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

A response to “Mac Mods:” What intellectual diversity looks like

As committed Macalester students, we want to respond to a call-to-action piece that a group calling themselves the Macalester Alumni of Moderation, or “Mac Mods,” placed in The Mac Weekly on March 13. In it, the group’s three members, Jim Burho Sr. ’70, Roger S. Peterson ’67 and Robert Spaulding ’64, express a deep concern over the “leftist party line in classrooms and faculty meetings” and politically correct state of the college, which they feel comes at the cost of intellectual diversity.

When those calling for institutional change also brag about firing people for “spouting off” about unions “and other left-wing dribble [sic]” (see the thread on, we can’t help but experience concern for the integrity of the space that the student body and administration are working so hard to create. The Mac Mods have no right to lecture us on diversity while they actively attempt to trample it under the tightly laced dress shoe of white male privilege. Incidentally, firing people for “spouting off” about unions is in violation of National Labor Relations Act and therefore illegal.

The trio opens its piece by asking, “Is it comfortable to be different at Macalester?” Ironically, it is Macalester’s commitment to fostering difference and diversity in all varieties that creates the environment that they find so repugnant. What they see as a fault of Macalester, we see as a focal point of the college and a defining feature of student life. While we acknowledge that Macalester has a long way to go, the institution’s efforts place it far above most other colleges and universities in the US, and the college displays a serious commitment to the process of inclusion.

Unfortunately, the argument that political correctness functions as an oppressive leftist newspeak, a force of evil stripping personal choice and sheltering us from ‘the real world,’ is an all too common one. It seems to be based on a fear that attempting to eliminate racist, transphobic, classist and sexist language and behaviors will somehow encroach on personal freedoms and erase intellectual diversity. In fact, it builds diversity of thought by allowing marginalized people to exist and be heard in society with the same amount of respect and legitimacy as privileged individuals.

While on the whole Macalester’s student and faculty certainly do tend to lean left of center, this should not lead to the misconception that we are intellectually or politically homogenous. There is more diversity than you are willing to acknowledge, such as a football player with an interest in feminism and sexuality, a socialist NRA member or a self-described realist environmentalist. Both in and outside of class, debates regularly occur between a vast range of viewpoints, including everything from garden variety democrats, libertarians, radical socialists and, yes, conservatives.

When pressed to explain his conception of intellectual diversity, Jim Burho Sr. asked us to “name one course that addresses possible alternative explanations for global warming/climate change” or “one course in International Studies that prepares a student for the rise of radical Islam.” Mr. Burho, Macalester does not teach pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, nor does it offer courses predicated on Islamophobia.

So, while we greatly favor diversity of all types, we take offense when that means foreclosing the inclusive space that the student body has been working hard on constructing. That space should not be sacrificed to satisfy the Mac Mods’ outdated opinions. For instance, when member Robert Spaulding graduated from Macalester in 1964, there were nine students of color enrolled at the college — we dug out the yearbook and did our research. There was no American Studies or WGSS department, a homecoming queen and her court were elected every fall in a pageant, and men and women were separated for physical education classes. Macalester now is not the same institution you attended, and we are grateful for that.

If you want to see intellectual diversity at Macalester, we encourage you to step away from your blanket generalizations about the oppressively liberal climate and spend time on campus and in the classrooms to better understand what Macalester is really like today. What you will see is a vibrant and engaged student body, defined by a variety of student experiences, opinions and beliefs. The opportunity to spend four years in such an environment is not just a draw, but also a defining characteristic of the Macalester ethos, and we are honored to participate in it.

View Comments (5)
More to Discover

Comments (5)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • W

    Wendy GloverSep 11, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Aw, this was a really good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a really good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never manage to get anything done.

  • B

    Bella SkinnerSep 7, 2019 at 11:21 am

    I have been examinating out a few of your articles and i can claim nice stuff. I will surely bookmark your website.