Staff Editorial

By Mac Weekly Staff

The selection of diplomat Richard Holbrooke as next fall’s opening convocation speaker and the announcement of the campus wide programming that will accompany Holbrooke’s visit strikes us as an intriguing and exciting invitation. There is no doubt that Holbrooke, who remains the only person to have held Assistant Secretary of State positions for two world regions and whose resume includes a U.S. ambassadorship to the United Nations, will enlighten the Macalester community. But it is perhaps even more important to note that community engagement will by no means be limited to the convocation speech itself. Holbrooke’s 1999 book “To End a War” will be required reading for all students at Macalester next fall. His positions, particularly those related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will be controversial to some. We imagine Holbrooke’s work and views will provoke significant discussion among students. The opportunity for all members of this learning community to simultaneously evaluate a single work, hear a renowned speaker, and further engage experts and each other on issues of global conflict and security at the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Symposium that will follow Holbrooke’s visit is unprecedented. Let us relish the chance to experience such an intellectual undertaking as a community.

Though the annual Founders Day Gala this evening will only be Macalester’s third in recent history, we find it enlightening to pause and reflect on that history. In its first incarnation, which happened in the wake of the controversial decision to make some admissions to the college need-aware, the gala, then a bloated, exorbitant, spectacle, seemed a perfect example of purportedly inverted institutional priorities. Some students, notably the so-called Billionaires Against Need-Blind, protested the event. In the second year, the controversy seemed to have died down. We hope and are confident that the calm will continue for several reasons. First, the event’s cost, which made it an easy target of students’ wrath the first time around, has been scaled down considerably. Second, and more importantly, the revenue-positive nature of the event now seems more commonly understood. Simply put, events like Founders Day help persuade alumni to make donations to the college, contributions that vastly exceed the cost of putting on such an event. Finally, the Gala has what it takes to bring all of the Macalester community together—namely alcohol. So party on.