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Mac Family: A quarterly newsletter for families of Macalester students


Greetings from the Dean
Macalester College Student Government Update
Build a Better Mac
Short-term commitment…long-term impact
New Single Study Abroad Application Deadline
Housing Information: Room Draw 2011-12
Spring Break
2011 Commencement: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14
Macalester receives Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

Greetings from the Dean

jim hoppe

From The Dean of Students 

We're excited to welcome students back for the start of the spring term. As always, the campus jump-starts to life when students return. You might hear some complaints about the cold weather (temperatures in the 0-10 degree Fahrenheit range) but it is nothing that won't build character!

The Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center renovation and expansion project has begun, along with the challenges that any construction project brings. The music building is part of this first phase of the project and will include expanded rehearsal spaces and a completely renovated Concert Hall. Music faculty offices and all ensemble rehearsal spaces have been temporarily relocated for the next 18 months. The end result will undoubtedly be worth the short-term hassle as students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities.

This is the time of year, believe it or not, to start thinking about 2011-12. Within the next six weeks, many students will begin making housing plans for next year. If your student is returning to Macalester, this is a great time to discuss next year's living arrangements. Students may live off campus after their sophomore year, but they often underestimate the challenges of living on their own. The Residence Life staff offers renters' education sessions to help students make informed choices about landlords and obligations. A five-block walk feels very different in April than it does in February; it might be good to check that out now!

It's also the time of year to make decisions about summer internships and opportunities. The Internship Center in Kagin Commons is a great resource, and although June seems a long time away, this is definitely the time to start planning to make the most of summer break. We consistently hear from our students how important summer opportunities are to complement their education. Planning ahead is crucial to creating a meaningful experience.

Best wishes for a great spring term,

—Jim Hoppe 

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owenMacalester College Student Government Update

By Owen Truesdell '11, MCSG President

The 2010-2011 academic year has been a busy, exciting, and productive one for Macalester College Student Government (MCSG).

In December, MCSG's Program Board hosted the second annual Winter Ball at Epic Event Center in Minneapolis. It was very popular; nearly 1,400 students attended!

MCSG members Selamawit Gebremariam '13 and Merita Bushi '14 organized a shuttle program that provided free airport rides to more than 300 Mac students returning home for the holidays.

MCSG also authorized the creation of a Lectures Coordination Board. Composed of students, faculty, and staff and with a budget of $50,000, the board is designed to build campus community by encouraging students to attend more campus-wide lectures.

This semester, MCSG has an ambitious agenda, focusing on strengthening sustainability on campus, celebrating political diversity, and ensuring the long-term efficacy of student government.

MCSG will be implementing a sustainability program at the Campus Center Grille that will give many Mac students access to a reusable container they can use for "to go" orders.

Student government will be sponsoring several events encouraging Mac students to engage meaningfully with political difference on campus and in the wider world (see Build a Better Mac, below).

MCSG is also considering changes to provide easier interaction between student representatives and students. Elections for new MCSG members will be held in April.

To follow MCSG, like us on facebook, or check out our website.

Build a Better Mac

This semester, students launched a new initiative called Build a Better Mac. This project, facilitated by Student Liaison to the Board of Trustees Yeukai Mudzi '12 and student government President Owen Truesdell '11, is a truly grassroots movement to make Macalester a better place to live and learn. During fall semester, over 100 students took time to sit together, eat together, and discuss ways of strengthening the Macalester community. At two Build a Better Mac meetings, students discussed issues such as the divide between domestic and international students, the need for more interaction across academic divisions of the college, and the need for civil dialogue across political differences.

While still in its early stage, Build a Better Mac seeks to act as a forum for students to raise and address important questions about the Macalester community and, through open, honest, and civil discussion, make strides toward building a stronger campus community.

This semester Build a Better Mac will sponsor several events to facilitate civil discussion of political differences. These events are designed to give Mac students the skills necessary to engage meaningfully in political conversations with other people, regardless of their opinions.

The first of these events will feature Reihan Salam, a political conservative who writes for the National Review Online as well as The Daily Beast. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 24.

Students will continue to use Build a Better Mac as a flexible forum for addressing the needs of the Macalester student community.

To learn more about Build a Better Mac, please check out its Facebook page.  


Short-term commitment…long-term impact

There are many opportunities for students to make a positive impact on the Macalester community.  

If a student is interested in getting involved, but doesn't know exactly how, running for a position in student government (MCSG) is a great idea.  

MCSG representatives have the opportunity to connect with their campus at a deeper level than most students and they get an intimate picture of how the college operates. This helps to cultivate leadership skills, a sense of involvement, and many new friendships. Students who are interested should look for MCSG election news in March.  

If students are seeking ways to learn more about themselves, make deeper connections with their peers and their campus community, show their love of Macalester, and "pay it forward" to incoming students, they should consider applying to become an Orientation Leader. This volunteer opportunity has proven to be a tremendous learning and leadership development experience for students. The position description and application can be found on the Campus Programs website. Applications are due March 11, 2011. 

Each year Residential Life seeks students who want to make a difference in the lives of their peers by becoming a Resident Assistant (RA). An RA's primary responsibilities are to connect with each student on a residence hall floor and help develop a positive floor community. The 2011-2012 RA position is open to any student who has lived on campus for one year, is planning to be on-campus for a full year while being an RA, and maintains a 2.7 cumulative GPA. Applications are available now and due on Wednesday, February 16. More information can be found on the Residence Life website. 

The Department of Multicultural Life (DML) is accepting applications for student employment for the 2011-2012 academic year. DML Student Program Assistants, Scholar Mentors, and the Cultural House Manager develop programs and events that encourage and create an optimal learning environment that honors multiple perspectives and works toward equity and social justice. DML student staff members are integral to achieving these goals. Students who want to make positive change on campus and in their communities are encouraged to apply. Visit the Department of Multicultural Life for more information or to apply. 

Off-Campus Student Employment (OCSE) is an opportunity for students to earn their financial aid award (work-study) while working at a local nonprofit organization or elementary school. Community organizations receive assistance from a college student approximately 8 to 10 hours per week. OCSE provides an opportunity to contribute to community change by dedicating a significant amount of time to a local project. Students in the program learn about community issues and develop new skills while providing a needed service. All students in the program attend monthly seminars focused on nonprofit issues, models of social change, and skill-building techniques. Applications are due Friday, February 11. For additional information, visit the program site.  

New Single Study Abroad Application Deadline

All students wishing to do off-campus study abroad in either semester of the 2011-2012 academic year (Fall 2011 or Spring 2012) must apply for approval by March 4, 2011. Please see the FAQs and Planning sections of the International Center website for more information about the application process. 

Residence Hall in Winter

Housing Information: Room Draw 2011-12

Students returning next fall will select their rooms during room draw in March. There are a variety of college-sponsored living options after students finish their first year on campus. These include language houses, larger suite-style rooms, and theme options such as Healthy Lifestyles, Eco-House, Veggie Co-op, All-Gender community, and the Cultural House.  

During room draw, students are randomly assigned draw numbers within two draw pools: one for rising sophomores, and one for rising juniors and seniors. Room draw dates are Thursday, March 24 for rising juniors and seniors and Tuesday, March 29 for rising sophomores.  

If you have questions, visit information on room draw, call Residential Life at 651-696-6215, or e-mail  

Spring Break

Spring break (Saturday, March 12 to Sunday, March 20) is fast approaching. Residence halls, on-campus apartments, and on-campus houses will remain open but, Café Mac will be closed. Cafe Mac's last meal before break is dinner on Friday, March 11. Café Mac will remain closed until dinner on Sunday, March 20. The Grille will be open with limited hours during spring break. Students may pay with cash, auxiliary dollars, or flex plan dollars. 

We encourage students to be more aware of their surroundings during break as fewer students are on campus.  

commencement2011 Commencement: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14

We are preparing for approximately 450 students to graduate in May. Commencement activities for families and friends of graduating international seniors begin Thursday, May 12, 2011. 

Check-in for all other events begins on Friday, May 13 at 8:30 a.m. The Baccalaureate service will be held at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, May 14 in the chapel, followed by brunch and Commencement at 1:30 p.m. on the lawn.  

Live video streaming of Commencement will be available. Watch for the details on the Commencement website. Remind your graduate to watch his or her email for announcements about ordering a cap and gown.  

A postcard will be mailed in March with information about registering for events. 


Macalester receives Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected Macalester College for its 2010 Community Engagement Classification. The classification was awarded after an extensive review of the college's community engagement locally, nationally, and globally. Macalester is one of only 27 baccalaureate colleges in the country to achieve the classification since it began in 2006. In all, 311 colleges and universities have received the classification.

"The Carnegie Foundation has acknowledged Macalester's deep and significant commitment to, and demonstration of, civic engagement and we are honored to be recognized in this way," said President Brian Rosenberg. "Academic rigor combined with a vibrant community involved in public scholarship and civic learning, and encouraging students to think creatively and discover the meaning and relevance of their studies outside the classroom, are hallmarks of a Macalester education." More


What's Happening with Your Student:

February and March

  • Students may feel down or depressed as the cold weather and lack of sunshine continue. This causes some students to become anxious, tense, distracted, or frustrated with people around them—especially their roommates.
  • Many students neglect their health and exercise plans.
  • Student organizations require a lot of time from students. As a result, students who have trouble with time management may feel overcommitted and overwhelmed.
  • Students make plans for spring break. This causes financial concerns for some. Others may feel envious of their friends who are going to warm places. This may lead to disagreements with family over different expectations for how and where this vacation will be spent.
  • Some students may demonstrate irresponsible behavior at parties over spring break and suffer the consequences of that behavior.
  • Midterms and larger papers or projects may be due.
  • Most will complete housing plans for the following year by March. This may be a relief for some and a stressor for those who haven't found housing.
  • Students begin planning and registering for fall courses.
  • First- and second-year students feel pressure to declare a major.
  • Students begin to think about summer plans including jobs or internships. Students may also be concerned about how they will fit into the family and the family's expectations if they return home for the summer.
  • Financial aid documents for next year are due.

What Parents Can Do:

  • Encourage your student to actively enjoy the winter. Playing in the snow or sledding or ice skating are great study breaks. Students who learn to enjoy the winter, instead of dreading it, are better able to deal with the winter blues.
  • Support your student's attempts to balance academics and extracurricular activities.
  • Encourage your student to seek assistance from on-campus resources, including faculty. Advise your student to visit faculty during office hours to discuss questions and get clarification.
  • Listen and support relationship or roommate concerns. Refer your student to his/her resident advisor if roommate conflicts cannot be resolved, and to the Health and Wellness Center if relationship concerns interfere with academics.
  • Discuss your student's plans and expectations for spring break. Talk about who's paying, whether or not it will be spent with family or friends, and making responsible choices.
  • As your student begins to prepare summer plans and the upcoming fall term, he/she may seek your guidance and advice, or may prefer to make decisions without your help. Recognize that, either way, these decisions are part of growing up, and trust that in the end, your student will make the best decisions. Encourage a visit to his/her academic advisor before registering for courses.
  • Send care packages. Gift certificates for local restaurants, goodies from home, a plant or flowers, and pictures of loved ones are welcome surprises.
  • Refer your student to the Career Development Center for information about summer jobs and internships.

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