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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Editorial: Administration must take stronger stances

<ll term we return to Carleton knowing that there is work to be done. The past year at Carleton gave us many visceral reminders of the ways in which our institution, city and community are not immune to discrimination and hate of all kinds. Our college is not the idyllic bastion of liberalism that popular opinion makes it out to be.

In a political climate that fosters feelings of powerlessness, we continue to believe in the power of words. We will write about and investigate the hard things that our community must face. That is our job and promise to you as editors of the Carletonian.

In these difficult times, we look to our administration for direction and support. However, through a lack of strong response to several incidents in the past year, we feel that the relationship between students and administration has deteriorated. Students lose faith and trust in an administration when there is a lack of candor and concrete action, and we feel those effects deeply as we begin this school year.

We call on the Carleton administration to have strong, clear responses when events, both local and national, threaten students. While showing solidarity with St. Olaf and the city of Northfield, President Poskanzer’s communication with students about the violence and white nationalism in Charlottesville this August was left at a general statement. Throughout the Trump presidency, the Carleton administration has remained largely inactive, and the only consolation for the student body has been limply-worded emails, such as those following Trump’s election and the immigration ban. While we appreciate the administration’s commitment to protecting members of the Carleton community, as an institution of higher education, to look inward is not enough. In an age of daily threats to hard-fought civil rights and empirical facts, an absence of moral commentary is simply unacceptable.

Aside from national issues, the administration has also failed to act on local incidents. In response to an email campaign urging Carleton not to renew the lease of the Northfield Women’s Center, a crisis pregnancy center that disseminates false information about sexual health, the administration refused to acknowledge the Center’s dishonest nature, instead citing “broader institutional space planning needs” as the reason the college might not renew the lease. Additionally, after a hate incident last spring in which several students harassed students of color with racist chants, the administration took no action to publicly acknowledge the incident or to prevent it from happening again.

Furthermore, in the wake of the hazing and sexual assault incidents of last spring, the administrative response has been tepid at best. Why has nothing been done at the administrative level to address the rape and binge drinking culture that pervades campus? Why was alcohol education all but absent from this year’s New Student Week programming?

These statements from the administration leave students wanting more. In the majority of these communications we feel a tension between the college’s assertion that it cares about its students and its desire to remain outside of controversy. We feel that now more than ever is the time for the college to take moral stances and offer concrete action items instead of merely focusing on protecting its “brand” and public image. Silence is just as political as action––the failure to take a moral stance says a lot about the administration’s priorities. We believe that caring for students should take precedence over fear of litigation or defunding, yet acknowledge the pressures that the administration faces. However, this acknowledgment doesn’t resolve our question: will the administration take concrete action if its students are put in danger in the future?

As we call on the administration to do better, we at the Carletonian acknowledge that we have a job to do as well. We will continue to do our part to shed light on all events that impact Carleton students. We will remain aware and conscious of as many perspectives on stories as possible. We know that there is not one voice and not one story when it comes to any event or perspective, but many. We want to emphasize our commitment to the entire student body, a body that we are a part of, and our job to lift up facts and voices so that we all can make sense of the world in which we live.

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