Rethinking op-ed behavior

By Sam Wershow

The March 27 issue of the Mac Weekly brought us yet another op-ed article wondering aloud whether students are living up to Macalester’s ideals. Usually I confine my disgust to conversation with my roommates, but enough is enough. I am sick and tired of this paper being used as a platform for long-winded, overwritten diatribes against generalized members of the Macalester community. The authors of these pieces take it upon themselves to arrogantly chastise their immature classmates. Then they give vague exhortations for how we might behave in a way more consistent with Macalester’s core values, whatever those are.
These articles pop up constantly. My favorite example appeared in November 2007: Maliq Muro’s “If not now, when?: A call to honor Macalester ideals” challenged us all, in the vaguest possible terms, to “stop failing macalester” and “embrace active and dynamic change.” Thanks buddy. Evidently, one of Macalester’s foundational values is self-righteousness. I understand that the Mac Weekly is starved for content, and therefore will publish whatever dreck they are sent. My complaint is directed specifically against the authors of these articles, who place themselves above the student body and lack the evidence (or maybe the cojones) to actually criticize anyone directly.
Emmet Costel’s “Rethinking our weekend behavior” is merely the most recent offender. Thank god Emmet, is here to reprimand us and demand reflection upon our weekend partying habits. Why was this article written? The only specific incidents mentioned happened months ago. Emmet doesn’t offer any suggestions for more appropriate behavior. The article is devoid of any coherent analysis. It is a minimally developed collection of general criticisms of student behavior. It is certainly not likely to cause anyone to rethink their behavior.

There is raw material here for thoughtful conversation. Our relationship with the Macalester-Groveland community, St. Thomas, or the St. Paul police could all be interesting subjects for an opinion piece. But I find it difficult to even decipher Emmet’s opinion. Is he asking underclassmen not to come to his parties? Is he condemning vandalism? Why does he keep comparing us to sardines? His obnoxious writing, cluttered with attempts at clever wordplay, fails to mask the article’s utter lack of substance.
“One would think that Macalester would hold itself as a student body to higher standards of social comportment as they condemn their superiority in accordance with the Princeton Review”

Can anyone tell me what that sentence means?
“The game nears its conclusion and the penguins begin their migration back to lose themselves as flotsam and jetsam in the eddies of the night.”

Take that, you vandalizing penguins. Nothing stings worse than crappy poetic analogies.
College students are a rowdy demographic. I have found Macalester students to be pretty darn tame relative to their peers. This fall I witnessed a St. Thomas student physically assault a Mac student. While at the University of Minnesota, I saw a student threaten several others with a baseball bat. Either of those incidents easily trumps anything I have seen at Mac.

“Macalester, a little humility is in order.”

I couldn’t agree more Emmet. Start with yourself and your pal Dave, Mr. “they know no better.” To anyone that wishes to criticize student behavior: drop the holier-than-thou attitude and try constructing a thoughtful argument.

Sam Wershow ’10 can be reached at [email protected]