Thursday, August 22, 2013

The last word on KWOC

If you're a first year, transfer, or not a Mac student and you don't know what KWOC is, Sean Ryan at the Mac Weekly wrote an excellent article about some of their activities toward the end of last semester. For KWOC's side of the story, you can check out the link to their Tumblr page in the sidebar of this blog.

As we head toward the new school year, I want to reiterate my opinion that KWOC should wind down their campaign against Macalester's purchasing card contract with Wells Fargo. This is not a new opinion coming from me, but I feel it is important to address the issue again because KWOC activists have announced they intend to launch a three year campaign to force PBR and the college to end their business relationship with Wells Fargo. If they continue their campaign for the next two or three years, it seems clear they will achieve little except dividing the student body and damaging Macalester's reputation.

President Rosenberg has made it clear that he has no interest in ending the Macalester-Wells Fargo purchasing card arrangement at this point, saying in a meeting with KWOC organizers that:
“I have a great deal of respect for the two people [Wheaton and Walker] who spent so much time thinking about this decision ... Your tactics have shown that you don’t understand me. I will never make a decision based on increased application of pressure or threats.”
Perhaps even more damningly, more than 200 Macalester students signed a petition organized by Mac GOP activists supporting the administration's decision to retain the Wells Fargo contract. When your campaign has resulted in more than 10% of Mac's hyper-liberal student body is siding with the campus Republicans over your student activist group, it should be clear you went wrong somewhere along the line. This article is intended as an exploration of where KWOC went wrong and what everyone can learn from their mistakes as we enter the new academic year.

Before I dive into that, however, I need to say something. I truly respect KWOC organizers as people. One of my closest friends at Mac is a KWOC organizer who participated in the blockade and was disciplined for her actions. She's a brilliant student, a hard worker, and a dedicated person. I have nothing but respect for her. I have no doubt that she and her friends do everything they do with the best of intentions. But on this issue, we do not agree.

It's also important to emphasize this: I do not support Wells Fargo. My money is in a little bank that operates in the Pacific Northwest and invests in my hometown's community. Wells Fargo shares some responsibility for the current foreclosure crisis and I have no love for them. There's a reason they got sued by the Justice Department and paid $175 million dollars to settle allegations of racist lending.

Now, back to the point: where did KWOC go wrong?