Opinion

Life post-election: MacCARES and the path forward

Dear Macalester Community,

In the wake of the presidential election and other current events that remain at the surface of our collective conscience, we, members of MacCARES, have taken time to reflect. To acknowledge that we are not alone in this reflection, to further conversation, and to provide context for our perspectives, we write the following:

MacCARES’ vision includes four main components: community advocacy, resilience, environmentalism, and sustainability. Accordingly, we believe that…

(1) There are people around the world who, unlike us, do not have the privilege to address global environmental issues. These people are often the ones who are most affected by the consequences of environmental degradation, not the people mainly responsible for causing it.

(2) The US government has a responsibility to take decisive action to prevent and mitigate damage to the planet and ensure quality of life for future generations.

(3) We all must hold the government accountable to this responsibility. If the government does not act, then we must overcome this failure.

Easy, right? This is a lofty vision and we’ll be the first to admit we don’t carry out our parts in this vision as effectively as we want to. We have to write papers, study for tests, and plan our futures — all the while enjoying our college experience. Our organization meets for one hour a week and we do the best we can to juggle our beliefs and values with the reality of the daily grind. So what does this vision look like for us, on a daily basis? The general election results forced us, like many others, to take a look at what we’re doing.

Sometimes, it looks like 2 hours spent door-knocking with representatives for the City of St. Paul to explain recycling changes and working to overcome a language barrier. Other times, it means sharing information on Facebook or tabling to encourage people to make personal commitments. During the warm months, tree planting and river cleanup are traditions. These are positive steps, but we want more.

We must continue to make progress on the goals that we have been working hard towards, because this election has emphasized that we cannot rely on our political leaders to take action for us. Without losing sight of what we’ve already accomplished, we must take significant steps forward. It is more important than ever to raise our voices with vulnerable communities. Macalester can no longer be content planting trees and changing light bulbs. Although these things remain important, we must commit to being leaders in fighting climate change and climate injustices per our values of internationalism, multiculturalism, civic engagement and sustainability. This looks like speaking up. It looks like conversation. It looks like community-wide cooperation. Admittedly, it looks overwhelming and hard.

But it is undeniably important, and MacCARES needs your help. We ask for continued interaction, involvement and coordination between the many Macalester networks working towards this goal. We ask you—students, staff, faculty, administrators—to help us do what our federal government should but won’t do.

President Rosenberg has voiced his dislike of higher education institutions advancing political agendas, but we do not consider climate change and sustainability to be partisan issues. These are issues that have been thrust into the middle of political debate along with racial justice and religious freedom, among many others. Instead of indicating that Macalester should steer clear of these issues, we believe that these attacks on human rights and social justice mean that Macalester needs to double down on its commitments to its values and communities.

December 9, 2016

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar