Posts tagged with Student Senate

What a difference a year makes? Student Senate leaders update progress on minority student “pipeline” program, other diversity goals

A year ago, KU’s Student Senate was embroiled in an impeachment attempt that threatened to kick out the 2015-16 executive officers, whom some accused of failing to do enough to support black and other marginalized students.

Those officers ultimately kept their jobs, and took some steps to increase diversity and inclusion in the Senate before their terms were up. The new Student Body President and Vice President, elected in April, made the issue one of the most important in their campaign platform.

On Wednesday, 2016-17 Student Body President Stephonn Alcorn, a senior from Gardner; Vice President Gabby Naylor, a senior from Providence, R.I.; and Senate director of diversity and inclusion Abdoulie Njai, a senior from Wichita, held a meeting to outline some of their new and working diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Overall, Alcorn said, Senate wants programming “to really make sure everyone has the same opportunity to be successful.” Here’s a rundown:

Summer Venture in Business: Alcorn described this as a pre-college summer “pipeline” program for minorities. High school students will stay on campus and participate in sessions to familiarize them with the college experience and business academic offerings. It’s set for June 4-6, and scholarships will pay the way for participants. The business venture is a pilot program hoped to soon expand to other schools, Alcorn said.

Equitable Student Elections Fund: This KU Endowment fund collects private donations to help students pay for campaigns to run for Senate seats. There’s a clause in the fund that states it only exists as long as Senate’s election spending cap stays at $1,000. (I wrote more about this back in September.)

Multicultural Board of Advisors: Chaired by Njai, this body advises the president and vice president on issues affecting the multicultural community and related Senate or KU policies. Members come from a variety of multicultural groups.

Religious minorities ad hoc committee: The group’s goal is to create a survey to see whether campus is accommodating students’ religious observations. (I also previously wrote about this.)

Gender in admissions information: Senate is working with Enrollment Management and IT to provide more options for gender identity in students’ KU portals, envisioned to help collect more information on gender identity, sexual orientation and preferred names.

Other efforts in progress include a women's leadership seminar, peer mentorship program for first-generation college students, increasing access to mental health services and a multicultural student leader retreat.

University of Kansas Student Body President Stephonn Alcorn (left), a senior from Gardner; Vice President Gabby Naylor, a senior from Providence, R.I.; and Student Senate director of diversity and inclusion Abdoulie Njai, speak about Student Senate's diversity efforts on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, at the Kansas Union.

University of Kansas Student Body President Stephonn Alcorn (left), a senior from Gardner; Vice President Gabby Naylor, a senior from Providence, R.I.; and Student Senate director of diversity and inclusion Abdoulie Njai, speak about Student Senate's diversity efforts on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, at the Kansas Union. by Sara Shepherd

Several students attending Wednesday's presentation commended Senate leaders for their efforts, but not everyone thinks Senate will be able to do enough. Also in attendance were leaders of the Multicultural Student Government student organization — including some who pushed to oust the Student Senate leaders last year — who are continuing to seek avenues to become their own separate student government.

In other matters, here are two KU items of note I spotted today in online news:

• Jayhawk with Supreme Court potential: USA Today included KU alumnus David Stras in a roundup of 21 possible U.S. Supreme Court nominees by President-elect Donald Trump. Stras, 42, graduated from the KU School of Law, is now an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court and previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according to USA Today. His name was first reported as a potential nominee in May.

• Instagram hot spot: KU, once again, is the most-Instagrammed place in Kansas, based on geo-tagging, USA Today reports. KU’s famous Allen Fieldhouse is No. 4 on the list. (In case you were wondering, No. 2 is Kansas State University, No. 3 is Children’s Mercy Park, home of Sporting KC, and No. 5 is the Kansas Speedway.)


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. 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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University governance taking stance on campus carry; Multicultural Student Government plans new request

University of Kansas administration continues working on weapons policy updates with the assumption that beginning July 1, 2017, the university must allow legally carried concealed guns on its campus — as current law dictates. The latest step forward was Wednesday, when a Kansas Board of Regents recommended KU’s proposed weapons policy for approval by the full board, along with similar proposed policies from the other five state universities.

However, there are still individuals and groups pulling for state legislators to change the law so KU would not need that policy after all. At least tentatively, add KU’s University Senate to that list.

This week the University Senate Executive Committee agreed on the following statement, which the full University Senate is scheduled to consider Dec. 1. Based on previous observations of university governance talks on guns, I would be surprised if the full Senate does not overwhelmingly approve taking this stance.

The University Senate of the University of Kansas is composed of the elected representatives of staff, students and faculty at the University and is charged with acting in behalf of the staff, students, and faculty.

Eighty-two percent of the KU staff, students, and faculty who participated in the January 2016 Docking Institute survey expressed opposition to allowing concealed weapons on campus.

Moreover, current research indicates that the net effect of campus carry on the safety of college students, faculty, and staff is likely to be more death, more nonfatal gunshot wounds, and more threats with a firearm that are traumatizing to victims.

Therefore, the University Senate wishes to express its opposition, in the strongest possible terms, to allowing concealed weapons on the University of Kansas campus.

On behalf of our constituencies, we urge the Kansas State Legislature (1.) to respect local control by continuing the exemption to the Personal and Family Protection Act and (2.) to allow our campus communities to choose whether or not weapons are allowed on our KU campuses.

Is that realistic? I’ll leave speculation to others about what our state legislators may or may not do. Meanwhile, I can confidently say KU will keep working on its policy and I will keep writing updates as they’re warranted.

No guns allowed signs are posted on doors leading into Wescoe Hall on the University of Kansas campus on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Jayhawk Boulevard and Strong Hall are reflected in the glass.

No guns allowed signs are posted on doors leading into Wescoe Hall on the University of Kansas campus on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Jayhawk Boulevard and Strong Hall are reflected in the glass. by Sara Shepherd

• Multicultural Student Government wants seats on University Senate, not a committee: Also on Dec. 1, the University Senate will probably receive a new proposal from Multicultural Student Government. Leaders of the new student organization attended the full University Senate meeting earlier this month and asked the body to establish a committee exploring how to implement MSG as a separate governing body within University Senate (currently composed of representatives from KU’s Faculty, Staff and Student senates). That request was tabled.

MSG board president Trinity Carpenter, a senior from Richmond, and five other group members were at this week’s University Senate Executive Committee meeting. They said they wanted to scrap the committee request and go straight to a request for actual seats on University Senate — specifically, a number equal to Student Senate.

“What we want is University Senate representation at this point, and equal representation that Student Senate already has,” Carpenter said. She said her goal is to change policy to create bicameral student governance instead of operating within the existing Student Senate. “If we felt that Student Senate was meeting our needs there would be no need for this.”

Student Senate currently has 13 seats in University Senate. Rather than double the number of students — and shifting the balance of power in University Senate — some University Senate Executive Committee Members said they’d be more open to allowing existing student seats to be allocated differently. We will see exactly what MSG suggests next month.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. 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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KU’s Multicultural Student Government proposing new path to governing-body status

The University of Kansas student organization that calls itself Multicultural Student Government is still active this semester, and is now trying a new path in hopes of becoming a separate governing body with standing equal to KU’s existing Student Senate.

On Thursday, MSG leaders asked the University Senate to establish an ad hoc committee to explore the feasibility of an actual Multicultural Student Government and, if deemed appropriate, change University Senate code to include it. Per University Senate code — which allows just one governing body per each university constituency — the current University Senate comprises representatives from Student Senate, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate.

University Senate voted to table the question until its December meeting.

Sophie Wang, a Student Senate representative on the University Senate, formally proposed the MSG committee at the end of Thursday’s meeting, during the new business portion of the agenda. The item was not on the meeting agenda, and University Senate members did not receive information about MSG or their proposal in advance. University Senate members said they wanted more time to look at the group’s information and discuss it before deciding whether to create a committee.

Wang was joined by three of MSG’s top leaders, who spoke on behalf of the proposal.

MSG has fashioned its leadership positions after those of a governing body, with a board instead of typical club officer positions, said Omaha senior Alex Kinkead, vice chair of the MSG board. Other board members present were Emporia senior Mercedes Bounthapanya, board treasurer, and Wichita senior Christian Roberson, board secretary. Student Trinity Carpenter, who wasn't present Thursday, is the MSG board chair and also a School of Social Welfare representative on Student Senate.

“We’re coming to University Senate because we’d like to work with you in tandem and have conversations,” Kinkead said. “We are a legit entity, and we are functioning as a student government. The only thing we are not is functioning within the University Senate.”

Kinkead said a separate governing body is needed because the current university governance system inherently oppresses students from marginalized backgrounds who don’t “access spaces” the same way other students do.

“We have significantly less barriers and hoops that multicultural students have to jump through,” Kinkead said of MSG. “We’re centering marginalized identities and multicultural groups.”

In spring 2016, Student Senate voted to allocate about $180,000 in required student fees — $90,000 to pay officers and fund other operations, plus another $90,000 to disseminate to other multicultural student groups — to establish and empower MSG, which had just registered as a student club. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little vetoed that funding because MSG was not actually a recognized governing body. She added, in a letter explaining the veto, that she did not think MSG was “an optimal way to achieve the goals we have for diversity and inclusion at the university and, indeed, may lead to greater divisiveness.”

Speaking to the Kansas University Student Senate, Jameelah Jones is joined by dozens of students and supporters of the Multicultural Student Government initiative during the Student Senate's meeting Wednesday evening March 9, 2016, at the Kansas Union.

Speaking to the Kansas University Student Senate, Jameelah Jones is joined by dozens of students and supporters of the Multicultural Student Government initiative during the Student Senate's meeting Wednesday evening March 9, 2016, at the Kansas Union. by John Young


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

Reply 1 comment from Reid Hollander

KU chancellor elaborates on why she vetoed funding for Multicultural Student Government

When Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little vetoed Student Senate funding for a Multicultural Student Government, she cited a couple key points in a letter to Student Senate leaders. One, the student organization does not yet exist as a government. Two, university code doesn’t allow more than one government representing any of KU’s constituency groups in University Senate. (The funding she nixed amounted to about $180,000 in required student fees. MSG was slated to get $90,000 to pay officers and fund other operations, plus another $90,000 to allocate to other multicultural student groups.)

In the last paragraph of her letter, the chancellor indicated there was more to her decision than just that, however, writing “I believe that the independent student government proposed in the document sent to University Senate 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.”

I interviewed the chancellor earlier this month about various KU issues, including this one. Here’s what she said.

Speaking to the Kansas University Student Senate, Jameelah Jones is joined by dozens of students and supporters of the Multicultural Student Government initiative during the Student Senate's meeting Wednesday evening March 9, 2016, at the Kansas Union.

Speaking to the Kansas University Student Senate, Jameelah Jones is joined by dozens of students and supporters of the Multicultural Student Government initiative during the Student Senate's meeting Wednesday evening March 9, 2016, at the Kansas Union. by John Young

“The letter outlines the technical reasons why, but I didn’t want to just hide behind that. I wanted to say what I thought,” Gray-Little said. “I believe the question or concern is that student government as it currently functions does not allow students who are not part of the anointed group — however that anointed is defined — to have a voice. I have heard that complaint from students in the past not based on race, so I don’t think it is a question solely that racial or ethnic groups have that experience because of being a member of a racial or ethnic group.”

Gray-Little said she suggests looking instead at what can be changed within student government to overcome that problem.

Since she came to KU in 2009, there have been two student body presidents who are black, Gray-Little pointed out. Stephonn Alcorn was just elected student body president for the upcoming school year, and Michael Wade Smith was student body president for 2010-11.

“It’s obviously not the case that you can’t get elected if you’re not Caucasian,” Gray-Little said. “I don’t think that that is the issue — or if it is, I think we’re doing fine if you look at that as a percentage.”

“I think it is something else that has to do with what goes on, who has a say, who feels they have a say, maybe how people get elected,” she said. “What I would like to work with students on is how we can go about ensuring that students have the opportunity to participate and be heard, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they get to decide what happens, but how they can be heard.

“We have university governance that’s made up of students, staff and faculty,” she said. “To change the university code … I don’t think it would be very productive in the long run to say those three elements of the university can have multiple representatives that are each working separately from one another.”

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

The final report of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group formed last fall by the office of the provost calls for KU administration to support creation of the MSG and also for the current Student Senate to be “placed under immediate review.” (The report describes the Student Senate’s “exclusivity and greek life-centeredness” as a “crisis.”)

I asked Gray-Little about the advisory group recommendations, too. She said to expect a response to those recommendations around the end of the summer.

“What our effort will have to be is how to make some of the recommendations specific and not just say, 'This is a good idea, we agree with you, that’s an important goal.’ What do you actually do to achieve it? … We have to be very specific about things we’re going to do.”

She added: “I am not interested in having things that don’t work just to say that you have something.”


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

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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Wheels are turning to create new University Senate standing committee on diversity

Kansas University has an active diversity task force, the "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group" created in November by the Office of the Provost. But there are two main problems with it, said University Senate President Mike Williams, who is a representative on the group.

One, it’s finite. Two, it’s not autonomous from university administration.

Williams wants the University Senate to establish a permanent and separate standing committee to address diversity, he said at this week's University Senate Executive Committee meeting.

He said he’s working on a proposal and hopes to bring it to the full University Senate for a vote before the end of the school year. He said the proposal may be to create an ad hoc committee first, which under University Senate rules could be populated and begin work immediately, with the idea it would lead to a permanent committee later, which would take more time to formalize.

Williams said “many” other universities have such committees for diversity and that he was surprised KU did not.

“I think it’s more than just an appropriate gesture,” Williams said. “It’s overdue. I think it’s a chance for governance to become very visible in their support of improving the climate of the university.”

Students hold signs in the back of Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union during a town hall forum on race on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The group later took the stage and read a list of diversity and inclusion related demands for the KU campus. KU scheduled the forum in the wake of problems at the University of Missouri, where the system president and chancellor resigned under pressure from students who said the school failed to properly respond to racial problems there.

Students hold signs in the back of Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union during a town hall forum on race on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The group later took the stage and read a list of diversity and inclusion related demands for the KU campus. KU scheduled the forum in the wake of problems at the University of Missouri, where the system president and chancellor resigned under pressure from students who said the school failed to properly respond to racial problems there. by Mike Yoder

KU’s Student Senate already has a Multicultural Affairs Committee, one of that body’s four standing committees (the others are Finance, Student Rights and University Affairs). The University Senate (composed of students, faculty and staff) currently has nine standing committees: Academic Computing and Electronic Communications, Academic Policies and Procedures, Athletic, Calendar, International Affairs, Libraries, Organization and Administration, Planning and Resources, and Retirees Rights and Benefits.

Williams said fellow Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group members and others have said that KU should have a body “beyond administrative reach” that can hear concerns from across campus and make recommendations for how the university can do better.

From the Provost's website, this is the charge of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group: "The DEI Advisory Group will discover and inform our campus community of patterns of discrimination, including lack of respect, inclusion, and equity in our educational and research environments and social communities. The group will consider on an ongoing basis the degree to which we provide inclusive educational, research, and social environments for all students, staff, and faculty."

• University governance turnover: KU’s various governing bodies are amid their respective changing of the guards this time of year. Student Senate elections are today (Wednesday) and Thursday, and newly elected incoming leaders will meet jointly with outgoing representatives April 27. (If you're interested, The University Daily Kansan covered the presidential and vice presidential candidates' debate here, and published a guide outlining each of the two coalitions' platforms here.)

Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and University Senate also are in the process of naming new leaders and will hold their last meetings of the year in coming weeks.


— 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.

Reply 2 comments from Clara Westphal Nathan Anderson

Outtakes from Wednesday’s Student Senate meeting: More on Multicultural Student Government talks and visitors from Mizzou

Wednesday night’s Kansas University Student Senate meeting was six and a half hours long.

At least it wasn’t dull.

In the most significant news of the night, the Senate voted to approve a bill allocating $90,000 a year in required student fees to create a Multicultural Student Government at KU, pending final approval by the chancellor. After a couple hours of discussion, that vote happened at 11 p.m., just in time for me to turn around a story for the next morning’s paper. (The Senate took two more hours to finish other business, including electing a new student body vice president to finish the year.)

As with other discussions at KU involving race this year, that one was tense at times. Here are some outtakes that didn’t make it into my main story.

• About 50 visitors — almost all of them black, most KU students — lined up in support of the Multicultural Student Government as students Jameelah Jones and Katherine Rainey made a pitch for funding their organization.

Senate, of course, is open to any student, and the Multicultural Student Government would be open to any student as well. But Jones and Rainey said the separate government was needed because multicultural students don’t feel comfortable participating in or speaking up in the predominantly white Senate, nor does it prioritize the things these students need.

At one point Student Body President Jessie Pringle asked the 50 visitors how many would run for positions in a new Multicultural Student Government. All raised their hands. Then she asked how many would participate in the current Senate. Only one or two raised hands.

• Informal talks about a Multicultural Student Government have been happening for months; creating such a group was one of 15 demands the student activist group Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk — specifically, Rainey — read on stage during KU’s universitywide town hall forum on race in November. Funding for it was added to the Senate’s fee bill in committee last week, and Wednesday night was the first time the full Senate heard a formal presentation, the second-to-last full Senate meeting of the year.

Jones and Rainey presented their new group’s mission statement, addressed a list of misconceptions they described as “the master narrative versus reality,” and said the new organization would help address a “multigenerational, long-term problem.” They provided a slide showing how the group’s allotted $90,000 would be budgeted: $48,000 for executive board stipends; $10,000 for speakers and event programming; $10,000 for Multicultural Student Orientation; $15,000 for supplies and advertising; and $7,000 for miscellaneous expenses. They said the new government would have “equal representation in all university spaces” and “equal seats in campus fee review.”

KU Multicultural Student Government mission statement.

KU Multicultural Student Government mission statement. by Sara Shepherd

What they did not present or answer questions about yet was specifically how that will shake out, logistically. Rainey said that, to her, the question of the night wasn’t about details at this point but rather about whether the Senate wanted to increase fees to create positive, long-term change for KU’s multicultural students.

Some, however, called the act of questioning a race issue. Senate finance committee chairman Tyler Childress said he didn’t remember senators questioning other new student organizations about details such as their bylaws. Student Senate Chief of Staff Adam Moon said that wasn’t true, that Senate does ask groups receiving large amounts of money, including Alternative Spring Breaks and Center for Community Outreach, for detailed plans.

• The people who seemed the maddest about such questioning weren’t the KU students. They were a handful of black University of Missouri students who said they were part of the Concerned Student 1950 activist group. (That’s the group that started the Mizzou campus protests that spurred the resignation of both the university president and the system chancellor in November.)

One Mizzou student who said she was visiting KU for the first time told Senate members to start “centering your privilege.” “This whole presentation, what they gave, is like a form of oppression,” she said. “They don’t need to come to you and explain why their blackness, their brownness, matters. I just find it very problematic that we’re even engaging in this conversation.”

Another Mizzou student used the n-word — twice — in describing how the Missouri Students Association President, who is black, was called that word on their campus. He said Multicultural Student Government supporters should not have to “diplomatically plead” with the Senate to have a separate space. “If they were to turn into us,” the Mizzou student said, “you all would have a serious problem.”

None by Alex Robinson

Later when Student Body Vice President Zach George raised a point of order for a speaker talking out of turn, that student said, “We don’t operate under point of order, we’re not from KU.”

• A number of Senate members spoke strongly in favor of the new government, and hardly anyone spoke against funding it. But Moon, the Senate Chief of Staff — after taking a deep breath — did.

Moon said allocating resources to multicultural communities was essential and that he saw a lot of positives that could come from it. However, he said he had reservations about funding the group without yet knowing specifics about how it would work going forward.

“I understand my opinions are unpopular,” Moon said.

One of the Mizzou students pointed at him and said, “Oppression! Oppression! Privilege!”

• The vote to approve the fee bill, including the Multicultural Student Government, passed with 51 senators for, 9 against and 6 abstaining. The Senate normally votes on measures via electronic clicker, but after some visitors and senators demanded a verbal roll call vote, the body voted that way instead.

For the measure to become final, Pringle must next approve the fee bill and forward it to the chancellor for approval. Thursday afternoon, according to university spokesman Joe Monaco, the chancellor had not yet received the new fee package.


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

Reply 1 comment from Clara Westphal

Director updates students on progress of new Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center; Kansan funding decision delayed

Kansas University’s new Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, or SAPEC, has reached its 30-day mark on campus. Center director Jennifer Brockman visited the KU Student Senate meeting this week to introduce herself, and it sounds like she’s been busy so far — even though she’s flying solo until additional SAPEC staffers are hired.

For now the office is located in 116 Carruth O’Leary Hall, the same building as KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access. The Student Senate has asked that SAPEC eventually be located inside the new Burge union (and they have a strong say in that because the building is being funded by student fees) once it’s constructed in KU’s Central District.

“This is a center that is the result of student activism,” she said, so everything they do should be student-focused.

A flier for KU's new Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, or SAPEC.

A flier for KU's new Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, or SAPEC. by Sara Shepherd

This week the center launched the search for its next employee, an educator slated to focus on men’s advocacy and involvement in prevention, Brockman said. The search for the second educator, focused on consent, should start later this spring. By next fall, the hope is to have peer educators — students who have received certification and training — in action.

In the meantime, Brockman said she’s been meeting with others around campus. She said SAPEC’s first “Prevention Collective Meeting,” a get-together for all groups with a hand in sexual assault investigations and prevention, is planned for March 11.

“The real goal of SAPEC is to operate as that lynchpin agency,” Brockman said.

• Newspaper funding decision pushed back: Also on Wednesday, the Student Senate considered required student fees for the 2016-2017 school year — and sent the proposal back to committee. One of dozens of student fees recommended in the bill was an increase that would reinstate University Daily Kansan funding to what it was two years ago, before a fee cut reportedly forced the paper to cut staff and prompted a free-speech lawsuit.

The fee issue should return to the full Senate for a vote on March 9. It doesn’t sound like the Kansan fee was the biggest hangup, however. The Kansan reported that fees, as proposed, increased 60 cents overall, and a number of senators said the Senate should work to whittle them down instead.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. 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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KU Student Senate forms committees to vet Invisible Hawk demands

The Kansas University Student Senate has created four new ad hoc committees to address diversity-related demands voiced by Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk. Student Body President Jessie Pringle announced the following four committees this week, in an email to the Senate. Committees are expected to give a report and legislative recommendations to the full Senate on March 18.

“Each committee tackles issues and discussions that should be addressed this upcoming semester,” Pringle said. “The committees are a way to find solutions and policy changes together as a Senate body.”

Student Senate Overview Committee — Charged with assessing structure of Senate to “increase accessibility”; identifying “opportunities in the student fee structure to promote a more inclusive and diverse campus”; evaluating outreach policies and developing best practices to increase awareness of resources Senate and KU provide.

Election Reevaluation Committee — Charged with addressing concerns about “accessibility” to run in Senate general elections; identifying ways to “create a more open and equitable election atmosphere”; determining feasibility and logistics of an election support fund.

Retention and Recruitment Committee — Charged with monitoring retention rates of students; researching policy and programs within offices working with recruitment and retention; identifying problems with current practices.

Veterans Services Committee — Charged with “benchmarking” KU to the service programs of its aspirational peers; assessing services offered to veterans; identifying veterans services KU lacks; developing a “standing entity to address veterans’ needs annually.”

Invisible Hawk is a group of mostly black students that carried signs and read a list of demands at KU’s Nov. 11 town hall forum on race. They’ve spoken out at Senate meetings against the body’s leadership, led a protest that drew more than 80 students to Wescoe Beach on Wednesday, and have been actively promoting their cause on social media using the hashtag #rockchalkinvisiblehawk.

Senate’s top three leaders — Pringle, Student Body Vice President Zach George and Chief of Staff Adam Moon — all are currently facing impeachment procedures, prompted by some Senate members’ accusations that they failed to do enough to support minority students on campus.

A separate committee is investigating each leader and making a recommendation for discipline. First up is Moon; his impeachment committee is expected to share its recommendation at tonight’s full Senate meeting, where senators will vote on whether or not to continue moving forward with disciplinary action, which could be as drastic as kicking him out of office.

KU Student Senate logo

KU Student Senate logo

— 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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The latest on the KU Student Senate leaders’ impeachment process

An impeachment committee should be formed today to prepare a report and make a recommendation for possible discipline of Kansas University Student Senate’s top three leaders.

According to an email to the Senate from senior senator Lauren Arney, a meeting was planned for this morning to form the committee, made up of some Senate standing committee chairs and several other senators chosen by lottery. Under Senate rules, the committee has five school days — so until roughly mid-next week — to prepare its recommendation, which must then be presented to the full Senate at a regular or special meeting.

Following a heated universitywide town hall forum on race Nov. 11, the Senate’s Student Executive Committee approved a motion demanding the resignation of Student Body President Jessie Pringle, Student Body Vice President Zach George and Senate Chief of Staff Adam Moon, whom some fellow senators and students accused of failing to do enough to support black and other marginalized students on campus. The three declined to resign, and the Student Senate took up impeachment procedures last week.

Pringle, George and Moon, in the meantime, have been working on a plan to improve the campus climate for marginalized students. They released a list of 11 commitments on Nov. 16, followed by a more detailed seven-page proposal for how to get them done shared on Friday.

• Gun survey wraps up Wednesday: In other Student Senate news, the online survey seeking students’ opinions about concealed carry on campus is still open — but not for long. The last day to take it is Wednesday. Students at KU and other state schools should have received links to the survey in their emails earlier this month.

None by Stephonn Alcorn

— 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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