Having to explain your demands ‘is a form of oppression’
The University of Kansas student government painted itself into a corner when it pledged last fall to support every demand by a new racial-protest group.
The student senate delivered on that hasty promise in an hours-long meeting Wednesday, voting to give an expected $90,000 to a nascent “multicultural student government” (MSG) whose only stated purpose is to “amplify unheard voices” at the school.
It would also have representation in the senate.
Race activists from the nearby University of Missouri crashed the meeting to shame senators into voting for the proposal, accusing those few who expressed reservations about a huge new outlay – for a group that doesn’t yet exist – of “oppression” and “privilege.”
The measure, which would institute a $2 student-fee increase to provide “equal representation in all university spaces,” must be approved by Student Body President Jessie Pringle and then Chancellor Bernadette Little-Gray.
Pringle has 10 days from the measure’s passage to veto or sign it. She told The College Fix in an email Friday afternoon that she had not signed it.
More money for stipends than programming
Students who were hoping that an MSG would provide more diversity programming at KU might be disappointed at the structure of outlays approved by the student senate.
Less than half of the revenue from the new student fee would go toward programming: $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.
The better portion, $48,000, would go to executive board stipends. The drafters of the proposal said Wednesday the eight executive board members would each receive a $6,000 annual stipend, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.
— Alex Robinson (@arobinsonfilm) March 10, 2016
Those board members’ duties are not spelled out yet. “Similarly to the existing Student Senate, MSG will center equity and social justice to amplify unheard voices in order to advocate for unheard voices in order to to effectively advocate for all students,” reads an FAQ provided to senators at the meeting.
Mizzou racial protesters join interruption-filled meeting
KU students were joined by Mizzou’s Concerned Student 1950, the racial protest group that has gone from toppling the system president in November to burning bridges with Mizzou’s new leaders earlier this month.
“You guys can’t keep attacking them, because they’re getting attacked every day,” one Mizzou woman told those gathered at the meeting, according to the Journal-World. “They’re not comfortable on their own campus that they pay to go to.”
The Mizzou protesters threatened retaliation if the new government was not approved.
“I guarantee you that we will come back, we will disrupt, it won’t be good,” another woman said of what would happen if the measure did not pass.
Love to @InvisibleHawks Asé
— ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950) March 10, 2016
They heckled KU student leaders as well. At one point in the meeting, Vice President Zach George raised a point of order for a speaker talking out of turn. “We don’t operate under point of order,” replied the student. “We’re not from KU.”
Cries of ‘oppression’ and ‘privilege’
The proposal’s drafters tried to set the accusatory tone early.
In an FAQ document, they described questions they had been asked as “accusations” and told senators that “a lack of your support is indicative of your desire to keep the imbalance of power and representation.”
Over the course of more than six hours, senators questioned the logistics of the proposal and how co-governance with the new government would work.
The student senate’s bylaws would need to be modified to give the MSG representation in the senate, Finance Committee Chairman Tyler Childress said, according to the Journal-World.
Chief of Staff Adam Moon spoke for those who thought the “large allocation” of $90,000, for a just-established project, was no small issue.
“We have not funded a group that is that newly registered before,” Moon said. “I just want to understand more going forward to make sure this works.”
That line of questioning was not appreciated by racial activists at the meeting.
— Alex Robinson (@arobinsonfilm) March 10, 2016
Katherine Rainey, who presented the case for the MSG, declined to give specifics. She pointed back to the senate’s November promise to support all 15 demands – including for an MSG – issued by the protest group known as KU Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk.
“This whole presentation, what they gave, is like a form of oppression,” a supporter from Mizzou 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.”
Moon acknowledged that his reservations about the formation of an entirely new government was “unpopular,” but said his opinion was rooted in genuine skepticism, not racism.
“Oppression! Oppression! Privilege!” replied one of the Mizzou activists.
The fee package, which includes the MSG, passed with 51 senators in favor, nine against and six abstaining.
IMAGE: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock