Staff Editorial: Toward greater transparency, accountability for IGC

By

Tuesday’s informational meeting about the purpose of Macalester’s Institute for Global Citizenship Tuesday represented a positive step for transparency and engagement at Macalester. We view the meeting as an opportunity for significant and useful clarification.We found it refreshing and impressive to hear Board of Trustees student liaison Blythe Austin ’08, President Brian Rosenberg and Institute Dean Ahmad Samatar respond so directly to our March 7 editorial. At that time, we noted the widespread confusion among students and faculty about the Institute (“IGC: It’s Generally Confusing”). Hearteningly, administrators responded to this confusion, largely on students’ terms.

Notably, President Rosenberg spoke with a genuine depth of appreciation for the possible reasons for such confusion. We are confident that students who attended the presentation came away with a clearer understanding of the Institute’s programming, as well as an acknowledgment of its limitations which makes clear that Macalester will continue to support a broad array of programming.

However, the meeting was not without its disappointments. We found Samatar’s largely defensive tone somewhat contradictory to his own claim to openness.

Samatar lamented our March 7 reference to the addition of an advisory Student Council to the Institute this past spring. Clearly, he was miffed by our observation that student input was, in some important ways, effectively appended in the process of the formation of the Institute.

Samatar went on to tout the presence of two students in high-level conversations about the Institute, which he emphasized preceded the formal creation of an advisory Student Council. Further, he questioned the degree to which we researched our claim.

One is reminded of the riddle attributed to Lincoln: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? The answer: four, because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. Frankly, the presence of two students – for all the high quality work those students have done – is not the same thing as a committee, much less a broad base of student input. This was our thinking when we wrote the March 7 editorial. It remains our thinking today.

Process, timing, inclusion and transparency continue to matter. Ultimately, that was what made this event such an important and positive step. We hope that the conversations that emerge have the potential to help the Institute grow in both accountability and relevance to students, and that students take leadership in calling for such accountability.

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