The night of Tuesday, November 4, will go down as one of the most historic nights in the relatively short lives of Carleton students. Barack Obama was elected president of the United States of America, projected the winner by most major news networks around 10:00 p.m. central time.
On Monday night, the Carleton community received an e-mail from Dean Hudlin Wagner announcing that Director of Campus Activities T. Todd Masman would be leaving the college to look for new opportunities after just four months with the college. Masman’s departure now leaves the important Campus Activities office with no director, no associate director, and no assistant director, and represents the third departure from the office in the past year, and the fourth from the Division of Student Life.
For the past month there has been a series of events to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War One. The war was a defining event in the 20th century, and by all accounts it was a horrible, inhuman conflict beyond what anyone could have imagined. In the words of Robert Frost, it was a war “fought for a reason beyond reason.”
Up the curb, down the sidewalk, through the front doors, into the lobby, up the escalators, through two more lobbies and finally into the enormous media packed ballroom, a group of 60 Carleton students pushed their way through the masses of ecstatic democrats. Strangers were hugging, grown men were balling and a group of drunken 20-somethings was dancing to the uplifting beats of Bruce Springsteen and U2. This was the scene we happened upon as we entered the Democratic Party on Tuesday night at the moment that the television screens flashed the text "OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT."
Last year was the first year I became involved in The Carletonian. I started by writing a couple of stories and copyediting every week. As trivial as it may sound, I found changing periods to semicolons and thinking of synonyms for “also” a fun and rewarding experience. Every week, sitting in the Carletonian office, I was continually impressed with the fact that I had input on a publication that would be read by peers, professors and parents.
The time it takes you to read this letter will probably be a wasted portion of your life, and for that I apologize in advance. It may surprise you, however, that a similar imposition is forced upon the vast majority of Carleton students every day. I’m talking, of course, about the startup time of college-owned computers.
As I stood outside ‘Heaven and Hell’ last weekend, I chatted with a Carleton College security guard regarding the high rates of hospital visits for Carleton students this year. According to him, three times as many students have been rushed to the hospital in the first five weeks of this term than were taken to the hospital in the entirety of the 2007 – 2008 school year. The majority of these situations involved alcohol. Inevitably, the question is asked: how can a student population that historically values intelligence and hard work get so out of control on Friday nights?
A few nights ago, I woke up after drowsing off to sleep and found myself in a stone tower. I heard the cackle of my evil stepmother, and knew that unless a valiant knight was to rescue me from this cruel torture, I would have to spend the rest of my life in the confines of the cold, dark prison. I waited for my knight. Japanese beetles buzzed around me as I wallowed in self-pity.
Last week’s leading headline in The Carletonian read that “Financial Crisis Hits Carleton.” While some effects of the crisis will be felt immediately – with the planned 2011 completion date of the Arts Union to be postponed – many college officials agree that it will actually be some time before the full effects are felt.
People come to school in Minnesota, the coldest state in the continental United States, and they expect cold weather. When people expect things, they prepare for them. And when I say prepare I mean it. Students come with thick sweaters, fluffy comforters, and down jackets just to prepare for what they think will be nasty, miserable, and depressing winter weather. And sure, the above listed items are used for the tiny amount of time spent outside walking from class to class or, heaven forbid, up to the Rec Center.
The nature of a school – whether high school, college, or otherwise – is that the people involved with the school will consistently be a changing landscape. Here at Carleton, students leave every four years, and staff members come and go maybe just as often, accepting new positions with other employers, being let go, or just deciding to leave. Love it or hate it, change is a constant on campuses such as Carleton.
It is on this topic, then, that we mark the departure of Chris Rasinen, Associate Director of Campus Activities from Carleton’s community. By the time that this is published, Chris’s time at Carleton will be done, and he will have started his new job with Minnesota Youth in Government.
Christopher Logel’s Ethicist column in the October 10 issue of the Carletonian laid out a case for political diversity at Carleton that correctly and powerfully argues against ideological discrimination and on behalf of a culture of tolerance and mutual respect. I, like many others, share these sentiments. But I feel it necessary to correct some untrue or illogical assumptions that are too often made on behalf of what are perceived to be minoritarian points of view. During my ten years at Carleton, conservative students in particular have reported feeling uncomfortable with the “monocultural,” “heavily liberal” climate at the College. On one level, I sympathize with their genuine sentiments of not seeming to fit in and I join Logel in deploring the kind of ad hominem attack he describes in his piece.