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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Common Cold and Community

<ok a quick survey in Sayles today (randomly sampled to prevent against bias, of course) I imagine that I would find most everyone on campus has been sick, is sick, or will soon be getting sick. Perhaps you shook hands with a professor, gave a high-five or hug to a friend, or maybe just by virtue of studying on 4th Libe, you picked up the fall season-sniffles. Isn’t community great?!

It is inevitable that between the return of students, dorm life, little sleep, and lots of fun, folks share a sneeze or two.  Part of the Carleton pact is that when someone is ill, we all get it. Remember pink eye? Tissues aside, I am a firm believer in the power and value of Carleton’s community and by extension the common cold.

So with Tuesday’s unveiling of the strategic plan draft I couldn’t help but be reminded of a cold. Perhaps it was the muted coughs in the audience, but I am confident that with the finalizing of the strategic plan our campus is about to share in something both unifying and character building. Before my extended metaphor becomes too convoluted or develops strong negative connotations, let me explain myself.

President Poskanzer’s presentation was the result of eighteen months of focused and diligent effort that pooled resources from across the Carleton network.  This earnest endeavor will undoubtedly drive shifts for the entire campus and I am fully confident the process and the intentions presented on Tuesday will ultimately serve Carleton well. Of course, this comes with a caveat.

I offer the metaphor of a cold for several reasons. First, as with all changes, those outlined in the draft will lead to uncomfortable and difficult choices. More serious than stuffed sinuses, things like off-campus housing options and staffing opportunities will all come under scrutiny.  These questions and their implications are sobering. This is not a document to be taken lightly or read in passing.  If implemented well, we can grow as a campus. If misguided, the changes can be disastrous.  I was disappointed by the student turnout on Tuesday; not showing up is almost as bad as not washing your hands! 

Any good doctor will tell you to get lots of sleep, drink water, and pound the vitamin C. Likewise, we as a community have a duty to think critically about what has been offered up and subsequently be proactive in responding. We have the opportunity to contribute and take the metaphoric multivitamin to deal with the strategic plan.  I implore the whole community to take the time to read the draft on the Carleton website ( and then articulate your comments of support or concern.  For students this is especially important to highlight issues regarding student life.

Your Carleton duty is to use those liberal arts skills. Evaluate critically the draft and communicate effectively to President Poskanzer what you see and think.  In doing so, you are strengthening Carleton’s immune system. 

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