Call to Action struggles to find focus, plan

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Immediately following this year’s International Roundtable, a group of 16 students brainstormed for four hours to draw up a document outlining suggested changes in campus food policy. Referring to the document as a “Call to Action,” a committee of students who feel passionate about the theme of food justice has been working since the Roundtable to discuss its next steps and the fate of the document itself.

“We don’t exist as a student group, per se,” said Caroline Devany ’13 in a discussion at the group’s most recent meeting, which took place this Tuesday. As such, the committee has been working closely with Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship (IGC) Christy Hanson, in collaboration with President Brian Rosenberg and MCSG.

The document in question outlines suggestions for measures that various departments, programs and services on campus could take to make Macalester more sustainable and improve the college’s stance on food justice. The overall goal of the call to action was, according to the document, ”to take action informed by thoughtful analysis of the problems that we [Macalester] face[s].”

In their most recent meeting, committee members struggled to clarify what the immediate future holds for the fate of the document and the movement they hope to create on campus. Admitting to a disconnect between the personal motivations of the student committee and the institutional approach to the document’s language, Associate Dean of the IGC Karin Trail-Johnson said that the document does not reflect the views and values of the entire campus. Associate Dean of Students Lisa Landreman agreed.

“It wasn’t a good process, it wasn’t a good charge,” Landreman said. “If I were to do it all over again I’d never do it the way we did. It was a brainstorm, not a full, democratic call to action. It needs to look a little different to be a document we’re going to preserve.”

“This was a voice of the time,” Margo Faulk ’13 said. “[In the future] the document should still be important as a testament.”

This, the group came to conclude, means a call for a new plan going forward. For some, the resolution took time to settle.

“The document has legitimacy,” committee member Sarah O’Connor ’13 said. “To go back on that seems unfair.”

For now the document will be saved and archived. The group hopes the IGC will help formalize the publishing process as a symbol of support not to be confused with endorsement.

Call to Action going forward

Many students who drafted the Call to Action are also involved with Kick Wall Street Off Campus (KWOC), a group that aims to end the college’s relationship with Wells Fargo because of the bank’s role in the current housing crisis. Committee members ultimately agreed that they are all looking for the same thing: to give the college a set of guidelines regarding certain values that Macalester should follow and emulate when making policy choices.

With that in mind, the committee has two main goals going forward. The first is to formally preserve the document and to begin a community conversation that will ultimately lead to action with the community and the administration in particular.

“It’s about cultivating larger conversations about the things on the document,” Devany said.

The next immediate step will be to meet with Hanson and get the department up-to-date and on board with the plan to start fresh for a community approach. There is still some confusion regarding the IGC’s involvement and institutional endorsement.

The committee decided that the document will not be presented as the formal set of guidelines for the school, but suggestions of the IGC spearheading the group’s networking raised red flags for some. MCSG President Patrick Snyder ’13, who was in attendance at this week’s meeting, pointed out that if the committee can organize its thoughts and intentions, getting departments and organizations on campus involved should not be a problem.

The committee is also looking for new members who will ultimately take the helm.

“Most of us are seniors,” Faulk said. “It’s not responsible for us to take this on as something we can champion.”