With a secret ballot of 19-7, and two abstentions, Mercyhurst Student Government (MSG) has approved the formation of a Multicultural Activities Council (MAC), separate from Student Activities Committee (SAC).
The change to the constitution was in conjunction with SAC. Caleb Ohmer, MSG Vice President said this idea is “based off of several factors, including, growth of the university, the depth and breadth of the diversity on campus, and our obligation to be globally responsible.”
All questions to MSG and their responses have been posted on the MSG Facebook page for students to view.
Avid debate questioned the effectiveness of a MAC in its ability to encourage unity. “The goal is to create two entirely new councils that will work together,” Public Relations Coordinator Garrett Erwin said.
Student Government President Nick Latta expressed the desire to stretch beyond SAC’s current ability to reach the multicultural population of Mercyhurst.
“Although SAC does a good job to include the multicultural population, we want to do more,” he said.
Sam Collier, a guest at the MSG Senate meeting, emphasized the need for more work in reaching students from different cultures, and said that “a lot of students embracing their culture do not feel they can just walk up to you (MSG) and ask for help.”
This is disturbing in our society and needs to be addressed, said Collier. However, there were differing opinions on how this would best be accomplished.
Other Senate members did not feel creating a new council and new position on the executive board would achieve the desired unity. “Creating two defined committees seems counterproductive to creating a united front,” MSG Senator TJ Lockhart said.
Other members questioned whether it was necessary to create the MAC and add an MAC Chair to the MSG executive board. They indicated that one or the other would suffice.
However, the vote showed that most senators agreed with the motion. “I suppose my opinion is that I see neither harm nor good coming out of the establishment of MAC,” MSG Senator Dylan Radtke said.
MSG Senator Lauren Watson had faith in the decision to form the MAC, and said, “I trust the executive board in the research and consultations they conducted before coming up with the new MAC initiative. I think it is very important to expand our attention and focus to the growing multi-cultural community.”
The decision to create the MAC appears to be responding to a national trend in colleges. There is growing recognition of the need for opportunities for students from other cultures.
“This initiative is something that is happening on college campuses everywhere, and with that, MSG has decided to take this on as a new initiative,” Ohmer said.
The constitution defines the Multicultural Chair’s mission as, “The mission committee shall coordinate activities and events to promote diversity on and off campus in cooperation with other RSCO and university entities.”
It is also stated, “the committee will also aid in conducting MAC events.” The MSG duties of the MAC chair will be very similar to those of the SAC chair; however, they will be bringing a different perspective to the discussion. In addition, they will share budgetary expense.
According to MSG Treasurer AJ Zahuranec, SAC will retain 75 percent of the weekend programming and therefore will be allocated 75 percent of the activities budget.
MAC will be allocated 25 percent of the remaining activity fund to make up the remainder of the entire fund. The same amount of events will be available for students on campus.”
The position will be effective in the next election for Student Government, and is expected to produce increased communication and opportunities for students to express their home cultures.
“The entire Mercyhurst community could benefit from this because it gives us an opportunity to learn of or about the many unique cultures that make up this community,” according to Watson.
“We anticipate seeing that every student will find a way to learn more about themselves and others, both personally and culturally,” said Erwin. MSG is presenting this opportunity but ultimately the students will have to accept the opportunity in order for it to be successful, Erwin said.
The best candidate for the job would need to possess a multitude of skills to enable effective communication and help encourage action among students.
“Ideally a successful candidate would possess the following: a commitment to and understanding of multiculturalism, event management experience, creativity, strong communication skills, a team-focused and self-motivation,” Michelle Farley, SAC Chair, said.