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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Campus conversations “predictable”

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Although the community conversations have just begun, some students are expressing that they are in need of improvement. These community conversations have been organized by Dean Carolyn Livingston to promote awareness of and discussions on specific social issues. Students are required to attend, and staff are highly encouraged to participate.

Multiple sessions are offered each week in various locations to accommodate students’ busy schedules. Each session is facilitated by a Carleton faculty in a discussion based format.

Will Hardt ’18 states that “The conversation…was decent but there is some sense of… predictability. I’m not sure I heard anything terribly new. There were some staff members there and they did bring a different perspective… but that was the only really new perspective.”

Students have also expressed dissatisfaction towards the structure of these conversations. Ben Clark ’18 explains that, “what I think would’ve been more effective would’ve been having …one discussion time…for one topic.” He further noted that, “the discussion was slightly forced. You could tell some people didn’t want to be there.”

In each of these 1.5 hour sessions, students and faculty vote on 1-2 topics that are of most interest to them. These topics are black lives matter, freedom of speech, campus climate, Syrian refugee crisis/Islamophobia, and socioeconomic class.

The lack of time to sufficiently address these complex issues is also a complaint of students. A sophomore who wished to remain anonymous remarked that “I would like more time to talk about all of the topics, but because it’s only for an hour and a half, you only get to talk about half of them, and I think we should have time to talk about all of them.”

Another issue is the lack of clarity in the way that these community conversations are described to students. Many who have not yet attended are unclear what to expect, and what these conversations are about. Hardt said that before attending one of these sessions he “wasn’t entirely clear on who was leading it.”

Despite these criticisms, students are optimistic about the impact of these conversations. The same anonymous student believes “that we need to have these conversations because we’re not [having them] right now. By starting to have these conversations, we are starting to change the way life is at Carleton, and by changing how life is at Carleton, we can change the world.”

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