Posts tagged with Student Senate

KU Student Senate, greek groups create fund for sexual assault victims

The University of Kansas now has a pot of money to help sexual assault victims with related expenses.

Outgoing student body president Stephonn Alcorn and vice president Gabby Naylor recently announced the creation of the University of Kansas Sexual Violence Survivor Fund for students who have experienced or are experiencing a form of interpersonal violence.

There’s an initial investment in the fund of $8,000, they said in the announcement. The money came from the Student Senate Opportunity Fund ($4,000), the KU Interfraternity Council ($2,000) and the KU Panhellenic Association ($2,000).

Alcorn and Naylor said the three organizations hope to sustain the fund in the future through additional “campus partners at KU such as the Multicultural Greek Council, the National Panhellenic Council and Kansas Athletics Incorporated.”

The fund will be administered by the Watkins Health Services CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource and Education) Coordinator, currently Merrill Evans. The CARE Coordinator, a confidential reporter, supports victims and alleged perpetrators of sexual assault, sexual battery, dating violence and stalking, according to Watkins.

Examples of expenses the fund is envisioned to help with: bed linens, safety needs (such as changing locks or getting an alternate cellphone), related medical costs, one-time assistance with rent or housing accommodations during breaks, according to Student Senate.

“Existing community resources in Lawrence and Douglas County are limited, often rely on donations, and require a strenuous process for survivors,” Naylor said, in the Student Senate news release. “By creating this fund, students will now have more autonomy when choosing to seek these resources. By coming together, we can make an institutional effort to support all students, regardless of associated organizations.”

According to Michelle Tevis of KU Endowment, donations to the fund may be made online at kuendowment.org/makeagift by specifying the fund name in the "My gift will benefit" field.


— 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 update: KU senates all name new presidents

The past month has brought the annual changing of the guard for the various university governance bodies at the University of Kansas.

As I’ve already reported, students in mid-April elected juniors Mady Womack and Mattie Carter as student body president and vice president, respectively. In that role, the pair represent the student body and also are at the helm of KU’s Student Senate.

Since then the University Senate, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate also have elected new leaders for the 2017-18 academic year. The presidents will be:

• University Senate President Suzanne Shontz, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

• Faculty Senate President Amalia Monroe-Gulick, associate librarian, social sciences and collection assessment librarian.

• Staff Senate President Brian Moss, reference services manager with KU Libraries.

University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaks to the University Senate on Oct. 6, 2016, in Green Hall.

University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaks to the University Senate on Oct. 6, 2016, in Green Hall. by Sara Shepherd

At Tuesday’s joint meeting of the University Senate and Faculty Senate executive committees, outgoing Faculty Senate President Pam Keller cited diversity and inclusion as one area university governance made strides in during 2016-17, in part through an ad hoc committee. She said making “structural changes” was important, even though it’s a slow process that governance will need to continue in the coming years.

“Making small changes or targeting something specific is actually, I think, more valuable than just talking about the issue broadly,” Keller said.

Keller said other areas she hoped future governance leaders would continue working on are combatting sexual assault and the implementation of campus concealed carry.

All university and faculty senate representatives will be updated later at governance.ku.edu. The Staff Senate website is staffsenate.ku.edu.


— 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 election results now final: 56.7 percent said no to proposed Union renovation

University of Kansas spring election results are now — finally — final, and margins shared by the KU Student Senate Elections Commission show that almost 57 percent of students said no to adding a 30-year, $50-per-semester fee to pay for a $45 million Kansas Union renovation.

Voting took place April 13 and 14, and preliminary results were shared on April 14. After resolving a handful of hearings and appeals for reported elections violations, the Elections Commission formally certified election results this week.

• Voter turnout this year was 24.9 percent, according to Elections Commission compliance chair Harrison Baker. He said 5,765 students voted in the election, which, in addition to the Union referendum, decided the 2017-18 student body president and vice president and most Student Senate representatives.

• On the Union referendum, 56.7 percent of students voted no, 32.6 percent voted yes, and 10.7 percent abstained, according to results from the Elections Commission.

University of Kansas 2017-18 OneKU coalition student body presidential candidate Mady Womack (right) and vice presidential candidate Mattie Carter.

University of Kansas 2017-18 OneKU coalition student body presidential candidate Mady Womack (right) and vice presidential candidate Mattie Carter.

The loss followed a multiyear focus-group and planning process undertaken by the Union.

“I am disappointed with the outcome of the election results," Collin Cox, executive outreach director for the RedoYourU campaign, said in a statement after the election. “However, our team is committed to continuing working on these efforts to insure a future renovation.”

The Union team plans to review the election outcome "and what that fully means moving forward," according to the statement.

“In these challenging financial times for students, it’s hard to convey the complexity of a $45 million project, most of it driven by things people will never see,” David Mucci, director of the KU Memorial Union, said in the statement. “We are confident this was the optimal project with the greatest efficiency that entailed the least amount of disruption for the campus.”

• Next year’s student body president will be Mady Womack, a junior from Overland Park majoring in economics. Vice president will be Mattie Carter, a junior from Kansas City, Mo., majoring in journalism and political science. They faced an unusually crowded field, with a total of four coalitions campaigning for the student body's top spots.

Prospective University of Kansas students walk past the Kansas Union while on a walking tour of the campus, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. The Union is proposing a $45 million renovation and students will vote in the spring on whether to add a 30-year, $50 per semester fee to finance it.

Prospective University of Kansas students walk past the Kansas Union while on a walking tour of the campus, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. The Union is proposing a $45 million renovation and students will vote in the spring on whether to add a 30-year, $50 per semester fee to finance it. by Nick Krug

Womack-Carter won with 47 percent of the vote, according to results from the Elections Commission. Tomas Green and Zoya Khan of the Kunited coalition received 35 percent of the vote; Chancellor Adams and Andrew Davis of the TrueKU coalition received 12.4 percent; and Chance Maginess and logan Miller of Onward coalition received 5.7 percent.

KU’s 2017-18 Student Senate representatives met as a body for the first time Wednesday night, at a joint meeting with the outgoing administration.


— 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

Update on multicultural student government: University Senate committee will review current Student Senate practices

A quasi-outside committee is being formed to review how the University of Kansas Student Senate does business, then recommend diversity and inclusion reforms that may include giving equal power to a separate multicultural student senate.

Several students — including the student body president and vice president — bristled at the idea, though they were out-voted on the matter.

“It says that the students can no longer be the active voice … that we need parents to hold our hand,” said Chance Maginness, a senior Student Senate representative and former University Senate member. “It will say to Student Senate that we are going to violate your autonomy.”

KU’s University Senate voted at its December meeting to create the University Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within University Governance. According to the recommendation — from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, with a vote in favor — the nine-person committee will be chaired by a person chosen by Faculty Senate execs. Execs from each of the following groups will choose two people to serve on the committee: Multicultural Student Government, Student Senate, Staff Senate and Faculty Senate. (Multicultural Student Government currently is recognized only as a student club at KU.)

A few weeks ago, Multicultural Student Government leaders indicated they’d come to University Senate with a direct request to be recognized as a fourth governing body within University Senate, currently made up of Faculty, Student and Staff senates. But it appears that idea has been abandoned, at least for now, in favor of committee exploration.

Faculty Senate execs based their recommendation (I’m pasting the full text below, for the record, in case anyone wants to read the whole, long thing) on a portion of the Provost’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group report that came out last spring and scathed the current Student Senate elections process as unfair to minorities and others outside the greek system — even suggesting that a University Senate committee might oversee student elections instead of students themselves.

“The Senate will have to take a stand to either accept, amend, or reject the proposed amendments,” the recommendation to form the committee says. “Given the current climate, sweeping the problems back under the rug with no political cost will no longer be an option.”

Sophie Wang, a Student Senate representative on University Senate, voted to create the committee, saying that although current Student Senate leaders are working hard on diversity, leaders change each year. She questioned how a group that is “not representative of the student body” could make needed changes on its own.

“You can’t really take the log out of your eye if you don’t think it’s there,” Wang said.

Brittney Oleniacz, a graduate student on Student Senate, also supported the committee.

“This isn’t parental hand-holding, this is just an outside entity looking in and saying maybe there are certain things we’re not seeing,” Oleniacz said. “There’s no harm in just getting opinions and more information on how we could better the process.”

Student Body President Stephonn Alcorn called the committee recommendation a “surprise" and lamented it was based on a report that doesn’t take into account anything his administration has put into place.

“Since April our No. 1 priority … has been shaping and molding a Student Senate that is open and accessible to all students,” Alcorn said. “Pretty much every single day is spent figuring out how we can make things better.”

“It is a little bit concerning that we’ve been doing all this work yet there was not consultation with us before this was created.”

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

Here's the full recommendation:

The University Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within University Governance

The purpose for this committee will be to implement the April 2015 recommendation of the Provost’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group that the University Senate “take special action to review the structure of student representation in University governance to ensure equitable representation between the MSG (Multicultural Student Government) and the current Student Senate, Student Senate elections processes to determine if Student Senate elections might be best administered by a University Senate committee comprised of students, staff and faculty; how to disrupt concentrations of power within the Student Senate in order to ensure that the Student Senate is inclusive, representative, and allows for broad participation from the student body; and whether coalitions should be abolished in the Student Senate elections process, thus requiring students running for Senator seats to campaign directly with the constituent students they seek to represent.”

Based on this review, the committee shall consider, draft, and/or propose amendments to the relevant governance documents, including but not limited to the University Senate Code and USRRs, SSRRs, and FSRRs at the University of Kansas, that can address the problems the DEI Advisory Group identified. The committee shall also consider any alternative recommendations for addressing the problems identified by the DEI Advisory Group that may come up during its deliberations, including the feasibility of a Multicultural Student Government being recognized by the University Senate and the Chancellor as, in effect, a fourth constituent senate within University governance.

The committee shall be comprised of the following nine members. Two student appointments shall be made by the current Multicultural Student Government Board. Two student appointments shall be made by the Student Senate Executive Committee. Two staff appointments shall be made by the Staff Senate Executive Committee. Two faculty appointments shall be made by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. A committee chair shall be appointed by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. The committee shall report to University Senate with proposed amendments to the relevant governance documents by April 15, 2017.

Rationale: The original proposal was limited to “explor[ing] the feasibility of a Multicultural Student Government”’s being recognized by the University Senate and the Chancellor as, in effect, a fourth constituent senate within University governance. The DEI Advisory Group’s recommendations and concerns, however, go beyond this idea to include several other avenues for bringing currently marginalized students into the centers of decision-making. These avenues are not mutually exclusive and could be pursued sequentially or concurrently. However, the realization of any one of them will require amendments to the Codes and RRs, so the committee is charged with reviewing, developing, and or and presenting these amendments. While the approval, staffing, scheduling and deliberation of the committee will slow down the legislative process, the committee will be charged with developing legislation, for the consideration of SenEx and the full University Senate, designed to remedy what the DEI Advisory Group terms “the deep sense of alienation” of students of color and others from governance. Accordingly, the Senate will have to take a stand to either accept, amend, or reject the proposed amendments. Given the current climate, sweeping the problems back under the rug with no political cost will no longer be an option.


— 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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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.

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