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An interview with incoming president Alison Byerly

Wed, 05/12/2021 - 11:27am

This morning, Alison Byerly was announced as the 12th president of Carleton College, succeeding Steven Poskanzer. President Byerly will take office on August 1, 2021. Earlier this week, the Carletonian had the opportunity to interview Byerly over Zoom, speaking with the incoming president about her time at Middlebury and Lafayette, what excites her most about coming to Carleton, some steps she hopes to take in pursuit of equity and anti-racism, the biggest challenges she expects to face assuming office in the midst of a pandemic, and her scholarship of Victorian culture. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Sam Kwait-Spitzer: Why Carleton? We saw that you’re the parent of a Carleton alumnus, so what does the college mean to you personally? 

Alison Byerly: You know, I have always known Carleton—just as a professional in the field—as an excellent liberal arts college. So from my time at Middlebury onward, I’ve always known some faculty and some administrators at Carleton. I’ve known Steve Poskanzer and Bev Nagel for a number of years. So I certainly know the territory. I have a very good friend at Middlebury who was a Carleton alum, and she persuaded my daughter to apply. And when I saw how much my daughter loved Carleton, it really gave me a sense of what a special place it is. She liked the fact that people were deeply intellectual, but also kind of laid back, and that students seem to be willing to have fun as well as, you know, work hard. She also is someone who is a very dedicated student, but also likes to do other things in her life as well. So I think she felt that there was a kind of balance at Carleton that I appreciated as well, watching her experience.

So, the opportunity just seemed to me a wonderful confluence. I was already planning to finish up my time at Lafayette, and I was going to go on sabbatical next year. But when this opportunity arose, I just could not resist, because Carleton is an amazing place. I really feel very honored at the thought of being able to work with such fantastic faculty, such dedicated staff. And, knowing a lot of my daughter’s friends, I think Carleton students are an amazing group.

Sam: You will be the first woman president in Carleton’s history. Would you like to comment on the significance of this?

It is a tremendous honor for anyone to be appointed president of Carleton, and I am certainly proud to think that I am the college’s first female president. I would be pleased to find that my appointment is meaningful to some female students and alumnae.

Amelia Broman: How have you changed as a leader during your tenure at Lafayette, as well as at Middleburyand what lessons will you carry forward to Carleton? 

I started off, of course, as a faculty member. And so when you’re a faculty member and then you first move into administration, that’s a big leap. As a faculty member, you have quite a lot of independence. As an administrator, you’re really in charge of bringing teams together and working collectively on things. And I really enjoyed that. And that was part of what solidified my sense of liking being an academic administrator. As a provost, you’re dealing primarily with faculty and academic issues. When you become a president, you really have to take a college-wide perspective. And so you’re looking at student life, you’re looking at enrollment, you’re looking at finance, you’re looking at facilities. And I really like seeing how the pieces fit together, always in support of the academic program, always in support of the student experience, but there are lots of different dimensions to that.

A lot of what I learned at Middlebury, I was able to apply at Lafayette. And I think what I learned at Lafayette had a lot to do with just the nature of leadership in this kind of role, and the way in which it really requires bringing a lot of different voices together.

It’s not like being a CEO of a company where you have employees and you tell them what to do. This is much more like a democracy. You’ve got lots of different groups who have different interests that you have to bring together. And with the shared governance structure of a college,

it does mean that you don’t get to simply dictate things. You really have to work with the board, with faculty, with the administration, with students. All of those groups have different levels of input, depending on the nature of the issue. But, by and large, you seek consensus across a range of different constituencies.

A lot of what I’ve learned in my time at Lafayette has to do with working with those different groups, building relationships among those different groups, and recognizing how many of the issues that you deal with really are rooted in questions of culture, as much as questions of structure. 

Sam: Carleton and Lafayette are similar in many ways, both small liberal arts colleges with strong academic legacies. But they’re also pretty different institutions. Carleton is slightly smaller than Lafayette, in the Midwest, and, aside from Frisbee, we don’t compete at the Division I level. So how will your approach to the presidency differ or stay similar based on the institution?

You know, you’re right. There are some similarities. Lafayette is a place that’s strong in science and engineering. Carleton, of course, has historic strength in science, but tremendous strength in the humanities and arts. And as a humanities person myself, that’s something that, you know, I celebrate and want to see continue to advance at Carleton.

Different profiles in sports make a difference. But having come from a Division III school at Middlebury, Division I is its own thing—but wherever you are, student-athletes take their play very seriously and have things that they want to get out of the experience. So I think the differences between Division I and Division III have to do with budget and structure and scholarships and things like that. But in terms of what students want from the experience of being on a team, it’s not so different from what they want from being in a club or being in another activity. They want friendship, and they want connection. They want to challenge themselves. And so I feel like a lot of those things are very translatable.

You are right about the slightly different scale of the institutions. But one of the things that I see as a deep similarity is both places have a really strong sense of community. They are places that really are passionate about the experience of the school. And I think sometimes that takes the form of self-criticism, where you have to say, “Carleton, you know, here are things we think we could be better at.” But it always comes out of a deep love for the college. And that’s one of the things that I think sets Carleton apart, even from some other top liberal arts colleges. People here aren’t aloof about their experience. They aren’t too sophisticated to care about the school. They really care. Sometimes that care means you have to say, “There are things I wish were different,” but it’s always about making the place better.

Amelia: What are your priorities for Carleton? What’s working best, and what needs to change?

You know, I think it’s funny. The search process is interesting in that it’s a combination of you kind of absorbing from the people in the committee—you know, “What do you think is happening at Carleton? What are you looking for in your leadership?”—and them trying to get from you, you know, “What would you bring to Carleton? What kind of leader would she be?”

So it’s kind of a delicate dance, because you don’t want to kind of step on your predecessor’s feet. You don’t want to get out ahead of what the community is ready for. And so I would not, right now, identify “here are my five priorities in my first hundred days.” I would say I certainly get a sense that people are very attentive to questions of community and how to create a sense of belonging—and how that’s been tested by a lot of the racial injustice in the world, and potentially even on campus. Those are obviously issues that are very much on people’s minds. So I think that there’s room for a lot of learning about what the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Committee (IDE) is doing and what continued work on the area of inclusivity, diversity and equity would look like. So that’s certainly one area. 

I certainly think coming out of this [pandemic] experience, everyone will be looking at questions of enrollment and finances and the structure of the college and how all those pieces fit together in a sustainable way for the future. Carleton is in strong shape. It has an excellent endowment. It’s in very good shape, but I think higher ed has been rocked a bit by this experience. So I think that that’s an area that we’ll probably look at. And I certainly think there’s room for a lot of exciting discussion of pedagogy, because we’ve all been focused on teaching this year with the process of having to translate a lot of what you’re doing into some remote work.

Whether you’ve switched back and forth, whether you’re doing hybrid, whether you’re still doing remote—faculty at a place like Carleton, who are already fantastic teachers, have learned a lot about different ways of student learning and things that work and don’t work. And I just think it’s an interesting time to pull back the lens a little bit and say, you know, “What’s important in the ways in which we approach the work of the classroom?” And so I think there’ll probably be some interesting discussions in the academic program about what we’ve learned over this process. Because the ways in which you see the challenges of supporting students, the ways in which issues of equity have been sort of foregrounded by the experience, the ways in which it just tells you a lot about how you absorb things, and how it’s hard to absorb things on Zoom—all of that has been kind of a learning experience for faculty, and I’m interested to hear what they’ve learned.

Sam: During your tenure, Lafayette became an inaugural member of the Racial Equity Leadership Alliance, of which Carleton is also a member. So is there any work during your tenure at Lafayette in pursuit of anti-racism and equity that you hope to bring here? And could you lay out some concrete steps that you would be interested in taking at Carleton?

Absolutely. I think every culture and community is so specific. I certainly wouldn’t sort of take what I did at one institution and impose it on another. But I will say, one of the things we did at Lafayette that’s been helpful was ask each division to draw up a diversity plan specific to its division—how would it implement the kinds of things that we’ve been talking about as a college overall. We certainly have been instituting anti-racism training and doing a lot more programming in that area over the last year. When I think about what I hear from students at Lafayette and what I get a sense of from Carleton students, reading a lot of the information that’s online, reading the things on student Instagram accounts, reading things on Overheard at Carleton, reading things from the Ujamaa Collective, you did get that sense of people wanting an acknowledgement of problems, action taken and some accountability for whether the institution has acted. I don’t yet know enough about where we have not done enough at Carleton and where we need to do more, to be able to say, “here are the five things I would do,” but trying to get a sense of what people feel has been behind. What has been identified that everyone agrees should happen, but hasn’t, and what stands in the way of that happening?

I think that sometimes the administration is in a good position just to find those logjams and say, “Here is a policy that doesn’t work. Here’s an issue that we’ve been trying to grapple with, how do you bring all that together?” And so I’m really excited to hear the work of the IDE committee and get a sense of what they’re doing and get a sense from students of what they feel—especially coming out of the COVID world, where none of us have had the level of communication and interaction we’d like. This really will be a time about renewing a sense of community.

Amelia: What excites you most about being Carleton’s president? What makes you most nervous? Not many imagined I could be nervous! So that’s a very smart question because those two absolutely go together. I’m excited at the quality and dedication of the academic program and the focus on the academic mission. Carleton has a very strong sense of mission and a strong sense of what excellence looks like within academic fields. I’m just excited to get to know the different departments and the faculty and getting a sense of how they work and learn—what are some of the areas that they’re excited about? So sort of just digging into learning about the academic program is part of the fun, part of coming to a new institution. And that’s part of what excites me. I have loved working with the students at Lafayette. They’re wonderful students. They have a kind of characteristic as a student body, just as Carleton does. And so getting to know the unique character of Carleton students on a kind of personal level is also a lot of what draws me to the position. And as I said, what I do know of Carleton, I have liked so much.

What makes me nervous is, I think anytime you come into a role like this, there are high expectations, and you don’t want to disappoint people. You want to be able to do the things the institution needs. It requires listening carefully and learning very quickly, you know, what is needed. A lot of what I learned I’ll bring with me, but there’s a lot that is so specific to a community or an institution that you know. There’s a lot that’s very Carleton. That’s very different from what I would have experienced at Middlebury and Lafayette. I love the learning part.

The only anxiety I feel is that I hope I can move quickly enough to jump on board quickly and be able to help bring the community together after a period that, as every institution has found, was really challenging.

Sam: Is there a moment of failure or challenge you’ve experienced in your time as a college president and administrator that has changed your leadership or given you some wisdom?

One of the things that’s interesting about these kinds of roles is that the decisions have such long-term ramifications that often it’s not clear for a long time whether a decision was a good one or a bad one. I would say, more than sort of looking back on decisions, I look back on opportunities to gather input and think, well, here’s a time that if we had asked students, maybe they could have told us they wouldn’t have liked that policy, or, you know, perhaps we consulted with one faculty committee, but not this other one. So when I think of missed opportunities, I think perhaps of times that one could think of another group that should have been spoken with. I think that the greatest challenge, the greatest challenges typically are moments when the community is in turmoil amongst themselves, when either there are conflicts within student groups or whether there are competing factions somehow within the community where people want resolution. You know that your job as president is not to take sides, but to try and bring the community into some kind of balance.

I would say finally, when we think about how challenging this last year has just been—I was thinking in the job search, they often ask you in a job interview about what’s been your biggest challenge. And I said to the presidential search committee, “You got the same answer from all of us this year.” Anybody you talked to this year said this year was the biggest challenge, trying to manage all of the sped-up decision-making and financial challenges of COVID in an environment where all decisions were so attenuated by circumstance and people weren’t having the same kinds of interactions they normally would. Everything was just five times harder. It’s like you’re sort of swimming through molasses just to get to the place you would normally get to. And so it just felt really, really hard to get even normal things done. And then we were having to do a lot of abnormal things like quickly pass legislation about pass/fail, or quickly reconsider grading policies or reconsider our housing policy so as to make it possible to give students rebates. All of those things were very, very difficult. I would say the good thing is that we all learned, and I certainly learned that the one step you can’t skip is consultation. Any time I’ve looked back on something and felt I could have handled it better, it’s not because I didn’t process the information well, it’s that I could have gathered more information that would give you a better sense of how the community might respond.

Sam: Shifting gears perhaps a bit abruptly—as a scholar of Victorian literature and media, is there a particular piece of literature that you find most interesting, or perhaps most pertinent in this moment?

You don’t want a two hour lecture [laughter]. So let me think what would be a short answer to that. A lot of my work has been on Victorian literature and media, things like art and other kinds of representation. That’s very important to the current moment because a lot of my work has been on the question of how you create a sense of place, and even the idea of virtuality and the Victorian period. One of the things that Victorians loved, for example, were things called panoramas, which were these room-sized paintings of actual places where you would go and kind of stand in front of a huge painting of Paris, and then kind of someone would lecture about Paris and you would sort of pretend that you were there.

It was very much about a kind of virtual experience of a place that you’re not at. Much of the ways in which they talk about it are not so different from the way we talk about the weirdness of the virtual life we’ve been living over the last year, where I’m kind of at Carleton talking to people today, but actually I’m here in Easton, PA.

I think there’s a lot about the human experience that’s very translatable from the 19th century to the present. The novels of that period are about people and relationships, a society. There’s nothing more fundamental than that. The authors I study are authors like George Elliot and Charlotte Brontë who really are about the psychology of human relationships. And so I find that all of that is very relevant. Even though the language is old-fashioned and the books are very long and hard to get through for some people, I find that they still speak to our understanding of the challenges of living in society, which was really the topic of all literature of that period.

Amelia: So going off of that, you published a work called Are We There Yet? Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism. With the emergence of the digital humanities as well as Carleton’s increasing institutional focus on this area, how will you leverage your expertise to grow this discipline?

It’s one of the things I like about Carleton, that there has been a real commitment in that area, what’s called digital humanities, which encompasses everything from certain forms of research and ways of using texts digitally, but also kind of study of media and ways in which the experience of media has changed over time.

In a sense, media is about communication. So there’s a real continuity between my interests as a scholar and my interest as an administrator, in that it’s all about how we talk to each other and how people communicate. Leadership is just another form of communication in some sense.

And so I certainly think that Carleton is in a very good position to be strong in the digital humanities. There are people in the English Department and History Department, as I’m sure you know, Sam, who are doing very good work in that area right now. I think that that’s one of the ways to bring the interdisciplinary character of the college forward. Sometimes it’s easy for people to talk about, as I did it myself earlier, the sciences versus the humanities and the arts. They aren’t separate disciplines anymore. There’s a lot of cross-currents, you know. Scientists need to be able to write and understand imagery. Literary scholars and art scholars need to be able to understand data. There are a lot of ways in which those fields are growing closer together. So I think digital humanities is a great way of—it’s not the only way for the humanities to stay relevant, contrary to what some believe, but it is one of the ways in which the humanities can move forward. And it’s also a way that engages students often very deeply, because some humanities research is very solitary. The books that I’ve written, I wrote by myself, sitting in a library. With digital humanities, you’re in a lab working with people and you’re processing things collectively and talking about them. That collaboration actually can be very exciting in the humanities. 

Sam: Many liberal arts colleges, as you mentioned, are facing pretty severe financial difficulties and difficulties that precede the pandemic, but certainly have also been exacerbated by it. What is the future of the residential liberal arts college?

A lot of people are thinking about that question now. At the beginning of this crisis, there was a fear that it would undermine residential education because people thought: well, gosh, if you can send students home and they can just take the computers and study from there, why would you build these big, expensive campuses for them? You know, isn’t that the wave of the future?

And I think what we heard pretty resoundingly from students is, they really would prefer it to be learning in groups and having that communal experience. Most people did not prefer staying at home in their bedrooms, you know, taking classes online—by and large, exceptions on all sides.

But that was the gist of what I think most of us heard from students. It reminds you of the deeply social nature of learning and the deeply communal nature of education. In some ways, residential liberal arts colleges could come out real winners from this situation, because it reminds people why the experience of taking some online courses from a state university is actually not the same as living in Carleton, you know, being in clubs, being in activities, seeing your friends, working together on the newspaper. Those are fundamental parts of your Carleton experience as much as majoring in history or physics.

That integrated kind of holistic experience, the way in which it all comes together, is what the best liberal arts colleges do extremely well. I think that it’ll help us build the case in the future for why these admittedly expensive environments are worth it.

You have to come up with a structure that ensures adequate financial aid to make it possible for a range of students to come. But the answer is not to diminish the experience. You know, the experience itself is incredibly worthwhile. The answer is to come up with financial models that include fundraising, that include efficiency, that include philanthropy in order to make it possible for all students to have either the benefits of that kind of education.

Amelia: So a sort of fun question now. We’ve heard that you participated in a variety of fun escapades to support fundraising campaigns [at Lafayette], like cannonballing into the pool and lip syncing to Hamilton.

Oh gosh. Very good research. 

Amelia: Would you plan to carry this approach forward to Carleton?

If people wanted, I would absolutely be open to it. I don’t want to suggest that something I did at Lafayette has to work at Carleton. But I love doing fun things with members of the community. I liked not only the things that I did myself personally, but all of them involve faculty and students and staff as well. Our last year’s challenge, for example, was like a kind of Hollywood Squares thing where we had a bunch of faculty answering kind of Jeopardy-type questions on a stage and battling each other in various ways. It was as much fun to pull people together to do that as it was to do it myself.

I think the message of those from a fundraising perspective was just to show how committed I was to that goal, that if you’re willing to kind of embarrass yourself and do something ridiculous, it’s sort of saying, “This is so important. I don’t mind looking ridiculous if it gets your attention and gets you to write a check.”

So if that kind of message is helpful, I’m always happy to deliver, and always happy to support student fundraisers too. I’m happy to be a celebrity judge for a karaoke contest. I’m happy to participate in whatever “-athon” where you have to ride a bike for three hours in the gym in order to raise money. Anything like that, that brings people together, is something that I think is one of the ways in which you can kind of step out of the president’s role and get into the mix a little bit. And that’s one of the things I really enjoy. You feel very separate at times as president, and I really look forward to opportunities to get into the mix of it. 

Sam: Now our current president, Steven Poskanzer, goes by the nickname “Stevie P,” that he actually brought from when he was president SUNY New Paltz. So do you have any nickname preferences? 

Oh gosh. You know, I’d hate to think you just translate it. I will admit the Lafayette students do call me “Allie B.” So there must be like, is this a thing among students? Like, we all have to have a ludicrous rap-star-type name that emphasizes how out of it we are. But, I would be open to whatever people come up with. They’ll have to decide what my name lends itself to. I did not know that Stevie P brought that with him from SUNY New Paltz. That’s very funny.

Sam: I imagine being a college president is a pretty hard job with a lot of stress. What are the things you do to maintain a work-life balance and to have fun and relax?

It goes without saying that exercise is important. I’m a runner, so I like to go for runs. And I do, you know, other kinds of exercise. I don’t know if you’d call that fun, but I put on music that I enjoy, and I enjoy that. My family really likes hiking and skiing.

As everyone recognized, even during the pandemic, the one safe thing you could do is go outside. So we went on even more hikes than we otherwise might have. I would say a lot of birdwatching. We’re big birders.

Music is a deep love for everyone in our family. We’ve listened to all kinds of music. I play the flute. Lots of reading and lots of catching up on stuff on Netflix and, you know, getting into the middle of season four of something and saying, “I can’t believe I have two more seasons!”

Sam: Well it seems like you will be excited to explore the Arb!

It’s funny, when I left Middlebury, which actually also has a cross country trail around campus—because Middlebury has a golf course and then runs a cross country trail around it—I thought, “I’m never again going to live on a campus that has its own cross country ski trails.” So I have now achieved that goal. I have gotten back to a campus where I can actually cross country ski on campus. I’m really excited for that. 

Amelia: To close, is there anything else that you’d like the Carleton community to know?

I would want people to know that I wish that I could be on campus when [my selection] is announced and actually meet people. I am so looking forward to actually seeing people in person, when I arrive. It’s a strange thing to go through this process and have it be mostly virtual. I hope that when I get there, we can make up for lost time.

Carletonian Editor-in-Chief Amelia Broman and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Sam Kwait-Spitzer interviewed incoming president Alison Byerly via Zoom on Monday, May 10.

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Categories: Colleges

History Department to hire African American history tenure-track professor

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:36pm

The History Department is looking to hire an African American History tenure-track faculty member to begin Fall 2022. Professor Harry Williams, who came to Carleton in 1989 and taught courses including African American History and Black Atlantic History, retired this year, and the History Department hopes to find another professor to continue offering courses focused on African American History. 

Professor Serena Zabin, the History Department Chair, said the department plans to find a person who only specialized in African American history but also “who can advance the college’s vision about how to be an anti-racist institution.” Zabin emphasized the “enormous significance of learning and teaching pre-civil war African American history and the history of slavery as a form of terrorism” to understanding our racial and political environment today. 

The position is listed as open-rank tenure track, meaning that those who already have tenure somewhere else can apply. Zabin said that the department chose to make the position open-rank to “have the biggest, most diverse, and most exciting pool we could.” 

The department planned on advertising the position and beginning interviews last year but decided to postpone the process because of COVID-19. Zabin is optimistic that the department can resume a normal search and have applicants interview in person with faculty and students this coming fall. 

In addition to bringing in more faculty specialized in African American history, the department has recently focused on hosting scholars and historians from around the country and the world through the Lefler/Broom Lectures and Discussions on Race and History. This year visitors have included Dr. Vincent Brown, Dr. Spencer Crew, and, most recently, Professor Sophie White, who on May 4 spoke about her newest book, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana, which incorporates criminal justice testimonies to analyze the autobiographies of enslaved people in French Louisiana. 

This upcoming Fall and Winter, the history department is also excited to host a senior visiting professor, Noel Volts of Case Western University, who will teach Atlantic Slavery and Black Women’s History. While the college has always offered courses examining African American history to some degree, the increased racial tensions of the past year and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement pushed the department to introduce more focused and intensive investigations of Black America. 

The History department hopes that the open-rank application will bring in a professor who can both expand the college’s scholarship in African American history and contribute to the Africana Studies program. Zabin emphasized that the department is looking to hire the best candidate for Carleton who is “eager to teach and share what matters to them about explaining the African American past.” 

The death of George Floyd and countless other injustices brought to the limelight this year were aggressive demonstrations of the institutional racism that has deep roots in our American past. The History Department hopes that bringing in more diverse voices and professors of African American history will play a part in creating a more just future through the study and deconstruction of the past.

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Categories: Colleges

Campus-wide effort doubles student participation in HEDS Sexual Assault Survey

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:35pm

Content warning: sexual misconduct.

For most of April, flyers with Carlsfor4000 hashtags populated student email inboxes and informational billboards around campus. Carleton student groups, faculty, staff and administration collaborated to encourage students to fill out the HEDS Sexual Assault Survey. The result—a 38% response rate from students, a little over double that of the previous survey.  

The Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) is an organization of more than 100 colleges and universities across the United States that share knowledge and data on a variety of issues, including campus climate and sexual assault. Carleton is a member of HEDS and participated in the Sexual Assault Survey in 2015 and 2018 as well.

 This year, however, for the first time ever, Carleton pledged to donate $1,000 (up to a maximum of $4,000) to a local nonprofit for every 10% of Carleton students who complete the survey in order to incentivize higher response rates. Response rates in 2015 and 2018 were 24% and 18% of campus, respectively. 

That means that Carleton will be donating $3,000 to HOPE Center, a local nonprofit that aims to “create zero tolerance for sexual and domestic violence through healing, outreach, prevention and education.” HOPE Center, based in Faribault, provides direct support to survivors of sexual violence throughout Rice County. 

According to an email from Carleton’s Title IX Office to the student body, this year’s incentivization of student responses reflected a “recognition of how significantly [the survey] information can impact our community.”

“We received feedback from students that offering the incentive of a donation to HOPE Center would help increase the response rate and we are grateful to see this incentive had such a positive impact,” said Laura Riehle-Merrill, Carleton’s Title IX Coordinator. “We are thrilled with this outcome.”

 The survey asked students about their perceptions of Carleton’s climate regarding unwanted sexual contact and the extent to which they have experienced unwanted sexual contact. HEDS will later provide Carleton with campus-specific data and a comparison of Carleton’s results with peer institutions (other small liberal arts colleges), as well as all participating institutions. The results of the survey will then inform support services, policies and prevention programming on campus.

Director of Technology Support at Carleton, Austin Robinson-Coolidge, who has served either as a member of the Community Board on Sexual Misconduct or as Sexual Misconduct Support Advisor since 2010, was one of many staff and faculty members who urged students to complete the HEDS survey. 

“I believe one of the keys to reducing sexual violence at Carleton is better education, and, in order for that education to be effective, it needs to be targeted in ways that make it relevant and accessible.  The data collected in the HEDS survey will help tailor the education we provide to be more effective, and to gain a better understanding of what parts are working and what parts aren’t,” he wrote in an email to student workers. 

For instance, the 2015 HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey found that Carleton students reported a higher sense of satisfaction with the campus climate and reported a much greater sense of safety (overall and among men and women) than at peer institutions, but significantly fewer students perceived that campus officials would conduct an investigation against sexual offenders and hold offenders accountable. In addition, the survey indicated that drugs and alcohol surfaced as a factor in sexual assaults at Carleton more than at peer institutions. 

These results pointed campus officials in the direction of what “next steps” to take to improve Carleton’s campus climate. 

 In 2015, 10-11% of women and 3-4% of men reported being sexually assaulted since coming to Carleton, according to a 2016 Learning and Teaching Center session that examined and discussed the results of the survey. Higher proportions of queer students and students of color reported unwanted sexual behavior or contact. 

Any numbers—even low numbers—are a cause for concern because sexual harassment and assault have such a huge impact on students’ lives and ability to remain and succeed at Carleton.

If students want to report sexual misconduct, they can reach out to Laura Riehle-Merrill directly, fill out a Community Concern Form or visit the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response page for more information.

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Categories: Colleges

Future of Archer House still uncertain eight months after fire

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:34pm

Many Carls will vaguely recall the chilly November afternoon that marked the downfall of Northfield’s historic Archer House River Inn, which, along with beloved restaurants Chapati and Smoqehouse, was forced to close for the foreseeable future due to severe structural damages as a result of an accidental fire in the kitchens of Smoqehouse. 

The Archer House River Inn has stood as an iconic landmark in historic downtown Northfield since its opening in 1877. The Inn’s once-impressive facade shows the destructive path of the fire, with the roof caved in over Smoqehouse, leaving several guest rooms visibly exposed—even now, eight months after the tragic accident.

The November 12 fire blazed through the night, travelling internally through the walls and thus escaping detection in some areas until significant damage had already been inflicted. Reports have stated that firefighters used as much as two million gallons of water during the 24 hours that the fire burned. 

With repairs still not yet underway, many in the community are wondering what the future of the Inn holds. Paper Petalum, a shop formerly in Archer House, has already relocated; Chapati is reportedly searching for a new location as well. 

Original reports characterized the Inn as “a total loss,” but more recent evidence suggests it might be possible to salvage the iconic building. The owners of the Inn have shared concerns that the ongoing insurance investigation is leaving the building vulnerable to further water damage and is potentially harming any chance of restoring the historic site. While repairs are delayed, the building continues to deteriorate visibly. 

According to Brett Reese, an official representing the Inn, it is still uncertain whether the Archer House can even be salvaged, given the extensive damage done to the building and lack of communication with the Inn’s insurance company. Reese shares the frustration and disappointment brought by the continued setbacks in restoration. The longer the building is exposed to the elements, he explained, the less likely it is that a full restoration will be feasible. 

The damage varies in different parts of the building. Areas near Smoqehouse and on the upper levels suffered the worst damage, with near-total destruction; other parts of the building that remained more intact still suffered extensive smoke damage and water damage, along with continued exposure to the elements. Reese also shared that the movement of heavy machinery through the building during the investigation might have inflicted further damage.  

The owners of Archer House said that they are not able to make a decision regarding the future of the historic building until insurance claims are processed and the building is fully assessed for damage. Only then will they begin “in earnest the process of assessing future options for the site,” said the owners. This could include restoration, replacement or redevelopment. 

In the event that the building is unable to be salvaged and is torn down, representatives of the Inn have shared tentative plans to ensure that a new building in the same space would carry the memory of Archer House with similar architectural charm. 

The post Future of Archer House still uncertain eight months after fire appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

President Poskanzer exit interview: a conversation on legacy, racial equity, climate change, and the post-pandemic future of liberal arts colleges

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:33pm

On August 28, 2020, President Steven Poskanzer announced to the Board of Trustees his intention to step down as president following the end of this academic year while staying on as a professor of Political Science. Poskanzer’s departure ends an eleven-year tenure as Carleton’s president. Halfway through Poskanzer’s final term of leadership, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Sam Kwait-Spitzer sat down with Poskanzer over Zoom for an exit interview — discussing, among other things, the president’s legacy, his hopes and anxieties for a post-pandemic future, issues of racial equity, climate change and his argument for the enduring (and increasing) value of liberal arts colleges. A less abridged version of this conversation will appear in the Carletonian’s online edition. This interview has been abridged for clarity.

Sam Kwait-Spitzer: You began your presidency barely two years removed from the greatest financial crisis in a generation. And you are leaving the college in the midst of a pandemic, amongst other crises. How have these bookends of crisis impacted your decade as president?

President Poskanzer: I don’t know whether you know this, but actually in the fall of 2010, when I started, there was a massive hundred-year flood in Northfield too. So it really kind of feels like I came in with a flood and I’m leaving with the pandemic. But actually, there’s an underlying point here that I really do think is very important. And that’s about the resilience of great colleges and universities. So, you know, there was a recession in 2010, but we came out of it really, really strong. We have the most applications we’ve ever had. The yield, the students who we admit who choose to come here, is at record levels. There’s more diversity in our student body. We’ve had a lot of success in hiring faculty and staff. We’ve had record-breaking fundraising. We’ve had new buildings. So we came out of that recession really strong. We’ll do the same thing from the pandemic, especially because I think this pandemic is very likely to reinforce the value of a residential liberal arts education. 

SKS: Recently, you faced criticism from students for slow and immaterial responses to the murder of George Floyd and many other acts of racial violence. What are your feelings on both how you and the institution have responded, in the past months and years?

I would say that I think we are responding in very substantive and also very important ways to both the national and the local institutional imperative to address racism and racial violence. And let me give you some examples of the substance here. We’ve put in mandatory anti-racism training for all faculty and all staff and all trustees and all important volunteers. Carleton has never done that before. We launched a very focused and important community plan for inclusion, diversity and equity with a particular focus on the Black experience. And that’s something Carleton has never had before. That’s very substantive. We set up a George Floyd scholarship. We made donations to North Minneapolis community organizations. We’ve provided additional support to the Africana Studies program. We’ve created a whole new Office of Intercultural Life that is focused just on meeting the needs of BIPOC students. We’re hiring new BIPOC staff, especially in  SHAC right now. We’ve promulgated a land acknowledgment statement to recognize on whose soil this college sits. With all of that said, I do think we really have to recognize that we live in a world where racism is still ever-present and at a college where racism is, of course, still present—and the work of making Carleton a truly inclusive college where everybody can realize their aspirations, I think that work’s not done yet. It’s far from complete, and we have to do that work right now. 

When you started as the president of the college up until now, in what ways have conversations about race amongst the faculty and the institution changed?

Like I just said, you’ve got to start with acknowledging that there is structural racism that’s baked into the culture and the DNA of Carleton that is undeniable, and we have to work, and we have to work now in concrete and measurable ways to uproot that. You know, the fact that you could say the same thing, that there’s similar institutional racism at every other college or university, I don’t think that’s all that relevant. It doesn’t excuse us from the work that we have to do here that we’re called to do right now. And like I said, I don’t think that work really ever gets done, alas, but we’ve got to take the actions that we can take right now. 

So from my perspective, I’m really proud of how much more diverse the student body is. Over my tenure, when I came here in 2010, we were about 27% historically underrepresented or international students. And now we’re 42% in 2021. That’s good, but that’s not good enough. I mean, we still need to keep going in that direction. I’m really proud of the numbers of BIPOC faculty that we’ve hired and especially the numbers of faculty of color that we’ve tenured over the last decade. I think our faculty is more diverse in gender and race as well. And, candidly, I’m also really proud of the senior-level administrative hires that I’ve made, who are committed to IDE work, and who’ve diversified that the senior ranks of administration here. But having said all that, I would like our student body to be even more diverse than it is right now, especially with more low-income and more middle-income BIPOC students. That would make us stronger still. And even though we’ve raised $125 million for need-based financial aid, I worry, quite frankly, that a Carleton education is still unaffordable for too many of the students that we would most like to have enrolled here. I hate it that when we’re making our admissions decisions, there are still times where we have to be what’s called “need-sensitive” in the trade. It’s like a wound in my heart. I wish we didn’t have to do that, but we know the answer to that. It’s getting more money and endowment, and more scholarships, and we can talk a little bit more about that. 

One of the other things that I worry about—and maybe that’s the change that’s taken place in the dialogue over the years—is there are inequities in what I would call institutional capital. How ready folks are to take advantage of what college is like. I don’t know whether you’ve ever read any of Anthony Jack’s work about this. He’s a writer at Harvard grad school of education. And, you know, it’s one thing for a student who shows up at a college who comes from maybe an academic family and knows that going to office hours is a really good thing, and hears the word “syllabus” and knows exactly what that is. Some students don’t know that stuff when they show up at college. And so they are relatively disadvantaged in terms of just that institutional capital. And we’ve got to work to correct that even as we also work to correct financial imbalances, either for financial aid during the year, or—I’ve spent a lot of time and energy worrying about giving money and raising funds for summer internships so that somebody could afford to take an unpaid summer internship without having to sacrifice the money that they would otherwise have to work on to pay for college. Unless that playing field was even, BIPOC students, disadvantaged students are going to be at a further disadvantage. That’s not acceptable. 

In your inaugural address in 2011, you asserted that “the sustainable stewardship of our planet is a defining issue of our time. Colleges and universities have an intellectual and moral obligation to engage deeply with this issue.”  In your tenure, the college has taken many positive steps, like moving to geothermal heating and the expanded stewardship of the Arb, and continuing to be on track to hit the carbon neutral by 2050. However, the college’s public equity holdings continue to include companies that fund and engage in environmentally destructive practices, and the college has remained noticeably silent on the more recent Line 3 debate. What do you see is your environmental legacy? 

Well first, and this goes through a bunch of questions. I’ve got to compliment you. You really read my inaugural address. I think that makes you, my mom, and me the three people who read it really carefully. So really, I appreciate it.

It was a joy to look back. Beautifully written. 

Certainly one important thing here is that we collectively, as a community, developed and are really now hard into implementing a Climate Action Plan that includes both operational matters, but also really importantly includes an educational focus on climate change. And I will say here, the part of our legacy, the ideas that are being generated here at Carleton, by faculty and students in their scholarship—and especially the students that graduate from this place who care passionately about environmental issues and are equipped with the right type of intellectual tools to actually take action that will save our planet—that’s a huge part of what we need to do here. So I want to start with that. 

But I would say probably that the centerpiece of my environmental legacy—and I’ll come back to that phrase—is the fact that Carleton’s carbon footprint has decreased by 53% from the baseline that we set in 2008. We did that because we’ve made major investments in campus utilities infrastructure, and we also made wise energy conservation practices. I would say to you that that’s a very rapid acceleration of that projected 2050 timeline for achieving carbon neutrality. We’re way ahead of where we thought we would be. And I’m proud of that. I think that’s critically important. 

Now, I want to be modest here. This has happened on my watch, and I have certainly aggressively supported those investments and I’ve gone and fought for, you know, spending these monies to do that. But it’s really important to note that the progress here is the work of many, many faculty and staff. People like Martha Larson, who’s our manager of campus sustainability, student environmental associates. So, you know, it’s not like Steve made that happen. I don’t think it’s fair to take that kind of credit. 

Let me go into a little bit more details and stuff that you asked about. Actually, I think you want to double-check with the investment office, because I think you’re wrong that we don’t currently have any public holdings in any fossil fuel companies right now.

There are no public holdings in fossil fuel companies, but there are a decent number of companies that kind of participate and fund various fossil fuel industries.  These large companies are very connected, but I did want to press you on that a little bit.

We haven’t taken a public institutional stance on the Line 3 pipeline projects for the same reason that Carleton doesn’t take a public institutional stance on all kinds of other environmentally-sensitive development projects across the state of Minnesota. And we also don’t take a public stance on endorsing political candidates as an institution. We’re fundamentally an educational system, and so the places where we will take stances, as an institution, are going to be on educational things where we have expertise. Should there be affirmative action? Yeah. We know about that. That’s appropriate for Carleton to take an institutional stance on. Should there be educational opportunities available to DACA students? Yes. That’s an educational institution. Should a pipeline run in a particular place? Should this project get built versus that project get built? Those are not educational issues in the same kind of way. It’s entirely appropriate—it’s great—that individual students and faculty are engaged in activism and take on an institution, and taking a stance. Hopefully, we’ve equipped them with what they need: the knowledge to do that. But that’s different from whether Carleton as Carleton gets involved in those types of issues. 

Broadening out, what are you most proud to have accomplished during your tenure? And what do you wish you had accomplished? And you did allude to this a bit earlier regarding endowed scholarships and not fully being able to be need-blind. Any other things that you’re very proud of and things you wish you had done?

There’s this old adage that, if you can, you’re supposed to leave the forest better than you found it. And so like that, I have always wanted to try and leave Carleton stronger than I found it when I came in. And I think that’s something that has been achieved by each of the presidents who came before me. I believe it’s true in my case, just in the same way that I believe it will be true for my successor as well. 

So some of the things that I’m most proud of, I would say, are the following: I’m really proud that Carleton implemented a strategic plan that really set priorities for this place and made hard choices, including better career preparation for students, which was something that the college had really not paid as much attention to in the past. Increased socioeconomic diversity of the student body—and I’ll come back to that in a moment when we talk about scholarships and also collaborating with other liberal arts colleges—all that stuff came from our plan. But I’m really proud that we’ve raised already $430 million. We had a $400 million target in this campaign. We’re already way over it, and the largest share of that money is to endow scholarships for need-based financial aid. I’m really proud that Carleton emphasizes and has dramatically expanded need-based financial aid for low-income students and also for middle-income students. I would not want us to have a student body that is really wealthy, full-pay kids and really needy, full-need kids. You want the whole spectrum. Lastly, I would say I’m proud that our endowment value has increased. It was about $460 million when I walked in the door. It’s over a billion dollars right now. But in short, I would say the academic quality of Carleton is better over the last decade, and I’m really proud of that.

You know, I wish I had raised enough money that we could never take financial aid into account—but that will be hundreds of millions of dollars more before we get there. But every step we take towards that is great. I wish that we’d launched the IDE planning effort that we’re doing now five years ago, you know, 10 years ago. But you know, there’s an awful lot that I think we have gotten right. But there’s always more to do.

How do you think you have changed as a leader during your tenure?

I would say that I think when I came here, I was a pretty modest, unassuming person. I like to think that I am, but I can assure you that Carleton has made me even more humble and respectful of the wisdom of others. I am just constantly, regularly impressed by how smart, how devoted my colleagues, the administration, the faculty and the students are. And I learned from other people all the time. And in answering this question, I would also want to give a particular shout out to the staff of Carleton, and I don’t mean the vice presidents. I mean, the food service and ground crew, people and custodians that are the unsung heroes of Carleton. They have this incredibly deep knowledge of this place and how to get stuff done here. And in my experience, they try and put students first, and I learned a lot from watching them.

How did the nickname “Stevie P.” come about, and how do you feel about it?

Sure, so when your last name is hard to pronounce and hard to spell, a nickname is probably inevitable. But when I came here, one of the first questions people asked me was, “What do you want your nickname to be? What do people call you?” Students at SUNY New Paltz, where I used to be president, called me “Stevie P.” I actually like “Stevie P.” As far as nicknames go, it’s a pretty good nickname. It’s much better than the nicknames of other Carleton presidents that I’ve heard of. And maybe they had other nicknames that were even worse. Maybe I have other nicknames that are worse too. But I like “Stevie P.” And it’s also alright just to call me Steve too.

There is a photo pretty famous on campus of you shaving in the mirror while holding the bust of Schiller. And I’ve always been curious if it’s a real photo, or if it’s been expertly  photoshopped. Can you comment on the authenticity of the photo and then if it is authentic, a little bit of the story behind it.

Okay. So there’s a long story behind it. So it’s absolutely authentic. I took it with a self-timer. In hindsight, I should have pulled the towel up a little bit more than I did. [laughter] So maybe not my best effort. It’s actually part of a series of photos from the fall of 2010, for the then-Guardians of Schiller. I had said when I was being recruited that I really wanted to be sure I met Schiller. And so the Guardians basically allowed me to borrow Schiller for a weekend if I would take a whole bunch of pictures of me with him. I am sad to say though, that because the Guardians have turned over, many of what I think are the best pictures of me and Schiller together have never yet hit the light of day.

I think there’s a picture of Schiller and me, me tucking him into bed with cookies and milk, and there’s a picture of Schiller reading my book and me reading Schiller’s book. And I think a picture of Schiller and me watching hockey together. If the Carletonian wants, I might be able to find some of those older photos.

Yeah. Well, when we publish this spread, if you have the time to find them we by all means would totally run them. If you have the time to find them!

You want them?


Alright! I will take a look. I think I might know where they might be.


But yeah, the towel photo is real. [laughter]

I assume you will no longer be living in Nutting House after you step down. What will you miss most about the house? 

I don’t want it to be a mysterious place on campus. I love this house. The library in the house is my most favorite room. It’s really kind of cozy and classy and all the books are there. And I will really miss decorating the house for the holidays and having my family here. I will miss having pizza parties with students who we would troop up into the attic and into the basement and let see where the family that lives in the house really lives and play with the cats and dogs.

Now moving into the final section: “Looking forward.” Why have you chosen now as the time to step down?

So there’s kind of like a natural cycle to this job. What typically happens is a president comes in, they learn all about the place, then you do a strategic plan. Then you implement that plan. Then you run a capital fundraising campaign to pay for all the things you said you were going to do on the plan. And then you started all over again. And that cycle is now done this June with the capital plan and the strategic plan being implemented. And so I either needed to be willing to commit to another whole cycle of this, which would have been another seven to 10 years, or I needed to be willing to do what was right for the institution and kind of get out of the way and let the next person do it. And I felt if I started to do it again, that that would mean I will be president here for 17 or 18 years. That felt too long. It didn’t feel healthy for Carleton or for me. 

In your inaugural remarks, you mentioned the growing potential for online education and also the indelible value of in-person education. So with the pandemic and the emergence of Zoom and other analogous programs, what is going to be the future of the liberal arts college in 10, 20, 50 years? And how has the pandemic changed this future? Speaking both about Carleton, but also the liberal arts college more broadly.

So I could write long essays about this. So I’ll try and give you a shorter answer instead. I’m absolutely convinced that a liberal arts education is still the best bet for smart young people. It’s the most flexible, capacious, adaptable type of education. And that’s what you need for a world that’s changing as fast as our world is. But I also think, and this is something I touched on earlier, I think the residential aspect of this is absolutely critical to the learning. And the pandemic has brought that back home to us, this hunger for human connection and seeing the value of being proximate to each other.I think that is more important than ever before. So I think the best liberal arts colleges, with strong reputation and good demand, are going to double down on residential character going forward, even as they’ll still take advantage of online things that are available. I’m a hundred percent certain that there’s going to be a continued robust desire for a set of great liberal arts colleges, and we need to be one of those. We’re one of them right now, but our responsibility is to make sure that we continue to be one of that handful of places. 

This leads nicely into the next question. What will be the biggest challenge for the new president to solve at an institutional level and, relatedly and hopefully, in a post-pandemic era?

If you’re going to give generous scholarships—and we want to do that to bring in more lower and middle-income kids here, if you want to pay competitive salaries to faculty and staff, if you want to have the best types of facilities for teaching and learning, and if we want to support students in their emotional and their personal growth, which should be part of college, you got to have the wherewithal to pay for all of this.

And I don’t see us in an era where you can keep raising tuition in ways that are going to make the college less affordable, less within reach of families. And we can’t always assume that there are going to be generous donors who are going to step forward and do things. So that economic thing worries me.

Second thing that worries me, like I’ve said before, this is a moment where we have to center inclusion, diversity and equity work, because that’s how all faculty and staff and students at this place are going to succeed. And at the same moment that we have got to make that central to our work, we also have to reinforce and deepen what I would call the trust and the goodwill that we have at each other, and the grace, for lack of a better word, that we extend to one another. That’s a really hard thing to do right now when the pandemic has taken such a terrible medical and social toll, especially on people who’ve already been the most marginalized and disadvantaged in society. 

Oftentimes, the political issues of the day feel like they are the largest political issues. And students on campus now will only be here for these four years. But can you speak to some other political moments and dynamics at the national level that filtered down to campus that maybe precede the students here now with a four-year window?

Sure, think about the fights about affirmative action, they’ve been going on for a long time. You know, this started in the 1970’s when I was in college, and there have been a string of Supreme Court cases that have chipped away at some of the rationales for affirmative action. I’m thrilled that Harvard won at the First Circuit Court of Appeals, but I’m very worried that that case is going to come down and end the ability to expressly take race into account to provide educational diversity.

I’m worried that there is a growing anti-intellectualism in society that questions science and questions truth, as provisional as truth sometimes is, and that picks on great colleges and universities, that thinks that they are just hotbeds of flawed thinking and wants to punish places like this.

It was very disturbing to me in 2017 when the government passed a tax that literally just taxes the endowments of private colleges and universities. They didn’t tax Texas and Texas A&M’s endowments, which are far bigger than Carleton’s endowment. There’s sort of an anti-educational spirit afloat in the world right now, and that’s troubling to me.

What does it mean to be an intellectual now with media being consumed in more bite-sized ways, like Instagram stories and Tik Tok and things like that? What is the unique value of learning in a more long-form way in an institutional setting? 

It’s a great question. That value is absolutely necessary and as transcendent as it has ever been, and maybe even more important in a world where there is more flash, sometimes less substance, less time and attention and care given to issues.

We need to stop and really focus and pay attention to the things that need to be paid attention to. The really hard questions don’t have quick answers and don’t fall quickly into the purview of any one discipline.  If we’re going to solve climate change, there is a biological element, a climatological element, a sociological, a political element, an economic element. You need all these things brought together. They need to be brought together in subtle and nuanced and complicated ways that understand the consequences. If we don’t have experts and we don’t listen to the experts, we won’t try and test the thinking of those experts in really rigorous, thoughtful ways that take time and attention and energy. We’re really not going to develop the good solutions. So I get that pace of the world moves faster. I get that people want quicker answers. Quick isn’t always best. Sometimes we’ve got to be more thoughtful and take the time to get it right, because the stakes are too high.

Moving forward to your successor, whoever they might be, what is on your list of must haves for the next president of the college? And what do you hope the next president brings to the office that perhaps you could not offer? 

Yeah, I think this one’s for the search committee and the board to answer, probably not for me. If I started right now to list all of what I would self perceive as my deficits, we will never finish this interview. So let’s not go there.

What excites you most about Carleton’s future and what keeps you up most at night? 

Let me go on to the more exciting stuff right now. I think the answer here is really pretty easy. It’s the students, it’s the remarkable young people that choose to come to this place and that embraced their studies and embrace this community. I think I really honestly believe that Carleton College students are the fundamentally most likable and thoughtful college students I’ve ever known. They’re smart. They’re curious, and they’re kind, and they’re caring and they’re funny. 

I don’t know what you, this is an older story, but you know, previous presidents have liked to refer to Carleton students as being quirky. And when I came here, I had all these students come up to me and say, “Stop saying we’re quirky. We’re not quirky”

And I agree with the students because students are not quirky. Quirky has this kind of odd, weird, negative connotation to it. I think Carleton students are earnest. They’re idealistic. They want to make a difference in the world. They want the world to be better. They care about their families and their communities and their teachers.

These are amazing students, and this is why I work in higher education. Every single day I get to wake up and take care of and be part of a community that is full of this kind of young people. And that gives me optimism. That gives me faith, that the world will get better, that we can solve even daunting problems like climate change and racial injustice.

How would you like to be remembered as the college president?

I want to be remembered as an empathetic person and a forward-looking leader who was really devoutly committed to making Carleton stronger and better and who did so, but who did so while sharing credit with other colleagues, who did so always acting with integrity and always trying to put the long-term interest of the college first.

A year ago, the Carletonian had the opportunity to interview you in an article titled “Hopeful words in a wrenching moment: a Q&A with President Poskanzer.” We ended that interview with the question, “Do you have any last words of encouragement for the Carleton community?” And I’d like to ask you the same question to finish this interview. 

There’s still some time to go, but based on where we are right now, what I would say is I have never been prouder of our students and seeing how considerately and how bravely they are navigating this year. That is an unprecedented, really awful and hard year. And then I really have the utmost faith in the future, of our students and in the future of this place.

Author’s note: After I turned off audio recording, President Poskanzer mentioned his intention to answer a final question we did not get to: his favorite Carleton meal. His answer: “A series of Bon App staff and professors will confirm: Chicken parmigiana and the Arcaine Burger.”

The post President Poskanzer exit interview: a conversation on legacy, racial equity, climate change, and the post-pandemic future of liberal arts colleges appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Miyagi, Wilkinson and Kataria earn MIAC Athlete of the Week Honors

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:32pm

Kristin Miyagi (Jr./Honolulu, Hawaii/‘Iolani School), Matt Wilkinson (Sr./Greenwood, Minn./Minnetonka) and Yuv Kataria (Fr./Kolkata, India/Weil Academy & College Prep) were selected as MIAC Athletes of the Week for Women’s golf, Men’s outdoor track & field and Men’s tennis, respectively.

Kristin Miyagi of the women’s golf team surveys the course as she prepares to swing.
Photo by Carleton Sports Information.

Miyagi won the individual title at the MIAC Championships held last weekend at Emerald Greens Golf Club in Hastings, Minnesota. By posting scores of 73, 75, and 72, she tied former teammate Alyssa Akiyama’s MIAC Championship 54-hole scoring record. Miyagi was in third place early in the final round, but that day she totaled five birdies—including four on her second nine—and won the tournament by four strokes. This marked the eighth consecutive time that a member of the Carleton women’s golf program won medalist honors at the conference tournament.

Men’s track and field runner Matt Wilkinson competes in the steeplechase.
Photo by Carleton Sports Information.

At the Bolstorff Invitational, Wilkinson took part in his first steeplechase competition since the 2019 NCAA Championships, and pulled away from the field for a winning time of 8:56.04. That broke the Carleton school record by more than nine seconds and is the fastest time in NCAA Division III this season by nearly 11 seconds. Wilkinson finished 44 seconds ahead of the next closest runner in Saturday’s race.

Men’s tennis player Yuv Kataria eyes an incoming ball in preparation for a hit.
Photo by Carleton Sports Information.

Meanwhile, after going 8-0 with four singles wins and four double triumphs between April 26 and May 3, Yuv Kataria earned MIAC Men’s Tennis Athlete of the week honors. More importantly, he also helped Carleton to a 4-0 record during that time period, cementing their spot as a number 2 seed in the MIAC playoffs. 

Kataria faced conference foes from Bethel, Hamline, Macalester, and Saint John’s with four wins coming at either No. 1 singles or No. 1 doubles. Kataria has regularly found success regardless of whom he is playing alongside, demonstrated by the fact that he was part of three different doubles pairings last week. 

Kataria is now 7-1 in singles play this season and improved his ledger to 8-1 in doubles. He has seen time at No. 1, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 singles this year while bouncing between No. 1 and No. 2 doubles is also the second member of the Knights’ program to receive conference weekly honors this season, joining Leo Vithoontien (Sr./Bangkok, Thailand/Bangkok Patana School) who was selected for April 12-18.

This article has been slightly adapted by Sports Editor Ryan Flanagan from content published on the Carleton Athletics Website.

The post Miyagi, Wilkinson and Kataria earn MIAC Athlete of the Week Honors appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Former Carl Freddie Gillespie inks two-year deal with NBA’s Toronto Raptors

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:31pm

On April 28, Freddie Gillespie cemented his spot among the best basketball players in the world when he signed a two-year deal for the NBA minimum (around $900,000 per year). Gillespie, who hails from the Twin Cities suburb of Woodbury, played his first two years of college ball for the Knights. Gillespie got only 16 total minutes of action his freshman year before averaging 10 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks a game his sophomore year and earning Second Team all-MIAC. 

Gillespie then decided to walk on at Baylor, where he averaged 9.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game and was named Big 12 Most Improved Player, Second Team All-Big 12 and named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Quite the jump for someone who rode the pine in a DIII program. 

But Gillespie’s career has been defined by big jumps. After graduating from Baylor in 2019, he went undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft. He was later selected 2nd overall in the G League (the NBA’s development league) Draft by the Memphis Hustle, an affiliate of the Grizzlies. 

Gillespie dominated the G League, posting 10.5 points a game, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 57 percent from the field and recording six double-doubles.

In April, Gillespie signed two consecutive 10-day contracts with the Toronto Raptors, and over the course of 14 games, he has put together a slew of impressive performances on both ends of the floor, including a five block outing in a stifling defensive showing against the Brooklyn Nets. On Sunday, he scored a career-high 11 points against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Gillespie has turned heads on the Raptors for his goofy personality off the court, including a rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” that he performed during his rookie initiation. Despite leaving Northfield after only two years, Gillespie appears to have held on to his Carleton quirks. 

The Raptors, however, will need more from him beyond his falsetto. Toronto remains on the bubble of the NBA playoffs, and sits 27th in the league in defensive rebounding and 24th in offensive rebounding. Gillespie brings relief on the boards, as he is already averaging almost four rebounds in only 15 minutes of action per game.

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Categories: Colleges


Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:30pm

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Arb Notes: prairie roots run deep at McKnight Prairie

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:29pm

Rising out of the landscape like tiny islands in a vast sea of corn and soybeans, the hills of McKnight Prairie provide a refuge for rare native prairie plants.  This 33-acre plot of land located eight miles east of campus was purchased by Carleton in 1968 for conservation purposes.  McKnight, along with the tiny, aptly-named Postage Stamp Prairie in the upper Arb, make up Carleton’s only examples of remnant prairie ecosystems.  Despite the natural look, almost all of the prairies in the Arboretum have been restored from agriculture in the last 50 years.

18 million acres of prairie once stretched across the Minnesota landscape.  Today, less than 2 percent of that remains.  Prairie plants had harbored and developed very fertile soils over generations; most of the land is now used for agriculture.  McKnight, like many other surviving prairie remnants, has remained unplowed thanks to its hilly topography.  Additionally, the rounded hills of McKnight are part of the St. Peter sandstone, which is an exceptionally uniform and pristine sandstone that erodes easily and leads to sandier topsoil.  The soils and topography of the hills have remained intact because of the deep (~10+ feet) network of roots from the prairie plants.  Most of the Arb, on the other hand, is underlaid by the older and harder Prairie du Chien group of dolomitic (carbonate) bedrock, which forms the bluffs covered by prairie restorations.

In order to protect McKnight Prairie for generations to come, Carleton sold a conservation easement to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2010.  A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation entity where the landowner receives monetary compensation in exchange for placing land use restrictions (for example, prohibiting building, developing, or plowing) on the property.  Conservation easements can be created for multiple purposes and provide permanent protection to important habitats while helping to incentivize conservation practices.  

The story of the land can only truly be told by its native remnants.  Maintaining and preserving the hills of McKnight allows the story of the backbone of this landscape to continue to be told.

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Carleton Cryptids: the whitened wildlife of the Weitz

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:27pm

Greetings, fellow mystery-seekers of Carleton College. I am Sue Dounim, class of 202X. I am new to this campus—but not to this college. Long have I immersed myself up to the neck in documenting the inexplicable, often paranormal occurrences that occur here as frequently as games of spikeball in spring.

I trust you will eventually acquiesce to my presence here every week. You need not laugh. My writings are not for your pleasure.  They are for your safety.

Recently, while out for a stroll by the Weitz Center for Creativity (I had just finished examining the ceiling hangings), I spotted what appeared, at first glance, to be the fluffy entrails of a stuffed toy. Yet fluff, dear reader, does not scamper up trees, chitter and twitch adorably. That is what squirrels do. Only this “squirrel” was sheer white.

Note that this is obviously not a squirrel. That much is obvious; animals do not simply become white. There is no biological phenomena that causes irregular whiteness in organisms. The “squirrel” is obviously some sort of phantasm—that much is clear. And all specters are sentient. But why would this one choose to soldier through the lowly life of a rodent? And why in front of the Weitz Center, of all places? It takes forever to get there, especially if you are coming from the great beyond. 

This “squirrel” is, in fact, a guardian spirit. Specifically, it is a creative spirit. It is familiar with our world—perhaps it is an ancestral member of the Weitz family or a being beyond the earthy ether of our minds. In any case, this spirit was likely attracted to the campus by its rich foliage and richer minds. Yet it soon grew disillusioned with the minutiae of college life. After all, we students go almost exclusively upon two legs, eat non-scavenged food and engage in chitter-free debates. But this spirit has assumed the form of an animal outside the most creative building on campus. It is literally engaging in performance art, reminding us humans what we have lost—or, more accurately, given away. Yet we ignore its message, snapping perhaps a photo or two as we march, backs sweating against their packs, to the next class. Shame on us.

For all my cynicism, forget not that this is a benevolent, wish-granting spirit. If we take a walk into its world, it will scamper through ours. As I writhed on the ground, snarfling acorns and fleeing from passersby, I asked the spiritual squirrel to show me its spectral nuts.

I don’t believe it understood quite what I was asking, but the sentiment was nice.

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The Tariq Nasheed controversy

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 4:26pm

Unless you’re a Twitter enthusiast or someone who happens to catch some of the most obscure news, the recent Tariq Nasheed scandal likely passed you by. Nasheed is an American movie producer and Twitter activist/social commentator. Interestingly, he describes himself as the “World’s #1 Race Baiter,” and sees himself as an opponent and activist against white supremacy and racism towards the Black community. However, one of his latest claims of racism created a Twitter backlash so large that he briefly became a Top 20 trending topic on the platform. 

He posted a video of a distressed Holiday Inn employee as the videographer, a Black customer who is not Nasheed, harasses the employee. The customer was apparently upset about a mistake in the reservation system which he is attempting to get fixed. The employee for whatever reason seems to be unable to do this. Whether that’s because of a genuine inability to manipulate the system in such a way, or an individual difficulty managing the system, is irrelevant. It is, however, important that the customer continues to follow him after he has communicated that he has mental health difficulties and that he’s going to presumably need some time to work. 

It gets to the point that the employee becomes so distressed that he proceeds to repeatedly smash his head into the computer monitor, eventually breaking down in tears, and attempting to leave the area. The customer continues to film and follows the man while continuing to essentially mock him. 

Nasheed posted the video under the pretense that the employee was being racist by reacting like that towards a Black man scolding him for a mistake. Additionally, he also claims that employee called the customer the “N” word prior to the start of the video. The employee, on the other hand, also claims that the customer called him a homosexual slur and that he wasn’t particularly offended since he is “a raging homosexual.” Whether or not either claim is true is unknown, since we don’t particularly have evidence for either in the video.

As someone who has watched the video, it’s rather difficult to see any situation, racial slur or not, where the employee is not the victim here. There’s a point where our sense of compassion and empathy towards others should take center stage — and I’d say the point where a person, whether you’re in a conflict with them or not, begins to hurt themselves, is visibly sobbing and is not currently mentally or emotionally well should be that point. Based on the raucous discussion that Nasheed raised, it seems that most people, Black or not, are in agreement with this and recognize that there’s such a thing as just being a bad person no matter the race. 

Where I think the problem lies is that there are people, predominantly Black, who are on Nasheed’s side, believing that the employee was being racist in his reaction and that the customer did the right thing. Additionally, they also believe anyone who comes to the defense of the employee is a racist if not a white supremacist. The very idea that there are people who are able to coherently believe this is astonishing to me, surprising but not unexpected with the rise of Black Entitlement in the U.S.

To clarify, when I say Black Entitlement, I don’t speak of Black Privilege, which I still consider to be a joke. Black Entitlement, as it’s used here, is meant to represent the rising conception in Black America that Blacks are deserving of some special treatments and indeed privileges, that they believe can’t be afforded to others. It simply doesn’t rise to the ranks of pure privilege, because at the end of the day, Blacks in America cannot do what they want, say want they want, look how they want or act as they please in a society where all those things are figuratively and quite literally policed. However, the fact that Black Americans feel they have certain pockets of the world in which they hold some special positions is indisputable.

I think of the astonishingly common phrase that “Black people can’t be racist,” which I find to be a surprisingly accepted falsehood, both within the Black community and the collective political left. The idea seems to stem from the fact that Blacks cannot be systemically racist in a society where they ultimately have no power and remain marginalized communities, and where they are ultimately discriminated against by systems of power. However, being systematically racist is very different from being individually racist, and Blacks are as prone to it as any other race. The idea that racism can only be systemic is absurd, principally because the very fact that systemic racism must be qualified with the word “systemic” is a prime indicator that racism on its own is not as such.

If racism by definition was systemic, by that logic there would not exist racist individuals; instead there could only be people who work for and people who support systems of racism. 

If that were the case I wouldn’t be hearing individuals being called racist every other day. However, if we agree that all individuals have the capacity to say, and do racist things, then by what stream of logic do we reach the conclusion that Black people cannot be racist? Is the saying “all white people are racist” not equally a racialized generalization as “all Black people are criminals?” The simple fact is that they are generalizations. They are both very different from acknowledging the facts that “all white people, like all people, have the potential to be racist,” and “all black people, like all people, have the potential to be criminals.” They assert negative generalizations as a characteristic of a singular race.

This trend towards believing that Blacks are immune from certain negative characteristics or qualifications is what I believe to be the primary contributor to a rise in the defense of negative actions and words of Black Americans. People are beginning to believe that Black America is above that. The simple fact is that we’re not, and it’s time that we recognize that.

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Categories: Colleges

Cartoon: emails

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:53pm

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Cartoon: breakout rooms

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:52pm

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Students drove hours for vaccines; those fully vaccinated now exempt from certain protocols

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:49pm

On Wednesday, April 28, President Steven Poskanzer announced that Carleton will require the COVID-19 vaccination next fall, joining nearby Macalester College and a number of other colleges nationwide. 

“In light of our congregate living environment and educational mission, there is a strong ethical rationale for and public health benefit in requiring such vaccination,” Poskanzer wrote in his message to students and faculty. He also noted that flu vaccines are already required on campus—a policy implemented during the pandemic—and that the college is willing to consider requests for exemption.      

Poskanzer presented the fall as a return to normalcy—with courses primarily taught in person, buildings returning to pre-pandemic occupancy levels, employees transitioning back to campus over the summer, visitors allowed on campus and no mask requirement “unless state or federal regulations dictate otherwise.” 

He noted that the college will continue to implement a COVID-19 testing regime and reserve some quarantine and isolation spaces in the fall. They will also reevaluate the need for a behavioral “covenant” on campus, revised to “align with broader public health protocols.”    

Later in the day, Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston gave the weekly “Pandemic Update,” reporting that “following the successful completion of two more on-campus vaccination clinics last week, 74% of Carleton students, faculty and staff have now reported receiving at least one dose of a COVID–19 vaccine.”

With this number rising, Livingston announced two important changes to campus expectations for fully-vaccinated individuals: beginning next week, vaccinated students and staff will no longer be included in the pool for weekly surveillance testing, and they will not need to “lie low” after domestic travel. Masks will continue to be required indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.

On March 30, when Minnesota vaccine eligibility opened to everyone aged 16 years and older, some students quickly went online to schedule their vaccination using scraping tools like Vaccine Spotter and Minnesota Vaccine Alerts. They then drove anywhere from a few minutes to four hours away to make it to out-of-county appointments.

To address the need for drivers, Rebecca Margolis ’21 created a spreadsheet to pair those requiring transportation with student volunteers. Drivers could express a limit on distance and could indicate whether they were willing to loan out their car. Margolis reflected that “having a car on campus has been an immense privilege, and so it’s really nice to put it to good use.” 

Elijah Goldberg ’22, who drove close to a dozen people to their vaccine appointments, said that a challenge was that even though a trip should have only taken an hour, sometimes it took two or three hours due to appointment wait times.  

Students like Pierce McDonnell ’21 and Lucy Johnson ’24, with appointments very close by—either in Northfield or neighboring communities like Faribault— were able to make use of the Hiawathaland Transit Dial-a-Ride bus service to get to their appointment. 

The Carletonian distributed a survey on Wednesday, April 29, asking on-campus students who got vaccinated off-campus to share where they got the shot. The most common locations among the 162 respondents who got vaccinated in Minnesota were Winona, Faribault and Northfield. Almost 28% of respondents went to Winona—with many participating in a large clinic at the East End Recreation Center.  

While the majority of appointment locations were in southern Minnesota, two students drove as far north as Chisholm and Moorhead, both nearly a four-hour drive from Carleton. View the full interactive map here.  

Now that there have been multiple on-campus vaccination clinics, students are no longer finding the need to drive out of Rice County. Goldberg said, “People have not been contacting me almost at all since that Thrifty White [on-campus vaccination] event. So, it seems like, at this point, almost everyone who’s wanted one has gotten one.” 

“It’s funny how things change,” McDonnell said, “because I remember, in the beginning, people were so excited that they could get a vaccine appointment like half an hour away. And now those people are like, darn I have to go all the way out there to get my second shot? I could have just done it on campus.”

Rachel Morrison, Clinical Case Manager with Student Health and Counseling, said that students can still look for vaccinations elsewhere, and that they should fill out the Assistance Form if they need help finding first or second doses. According to Morrison, a vaccination clinic also took place Thursday evening at the Northfield Community Education Center.

She added, “We are now encouraging everyone to get their second shot wherever they are able.  It was imperative at the beginning for people to return to the original location due to the high volume of people traveling to smaller communities to obtain a shot. Now that is not the case.”   

Morrison also emphasized the importance of reporting vaccination completion to the college. She said, “This will help us sort out how many people still need vaccinations and direct our manner of assisting the community. The sooner we can gather all the information of those fully vaccinated, the better.”   

Students, faculty, and staff should report their vaccination to Carleton using the Vaccine Documentation Form and will need to submit verification by uploading a photo of their COVID-19 vaccination card to the mySHAC patient portal. 

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“Pilgrimage Progressive” celebrates interfaith life at Carleton

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:48pm

What do sacred places look like? What makes a place sacred? And can places be sacred to individuals, or do they need—in the words of Carleton’s Chaplain Carolyn Fure-Slocum—“some roots that are deeper and longer than ourselves?” These are some of the questions students pondered at last Sunday’s “Pilgrimage Progressive,” an interfaith event that students organized through the web-conferencing software Gathertown.

 At the event, student presenters brought attendees around the world to sacred sites in their religious traditions. Students’ insights ranged from stories about making pilgrimages to the Western Wall in Jerusalem to reflections on how the more-than-2,000-year-old ruins in Bodh Gaya, India demonstrate the impermanence of life. Students also identified sacred sites on and near Carleton’s campus, such as the Hindu Temple of Minnesota north of the Twin Cities and the Druid Circle in the Arboretum. 

The creatively-crafted online event built off of the Chapel’s custom of hosting at least one interfaith gathering each term, in addition to a bi-weekly interfaith discussion group. 

The Chapel has a long history of supporting interfaith life in addition to supporting student groups for individual religions. In fact, “Carleton was engaged earlier in interfaith dialogue and activities than most other similar colleges,” said Fure-Slocum. “The Council for Religious Understanding, our bi-weekly interfaith dialogue group, was started sometime in the 1970’s or 80’s by Chaplain David Maitland and has continued ever since.”

She added that with the growth of religious diversity on campus over the years, “interfaith dialogue and interfaith activities have deepened and increased.”

 Along with four Chaplains, Carleton employs a number of student Chaplain’s Associates (CAs) to cultivate spiritual life and enhance religious diversity on campus. As Ayaka Moriyama ’22, a current CA, explained, “All of us attempt to support each religion, not just for the service of our own religion.” 

Amelia Broman ’21, another CA who helped organize the Pilgrimage Progressive with Moriyama, said this is something that makes Carleton unique. 

“[At Carleton,] there’s a really interesting degree of trying to foster interfaith dialogue and trying to incorporate perspectives from religious groups on campus that might be a lot smaller or less well-represented—I think that’s definitely a big strength of the office,” Broman said. 

Interfaith dialogue is valuable because it gives students the opportunity to learn about other belief systems through personal interactions, Moriyama said. While other belief systems can sometimes seem strange at first, getting to know students of other faiths has enhanced her understanding of others’ faith-based practices. 

And interfaith understanding—or lack thereof— has real consequences, from the repeated destruction throughout history of the Jewish holy temple of which the Western Wall is a part to the mass shooting that took the lives of four members of the Sikh community in Indianapolis two weeks ago. 

Interfaith understanding has real benefits, too. “Interfaith dialogue and learning, like other forms of intergroup dialogue, are really valuable because we can learn to see through another person’s eyes, which is the beginning of wisdom,” said Fure-Slocum. “That doesn’t mean we change our beliefs, but we can be open to learning from people different from ourselves, which can deepen our own understandings.”

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Carleton to hold closed in-person commencement ceremony

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:47pm

When students were sent home in March of 2020, Carleton had to make the tough decision to hold the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 online. Faced with the same decision one year later, Carleton announced in February that this year’s Commencement—currently scheduled for Saturday, June 12, 2021—will be a traditional one with restricted attendance.  

“So long as in-person classes are in session at the end of Spring Term, we plan to have an in-person outdoor commencement ceremony for our graduates,” wrote Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston and Director of Events Kerry Raadt in an email to seniors on January 19. “What we don’t know at this time is whether we will be able to invite families and loved ones to attend.”  

 According to Livington and Raadt, “Our ability to reopen campus to visitors is dependent on a number of factors, including rates of COVID-19 cases in the community, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine nationally, and state rules regarding events.”  

After a period of deliberation over how to make the event as safe as possible, the college notified students on February 26 that graduation attendance would be restricted

“To keep the event safe for everyone, parents and families will unfortunately not be allowed to attend,” Livingston said. This is consistent with neighboring college St. Olaf’s commencement policy for 2021

Dani Rader ’21 said she approves of the school’s decision. “Based on what happened last year, I got pretty used to the idea that we wouldn’t have an in-person graduation ceremony,” said Rader. “If excluding families is what we have to do to be able to have it in person, then I fully support that.”

 After seeking the guidance of public health experts, the college decided that seniors studying off campus this spring will be able to return to Carleton and participate in Commencement if they arrive with adequate time to quarantine and participate in campus testing protocols. For those who cannot attend, the ceremony will be livestreamed and recorded.

Axel Ohrstrom ’21 is currently studying off campus. “I just thought it would be easier to avoid getting COVID by staying home, traveling less and seeing fewer people,” said Ohrstrom. “That said, having been off-campus since the beginning of the pandemic has created some distance between the friends I made on campus and my day-to-day life. I will be coming back for commencement because it is a chance to see my friends and celebrate our accomplishments together.” 

More students both on and off campus, as well as their families, are getting vaccinated against COVID-19. According to Ohrstrom, “already having gotten the vaccine made the decision to return to campus a lot easier for me. But depending on the required quarantine, it may be more difficult for me to attend.”  

The college has yet to specify whether the increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines will affect the restrictions on attending or the qualifications for participating in the ceremony. Citing the threat of more contagious variants of the virus and inequitable access to the vaccine worldwide, Livingston and Raadt wrote on April 9 that “it is too early for us to make any changes at this time.”  

If commencement plans are reevaluated, Livingston and Raadt expect to be able to communicate that to students by May 7.

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Relief and cautious joy as the COVID-19 vaccine comes to Carleton

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:46pm

One sign that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is near is that Carleton has recently moved into Phase 5 of its vaccination plan, meaning that all students, faculty and staff who are on campus can get vaccinated. In addition to this, many are travelling off campus to nearby cities to receive their vaccines. Over 60% of the student body has been vaccinated, and this can be observed in daily campus life: professors and students having to skip class due to post-vaccine side effects has become a norm.

“It’s definitely a weight off my shoulders,” Erin Watson ’24 said. “I’m relieved I got it, especially since I got the Johnson & Johnson before they paused it.” 

Fiona Ibrahim ’24 added, “Right after [my vaccination], I felt excited because, ideally, people getting vaccinated is the main stepping stone to going back to regular life. Now, I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed than I did before since COVID-19 is less of a risk for me.”

Overall, students expressed excitement, relief and hope that campus life will soon return to normal. Considering the rapidly-increasing portion of the Carleton community that is getting vaccinated—along with President Poskanzer’s recent email saying that if everything goes according to plan, Carleton will mostly go back to normal in the fall—this optimism seems very much substantiated. Specifically, according to Poskanzer’s email, masks will no longer be a requirement and most classes and extracurricular activities will happen in person.

As exciting as getting the vaccine was, there were factors that made it stressful for some. “I was simultaneously relieved, excited and stressed immediately after. I was beyond grateful and thrilled to have gotten the vaccine. However, being off campus felt somewhat unsafe and scary,” said Brie Sloves ’24, who drove off campus to Mankato to get her vaccine.

Some who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were very understandably scared when the news came out that the Johnson & Johnson distribution had stopped because it caused blood clots in six individuals.

“I felt very excited after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It’s been a little over three weeks since I got it, but I’ll admit that my excitement about the vaccine quickly turned into panic when the vaccine distribution was paused and I was right in the middle of the 6-13 day blood clot window,” Olivia Lentz ’23 said. 

The overarching general sentiment around getting vaccines is excitement about being able to go back to normal soon. However, students are still being mostly as cautious as they were before. With more activities being outdoors due to the changing weather, however, in addition to the rapid vaccination rate, it is now possible for students to gather in slightly larger groups without putting themselves or others at risk.

“I would say my behaviors have not changed drastically. I’ve definitely felt less ‘on alert’ at all times, but still I don’t dine-in at LDC or Burton, I’m taking all online classes and I keep my pod to about four people,” Lentz said.

Watson said that the prevailing feeling about being vaccinated against the disease that has upended life for the past year is relief. “I haven’t changed any behaviors yet, but I do feel a lot better about masked, medium-sized indoor gatherings. Honestly, the biggest difference is that I’m no longer stressed about getting quarantined, since that was always looming over my head as a big fear,” Watson said. 

Ibrahim agreed, saying, “I’m not changing any behaviors too much. I think it’s important to stay cautious until more of campus is fully vaccinated.”

Despite the somewhat mixed feelings around getting the vaccine, especially considering various risk factors involved in both obtaining the vaccine and regarding the vaccines themselves as new information comes out, the strongest emotions on campus are excitement and joy. Each student receiving their vaccine brings us as a community one step closer to becoming protected from COVID-19. 

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A brief history of Earth Day at Carleton

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:44pm

The changes in the way Carleton has celebrated Earth Day throughout the years are closely related to changes in environmentalism itself. Earth Day was first established in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson as a way to draw national attention to environmental issues. Amid the anti-war movement and growing public awareness of air and water pollution, the establishment of Earth Day effectively brought environmental protection into the spotlight. Now a focus of national policy, Earth Day aided in the passing of many important milestones in American policy, such as the creation of the EPA, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.  

In 1970, Carleton College celebrated the first Earth Day with a week full of environmentally-focused activities. The event was so successful that it drew national attention, with three students appearing on the Today Show with Hugh Downs. 

Carleton students work in the Arb in the 1970’s.
Photo courtesy of The Carleton Voice.

The interest Earth Day stirred up surrounding environmental protection had lasting impacts on campus. As a response to increasing environmental activism, Carleton transformed 33 acres of farmland into a native habitat restoration project, known today as the McKnight Prairie. Students advocating for clean water uncovered the issue of  E. coli in Lyman Lakes from upstream sewers, which was quickly remedied by campus maintenance workers.

Since its powerful debut in the ’70s, Earth Days throughout the years have enabled Carleton to bring attention to some of the most pressing issues facing the environment today.

Students pose in the Japanese Garden, first proposed by Religion and Asian studies professor Bardwell Smith and completed in 1976.
Photo courtesy of The Carleton Voice.

In 2007, the festivities extended past Carleton, all the way to the Twin Cities, with a public art event on Harriet Island held by an alumni group. Campus and the Northfield community had its own fun, with the CSA and Northfield Community Contra Dance Association hosting an Earth Day Contra Dance in Severance Hall, which soon became a yearly tradition.

 In 2009, Carleton celebrated Earth Day by having Bon Appetit serve a “low carbon diet,” limiting the amount of beef, cheese, rice and any food whose production and transportation increase greenhouse gas emissions. 

In 2010, Carleton invited the community onto campus for a week of events focused on sustainability and highlighting Carleton’s wind turbine and steam plant.

This year, Earth Day garnered extra attention. The  Sustainability Office, in collaboration with other campus groups, put together two weeks of events, as Earth Day coincided with Climate Action Week (CAW). Rebecca McCartney ’21, a Sustainability Assistant (STA) for the Sustainability Office, explained, “CAW usually falls in the seventh week of Winter Term, serving as our big environmental-action-focused week in roughly the middle of the year. It’s a great chance to reinvigorate students during the bleakness of Winter Term by providing new ways for students to engage with environmental stuff going on around campus and in the community.”

 However, this year, Climate Action Week was moved to coincide with Earth Day. This provided the Sustainability Office with extra opportunities. “This year, I (along with some other STAs) have been coordinating with other Minnesota students who do sustainability work at their schools to do some statewide actions. A few months ago, some schools started planning a cross-campus ECO Challenge, and we figured we could easily move our Climate Action Week to the April timeframe of the Eco challenge to match up with other schools and generate energy around the state,” she said. 

As the climate crisis continues to unfold and students’ priorities change, Carleton’s Earth Day celebrations change to reflect the campus mood regarding environmental issues. Rather than focusing solely on environmental conservation and protection, climate justice and its intersection are now a highlighted theme. This increased focus on justice has led to a variety of events, such as meals using ingredients indigenous to Minnesota served in the dining halls, a documentary screening on Disabilities and climate action, and an educational campaign on sexual violence and pipelines, as well as many other events. 

“It was a really great opportunity for the Sustainability Office to work with different offices and organizations on campus to think more critically about what intersection of climate action and climate justice looks like,” McCartney said.

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Categories: Colleges

5th week sports update

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:43pm

Baseball: The Knights had a tough week on the diamond, dropping a double header to Augsburg 3-0, 3-1 on the 23rd. Pitching was a highlight, with starters Kiefer Lord and Travis Brown both putting up solid showings over six innings. The bats stayed quiet in a double header against St. John’s the following day as the Knights also lost both games. A similar result followed against St. John’s on the 27th, as the Knights struggled to find the strike zone, walking nine in a 12-2 loss. The Knights fell to 2-13 on the season and 0-13 in conference play. They’ll get their next shot at Macalester May 1. 

Softball: Carleton squared off against St. Olaf in a double header on the 24th. Carleton dropped the first game 1-7. Game two was a slugfest, with the Knights putting up an impressive 11 runs lead by Brooke McKelvey’s four RBIs. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as the Knights lost 14-11. The Knights achieved better results against Hamline and Concordia, splitting both double headers. Ally Norton pitched an impressive complete game, allowing only one earned against Concordia in game 1 as the Knights won 2-1. The bats came alive in game two against Hamline as the Knights scored every inning to put away Hamline 12-4. The Knights end the week 4-12 on the season, and will square off against Gustavus Adolphus on May 1.  

Women’s Track and Field: The Carls competed across three meets this weekend. Grace Blanchette, Sydney Marsh, and Eve Farrell dominated the Heptathlon going 1-2-3 at the St. Olaf meet of the Saints.  Clara Mayfield had a strong showing at the Hamline showcase, finishing 4th in a stacked field. The Cross-Country All-American ran 17:08 placing her 3rd in the conference and 9th in country. The rest of the Knights competed in the Drake Alternative Meet at Gustavus Adolphus. Riley Roberts netted a pair of third place finishes in the 100 and 200m sprints. The Carls also swept the 800 with Amy Kropp, Alice Cutter, and Mary Blanchard finishing 1-2-3 respectively. The Knights compete next at the Macalester College Janis Rider Invitational on Saturday, May 1st. 

The Carletonian’s own Phoebe Ward fights off two Oles in the 3k at the Carleton Relays.
Photo by Art Onwumere.

Men’s Track and Field: On the Men’s side the Knights competed at St. Mary’s this Saturday. In the sprints, former distance runner turned yoked speed machine Oscar Christoph grabbed a 3rd place finish in his first 100m race, despite (or perhaps because of) his unorthodox starting position. Bridger Rives netted a 2nd place finish in the 400m while the Batman to his Robin, Jeremy Fong, finished 1st in the 800m. Matt Wilkinson once again trounced the field in the 1500, and Steven Levy put on a show in the 5000m, winning by a solid 40 seconds. The lanky duo of Ben Santos and Henry Bowman swept the steeplechase, and Noah Eckersley-Ray continued his streak of dominance in the javelin throw, winning the event by more than 8 meters. The Knights will compete at Macalester this weekend along with the women’s side. 

Matt Wilkinson glides around the bend in the 5000m run at the Carleton Relays.
Photo by Jeremy Fong.

Men’s Tennis: Men’s tennis lost their undefeated streak this week, falling 6-3 to Gustavus Adolphus, who has yet to lose in MIAC play. Standout Leo Vithoontien won in straight sets at the number one singles spot. Four seed Yuv Kataria was the only other Carl to win his singles competition, besting Gustavus’s Alex Budde in a nail-biting tiebreak set. In doubles, Aswath Viswanathan and Aniketh Vipparla won their three seed battle 8-6. The Carl’s next match will be in Collegeville Minnesota against St. John’s M,ay 30. 

Men’s Golf: The Knights placed 12th out of 17 teams at the Saint John’s Spring Invitational. Senior Peter Gullikson led the squad on the first day with a 74, followed by sophomore duo Andersen Murphy and James Berger. On the second day it was Murphy’s turn to lead, finishing with a 76 at Monticello Country Club, followed by Berger with a 78 and Gullikson with a 79. Murphy and Gullikson tied for 25th at the tournament with 153 total strokes, with Berger coming in only one stroke behind, and Jackson Steinbaugh and Bob Zhu finishing with 179 and 169 strokes respectively. The Carls will compete next at the MIAC Championships, which will be held April 30-May 2 at Emerald Greens Golf Course in Hastings, Minn.

Women’s Golf: On the women’s side, the Carls placed 4th at the Carleton-St. Olaf Spring Invitational before the MIAC championship next week. In the first round the Knights were led by Kristin Miyagi’s score of 80 which was good for 2nd place on the day. In round 2, Miyagi continued her hot streak with a score of 77 at the Northfield Golf Club, with Alyssa Soma right on her heels with a score of 78. The Knights finished 4th overall, with Miyagi, Soma, and Alexis Chan all finishing under 164 combined strokes. The Knights look to improve on this showing in the MIAC championships next weekend. 

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Categories: Colleges

The European (not so) Super League

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:43pm

Last Monday, fans of European football across the globe reacted passionately to the formation of the European Super League: an exclusive organization founded by 12 of the continent’s most renowned and wealthiest football clubs.

Under its proposed structure, the Super League would be comprised of 20 elite European clubs competing against each other in midweek matches between regularly scheduled competition in their respective domestic leagues. Following this ‘regular season’ of play, a playoff would ensue with a champion eventually crowned.

At face value, the league appears to have some merit. Who wouldn’t want to watch the most renowned clubs in European football compete against one another on a weekly basis? But fans were not tricked. Twitter erupted with demands for the league’s abolishment, and fans in England took to the streets in protest. 

Chelsea supporters gathered on Tuesday to protest their club’s involvement in the League. As they held up a team bus attempting to depart for a Premier League match against Brighton, threatening chants suddenly turned into overwhelming cheers. In the face of insurmountable public pressure, Chelsea and Manchester United became the first two clubs to quit the short-lived league, prompting a cascade reaction from other clubs and the League’s virtual collapse within less than 48 hours of its establishment.  

The discontent expressed by fans largely stems from the manner in which the Super League would alter the framework of European football as a whole. Since 1955, teams from different European countries have competed within domestic leagues to earn one of 32 bids to the UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious football tournament in Europe, and—excluding the FIFA World Cup—on the planet. 

Within the overlying structure of the Champions League, clubs in domestic leagues including the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, and the German Bundesliga face the prospect of relegation if they underperform, making possible the promotion of clubs from lower leagues, who are able to ‘climb the pyramid’ and replace relegated clubs for an opportunity to vie for a bid to the Champions League tournament. 

“The ‘pyramid’ open league system with relegation and promotion is what makes ‘football’ ‘football’ in England, Europe and most of the world,” said Carleton Men’s Soccer Coach Bob Carlson, who leads the Sports and Globalization OCS program in England and Spain – a 10-week Winter Term program where students examine firsthand the political economy and culture of European football. 

If the Super League were to inevitably replace the Champions League as the prime football tournament in Europe, it would shatter the tradition of relegation that is the hallmark of European football. Under the proposed structure of the League, 15 of its 20 clubs would be permanent members protected from relegation, leaving a mere five clubs to compete for entry into the League each year.

Sports Economist Stefan Syzmanski, whose book Soccernomics is part of the Sports and Globalization curriculum, warns that the Super League “would be catastrophic for European football” because it would break the promise that any club can have an opportunity to triumph on the greatest stage in Europe. 

Under the current structure of European football under UEFA and the Champions League, teams in domestic leagues compete feverishly with an understanding that if they place high enough, they will have a reasonable shot at playing on Europe’s biggest stage. However, by opening the door to only five clubs on a yearly basis, the Super League will substantially restrict the prospects for non-member clubs to earn a bid to its tournament, which will in turn discourage top talent from joining non-member clubs and diminish the competitiveness of Europe’s domestic leagues.

Beyond the issue of the Super League’s exclusivity, there is also the issue of wealth accumulation. In contrast America’s National Basketball Association (NBA) or National Football League (NFL), European soccer leagues don’t have the equivalence of a salary cap, meaning that clubs with wealthy owners and an abundance of capital have a significant advantage in the international market for football talent, which more often that not translates to more wins on the pitch. 

“A closed league like the Super League is simply a way for the big clubs to generate more revenue for their own coffers,” said Carlson, contributing to the widely held notion that the European Super League would widen pre-existing wealth disparities between football clubs across Europe. 

JP Morgan Chase has already provided a $3.25 billion “infrastructure grant” to the European Super League, while each founding member stands to gain around $400 million from private investment in order to establish “a secure financial foundation” for the League moving forward. Beyond that, it is expected that the broadcast rights to Super League matches, along with commercial income, will generate billions of dollars per year. 

No longer subject to UEFA, the current governing body that operates the Champions League and redistributes its revenue to domestic leagues and clubs throughout Europe, the revenue earned from the Super League would remain largely within the hands of its 15 permanent members, thus furthering their advantage in attracting the top football talent and deepening the pockets of billionaire owners. 

The money-driven ambitions behind the European Super League violate the game’s origins as a working class game. Popularized by supporters of Club Africain in 2017, the slogan “Created by the poor, stolen by the rich” was scrawled on bedsheets and displayed by protestors throughout the U.K. last week. The majority of these protestors, bound to their clubs by a sense of community and tradition, would be sold out by the Super League, which seeks to capture profits from the “fans of the future,” a globalized demographic who live far away from Europe’s traditional football neighborhoods and are indifferent to the loss of tradition the Super League would inflict on Europe’s treasured domestic leagues. 

“The immediate backlash from fans, clubs, federations, players and managers gives me hope that although these big clubs are powerful, they cannot manipulate and dismiss the tradition of domestic leagues, which are the foundation for football around the globe,” said Carlson, who feels optimistic about the future of European football and Carleton’s Sports and Globalization program. 

“The heart and soul of English and Spanish football remains very, very strong. I don’t think promotion and relegation are going anywhere any time soon, and even with some form of the Super League, our students will still experience the thrill of immersing ourselves in sporting culture abroad,” he added.

Following the departure of Chelsea and Manchester City, the remaining four clubs from the English Premier League (Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham) abandoned the league and issued apologies to their fans, along with Italian clubs AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus and the Spanish club Atlético Madrid. The two remaining Spanish clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, are the two lone clubs keeping the project alive.

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Categories: Colleges