Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carls Talk Back meets, seeks to rekindle student activism on campus

<ay, February 27, Carls Talk Back (CTB) held a meeting for the student community to kick off a new term and to establish working goals for the rest of the year.

Carls Talk Back is a student-led, grassroots movement working to support all students, regardless of identity or need, according to the organization’s website.

In response to concerns that the organization is aggressive or inflammatory, Alexis Tolbert ’20, a CTB leader, added, “everything we do is in the interest of all Carleton students. I don’t want anyone to think we’re out to get anybody, or this is a witch hunt, we don’t have any malintention.”

Through collaborative work with the administration, CTB fulfilled some of its demands. By Spring 2018, washers and dryers were installed in Casa House and Freedom House; transportation costs were covered for student workers; the school calendar was adjusted to start accommodate Eid in upcoming years; the American Studies department is hiring a professor of Native American studies; and a student committee on Convocation speakers was established. “The work pays off, even if the school doesn’t acknowledge it,” said Tolbert.

After discussing the origins of the group and the progress CTB has made on campus thus far, students broke out into five small groups. Within these small groups, students discussed possible actions surrounding pressing campus topics: Title IX protections for students; the creation of a student-developed social justice oriented Course Registration guide; the need for more gender neutral bathrooms on campus; the lack of campus accessibility and easily-available student accommodations; and ways marginalized students can communicate their feelings of invalidation with the administration, who are disconnected from these student experiences. The working groups discussed concrete actions that they could take in the future to address these issues.

The meeting ended with the question of how much power students actually have to demand change on an institutional level––how do students employ their full rights to make Carleton a safer and more accessible place to live and learn? As the Carls Talk Back team plans direct action during the second half of winter term, questions like these will be at the center of their ideology.

CTB was founded in January 2018 in response to convocation speaker Arno Michaelis being brought to campus despite widespread protest. According to the Convocations website, Michaelis is a reformed founding member of a worldwide racist organization, and now champions social unity through his group Serve2Unite.

Later that term, CTB released a list of demands to the administration. While the demands included a restructuring of the Convocation Committee and increased diversity in speakers, they also included reforms on topics such as building accessibility, renovations for cultural houses, funding for SHAC, and better working conditions for student workers.

In response to the CTB demonstration, the administration invited CTB leaders to the next few Tuesday Group meetings. The Tuesday Group is the Senior Leadership Team on campus; it is comprised of President Poskanzer, his group of senior staff, the Deans, and the Faculty President. According to then-faculty president Jeffrey Ondich, “the follow-up meetings were always designed to be short term ad hoc discussions––one or two meetings at most. Those happened during spring term 2018.” Ondich’s term as faculty president ended on June 30, 2018.

Ondich said, “the faculty members were invited to attend follow-up meetings based on expertise. I thought the two follow-up meetings I attended were good discussions. They did not resolve all disagreements, but they allowed CTB participants to speak directly with the staff members responsible for and expert in the areas relevant to various CTB demands.”

“For us, we wanted to meet with the Tuesday Group so they couldn’t say they didn’t know why we’re doing this and that these issues don’t exist,” said Tolbert. In the coming terms, communication with the administration will be a priority.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *