The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Trustees share food, thought with students

By Matt Day

Macalester’s Board of Trustees took the next step in its efforts to improve transparency and increase accessibility to students Tuesday evening as six Board members, President Brian Rosenberg, and Dean of Students Jim Hoppe chatted with about 80 students during a casual dinner.

Students sat with Board members at tables in the Olin Rice Atrium and discussed issues ranging from the environmental considerations of campus construction and renovation projects to the Iraq war and socially responsible investing.”I had a great time,” interim Board Chair Timothy Hart-Andersen said.

“We talked a little bit about what the board does and doesn’t do,” he said. “I wanted to hear something about [students’] lives and their experiences at Mac. We talked about issues the Board has dealt with during my time on the Board.”

The Board of Trustees makes major college policy decisions and is heavily involved in the college’s fundraising efforts, including Macalester’s current $150 million capital campaign.

Blythe Austin ’08, the Board’s first student liaison, said the dinner is part of a larger effort to better integrate the Board with the student community.

The dinner follows the “Sundaes with Tim” event held Oct. 23 in the Campus Center, at which students discussed the direction of the college with Hart-Andersen.

Following Hart-Andersen’s October visit,
students and local Board members expressed interest in hosting similar discussions. All of the Board members present Tuesday are residents of the Twin Cities area.

“It established a precedent for informal
interaction between the trustees and students,” Austin said of Tuesday’s dinner. “We absolutely intend to have more events like this in the future.”

Austin said she is working to organize another discussion with Board members and
students in February, in advance of the trustees’ March meeting on campus.

“The trustees are certainly eager to come back to campus,” she said. “They said they really want to come back and have another event where they get to interact with students.

“For the trustees, it gave them the chance to meet and learn about the kinds of things students are thinking about,” Austin added.

Before the dinner, students from the Macalester Peace and Justice Committee and Students for a Democratic Society passed out printed signs reading “Macalester Student for an Institutional Stance Against the Iraq War.” Students from the organization distributed about 30 such signs for students to wear and show support for administrative action against the war.

The show of support for institutional opposition to the war followed the October failure of a faculty motion that would have recommended the cancellation of classes for a day to protest the war. Faculty members did not vote on the motion during a special session on Oct. 17 when it was determined that not enough professors were present to take a vote. Rosenberg released a letter to the campus community in late October explaining why he would not have supported the motion had it passed.

Michael Richter ’10, a student representative on the Board’s Advancement Committee who attended Tuesday’s dinner, said he was optimistic about the opportunities offered by continued dialogue between the Board and students.

“The motivations of the Board are often
misrepresented among students,” he said. “I thought [the dinner] was a good opportunity to start some communication.”

Daniel Balogh ’10 said he thought the dinner could have been better.

“I was kind of disappointed,” Balogh said. “It didn’t seem that the trustees were really being open. I felt like I wasn’t heard as much as I’d hoped, that I wasn’t able to get my point across.”

Despite his reservations, Balogh said, he thought the event went well in the end.

“It was good overall,” he said. “It was fun.”

Board members in attendance were Peter Ahn ’87, Hart-Andersen, Carol Hayden ’56, Collin Mothupi ’00, Lee Nystrom ’73, and Kathy Pinkett ’75. Rosenberg serves on the Board ex officio.

Matthew Stone contributed reporting.

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