TMW: What were your expectations about the Mac community before you arrived on campus as a first year?
CW: I think I expected to be in a place where I would be surrounded by people from all over — you know, with a bunch of different talents, sort of the admissions ploy. Besides that, my expectations were based on the feeling I got when I visited campus: apart from internationalism, good academics, civic engagement and those kind of things, I expected that warm, supportive yet critical environment I felt when I came to visit. And that’s the environment that drew me to Macalester.
Has your perception of the Macalester community changed since you arrived on campus?
I think that my perception of Macalester has changed a little bit, like what happens when you get to know a friend better. You see them at first and you have these general ideas, these concepts that are broad and more or less true. As I’ve been here, I think that my perception has changed in that my appreciation of the community has increased. But also I’ve understood the intricacies of it more and I understand when those big things aren’t true.
What do you like most about the Macalester community?
I think what I like most is the same thing a lot of people criticize about us and that is the idealism and the dreaming that people can do for what they want in the world. I think, while that can be unproductive and unrealistic, that’s also a really special place to be because it fills you up a little bit. You’re like, well that could be a thing. Maybe it won’t happen and maybe you’ll be disappointed, but in the end you’ll have found a path to go onto and you’ll have been encouraged to dream a little bit about it.
What do you feel is missing in the Macalester community?
I do sometimes feel like we don’t have an overall Macalester culture that could bring us all together. That sometimes disappoints me, and I don’t know exactly why. Perhaps it’s a stereotype of college where you have an identity as a student of that particular college — such as identification with the athletic program. We don’t really all come together around the same thing. While that’s great because that means we have this great diversity in what we do, and you can find your niche somewhere, it also means that we don’t come together as Macalester students very often. And I kind of wish that we had that togetherness.
Do you feel like there is an acceptance of different perspectives here?
This is a little bit of a loaded question, isn’t it? I think that generally speaking, yes. From my experience, this place is very accepting of different viewpoints. Does that mean it’s perfect? No. We’ll never be perfect. But I think overall we do a pretty good job.
What are you looking forward to in your next two years at Macalester?
That’s a good question. I’m really looking forward to deepening my involvement in the things I already do. I think over the past two years I’ve broadened what I do to include working in the Civic Engagement Center, working in MCSG, having different friend groups, volunteering and even doing research. I’m looking forward to deepening my relationship with the people involved in those things, like getting to know my boss more and to strengthen my background in those areas. I’m sure I’ll change a little bit and try some new things, but I think the strength of those relationships is what I’m looking to form over the next two years. I want to leave my mark, in a good way, on the places where I spend time.
What do you expect the Macalester community to look like in 10 years?
I think that some things will change and some things will remain the same. I hope that this place always remains a place for “students like us.” For people who are a little idealistic and who like going to college and being involved in some way. I hope it remains a place where those people can be encouraged to try new things but also explore deeper what they already do.
But I also think there are challenges that will come. Higher education is facing the problem of increased costs and, while this college is relatively financially sound, there’s the problem of staying that way. I hope we aren’t afraid to be a little bit different. I mean, while some peer institutions spend double what we do, does that really mean their students are getting twice the education?
I don’t know where we’ll be. I don’t know where I’ll be. And I know myself better than I know Macalester.