Macalester alumni extend an invitation to KWOC students

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We are alumni who have graduated from Macalester over the last half century, and we support students who are upholding the longstanding tradition of advocating for social change through campus activism at Macalester.

As students, we participated in movements that brought about social change— for civil rights, human rights, peace and workers’ rights, to name a few. We conducted education and outreach activities and engaged in dialogue with the administration. Sometimes, if those tactics did not achieve our goals, we set up semi-permanent encampments on the quad, occupied the administration building, blocked traffic and even blocked doors. Our campus activism was occasionally silly, usually serious and sometimes ineffective. Sometimes it resulted in changes that improved people’s lives. We found Macalester to be a safe place to learn from our mistakes and our successes.

Our experiences at Macalester inspired us to continue our work for social change in the years since graduation. We direct fair trade coalitions, run labor unions, document human rights abuses, organize around healthcare reform, defend clients from abusive banks, fight wrongful foreclosures, lead congregations and lobby for policies to create good jobs.

That is why we are concerned by the administration’s failure to take seriously KWOC students’ request to address the foreclosure crisis by leveraging Macalester’s banking relationships. We are baffled that they consider disciplinary probation to be an appropriate punishment for blocking doors in an act of peaceful civil disobedience. We are disturbed by the way in which some members of the administration characterize these students. We are worried about the effect this situation is having on campus activism, alumni giving and Macalester’s reputation.

Many of us have met with members of the administration to express our concerns and our desire to work constructively to find a better resolution. We offered solutions in search of some middle ground. Disappointingly, they were not open to reconsidering their decisions.

Since our good-faith efforts were dismissed out of hand, we are looking for other ways to support student activism at Macalester. To that end, we are issuing a special invitation to the students on disciplinary probation. We are impressed by your work ethic, critical thinking skills and your commitment to social justice. We would like to help you find or create an internship that fits your goals through our organizations and networks.

In this era of extreme and accelerating inequality, the world needs student activists like you more than ever.

Sincerely,

Eric Lehto ‘98
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 5
Elise Roberts ‘03
Witness for Peace – Upper Midwest
Melissa Hysing ‘01
Minnesotans for a Fair Economy
Thom Boik ‘09
AFSCME Council 5
Kenneth E. Keate ‘73
Tax and Bankruptcy Attorney, PLC
Greta Bergstrom ‘92
TakeAction Minnesota
Sarah Campbell ‘82
Kyle Makarios ‘99
North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters
Charley Underwood ‘68
Andrew Meeker ‘09
John Thorson ‘08
AFSCME Council 5
Elianne Farhat ‘07
People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) National Network
Josh Wise ‘07
Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition
Nell McNamara ‘03
Service Employees International Union Local