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What the chancellor's veto of Multicultural Student Government funding means for 2016-17 required student fees

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So Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has vetoed Student Senate’s decision to fund the Multicultural Student Government for the upcoming year. What happens to the $90,000 the group would have gotten for executive stipends and other expenses?

Nothing. Incoming students will simply pay $2 less per semester in required campus fees, so the Senate won’t have that extra $90,000 to allocate.

The chancellor did not veto any other part of the Senate’s required campus fee package for 2016-17, nor did she shift that money elsewhere, according to university spokesman Joe Monaco. He said the fee package will be presented to the Kansas Board of Regents, minus the $2 fee previously allotted to Multicultural Student Government.

The Senate’s next move regarding Multicultural Student Government remains to be seen, but whatever it is, it’s not going to happen this semester.

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. by John Young

Thursday — the day after Gray-Little notified Senate leaders she was vetoing the fee — was the last day of spring classes. The Senate held its last business meeting of the year more than a month ago, on March 30. New student body leaders and representatives for 2016-17 were elected in mid-April and formally took office April 27.

When funding for the Multicultural Student Government was first added into the Senate’s fee package, the timing already was well into the fee allocation process.

The fee package had already been sent back to committee once, and during that committee meeting on March 2 the $2 fee for Multicultural Student Government was added in and a previously recommended $2 fee for The University Daily Kansan was reduced to $1 (there may have been other small edits, but those were the only ones anyone was talking about). The full Senate approved the changes March 9. And on March 30 the Senate voted to give Multicultural Student Government some other powers: allocating the approximately $90,000 Multicultural Education Fund and obtaining equal — 12 — seats on the Senate’s campus fee review subcommittee.

Multicultural Student Government will not have those powers next year, either, according to Senate Communications Director Connor Birzer. Both actions were contingent on the group being formally recognized by the University Governance system.

That has not happened — the main reason Gray-Little cited for vetoing the fee for the group — and may never. I reported more thoroughly on the procedural reasons for that in this April 22 story: "KU Multicultural Student Government faces complex path to transform from student club into equal governing body."

Multicultural Student Government posted an online petition protesting the chancellor’s veto, saying: “The Multicultural Student Government has worked tirelessly to navigate the steps to codify this government and assure the government's future success … This government is a vital resource that marginalized students are requesting due to not being included or served by the current Student Senate.”

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. by John Young

The current Senate has a paid director of diversity and inclusion, a standing committee on multicultural affairs and, in addition to seats decided by open elections, a number of appointed seats reserved for representatives from minority clubs on campus. Outgoing and incoming Senate execs, the Multicultural Student Government leaders and the newly released Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group report have all said that’s not enough, however, and the Senate needs to do better.

“We remain committed to fostering a student government that is open, accessible, and inclusive to all students,” Birzer said, in a statement on behalf of the incoming Senate.

Senate leaders, Multicultural Student Government leaders and university administrators all have said they expect to be talking over the summer about next steps for their respective groups.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage at KUToday.com. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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