Facing calls for resignation, KU Student Senate leaders issue multicultural action plan instead

Kansas University’s Student Senate leaders — facing calls to resign by some fellow senators who accused them of inaction on behalf of black students — instead have announced an action plan featuring specific initiatives to support marginalized groups.

Backtracking on an elections reform plan passed earlier this month, unpopular with some senators who called the changes unfair to multicultural students, is at the top of the list.

Senate President Jessie Pringle, Vice President Zach George and Chief of Staff Adam Moon shared their list of 11 proposals in an emailed statement to the full Senate late Monday night.

“To achieve what a campus needs to be inclusive and support its students, it begins with actions,” Pringle, George and Moon said in the statement. “To be better is a continual process of reevaluation.”

Making the Senate “more inclusive and accessible to all students” is the first commitment.

Jessie Pringle and Zach George, the 2015-2016 Kansas University student body president and vice president.

Sub-points include reforming the election code and reducing the cap on election spending to $1,000 — which will be voted on at the regularly scheduled full Senate meeting Wednesday night.

Other election-related actions include creating an election fund “to increase equity” for students who want to run for Senate and increasing the number of appointed Senate seats “with the explicit goal of increasing diversity in the chamber.”

The Senate already has a director of diversity and inclusion as well as seats for representatives from Black Student Union, Multicultural Greek Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council (which governs traditionally black fraternities and sororities), Asian American Student Union, Hispanic American Leadership Organization and First Nations Student Association, among other organizations.

Monday night’s statement pledges support of “the cause championed by Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk,” a group of about a dozen mostly black students who temporarily took over last week’s KU town hall forum on race and read a list of 15 demands for KU, later sharing those same demands before a Senate committee.

A group of students identifying itself as Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk takes the stage and reads a list of diversity and inclusion related demands for Kansas University during KU's town hall forum on race Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union, as KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, far right, who was moderating the forum, looks on. Sign language interpreter Kim Bates, left, translated throughout the event.

Some of the Senate leaders’ 11 commitments directly address those concerns, including consulting with the Student Mental Health Advisory Board and CAPS to advocate for hiring multicultural counselors and staff, and working with the Office of Veterans Services and others entities to increase aid and opportunities for veterans.

Other commitments include doubling the current Office of Multicultural Affairs fee to add staff there and increase diversity programming on campus, as well as dialoging with administration to push for more diversity on KU’s admissions team and a “stronger presence” in urban areas.

Friday night, the Senate’s Student Executive Committee — on a 6-3 vote, with one committee member abstaining — adopted a motion of no confidence in the leadership of Pringle, George and Moon.

The motion demanded their resignations by 5 p.m. Wednesday and asked the full Senate to take up impeachment measures if they decline to step down.

The full Senate is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evening. The meeting has been moved to the Big 12 Room in the Kansas Union to accommodate an anticipated larger-than-usual crowd.