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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The documents that guide us: What’s next?

<te held its first Town Hall meeting this past Monday, November 9th. The goal of this meeting was to get students together to discuss three of our “guiding documents” at Carleton: Carleton’s Statement on Diversity, Carleton’s Mission Statement, and Carleton’s Community Standards Policy. This open forum focused on what these statements mean, how they are experienced at Carleton, and whether or not the accurately reflect the values that matter to us. The turnout was astounding, nearly 200 Carleton students showed up for the dinner and discussion. It was phenomenal to see the student body come out in such numbers, thus proving students’ interest in constantly questioning and re-examine the goals, values and standards of the Carleton community.

One of the prevailing themes discussed at meeting was the apparent disconnect between what is stated in these documents and the actual experiences of Carls. Few groups disagreed with the substance of the documents; this indicates that the observed problems require a change in policy and behavior rather than a change in rhetoric. The intent of the event was to get people thinking critically about these documents and how they do or do not reflect the current state of Carleton. It was also intended to stimulate thoughts on solutions – how do we turn these words into actions? That said, the follow-up will be twofold: CEDI plans to focus on making these documents more concise and better publicized, and Senate is dedicated to considering specific and effective ideas for policy solutions to these issues. This conversation should not be confined to the meetings of these committees—we challenge each and every Carleton student to help us to think of answers to these difficult questions!

The fact that there are serious issues regarding campus climate at Carleton was not news to most people at the meeting. However, recognizing these issues in this type of public forum reinforces the fact that things need to change at Carleton. As stated before, this meeting was intended to be a catalyst for important conversations about how to enact significant change here. The most important part of this meeting will be the follow up discussions and decisions that occur, not only in the various college committees, but also among students. That is the next step, and it will be ongoing in the future of Carleton.

We often feel excited at meetings of this kind with the energy that is coming forth and the desire for change. At the same time, the simple repetition of grievances and subsequent inspiration to act upon these issues can be tiresome and can seem fruitless. We know that this is a common issue in forums of this type, so once again, we challenge you to help us creatively tackle these tough issues. We also want to make sure that you all know that we, as your elected representatives, are determined to make the follow-up to this meeting a productive and meaningful process of actual change.

We were excited and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the many students who came to the Town Hall Meeting to discuss these issues. The input of every student is invaluable. As we have already said, coming up with solutions to these problems is much more difficult than the initial identification of what needs to be fixed. We need to turn the thoughts that were raised on Monday into actions, and we need your help. Look out for similar open forums next term and please stop by any Senate meeting (every Monday at 7 PM in Sayles 251) to voice an idea or concern. Also, feel free to email duerm, bharuchj, or any other senator.

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