Letters to the Editor

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To the Editor:As a sign of Macalester College’s recognition of the loss of thousands of lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we ask that our flags be flown at half-staff until these wars are ended. This includes more than 4,000 American soldiers, but also the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani lives, most of them civilian.

Although not every member of our community may believe as we do that these wars are unjust and must end, showing respect for the wars’ dead is an act that transcends politics.

We believe that our community’s majority opposition to these wars supports this request, and it should be the college’s duty as an institution of global citizenship to make the tragedy of the wars a visible presence on our campus.

Macalester Peace and Justice Committee and Students for a Democratic Society (MPJC-SDS)

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To the Editor:

I was a representative on the MCSG Legislative Body from the moment the Grand Avenue median was proposed through the time it was built. I kept abreast of the reasons for silly trials such as “the fence” and shared them with my constituents (the fence was a neighborhood resident’s suggestion that the school had to disprove the effectiveness of). I ramped up my constituents’ enthusiasm for an eventual median. As someone who crossed Grand to get to those very Legislative Body meetings, I was all for a Grand Avenue median because I believed that it would make clear to drivers that we students had every intention of stopping and looking both ways again once we reached the 4-foot-wide painted area in the middle of the road.

But Snelling Avenue does not, and never did in my time at Macalester, have the same crossing patterns as Grand Avenue. Although a few people stop in the 6-inch-wide middle of the road while also using crosswalks to wait for traffic again, that is not the pattern I witnessed or used a majority of the time. Good solutions should mark and facilitate pre-existing patterns of pedestrian behavior, not try to create them out of thin air. My father frequently shares his experience at Carnegie-Mellon when the administration left the front of a new building grassed over until they saw where students trampled it down and then built a sidewalk along that path. Grand Avenue’s median was this type of brilliant idea because it too follows the pattern of marking pedestrian habits more clearly for everyone. Solutions to the danger of crossing Snelling should follow the same pattern.

In my experience, the majority of time people wait until it seems they will be able to catch the eyes of drivers in both directions of traffic before setting out. They also use the painted crosswalks. The perfect solution for this habit of pedestrian behavior seems to be traffic signals triggered only by pedestrian push-buttons. I am aware that MNDot has refused to do this because Snelling is a state highway. Well, then Macalester should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying MNDot to make a special exemption or to completely reconsider its policy of not putting small push-button signals at crosswalks across state highways. Macalester should not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars conceptualizing a plan that goes against the flow of student pedestrian traffic and creates five Snelling-related problems for every one problem it somewhat alleviates.

Katie Gumpertz ’05