center offices, decide that Diversity Weekend is not a big deal, and postpone decisions as long as possible. Nevermind that the student activity fee comes from students of color as well, including members of the ten organizations – ASA, ¡Adelante!, Afrika! BLAC, QU, MASECA, PIPE, Pasifika, Bridges and Program Board Diversity Committee – behind the Diversity Weekend commmittee.

A second perspective is this: while the current MCSG board may claim that it is unrelated to last year’s Simone-Damion-Hashaam-Tyler-Erla-Andre board and therefore innocuous from creating a hostile background in developing Diversity Weekend to start with, many officers simply move from one position to another and continue with the apathy and suspicion towards initiatives taken by Students of Color. In large part, the current difficulties the Diversity Weekend Committee faces would have been significantly reduced had last year’s FAC approved of the $2,500 request (with which we would have paid for the Concert’s contract, securing in this way the highly popular Twin Cities group Salsa del Soul). In April 17th of 2004, Hashaam Sheikh, former FAC Chair, denied the request on the basis that Diversity Weekend may possible “not request that much money” and that therefore “it may be wasted”. When I persisted that students of color had a history of requesting independent recognition from MCSG for budgetary and logistical purposes (the last instance being October 21st), Hashaam replied that this was “his” FAC, and that we should deal with the next administration, and not argue with him. Talk with “Michael and Cara’s MCSG” and “Ben’s FAC”. Your response: MCSG has nothing to do with last year board’s actions. I perceive Hashaam’s attitude to be no different from the current board’s. For senior student of color leadership, it is the same rhetoric of a Student Government oblivious to particularized needs (the fact that students of color may not be able to be as organized as mainstream groups given the extra demands in representation and community participation), year after year. Something that I would suggest to the current MCSG is to cut the tradition of personalized responsibilities, and to allow in the future for the students to talk about MCSG as an institution, with a recognizable history of decisions, responsibilities and mistakes, against which it may be held accountable. So that when senior leadership talks about institutional support (or lack thereof) on particular issues, such statements can be meaningfully be debated on. And not Nick’s MCSG. Not Hashaam’s FAC. MCSG and its board does not stand on a blank slate; MCSG stands in the memory of past resolutions, organization audits, fund denials and approvals, and committee recommendations. The more you try to deny the historical aspect of the government, the more MCSG will isolate itself from the students and be misunderstood. And the best time to start is now.

In your presidential candidate speech back in April, you said that you weren’t even aware that there were SoC’s unique issues, and that that was a sign of how much the administration had detached itself from minority concerns. Well, these are the issues.

I take care of Diversity Weekend money but I don’t have a title.






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