The Mac Weekly - February 13, 2009
Rosenberg Ditches His Razor for a Cause
By Amy Ledig, Editor in Chief
President Brian Rosenberg's facial hair was held for ransom over the
past two weeks as part of the MacCARES Power Beard fundraiser, which
aims to send around two dozen Macalester students to the Power Shift
conference on climate change in Washington, D.C. at the end of February.
Rosenberg agreed to grow a beard for the fundraiser, originally devised by sophomores Matt Kazinka and Ruby Levine, and then allow it to be shaved into one shape or another, depending on how much money was raised. The ultimate goal for the Power Beard drive, $2,000, would give the President mutton chops connected to a mustache.
President Rosenberg has never grown a beard before. "It's itchy," he said. "My self-image does not include a picture of a beard."
As of Monday, Power Beard had generated just over $1,000 in donations from students and faculty in just under a week. MacCARES members primarily collected donations at a table in the Campus Center Basement and during a silent auction and acoustic concert on Saturday.
In order to reach the $2,000 "friendly mutton-chop" goal, Kazinka felt that more donations from faculty and particularly alumni were crucial.
In an effort to make alumni donations easier, a PayPal account was established for Power Beard with the help of the state MPIRG office, which will be sending its own group of students to the Power Shift conference.
The money raised from the fundraiser will go toward paying for bus transportation to Washington, which is estimated to cost around $15,000.
Rosenberg has also proposed to match the donations collected by the Power Beard fundraiser dollar-for-dollar up to the first $1,000 mark. The money would come from the Office of the President, which regularly grants fund requests for various student activities or events, though not generally as visibly as with the Power Beard funds drive.
"Most of what I do is pretty invisible," said Rosenberg. "The new idea is that by having me involved visibly, it generates support from others."
Kazinka said that Rosenberg was "surprisingly cool" about participating in Power Beard. The original vision for the fundraiser involved many people on campus wearing different hairstyles, but the concept gradually shrank in scope.
The Power Shift conference is a primarily youth-based national conference aimed at addressing climate change solutions. It includes workshops on community organizing and environmental policy strategies.
"It's people teaching each other how to work on our campuses and off of our campuses for good climate solutions," said Kazinka, who attended Power Shift 2007. That conference helped lead to the establishment of the non-profit group Grand Aspirations, which put together the Summer of Solutions in St. Paul.
"I think it's really the type of thing that energizes people to be leaders," Kazinka said. "We have a really great thing going on with MacCARES and the sustainability office, but there's room for improvement."
"I do see this as a good investment," Rosenberg said. He sees the Power Shift conference as something that would "have an impact that spreads" beyond Macalester and into the general realm of public policy.
"It seems to be very consistent with our institutional mission," he said.
Rosenberg's beard will continue to grow until March 3, when it will be shaved by the returning Power Shift attendees during a special ceremony.