Macalester Today Winter 2012

Breaking Rank

A look at what the rankings get right—and wrong—about Macalester.

U.S. News & World Report may not have been the first publication to try to condense an entire college experience into a number and a few eye-popping phrases, but it was definitely the catalyst that sparked a flood of imitators. These days there are dozens of books, magazines, and websites that promise to share the essence of a school in a number, a letter grade, or a paragraph or two. They bestow endless designations—“Easiest Campus to Get Around!” “Best College Radio Station!”— which are occasionally illuminating, but more often simply perplexing.

Macalester has piled up its share of top rankings, “best of” titles, and the occasional dubious distinction. To find out which rankings rang true and which didn’t quite hit the mark, we talked to the people who know the college best: the students, faculty, and staff who study and work here. Call us subjective, but their opinions are number one in our book. (Click the red titles below to read what they had to say on each topic).

Best in Show Brainy Civically Engaged International Outlook Green

Dubious Distinctions

WHAT THEY SAY: 10th least number of religious students, Princeton Review, 2011

David Melms '13WHAT WE ADD: “As a Christian who puts a great importance upon on my faith and lifestyle motivated by Jesus Christ, I would say I am in the noticeable minority of Macalester students. Because religious conversations rarely come up and tend not to be spoken about in depth, I feel that students who identify with a religion are clumped into one group and connected with stereotypes. I wish I’d have more questions about my faith asked of me, but as a whole, I feel there is a general respect for different religions.” —David Melms ‘13, student leader, Mac Fellowship of Christian Athletes

“Many of our students are searching for authentic religious or spiritual practice here. Our Multifaith Council, for example, is made up of students who represent a wide range of religious and spiritual traditions. Their goal is to provide opportunities to engage in dialogue on many issues at the core of a host of religious traditions, and to respectfully understand—and at times respectfully disagree. These are skills that could be well learned by others on this planet. I’m also proud that religious and spiritual life has no boundaries on this campus. The Chaplains and the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life are here to support and host all kinds of conversations, projects, events, and outreach. But other student groups and offices— such as the Department of Multicultural Life and the Civic Engagement Center—also provide venues for discussing questions of religious importance.” —Chaplain Lucy Forster-Smith, Associate Dean for Religious and Spiritual Life

WHAT THEY SAY: One of the 10 Worst Football Teams of All Time, ESPN.com

Tony JennisonWHAT WE ADD: “We’re proud that we’ve won 10 football games in the past two years—the best back-toback seasons we’ve had in 24 years. Next year, we’ll have 21 seniors and a roster of more than 80 players, which bodes well. I believe we’re building a football program that alumni can be proud of—a program built around exceptional young men who are serious about challenging themselves academically and passionate about football.” —Tony Jennison, Head Football Coach

WHAT THEY SAY: “Most Macalester students don’t spend too much time worrying about their looks.” College Prowler

WHAT WE ADD: “Macalester students tend to be more risky with their styles. I’ve met some of the most beautiful people on this campus, but then there are styles at Macalester that I just don’t understand.” —Kathy Kim ’12

Kiah Zellner-Smith '14“Mac students are not exactly fashion-conscious, but that doesn’t mean that they have no sense of style. A lot of people here have amazing style because they aren’t following only what is trendy. Students here play with fierce, retro, and fashion-forward styles to create outfits with unique elements and personalities. With the thrift shops just down Grand, Macalester’s student style is eclectic, slightly hipster, and seriously street ready, although even with an appreciation for budget-minded purchases I’ve had my breath taken away by a pair of neon orange Jeffrey Campbell booties. Another bonus is that our school isn’t plagued by hoodies. Overall, there’s not huge pressure to be swagged out at Mac, but thanks to that, I think we have a relaxed environment where a variety of fashion choices are welcome, whether that means your grandpa’s old sweater, a lumberjack flannel from Everyday People, or those really cool Nikes you got back in 10th grade. Macalester is holdin’ it down for the Midwest college fashion scene.” —Kiah Zellner-Smith ’14