One reality check per semester


This semester, 88 Macalester students are taking classes at other schools in the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, or ACTC.The consortium, including Macalester, Augsburg College, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, and Hamline universities, allows students to enjoy both the community of small liberal arts colleges while accessing the resources of a much larger institution.

Macalester students are only allowed to take one class a semester at these other institutions and typically only when those classes are not offered here, as in the case of photography or business courses.

As Registrar Jayne Niemi put it, “[Macalester] students usually find what they need and want academically at Macalester.”

We agree, and ACTC classes that weren’t as academically challenging as those at Macalester have surely disappointed some students.

However, we can think of at least one good reason to take classes at other area institutions.

It’s a serious reality check.

After a couple of years at Macalester, it’s easy to believe that everyone likes Grizzly Bear, maintains an ironic distance from everything and voted for Obama. And, oh, everyone’s pretty near fluent in a second language, and they’ve been to a country where it’s spoken. They bought a scarf while they were there and they haven’t been tan since.

While that’s a stereotype that, like every generalization, falls short, the students and culture of each ACTC school are different.

It’s seriously worth getting off campus just for the sake of knowing what people are like at schools where an emphasis on diversity and internationalism, liberal politics and middle class status or general financial aid aren’t givens.

Take St. Thomas, for example. Solidly white, middle class, career-oriented and conservative, it’s not an appealing place for the average Macalester student to spend their time.

But if you remove yourself from this environment, refuse to talk to people who fit that description for four years, you will have learned to construct arguments in a milieu where everyone generally shares the same opinion and your view of the world is going to be seriously distorted.

When we volunteer or intern, we may be challenged by new situations or interactions with people from different class, racial or political backgrounds from ourselves, but we’re most likely meeting these challenges on terms we’ve chosen for ourselves.

Take a class at another school and force yourself to question whom you have assumed is the average student.

The opinions expressed above are those of The Mac Weekly, as determined by the staff. The perspectives are not representative of Macalester College