We as students determine Mac’s direction

By Jeff Herbst

So now that we have all said our piece, it is time for action. It does not matter what side of the argument you fall on; we are all part of Macalester and have a responsibility to it. We need to realize our potential as the student body, and work toward the ideals we desire. We are only handcuffed by President Rosenberg when we choose to be. We must transform our perspective of Macalester’s power structure and actualize the power we do have.

The student body has the greatest influence on Macalester’s direction, yet too often we ignore this ability. We have underestimated the power of the individual and we have reduced ourselves to the implications of where we sign our names. This is not acceptable. Criticizing visible leaders may be fashionable, but we must remove the planks from our own eyes before we examine the specs in theirs. We are a bickering, ambivalent, haughty, and ultimately dysfunctional community. We are so far from the ideals of community that it undermines the power of our voice and makes us ineffective in addressing our political and global ideals. Tackling our faults as a community will strengthen our voice and move us closer to realizing our broader goals.

The student body cannot assume that the administration alone will make Macalester the place we want it to be; we have a vital role in defining Macalester. This role starts locally, relationally, and intentionally. It begins with individual efforts that have communal visions. For example, this semester I have been impressed by multiple professors who have been receptive of student criticism and have worked to improve our classes, departments, and community. Constructive dialog is foundational to moving us forward. This semester I have also been impressed by students’ work outside of the classroom to educate our community on issues that they are passionate and knowledgeable about. Reciprocal education should also be a foundation at Macalester. These are just two examples of small interactions with the potential to have lasting effects on our community. They establish a foundation of mutual understanding and respect that is a precursor to effective debate of our differences.

Strengthening the Macalester community will enable us to move past rhetoric and dogma and be activists for change and the ideals we hold. By working from a shared foundation our common ground and our ideals become more apparent. I believe that every voice on campus holds accessible higher education, social justice, and environmental sustainability as ideals for our community and the world. Our actions have shown differences in the price we are willing to pay for these ideals, yet these commonalities of access, justice, and sustainability still stand as a starting points for progress.

As we build our community we must continue the current fiscal and social debates on campus. The fact is that we are currently failing at making our global ideals part of Macalester. We need to work harder to think of different and innovative ways that we can influence and direct Macalester on these issues. Do not be afraid to take initiative or become part of the current efforts to counter elitism and corporatization. The experimental college (EXCO) is one forum working to create an educational environment accessible to the entire Twin Cities community. MacCares and the Macalester Peace and Justice Coalition (MPJC) are two organizations on campus brainstorming concrete actions we can take toward actualizing the stated ideals. A stronger community and organized action will spread together once each of us takes this first step. It is time we move past signing our names and let our actions be our voice. We have the potential to be the necessary change in the direction Macalester is heading.