Get involved; you choose how

By David Boehnke

Hello all you wonderful people! Strangely enough, I’m pumped to be here again at Mac, for another semester of joy, strain, and friendship. And with that I’d like to share with you some of the work being done on campus that is important to me and to consider the challenges and possibilities for this semester. Some of you may have heard of groups like Think Outside the Tank ([email protected]), the Student Forum ([email protected]), and so on (if not, see MPKB.net for info on these and other campus initiatives). These are student networks that are open to anyone that is attempting to build student community and power on campus, to improve the student experience and make Macalester better for the community and the world. You hopefully know MCSG, your student government.

As I see it, the defining call of student activism over the last few years has been “we can do better.” And while this might sound like a lame advertising slogan or reality TV-show punch line, I feel it accurately represents very real possibilities for improving all facets of life here at Mac, beginning with orientation and continuing past graduation through fruitful alumni networks.

There were several impressive successes last semester, like the Mactivism 101 event and Inside/Outside Zine (organized by Think Outside the Tank), which gave a new swath of students the context to begin enacting change:

-The actions taken to allow all students qualified by this year’s standards to study abroad.

-The forming of the Student Forum and its working groups, and the Bridging Gaps Memo created by a combined MCSG/Student Forum effort to advise those running next year’s orientation.

-The visit by Ashanti Alston to our campus

-A fabulous Midnight Breakfast

-A more functional student government that is in a position to make important ground this semester.

Nevertheless, there is much yet to do. Consider joining a student org, running for MCSG, or checking out the Student Forum, particularly the work being done to create an experimental college here at Macalester (Miriam at [email protected]). There will also be an MCSG survey going out relatively soon on improving residential life issues (me, that is David at [email protected]) and from the Dean of Students on work study (Laurie at [email protected]) which should be instrumental in organizing campus change. Use this opportunity to alert decision-makers of your opinions and (if you’d like) join the process.

Moreover, MCSG is reforming its constitution (Jess at [email protected]), as well as holding a coffee hour to have some chill time with campus decision makers. MCSG is also working to improve students’ impact on the budgetary process (Ben, at [email protected]). Beyond that, the new Institute for Global Citizenship is supposed to be a “flagship” for Macalester and if students’ realistic yet ambitious projects are included, it has the potential to be an important project (Stephanie at [email protected]).

Also for those concerned with the biggest fries, myself and others want to work on creating a long-term Student Strategic Plan for Macalester. This would be a 10 year student vision for Macalester with benchmarks and plans to reach them. If done, this should include the short and long-term plans and the principle behind them of every student constituency on campus, including organizations, academic and social interests, etc. and would be organized in a decentralized, participatory manner ([email protected]).

A final few thoughts: while students have applied amazing brain power to their efforts, we still need to push ourselves to be more organized and goal-oriented, allowing “theory to norm practice and vice versa,” as well as continuing to build relationships and finding ways to work together and in solidarity. Furthermore, while faculty have plenty of their own problems, I would encourage faculty who would like to be involved with student affairs to do so, even if that only means encouraging students in your classes to get involved (same with staff). If we are going to work to produce an improved Macalester, students, staff, faculty, and alumni are going to have to learn to work together, with our strengths, weaknesses, and differences.

Lastly, join the community; take, teach, or support classes that get you into the `world’…and please consider our wonderful alumnus Jesse Mortenson for your state house representative next November.