Stuck in the Bubble

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It’s a well known fact that first-years and sophomores at Macalester don’t venture outside of the “Macalester bubble” as often as they may have anticipated when they decided to come here. As such, younger students remain connected to the campus, and well informed about what goes on here.At the same time, most juniors and seniors move off campus, and venture out into the Twin Cities instead of sticking around our humble intersection at Grand and Snelling.

Certainly such a progression is natural, appropriate, and desirable. But this comes at a cost.

It’s no secret that juniors and seniors grow increasingly disconnected with the Macalester campus, and, to a degree, with the Macalester community at large, and in recent years this trend has become more prevalent.

At the end of last semester, there were over 50 empty rooms that Residential Life did not fill with the expected juniors and seniors. Why the mass exodus?

Quite simply, what’s being done pushes students away. Cracking down on RAs–forcing them to act as police among their friends in such a small community–has had a lingering impact on many students. Certainly a commuter meal plan and Mac Monday’s aren’t going to bring students back to campus en masse either.

Yet there are some bright spots. Establishing new traditions like Founders’ Day, and reestablishing old ones like the Midnight Breakfast go a long way.

More can be done, though. Many colleges offer mentoring programs, where an older student may act as an informal advisor to a younger peer.

Whatever the specifics, we encourage the college to move beyond just talk, and make serious efforts to fill the empty beds.