Trinity Carpenter Interview

Grad student at the University and founding member of MSG, Trinity Carpenter speaks about the creation of MSG, what she wanted the organization to achieve, and what it means to her.

Editor's Note: This is one of two guest columns published in the Kansan regarding the recent decision by Student Senate to dissolve its agreement with the Multicultural Student Government. The other was written by Student Body President Mady Womack.

The Multicultural Student Government is successful. MSG has done everything this institution and Senate has asked of it in order to exist. MSG fought hard to exist. MSG has grown since the organization was originally thought into existence. MSG has grown since Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk stood on stage at the race forum and demanded it.

The ugly truth is MSG was a hard-won accomplishment that should have been initiated by the institution and Senate; however, prior to marginalized students’ efforts, the need for our representation and participation in the allocation of resources and student government on this campus was not a concern. Was ignored. Neglected. We were deemed invisible. Let’s never forget that marginalized students started their advocacy efforts within Senate when they tried to win an election with their own coalition. Created the position for the director of diversity and inclusion. Begged and pleaded with top administrators to address the rampant inequities that existed in Senate then and that still stand.

We were awarded $90,000. The institution then moved the goal post. After a long fight and an insurmountable amount of consensus building and negotiations, MSG reestablished not only funding but a Memorandum of Agreement that took exhaustive efforts. The agreement that was discussed and recognized by the Kansas Board of Regents itself has now been deemed null and void without any transparency or conversation. Are we as an institution setting precedent that MOAs have no power? That there is no protocol to end agreements in contract? Let me be clear: MSG was penalized for not accomplishing in six months what Student Senate has failed to accomplish in 50 years.

Senate should not take precedence over MSG. This is dangerous and irresponsible. I would argue the very handling of this issue is a reflection of why Student Senate cannot be entrusted with the fate of marginalized students. The Senate allowed the premature forfeiture of the Multicultural Education Fund that was never attached to our funding. The forfeiture of secured funding promoted and agreed to be sustainable for the entirety of four years. MSG expressed fear of this very thing transpiring and was assured the MOA would protect us from fighting to maintain funding every year. Yet, here we are.

Senate’s decision was an attempt to exploit a vulnerable moment of an already vulnerable organization. Our first six months. We couldn’t even be given a year.

We are all complicit, all responsible. We all could have done more. Speaking for myself, I could have extended more investment, cultivation and resources. A transition of leadership is difficult. Graduate school is hard. The hard truth is I am overextending and struggling to survive. However, the hard fact is only Senate entered into a contract and demanded responsibility over MSG to then celebrate MSG’s demise, all while trying to implement their own version of “us” built off our backs and at the expense of our pain.

Senate should be ashamed. Any administrator who advised and is complicit should be ashamed. This institution should be ashamed.

As a founder, as a student, as a leader on this campus, I will fight and I assure you others will fight with me.

We will give more sweat. We will give more tears. We will give more pain.

I will give my all to assure that marginalized students are extended the same grace extended to Senate at any cost. You know why, despite my current disagreement with the current politics and leadership, MSG deserves more.

I will not accept silence from the University of Kansas or responsible parties.

Trinity Carpenter, a founder of the Multicultural Student Government, is a graduate student from Richmond studying social welfare