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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton Campus Climate Survey not so hot

<y to speak truth in the form of my flows/but the temperature is rising it's harder to grow” - Zion I, "Temperature"

It was some time in the middle of talking about wind turbines this week when I mentioned that I hadn’t done the Campus Climate Survey to a friend of mine. This friend sympathized with me.“I didn’t know it wasn’t about the environment until the last day,” he said.

“Wait!” I exclaimed, the situation finding a new urgency, “It’s not about the environment?” As it turns out, no, it was not about the environment. My first clue should have been the email headed “Not about the weather, it is about YOU!” but, since I apparently skimmed that one, I was uninformed. I probably also could have turned to the pages of this very publication for an answer, but that option escaped me. Likewise, I could have read the email from Rob Oden, but I’ve learned, from the flood of e-mails he sends me daily, to differentiate between the personal ones and the mass mailings.

As a result, I did not take the Campus Climate Survey. I apologize to Sue Rankin and the rest of DIG, whose diligent work I first got wind of when I went back and read the relevant emails as research for this column. I guess I didn’t have the time the first time around.

“But Kyle,” you may ask, trying to do the mental math, “if you had the time to write this column, how did you not have time to do the brief 25-30 minute survey?” This is a fair question, especially given the fact that, despite all my efforts, my most recent, hour-long IM softball game ended in a crushing 14-2 defeat. “Is it because you don’t care about Carleton’s climate?”

Well, actually, it’s because I’m sick of people telling me to be sustainable, and I thought the Campus Climate Survey was about the environment. I mean, I compost at the dining hall, and I was excited when I got the option to do that. But I don’t really need to be told how important the environment is. Al Gore’s got us covered on that front.

As far as Carleton’s campus climate is concerned, my interest could probably be described as average. I’m just learning to appreciate much of what Carleton has at its disposal by going to talks, going abroad, trying new activities, and checking movies out from the library (this is a highly underrated service). Also, I can finally use my OneCard for multiple things.

At the same time, I feel like I have many of the same complaints as most Carleton students: the food is overpriced and over-processed, as well as only being available during a severely limited period of time; Convocation speakers are rarely engaging; tuition is too expensive; the Wellness Center is useless; ResLife is presumably wasting enormous sums of money on brownies and finger paint, or, at the very least, somebody is embezzling vast quantities of money from somewhere. Also, we’re not doing enough to reduce our carbon footprint, I hear.

There you go, advisory panel. There’s the campus climate. Oh, and, I almost forgot, we’re a bunch of white kids.

I guess since the Campus Climate Survey was mostly about diversity, it bears discussing. We’re not very diverse. However, there is an institutional problem that makes the student body seem even more heterogeneous, and that is the fact that many of the multicultural efforts on this campus serve largely to isolate their multiple cultures.

Take, for example, International Student Week. This week, by coming before New Student Week, creates a firm community among international students that facilitates their removal from many students’ lives. It seems ineffective for creating an atmosphere of diversity.

Maybe my own lack of cultural sensitivity is to blame for my inability to meet people outside of a certain sociological sphere. On the other hand, the only international students I know at Carleton are the ones who were roommates with my friends last year.

Of course, I can’t blame multicultural groups for existing, nor can I contradict the social truth that people who do activities together at Carleton are generally friends with each other. I cannot say that there are not positive multicultural initiatives. Unfortunately, most of these come in the form of panel discussions where white people hear how much they don’t understand race while they point out that they’re trying to understand it.

I admire the Campus Climate Survey for, you know, surveying this whole diversity problem. I apologize for not participating. Still, I think that it is probably ultimately another token unsuccessful plan to improve diversity awareness. It might be more effective to increase multicultural enrollment, but I don’t know how that process works, so I’ll reserve judgment.

At the very least, though, it would probably help to make the next one of these initiatives have a less confusing title. After all, I can look outside and point out the campus climate: it’s always rainy. Especially on Fridays.

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