Summit covers broad range of concerns

By Daniel Kerwin

Macalester’s first ever Campus Committee Summit was held last Saturday morning. The event was designed to help improve communication and the flow of information on campus, especially between the student campus committees. The discussion touched on issues from transparency in the tenure process to socially responsible investing by the college.Macalester College Student Government President Alison Tray ’09 played a big role in creating the forum along with Dean of Students Jim Hoppe.

“The idea originated after the chiller/cooler system discussion when the administration and students started discussions on how to improve inter-campus communication,” Tray said. “One of these ways was connecting student representatives to other student representatives on campus, and furthermore, those student representatives to the student body.”

There are 13 campus committees at Macalester, all of which are appointed through MCSG. However, after the committees are formed they are left to their own affairs and seldom reconnect with the other campus committees. Since many of the committees work on overlapping issues, the lack of communication between them presented a problem.

“Some committees are working on things that are very, very similar, there was a lot of information exchanged,” Vera Sidlova ’11 said. “I think people did learn a lot of things of how what they do relates to each other.”

The event was open to the student body, and in all around 15 people attended. It was held in the Weyerhaeuser boardroom and was an informal, discussion-based event. Most of the attendees were part of a campus committee, but at least two students unaffiliated with any committee came and voiced their concerns at the summit.

The main areas of discussion were questions about increasing transparency in the tenure process, updates and issues related to the soon to be completed Institute for Global Citizenship building, issues related to library usage and how paper is used on campus, socially responsible investing by the college and on textbooks and plans to create a textbook scholarship.

The topic of faculty tenure was touched on, sparked by controversy over Scott Morgensen, a student favorite in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality department who was denied tenure last year. There are plans to have a tenure information session in the near future to clear up any questions or concerns students have about the current tenure process.

Interest in Macalester’s investments centered around how Macalester can invest and still be socially responsible. The Sudan divestment proposal from last year was a key case study in the discussion.

Aggravation over the recent experiment by the library to turn its printers off for a few hours on “Wasteless Wednesday” were also raised. The conversation revolved around how the college can become more sustainable but in a way that will cause the fewest possible inconveniences and frustration.

The plan is to have similar summits on a monthly basis, with the next one planned for March 29. The fact that this past summit was held on a Saturday morning may have had some impact on the turnout, but some of the participants judged it a successful beginning.

“Considering this was the first time [and] it didn’t have a precedent, [the turnout] was a good number, it allowed for good discussion,” Sidlova said.

“Networking and communication bridges were probably the most significant progresses made during this summit, but again it’s just a leaping off point,” Tray said. “Hopefully with time, these summits will grow and progress even further.