Letters to the Editor

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Budget misquoted in columnTo the Editor:

It has been brought to my attention that the number quoted for the yearly budget of the Department of Multicultural Life in my op-ed (“Connecting the dots: racial inequities at Mac,” page 18) last week was inaccurate.

The op-ed reported the number to be “approximately $21,000” when-after learning how to do so early this week-I checked the official school budget report (available for check-out in the library Course Reserves, under “Rosenberg, Brian C.”), and discovered that the Department of Multicultural Life budget listed for 2005-2006 is $36,953. I apologize for the misquote.

While one figure may have changed, it did not change the point of the anecdote in which it was contained nor the overall point of the op-ed: all’s certainly not well with multiculturalism at Macalester, and those of us who give a damn need to get on that.

Seth Schlotterbeck ’06

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Affirmative action works against those it seeks to help

To the Editor:

I’d like to comment on the four opinion articles you’ve published on affirmative action. I don’t agree with Joseph Schultz’s original article (“Affirmative action is a losing deal for everyone,” page 18, Dec. 2), but I likewise disagree with those who would call the examination of affirmative action “white supremacist” or a “waste of time recycling tired old discourse.”

This reminds me of when someone I once worked with was told by our manager: “There are two things this company wants to see in its managers, and you’ve got both of them. You’re a woman, and you’re a minority.”

She didn’t appreciate all her hard work and achievements-indeed, her entire identity-being so reduced to little more than a statistic for a compliance report. In fact, she felt debased and discouraged.

Ultimately, affirmative action is little more than a tool of white male paternalism. It often demeans, discredits, or brings into question the legitimate achievements and unique identities of the very people it seeks to help. Plus, it stokes racial hatred as some blame minorities for “stealing” positions they “deserve.” Most importantly, it often makes people complacent and so draws attention away from the underlying problems with housing, law, and early education that occur long before one applies to a prestigious college or employer.

Despite affirmative action, the discrimination in our nation has in many ways only gotten worse. Again, I don’t agree with Mr. Schultz’s implicit denial of discrimination or his demand for affirmative action’s dismantling. But there’s plenty of room to question how affirmative action should work and whether or not it is the best way to fight injustice. I appreciate The Mac Weekly devoting the space to these questions.

Brandon Mason ’06

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Experimental College to bring community onto campus

To the Editor:

While “community engagement” is a buzzword on campus and many students leave to volunteer or do research, I rarely see the community invited or engaged at Macalester. We have many resources right at our fingertips but how are these actively shared with the community?

An idea has come forward to start a Macalester Experimental College that would be a learning space where anyone-staff, faculty, students, community members-could teach and take classes. The Experimental College would 1) broaden the definition of education beyond academics, 2) broaden the definition of students, and 3) make Macalester’s resources an accessible part of the community. If you are interested in helping to organize the ExCo, teach a class, or participate in workshops, please email myself or [email protected]

Miriam Larson ’08