Archive for Wednesday, May 4, 2016

KU chancellor vetoes student fee funding Multicultural Student Government

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaks to the Kansas University Student Senate at the start of the Senate's March 9, 2016, meeting at the Kansas Union. Gray-Little was the invited guest speaker and gave a general update on university issues.

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaks to the Kansas University Student Senate at the start of the Senate's March 9, 2016, meeting at the Kansas Union. Gray-Little was the invited guest speaker and gave a general update on university issues.

May 4, 2016, 10:15 p.m. Updated May 4, 2016, 11:01 p.m.


Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has vetoed a $2 student fee funding a separate Multicultural Student Government, leaving the future of such an organization in doubt. The Student Senate had voted March 9 in favor of the fee.

In a letter sent to the Student Senate on Wednesday, Gray-Little said she could not recommend the fee to the Kansas Board of Regents because "the separate multicultural government for which the fee was created does not exist, nor will the separate government be developed for 2016-2017, the year for which the fee is intended."

Jameelah Jones, center, and Katherine Rainey, right, speak to the Kansas University Student Senate about a proposed Multicultural Student Government fee during the Student Senate meeting Wednesday evening March 9, 2016, at the Kansas Union.

Jameelah Jones, center, and Katherine Rainey, right, speak to the Kansas University Student Senate about a proposed Multicultural Student Government fee during the Student Senate meeting Wednesday evening March 9, 2016, at the Kansas Union.

Gray-Little argued that KU university code prohibits "multiple independent groups representing a constituent group ... within University Senate."

"Finally, I believe that the independent student government proposed ... is not an optimal way to achieve the goals we have for diversity and inclusion at the university and, indeed, may lead to greater divisiveness," she wrote.

Trinity Carpenter, a KU student and interim MSG secretary, told the Journal-World that group president Katherine Rainey and two other members of MSG leadership received email copies of the letter shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, hours before a planned forum to introduce the group to the broader university and help define its goals.

At that meeting, Carpenter said, the group announced that MSG would press on with its mission to secure funding for a body that could stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the Student Senate. She noted Gray-Little's letter cited the opinion of University Senate president Michael Williams as part of the reason for her veto. According to Carpenter, Williams recently told MSG leadership a proposal to change language in the university code — to reflect bicameral governance — could resolve some of the objections raised in the letter.

“That is what we wanted all along — to be an equal body with the Student Senate,” Carpenter said. “This hurts, because we are the marginalized students who know there is a need for this resource. It’s even harder to accept because they have admitted there is a need for this institution and are not supporting it.”

MSG submitted an application to become a registered KU organization on March 2 and was approved the same day. Also March 2, the Student Senate finance committee heard a request for funding from MSG and amended its original 2016-17 fee package recommendation to include a $2 required student fee for MSG.

On March 9, the full Student Senate approved that recommendation, funding the new MSG with the $2 required student fee expected to bring in about $90,000 annually. The MSG fee is one of several allocated to KU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.

MSG leaders told the Student Senate that roughly half the $90,000 would go toward stipends for its executive staff — $6,000 per person — and the other half toward programming, supplies and advertising.

On March 30, the Student Senate voted to give MSG complete control of allocating the Multicultural Education Fund, which currently has about $90,000 in it. Under Student Senate control that fund was described as designated for multicultural student organizations’ programming and events.

While the actions spurred emotional debates at Student Senate meetings, they were approved by overwhelming numbers of student representatives.

This story has been edited to correct an inaccurate description of University Senate president Michael Williams' comments to Multicultural Student Government leadership, according to interim secretary Trinity Carpenter.


Brett McCabe 2 years ago

Agreed. The campus should be a learning lab for the students but we do need to make sure that there is an adult in the room.

With any luck, this travesty is now in the rearview.

Calvin Anders 2 years ago

I don't agree, Bob. I think this messy, potentially problematic plan should have been allowed to move forward. Even to those of us who don't see how it could succeed, this experiment would be a great opportunity. I think the Chancellor is missing the point. Whether a separate governing body with a multicultural focus could actually function in parallel to the existing student Senate is only a tiny fraction of what could be learned here. The lessons in trying to build the framework, determine representation and reconcile new functions with existing regulations and policy could have huge implications to KU and other institutions. The "adult in the room" concept, Brett, doesn't help much if all they are going to do is shut down any ideas that might be a little messy or complicated. Gray-Little, in my opinion, is shutting this down because she is worried that it will make her job harder.

Brett McCabe 2 years ago

There are also lessons in getting it shut down. These students already have a form of representation. It's open, it's available and it doesn't need a redundancy.

Chris Bohling 2 years ago

I mostly agree with Brett, I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of a multicultural student "government" is. I looked around at some of the other articles but I still don't quite get how it would work. "Government" implies that they would have some kind of authority over students. How could they simultaneously have authority while Student Senate also holds authority?

A multicultural student advisory board to the Student Senate? That I could get behind. But a separate "government" simply doesn't make any sense to me.

If there's some more information about this that I'm simply missing I'd be glad to read it.

Nathan Anderson 2 years ago

So you're reading into her statement that she's doing this because it would make her job harder despite the fact that she clearly stated she thinks that having a separate multicultural government "may lead to greater divisiveness."

Calvin Anders 2 years ago

Nathan, Chancellor Gray-Little may well believe that a multicultural government would probably lead to greater divisiveness. I'm inclined to the same opinion, but if that's her only reason for the veto, then I strongly believe that she is far exceeding her authority in this veto. She should not get to shut down a Student Senate endeavor just because she does not believe the outcome will be fruitful. And if she were being honest, I think she would say that she sees the undertaking as problematic and thinks it will cause a big mess with lots of complaining and challenging decisions with many parties being left unhappy.

Bill McGovern 2 years ago

Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk has done more harm than good.

Clara Westphal 2 years ago

KU students have enough fees tacked onto their tuition. They don't need to be paying any more; esp. with tuition going up again.

Ginny Blum 2 years ago

Without having followed the lead-in to this I'm surprised that the students were in favor of what seems like an attempt to institute a separate but equal student government.

Scott Quenette 2 years ago

There were plenty for it and those that weren't were bullied by the activists from both KU and MU who were allowed to shout down dissenters.

Ken Lassman 2 years ago

Maybe these uncharted waters will be navigated by staying together and everyone getting to the other side in that fashion. If so, they will be bucking the trend in politics of more and more polarization, and maybe even provide some leadership to our state and federal political systems, which seem incapable of working with diversity in values, economic status, interest group, etc. I for one am interpreting the letter as telling all parties to work harder to find common ground, open up access and avoid the gated community approach to life, and not to give up on the goals of overcoming barriers and nurturing diversity.

Daniel Murphy 2 years ago

This is nothing but another affirmative action agenda. And we know how that worked out.

Carol Bowen 2 years ago

Daniel, Please clarify. How did affirmative action work out?

Harlan Hobbs 2 years ago

I can give you credit for a calm presentation, Ken, and certainly we could benefit by less polarization. However, it strikes me as so ironic that the polarization has appeared to get worse over the last 8 years with the Obama presidency.

The left claims that it is the Republicans' fault because they are racist. If that were true, Obama would never had been elected. Obviously, more people voted for him based upon race than voted against him for that reason. That is even true in the Democratic Party because a white man with his resume would never have gotten the nomination from Hillary Clinton in 2008.

The facts are that many Republicans voted for him which, even though I am a staunch conservative and would never vote for him based upon ideology, I can understand the initial message of hope, change, and trying to bring us together. Unfortunately, that didn't happen because he chose to be a divider and not a healer. Instead of being a leader who could have done so much good, he chose to be a typical politician who rammed through disastrous legislation along with his executive actions.

However, the tide is turning. Middle street America is fed up with what has been going on, and they are letting the establishments know in droves that such liberal BS and political correctness are not the future.

In the recent case which is the subject of this article, I would bet that a big factor in the Chancellor's decision was the message that she is getting from many alums, just like Mizzou got over their so called "diversity" fiasco. They lost millions of dollars in Alumni support and a good number of student enrollments. Usually, the pocketbook speaks volumes.

Formal diversity programs have been a fabric of society for over 40 years, starting with Affirmative Action and continuing to this day with other specific programs. Again, the facts are that academic, government, and business communities are very diverse and becoming more so every day. Unfortunately, there is a small group of radicals for whom change will never come fast enough for them. They are merely opportunists who think they can bully mainstream America.

The only hope this country has is for citizens to become better educated, more hard working, and responsible for themselves to the fullest extent possible.

Kristine Matlock 2 years ago

Your post sounds pretty darned racist.

The polarization is now worse because all the racists are coming out of the woodwork. Once Obama was elected and the reality hit them that yes, a black man is now your president, they brought their racism out front and center. That's a huge part of why Trump is now the Rep nominee. These racists jerks want to make America white again.

Obama got elected because young voters and many that hadn't been politically involved before came out to vote, not because republicans voted him into office. It's mainly older, white people supporting Trump. Our youth luckily isn't as racist as their grandparents.

I didn't vote for Obama because he was black. I participated in the caucus because I hate Hillary. I voted for Obama in the general elections because McCain/Palin and Romney/Ryan were a scary option.

In 2008, only 9% of the votes for Obama were from republicans. In 2012, only 6%.

Bob Smith 2 years ago

"...Your post sounds pretty darned racist..." That didn't take long.

Kristine Matlock 2 years ago

Because it's the truth. I know the truth kills you right wingers with blinders on.

Armen Kurdian 2 years ago

Kristine, you are the one who brought racism into the conversation. Bob presented his information and opinion in an objective manner. He made several fair and salient points and you called it racist. I find the real racists are the ones (at least lately) who throw out that epithet first.

Calling each other racist is destructive and not helpful.

David Holroyd 2 years ago

She did the dance with them and they were not bright enough to realize she has a degree in clinical PH.D. No less and can see the disconnect in these proposals.

I wish the Chancellor had NOT signed off on the grant for the stupid bus hub. A colossal waste of univ money and city and federal funds. Maybe, just maybe the Feds will deny the application.

Micky Baker 2 years ago

The point I contend has nothing to do with a $2 student fee, though if it is charged to everyone including those a "multi-cultural" government does not represent, then it is a problem. The real problem here is that there is no need for a multi-cultural government. The students should be represented by one student government, and all that want to run for places in it can. Be careful what you wish for if you're hoping for a multi-cultural government. The government should not delve into cultural issues in the first place, at least this kind of government, in my opinion.

Richard Aronoff 2 years ago

You have to forgive Ms. Matlock. She was born with a silver foot in her mouth.

FYI Ms. Matlock, when it comes to race relations, many black leaders agree with Mr. Hobbs.

James Osborn 2 years ago

So, if a separate student government exists for 'multicultural" students, does that mean that separate rules will apply? This whole concept is ludicrous.

Christine Anderson 2 years ago

I think I'm remembering the quote correctly -- separate but equal is inherently unequal. The opinion of the Supreme Court in the ruling to desegregate schools in Brown v. Board of Education, 1954.

Bob Summers 2 years ago

Has the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People been notified about the veto that nixed the advancement part of their nomenclature?

Harlan Hobbs 2 years ago

I appreciate the support that I have received from several of you. I fully expected to be called a racist, so no surprise there. In fact, that just proves my point. If you disagree with President Obama, as over 50% of the population has for some time now, then those who cannot debate the substantive issues fall back on the "race card".

Obama won two elections fair and square (as far as I can tell), so it it clear that many of those who voted for him now regret their votes. Are they all racists as well?

I am perfectly willing to let history judge his legacy. While I probably won't be around to see it given my age, I suspect that he will be remembered as one of the worst Presidents in our country's history based upon a substantive and objective evaluation. Like his handling of Iraq and the related issues, he has managed to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" in most everything he has done. What a shame of a wasted opportunity.

Ken Lassman 2 years ago

Harlan, Although I appreciate your kind comment about agreeing that there is need for a less polarized environment, I must take exception to your analysis of the problem at the national level, which you seem to entirely place at the feet of President Obama. There is a very healthy bipartisan blame for the lack of bipartisanship at our national level, as certainly the Republican leadership and rank-and-file Republican congresspeople have demonstrated in this regard throughout the entire Obama term. I will spare you the long list of examples as I think you must admit to their contributions in this regard.

That being the case, I don't see much leadership that addresses the issue of polarization and lack of a collaborative culture in either party, except perhaps those calling for real election campaign reform measures. So at the risk of whiplash from bringing this comment thread back to the topic at hand, don't you think that it is a laudable effort that the Chancellor has made to attempt to bring the processes at work at the University back in line with the current governing structures with the hope that the outcomes will result in a real and meaningful embracing of our cultural, economic and political diversity?

Harlan Hobbs 2 years ago

Ken, must say that you are very eloquent at expressing "cultural noise." Furthermore, in no way do I place all of the blame at Obama's feet. As they say, "it takes two to tango." However, for a man who ran on hope, change, and the future, his administration has been an unmitigated failure by any reasonable measure. Time and space doesn't permit a full elaboration, but as an obviously educated person, you probably have already heard the list.

As for the Chancellor, I really have no strong opinion, other than a few months ago, she was defending the quasi firing of a teacher who used the "n" word in a historical sense in her class, and she was espousing mandatory diversity training for all students plus the hiring of a special diversity liaison, which has happened. Subsequently, the investigation of the teacher absolved the teacher of any true offenses, and time will tell regarding the mandatory training.

My gut reaction is that she read the opinions expressed by many of the alumni, including myself, who rescinded their pledges to the Endowment Association. On the other hand, her change in position could be totally based upon her further evaluation. I can give her the benefit of the doubt even though I do not believe she has been particularly effective.

I predict that retirement will probably begin looking better and better to her in the near future and that KU will be seeking a new Chancellor. Then again, she may desire to stay on given that the chances of her being fired are probably nil.

Ken Lassman 2 years ago

So I am relieved that it takes "two to tango," i.e. that the increasingly polarized atmosphere in Washington has been from the get-go a bipartisan effort. Instead of pointing fingers at both parties, I find that private campaign contributions and the success of negative campaigning have been huge factors in this increasingly fragmented strategy of each party, and don't hold out much hope that the polarization will subside without fundamental changes in these arenas.

Regarding the Chancellor, I find no evidence that she ever called for the firing of Quenette--please give me your source for that. Furthermore, time will tell whether her rejection of a separate student governance strategy will lead to better communication on both sides of this divisive matter, but I certainly support the difficult path that she has charted out, as I believe that fragmentation leads nowhere in the long run.

Ken Lassman 2 years ago

Extremism from any direction should be dealt with through well established disciplinary processes, which certainly seems to be the case in your link. Here's a link to extremism on campuses from the "other" direction:

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