Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Editorial: Carls should keep talking back

<ast Friday, our campus was covered with posters that gave voice to demands from student organizers of a movement called Carls Talk Back, who want to see change on our campus. The demands state that Carls Talk Back members “seek to eradicate systems of oppression that are currently affecting marginalized communities on this campus. These systems — which include racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism — manifest at Carleton and beyond as forms of institutional violence.”

We all have something at stake in the conversation surrounding Carls Talk Back. Whatever your background, whatever your beliefs, whatever identities you hold, this movement brings to light the ways in which our institution is not the idyllic, equitable space we all wish it would be. Education is inherently political. While it is undeniable that education has many positive impacts, it is also undeniable that education has been a tool of oppression. Examples of this include the colonization and assimilation of indigenous peoples through forced attendance at government boarding schools and the practice of forbidding slaves to learn to read or write.

Today, we continue to see the implications of power and politics in education, and new but no less pervasive tools are in place that privilege some over others. This privileging and marginalization happens today through standardized testing, decisions of what gets put on syllabi and how it is taught, and the privileging of so-called “Standard English.” Carleton itself sits on land that once belonged to indigenous peoples; Carleton’s first black student graduated only 69 years ago. Education is still a realm where power, privilege, and oppression are at play, and Carleton College is profoundly impacted by these systems. An in-depth look at and concrete action against these pervasive issues on campus is long overdue.

The editorial staff of the Carletonian supports the dialogue that Carls Talk Back has pulled to the forefront of our college’s attention.

As a newspaper, we believe wholeheartedly in talking back—it’s what we invite writers to do in the Viewpoint section every week. Moreover, we seek to operate as a platform for students to talk back on issues that matter to them.

We ask a question, seek to learn from faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and anyone else who can talk back, and respond to the questions we face, in order to understand more deeply what is happening on our campus. We know that change does not happen overnight, and that much work needs to be done to fully address the inequities on our campus. This work will require sustained conversation, open dialogue, and hope. While Carleton does have opportunities to have these conversations in place already (through the work of the Carleton Equity and Diversity Initiative as well as regular talks hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Office for International and Intercultural Life, for example), it is past time that these conversations grow in scope and impact, resulting in concrete actions to address the concerns raised by Carls Talk Back. Through the work of current, future and former students alongside faculty, staff, and administrators, we know that real, positive change can be made. We encourage the Carleton community to keep talking back, and offer our Viewpoint section as a weekly place to do so. It will take active participation of both Carleton College’s faculty, staff and administration, as well as the student body, to help dismantle the racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism that continue to taint our school. As a newspaper, we are dedicated to the work of learning and discussion each and every week. We believe that the Carleton College community is ready to continue doing this work too.

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