Institute for Global Capitalism

By Stefan Deeran

I got a golden ticket to observe Thomas L. Friedman usher in Macalester’s Institute for Global Citizenship last Tuesday. While many students have commented that Friedman’s speech was rather boring and his revelations were not particularly revolutionary for a generation raised on the Internet, I have to admit I found the event engaging simply because it revealed Mac’s elitist priorities under the Rosenberg/Samatar experiment. I had the privilege of witnessing an irritated Friedman signing copies of The World is Flat for the wealthy alumni in attendance before the show and consequently assumed his speech would lack passion. Luckily for the whopping 75 grand it is rumored to have taken to bring this brand name here, Friedman kept up a smile as he outlined the glories of global capitalism for the crowd.

I found the brief Q and A section quite telling. One student asked what he could do to succeed in this ultra-competitive, outsourcing global economy as a poor liberal arts student without enough math or science preparation. Me, me, me. This Institute is not about undermining or critiquing the Internet Age. It’s about understanding the present system so Mac students can “assume positions of leadership,” according to a quote by President Rosenberg in the literature handed out before the speech. Are we are training the rulers and apologizers of Friedman’s world order? Mac’s priority is clear: follow the money and it leads to Dean Samatar at the expense of other important aspects of college life like the understaffed Student Affairs Dept. and the Dean of Multicultural Life.

Why did we pay for an advocate of global capitalism when we could have chosen from millions of other voices who could speak about the problems of this fragile current system? Perhaps because Mac is more interested in maintaining our brand identity of internationalism. This school spends thousands advertising to the sons and daughters of the US and world’s wealthiest families. We also throw heaps of financial aid dollars at affluent international students at the expense of any substantial domestic diversity or middle class or poor U.S. white students. Perhaps I am mistaken, but the admissions website curiously excludes figures about how much aid is given to international students. All I am asking is that we have an honest discussion about the elitist direction of this school instead of maintaining this fa’¨ade that Mac is a here to educate public intellectuals and revolutionaries. Even the best brands in the world can’t survive false advertising.

Contact Stefan Deeran ’06 at [email protected]