Financial struggles magnified by disregard for student initiatives

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To the Editor: In the article “Financial constraints limit study abroad” (Nov. 4, front page) Macalester College Treasurer David Wheaton was quoted as saying that high energy prices and empty beds in the residence halls are currently leaving the college with little financial flexibility. Both of these issues could have been minimized or resolved had the administration followed student proposals on campus policies.

Student organizations have long been pushing to increase energy efficiency on campus as David Boehnke noted in his article “Student voice missing in budgetary process” (Nov. 4, p. 17). Empty beds in the residence halls, even more so, are the result of administrative ignorance of the student voice. The student body has been clear in stating that residential life is not living up to its potential. The disciplinary role of residential assistants (RAs) and the substandard community spaces on campus are both issues that students have communicated to the administration. Changing RAs from authority figures to community builders would better serve students living in dorms without any financial burden on the college.

Despite simple solutions, there are no changes in sight and the conditions remain less than ideal. If the administration invests in making the campus more desirable for students, in contrast to its current trend of making the campus a cute place for alums and parents to visit, more upperclassmen would live on campus. Macalester College’s financial situation is hurt by the administration’s failure to act on credible student input.

Jeff Herbst ’07

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Greater transparency needed in study abroad application process

To the Editor:

First of all, I want to thank all who covered the study abroad controversy in last week’s Mac Weekly. As usual, you guys are doing an excellent job. I’d especially like to thank David Boehnke for his thoughtful editorial on the issue.

As you might imagine, I was one of those 61 students who applied and was turned down to study abroad this spring. I was turned down because I did not sufficiently address how the particular courses I would take abroad would further my educational goals, this in spite of the fact that my program doesn’t tell students what courses will be available until after they are accepted. I don’t want to blame the administration for this fact, as I recognize that our budget is tight and we students can’t always get what we want.

That said, I just want to say that in the future, it would be helpful for the Study Abroad office to be more transparent and direct with students before study abroad applications are due. Had I known that my chances of being accepted were so low, I could have made other plans in advance, which would have been much less stressful.

Ashleigh Lambert ’07

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More sex, less tunnel exploration

To the Editor:

I was delighted to see a feature in The Mac Weekly about the tunnels beneath the campus. These have been a source of fascination for Mac students for a long, long time.

During my freshman year at Mac I lived in Dayton (which was demolished years ago to make room for the Student Center). One evening a group of us descended into the tunnels via a grate outside the front door of the dorm. We crawled through the utility tunnels to Weyerhauser Chapel, where we emerged behind the altar, and then went back in and crawled to the old Library. The tunnel ended in a broom closet in the basement of the library.

We opened the broom closet door and marched, dusty and sweating, through the Library and out its front door.

Of course, subsequent to this someone invented sex, so current students probably don’t have as much time to spend on such spelunking efforts.

Jeffrey Ward ’82

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Student awareness of local politics helped to elect Coleman

To the Editor:

First of all, I would like to commend the hard work of the MacDems leadership on a job well done. It is never easy to convince people to vote in an “off-year election”–even if this year’s election was unique. Second, I would like to thank The Mac Weekly for its coverage of the local political scene. As students at Mac, it is often hard to know what is going on beyond the “bubble,” but your coverage thus far this semester has helped students become engaged and aware of the importance of local politics.

A little over a year ago, The Mac Weekly asked me what I thought of the “Recall Randy” campaign. I did not believe that recalling Randy Kelly because of his endorsement of President Bush was right. In fact, I told The Mac Weekly that recalls based on political motivations had no basis, and that the recall law did not exist for purposes such as that. Basically, I thought, as I said at the time “that proper procedures exist[ed] to remove elected officials when necessary,” (“Mayor’s Endorsement Prompts Recall Petition,” 10/1/04).

An astounding 69 percent of voters in St. Paul decided that mayor Kelly was taking the city in the wrong direction. Thus, these “proper procedures” occurred before our very eyes this past Tuesday, when the people of St. Paul overwhelmingly voted to “recall” Randy Kelly and replace him with Chris Coleman, who will be a strong leader and will work to solve our city’s problems.

Zachary Teicher ’07

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Cuts to student aid are wrong

To the Editor:

Last week, students and administrators from Macalester College joined me in opposing the massive cuts to federal student loans proposed by the Republican majority in Congress.

The U.S. House is expected to vote on a Republican budget package that would cut student aid by $14.3 billion in order to pay for $70 billion in tax give-aways for the wealthiest Americans. As a result, a typical student borrower will pay $5,800 more for their college loans. This shortsighted and misguided budget proposal is opposed by Democrats.

A big part of my job in Congress is to fight for students and not eliminate the resources that make college affordable and accessible for Minnesota students and families.

Rep. Betty McCollum

Member of Congress

Democrat-St. Paul