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The Carletonian

MPIRG Week brings social awareness to campus

<y spring and fall, Carleton’s chapter of the Minnesota Public Interest research Group (MPIRG) designates one week as MPIRG week to raise awareness of social and environmental issues. Throughout 7th week, Carleton hosted a series of important events ranging from human trafficking and intolerance, to recycling and waste management. “I think it was important that we appealed to a variety of interests,” said Elissa Walter, ’13, co-president of MPIRG. “That way, there were different people at each event.” She added, “MPIRG attempted to focus on what people on campus are interested in,” so that the event would appeal to students as a whole.

The week kicked off on Tuesday afternoon with  an event entitled “Perspectives from Minnesota and Around the World,” designed to raise awareness about human trafficking. The event featured speaker Linda Miller, the executive director of Civil Society, a non-profit that runs the Minnesota Human Trafficking Watch, as well as Bukola, a survivor who was trafficked from Nigeria to the United States. “As students who care about human rights,” said coordinator Alex Martin on the MPIRG event calendar, “we’d like to promote awareness about human trafficking, particularly in this state.”

Tuesday night also featured an event called “Breaking the Cycle,” intended to raise awareness of issues of intolerance on Carleton’s campus. Co-sponsored by the Office of International and Intercultural Life (OIIL), the workshop was intended to encourage students to think about issues such as racism, sexism, heteronormativity, and other prejudices, plus how they are connected to each other. According to the program, the workshop provided “an introduction for those who have never thought about [issues of prejudice]” as well as “a great opportunity for people with experience in these issues to continue previous conversations.”

The following day, MPIRG hosted a casual picnic on the Bald Spot. On Thursday, a student-produced documentary entitled “Waste Not, Carleton” was shown in Leighton. The documentary was filmed entirely by Carleton students to show where trash, composting, and recycling goes once it leaves campus.

Walter credits the original idea for the documentary to student Theodore Rostow, ’12. To make the documentary, a group of several students visited and toured recycling plants and other waste sites, as well as interviewing Carleton’s Sustainability Advisors (STAs) and Martha Larson, the campus manager for Energy and Sustainability. “Everyone helped in different ways,” said Walter, adding that since none of them were CAMS majors, they enlisted the help of several outside students to assist with editing and other technical issues. About thirty students attended the final showing, but many more emailed to express disappointment that they could not make the showing; as such, MPIRG will most likely organize another showing in the fall.
“I think [MPIRG week] was really successful,” said Walter, noting that the documentary and picnic were highly attended. “I’m glad that people who cared were getting involved.”

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