Mac Speaks: What do you want from your community? | Elida Zaldivar ’18



TMW: What were your expectations of the Macalester community before you arrived on campus?
I guess my expectations were pretty much what any college freshman might have. How is the school going to be? How are the dorms going to be? How are my classes going to be? All I knew at that point about Macalester was what was shown to us, what we saw from the tours and what we saw from the brochures. So I didn’t really have expectations. I just expected it to be a community.

Has your perception of the Macalester community changed since you arrived on campus?
I would say so. I definitely see a lot of friendly people. I was not expecting it to be as friendly as it is. And so accepting. It’s very accepting of different cultures, different personalities, different sexual orientations, different everything. So there’s no judgement. You can do what you want and not be judged.

What do you like most about the Macalester community?
One idea that I really like is that I can be anyone that I want to be, or just be myself and not be judged for it and that it will be okay. And that’s not something that you see that much outside of Macalester, because a lot of other colleges are not very accepting of differences. [For example,] I went to a private, Lutheran college before I came to Macalester and it was not accepting at all. Coming to Macalester was a culture shock for me. [I realized] how beautiful [acceptance] was.

What do you feel is missing in the Macalester community?
As much as I love to say how accepting we are [and] how diverse we are, I do notice that we do not have many domestic students of color on campus. [Through] speaking with some of my friends, I have noticed that I’ve become more aware of that. We are diverse internationally, but we are not as diverse domestically.

Do you feel like there is an acceptance of different perspectives here?
Yes and no. Yes, in the way that you can think however you want and still be accepted. No, in the sense that certain ideals, presented to certain people, are going to be bashed. [People] are going to argue with you and tell you that you’re wrong. I’ve seen that happen to a lot of my friends since I’ve been on campus. But I think it’s okay, in a way. It’s normal to have arguments, but I do notice that many Macalester students tend to have similar views.

What are you looking forward to in your next three years at Macalester?
I’m really excited. So far, I’ve been able to do things that I would have never thought I would be able to do in my first year. Macalester has opened my eyes to a lot of what the world has to offer and a lot of different perspectives. I never thought that I would have a best friend from Japan. I never thought I would have friends from China. My high school didn’t have that, so coming to Macalester, I didn’t expect to see that. I didn’t expect to be thrown into a world in which I can explore. In which all possibilities are open. For me, Macalester helps open doors to those possibilities.

In twenty years, what do you hope has changed about Macalester? What do you hope hasn’t changed?
I hope that we have more diversity than what we already have. And I know that’s asking a lot, but this world is very globalized. And I feel like Macalester should be a representation of that. I hope that we also become more accepting of views opposite to [that of] the typical Macalester student. Something that I hope stays the same is the idea that we can do anything we set our minds to and that we’re a school dedicated to social change [because] that is such a big part of this world. If there’s not [someone] to stand up for something, how can we expect change? Macalester attracts people who want to change the world. And that’s epic.