KU Establishes First-of-its-Kind Multicultural Student Government

The Student Senate at the University of Kansas (KU) overwhelmingly approved a proposed student fee increase last month that will establish the first-of-its-kind Multicultural Student Government (MSG). Members of the student activist group Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk supported the bill, which amends the 2016-2017 fiscal budget for the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Following events at the University of Missouri (MU) in Columbia that led to the resignation of university system President Timothy Wolfe, KU student activists formed Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk to highlight the concerns of minority students on campus who say their concerns are often overlooked. The organization, led by former Student Senate Director of Diversity and Inclusion Jameelah Jones and Katherine Rainey, presented a list of 15 demands to the Senate, including the formation of the MSG.

The new governing body will remain independent of — but not isolated — from the KU Student Senate. Jones and Rainey said the two groups will work together to provide additional resources to underrepresented groups on campus.

“This is a solution to multicultural students being excluded and underrepresented in central, governmental policies and procedures,” Jones told the University Daily Kansan.

The senate vote gives the MSG control over the $90,000 multicultural education fund, which will be funded by a $2 increase in student fees, beginning in the fall. The new government also gained 12 spots on the senate’s campus fee review subcommittee, doubling the total number of seats on that committee.

Some senators voiced concerns that an independent MSG would segregate students by race or ethnicity. Those in favor of the new governing body said such segregation already exists.

“The fact that a lot of students do not feel safe going to Student Senate, or don’t even know what Student Senate is — it’s not just about race and ethnicity,” Rainey said. “It’s also about age, about whether or not you have children, whether or not you’re a veteran. Anyone that has a love or a passion for helping out these specific communities is welcome to join.”