Letters to the Editor

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To the Editor:I write to endorse comments made by my colleague, Leola Johnson, and in the editorial in the Sept. 5 issue of The Mac Weekly about the departure of Doug Stone from Macalester College. The loss to us is significant. Doug was an excellent director of college relations. He cared deeply about Macalester and its responsibility as an institution of public service. Just as important, in his job he was well connected to the Twin Cities community, and in particular, as a former reporter and editor and as press secretary for Paul Wellstone, to journalists in the local media.

My sense from the article is that Doug’s leaving continues the trend of the last years at the college to diminish costly local connections and service as we go for the gold of national/global fundraising. Think of the loss of MACCESS and the World Press Institute as well as the end of need-blind admissions. For local journalists, Doug’s leaving is just another brick in the wall.

This seems particularly true in light of Vice President Tommy Bonner’s quoted comment that we need to change the job and have someone with “institutional strategic thinking” in the position. I was interviewed by the college’s consultant from Washington University this summer, and I know his background. He’s someone who sees college relations as a branch of public relations, which means that the content of college communication and public relations needs to serve the fundraising bottom line. Now, I’m all for fundraising, and I appreciate the hard work of our fund raisers, especially when it goes toward financial aid or recruitment of students from disadvantaged families or decent pay for our co-workers or academic and co-curricular programs that make the world a better place. Yet I do not believe our alums or students or the community want the college relations office turned into an Orwell-Bush Ministry of Truth. When there are conflicts and problems at the college, when there is dissent, people want to know, because what happens at Macalester matters to them.

I have a sense in recent years that some of our administrative hires have been less concerned about the college’s community and social missions than they have with developing an attractive bottom line. No doubt, when they were hired they were told this was their job. However, many of us connected to Macalester believe that the millions in tax breaks the college and its contributors receive require us to put social responsibility first. Social responsibility calls upon us to hire more Doug Stones in our administration. It does not call for turning administration of the place over to PR “strategic thinkers” for whom information about Macalester is just another tool for the accumulation of wealth.

Clay Steinman
Humanities and Media and Cultural Studies

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To the Editor:

So Mac students were pepper sprayed in a crowd of 10,000 protesters (Six students pepper-sprayed at Republican Convention protest,” Sept. 5). Gosh, what a surprise.

And Emily Cox ’10 calls that a “police state?” Cox may want to review her knowledge of history, as in what a police state is really like. Police states such as Cuba, North Korea, and Nazi Germany would be good places to start her re-education.

If a crowd of 10,000 protesters marching on a hall filled with elected officials results in only a few being pepper sprayed, such an incident shows remarkable police restraint.

Macalester students are making a mockery of their campus and school. Part of a liberal arts education is understanding that life is not simplified into solely black and white categories.

An education is about analysis and judgment. Call it thinking. Claiming their burning eyes resulted from a police state shows outrageous ignorance. So much for a Macalester education.

Roger S. Peterson ’67
Founder, Macalester Alumni of Moderation