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

Letter to the Editor: Administration should be neutral

I graduated from Macalester in 1999 and I’m really excited that I’ll be teaching a course there each semester next year. I love Mac. It’s not a perfect place, but it’s intellectually stimulating, socially supportive, and filled with incredibly smart students, staff, and faculty. Some of my most important life-long personal and professional relationships were formed there and I’m thrilled to be rejoining the community as a part-time contingent faculty member.

I have been following the unionization efforts with much interest. I want to learn more about what unionization means for contingent faculty and the College. I tend to be supportive of unions generally, and specifically as they pertain to contingent faculty in the broader national context. I also understand Macalester is a unique institution with specific circumstances. I’m interested to talk to my future colleagues who are for, against, or undecided about the upcoming vote and I will be at the Town Hall meeting tomorrow.

What I am not interested in is what seems to be an effort to control the conversation coming from the administration. It is my understanding that students met with President Rosenberg yesterday to, among other things, request that the administration adopt a neutral stance in this effort. Contingent faculty, Macalester College Student Government, and Congressman Keith Ellison have all requested the administration remain neutral. I’d like to add my voice to theirs, for what it’s worth. The administration is not in a position to provide neutral information and it’s disingenuous to pretend they are. The power imbalance is too great for contingent faculty to make such an important decision when their employer has clearly staked out an anti-union stance.

People are worried about their jobs and their livelihoods. When the administration takes a strong position as outlined in the memo published by the Mac Weekly, it silences conversations that need to happen for the good of the institution and the students we all serve. I can tell you I wouldn’t be writing this letter if I had to depend on continued employment from Macalester to support myself and my family.

It’s disturbing to me that the administration has retained Fehlaber and Larson, the law firm that represented the owners of the Minnesota Orchestra, the owners of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the owners of Minnesota’s Crystal Sugar during extended recent lockouts that in my opinion did significant damage to Minnesota’s economic and cultural climate. Retaining this law firm doesn’t suggest to me that the administration is interested in open dialogue.

Conversations among contingent faculty are what we need. Maybe they will decide to unionize or maybe they’ll decide it’s not the right thing. But this isn’t a conversation the administration should insert itself into. The essence of a liberal arts education is learning to see things from all sides and critically analyze issues. The administration’s aggressive anti-union stance makes it more difficult for contingent faculty to reach a decision based solely on the facts. I’m surprised that the administration is responding this way. It doesn’t at all square with the culture and ethos of the institution that means so much to me.


Rachel Wannarka ‘99

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