Staff Editorial

By The Mac Weekly Staff

Last week’s editorial by Hannah Zeeb ’16 resulted in massive levels of community response. The staff of The Mac Weekly feels the need to address two major issues that arose from the dialogue. First, many of the comments, both overheard and on the internet, were somewhat constructive and addressed some of the points that Zeeb attempted to articulate in her article. Criticizing the points she made is something that we encourage, as honest discussion only makes the student body stronger and forces us to back up our opinions with logic and reasoning. However, without going into specifics, a few students expressed their opinions in ways that can only be characterized as personal attacks that put down Zeeb herself, rather than the sentiments of her article. We do not condone these personal attacks. They make students less likely to express their opinions in the future for fear of being ostracized. Such attacks also stifle sincere intellectual discussion between students with differing beliefs. Discussion between opposing perspectives is one of Macalester’s greatest strengths. We should cultivate our ability to thoughtfully debate issues (however divisive they may be) without resorting to personal attacks or other unproductive means. It is our sincere hope that no student feels disinclined to speak out in light of the personal attacks that Zeeb experienced for making the “mistake” of candidly describing her first year experience so far. Regardless of whether or not you agree with what she said, we hope that you share with us the desire to respect your right to disagree and her right to share her opinion. Second, Zeeb’s critiques and impressions of the Macalester community resonated with some members of the student body, perhaps even you. Many Macalester students regularly express their disappointment with aspects of the Macalester community— for example, how insular the international student community can be despite our much-vaunted international attitude. Macalester upperclassmen who have dealt with these issues for years suddenly turning around to attack a first year’s opinions on issues we have all spent time worrying about reeks of a type of prejudice and hypocrisy one hopes doesn’t exist at a progressive Macalester. How can we convince someone viewing Macalester with impressionable new eyes that we are not cliquish, standoffish and narcissistic by responding in a condescending and belittling fashion? Such a response is nothing more than an affirmation of the points that her article made. Perhaps the piece could have been better edited or written (The Mac Weekly takes full responsibility for all grammatical errors, and the pre-edited version was the version that initially made it online), but the experiences and feelings expressed were valid and real. To discount those by saying the piece is ill-informed, or that she needs to just tough it out and let the feelings pass, serves to delegitimize the experience of other Macalester students with similar sentiments. The highest priority of the Opinion section is to provide a open and welcoming place for public discourse; while we welcome the volume of responses to Zeeb’s piece, we neither condone nor appreciate responses that leave the sphere of public critique and enter the sphere of personal criticism. We hope you continue to write letters to the editors, the authors, and have discussions across campuses about the words written in these pages—just not the type of response that would intimidate current and future authors and inhibit their ability to write honestly. refresh –>