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The documents that guide us

When I think about Carleton College, I can’t really find one word that defines a Carleton student, and I think that is a very positive thing. We are a diverse student body, all from different backgrounds, different points-of-view, and different frames of reference. However, by decidedly joining this community and actively being members in it, we in some ways acquiesce to its morals and standards. Whether or not we directly formulate them for ourselves, we adhere to a set of values that dictate how we as Carleton students, faculty, and staff should treat each other and how we expect to be treated. This goes beyond the good ole Golden Rule and comes in the form of three distinct documents on campus: Carleton’s Mission Statement, Carleton’s Statement on Diversity, and Carleton’s Community Standards Policy.

Now I could say with some confidence that I think very few of us have actually taken the time to read these statements and to consider what they mean to us. But I for one would like to figure out, what do they mean to me? What do they mean to you? How do you carry these ideals with you and in everything you do? Do these documents even reflect what matters to us as a community? What can I do to improve how I “live” these documents? As an institution, what can Carleton do to improve how it lives these documents?

To be honest, these documents are quite long. It’d almost be easier if we had some corny acronym or something along the lines of “The Five C’s: courtesy, conscience, character, courage, and celebration”—something that could say, be an extra credit question on our Bio 125 exams. When it comes to Carleton, an easy to remember statement like that could remind us daily how to “live” the Carleton ideals. But, it also needs to come naturally from the community; it can’t be forced.

In Carleton’s documents, one can find phrases like “student development,” “self-governance,” “personal freedom,” “a safe and healthy living-learning community,” “academic freedom,” “open discourse,” “civility,” “freedom from discrimination,” “academic honesty,” “personal integrity,” and “respect for individuals and personal property.” I challenge all of you to look online at Carleton’s Mission Statement, Carleton’s Statement on Diversity, and Carleton’s Community Standards Policy and find what sticks out to you.

What guides you as a member of this community? Then, come to a Town Hall Meeting on Monday at 6:00 PM in the Great Hall where CSA and the Community, Equity, and Diversity Initiative (CEDI) invite you to discuss “The Documents that Guide Us.” Food will be provided by Kurry Kabab. Please come, eat with others, and talk about Carleton’s core values.

-Helen Ashton is a fourth-year student

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