Classes are only the beginning of your education. Then there are the many student groups, where Macites let off steam, learn to be leaders, apply theories from class, relax, explore a culture, or discover an idea or a talent they never knew they had.

Check out crew, first aid, comedy, yoga, photography, politics, hip-hop, ultimate Frisbee, or world cultures with other students who share your passion and curiosity. Here’s a sample of what’s going on “off the clock” at Macalester.

Macalester Investment Group

Founded: 2001
Members: 10–15 active members. Everyone is welcome; no financial expertise required.
Purpose: To learn about investing and prepare for possible careers in finance, investment banking, consulting
Fake money: Everyone gets $100,000 of fake money to invest in a stock simulation game. Stocks reflect the actual market activity, and the year’s winner is presented with a chalice.
Real money:  In response to a request from economics professor Karl Egge, alumni contributed to a fund that MIG members can use to practice investing. At this writing the original $21,000 is worth close to $40,000.
Activities: Any member can pitch a stock for MIG to invest in. Buying or selling is by group consensus. MIG leaders teach Excel skills, review market news, demonstrate modeling, and prepare an interview question of the day for meetings.
Career preparation:  Members help each other by conducting mock interviews and reviewing resumes. MIG collaborates with Macalester Consulting Group and Omicron Delta Epsilon (economics honor society) on activities such as alumni networking events.

Multifaith Council

Founded: 2006
Members: 10–16, representing various religious affiliations or no faith affiliation at all
Purpose:  For students interested in learning about different religious and spiritual traditions and engaging in dialogue across differences
Education: In preparation for the visit of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the Multifaith Council organized an informational gathering, bringing together Students for a Free Tibet, students who had studied Tibetan Buddhism, and those who had previously had an audience with His Holiness.
Hosts: Week with Religion in the spring
Popular activity: Compassionate Conversations, a monthly discussion addressing topics such as gay marriage, vocation, public expressions of faith, and interfaith dating
Peace Vigils: A monthly gathering focusing on world events

African Music Ensemble

Founded: 1987
Members: 30–40, by audition, no previous experience with African music required
Director: Sowah Mensah, ethnomusicologist, composer and master drummer from Ghana, West Africa. He has soloed in Carnegie Hall, twice toured China, and performed extensively across the United States, Latin America and Africa.
Instruments:  Imported from Africa: drums, gourds, flutes, xylophones, marimbas, horns
Contrary to Western music: In much of Ghana there’s no sheet music or counting of measures. Music is based on “timelines,” which are different for regions across Africa.
Performances: Family Fest Weekend, December, February for Black History Month, spring. (Alumni fly in for the last one.) Concerts often feature guest performers such as internationally honored musician Koo Nimo.
Highpoint: J-term in January, when the ensemble holds a retreat, rehearses intensely for two days, then performs two shows a day for two weeks to expose students of all ages to African music
Hint: Come early for the big spring show. It’s usually SRO.


Founded: 2003
Members: 10 or so
Convenes: Enviro Circle, which facilitates collaboration among the various environmentally concerned groups on campus, from MPIRG Environmental to Eco House, Environmental Studies Senior Seminar to the Sustainability Office
Successful collaboration: Managed to ban plastic water bottles from campus and get water bottle filling stations installed in multiple buildings
“Dirty Training”: Developing a lighthearted segment for first-year residence halls on what can/can’t be composted or recycled to help meet Macalester’s goal of Zero Waste by 2020
Membership bonus: Immediately applying what you learn in the classroom, from sciences to geography, political science to public health
Other bonus: Friendships across class years, from first-year students to seniors
Direct action for spring: Clean-up day on the mighty Mississippi River, just over a mile from campus

Fresh Concepts

Founded: 1994
Members: 11
Origins:  Improv group named for the sign above the condiments in Café Mac
Auditions: In the fall, no experience required, and you don’t need to be funny. For first-year students everything is new, which is ideal for improv.
Fall break: Annual trip to Chicago for professional improv workshop and improv comedy viewing. Last year performed with Second City.  Other workshops and occasional improv festivals during the year.
Performances: Three or four per semester including a 24-hour show, plus a sketch show, in the spring
Form: Mostly long form with short form games
Benefits: Learning to really listen and throw yourself into whatever you do
Inspired by: Anything from the title of the best movie never made to the last text on your phone

April 2 2014

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