Carleton Mutual Aid was founded in May 2021 by student organizers with Sunrise Carleton, an environmental justice activist group. They were inspired by a supply drive set up by Carleton College students to help those protesting the police killing of Daunte Wright in a nearby Minneapolis suburb in April. After seeing how students collected funds, food items, medical supplies, and hygiene products for protesters, organizers decided to set up a fund to meet daily needs on their campus.
The mutual aid fund is only open to Carleton students. Requests are filled in a first-come, first-served order. The group doesn’t prioritize based on the type of need, instead choosing to trust that people who make requests for funds would truly benefit from them. So far, the fund has fulfilled students’ requests for things like groceries, travel expenses to and from campus, hospital bills, and sneakers.
The group’s organizers told me they want to challenge the scarcity mindset that pervades campus: the feeling that one will never have enough of something, especially money. They also want to strengthen ties between campus community members. “I feel like the money that goes towards mutual aid blesses someone else in a way,” said Hannah Ward, a Carleton Mutual Aid organizer and second-year student. “Say you get money for your sneakers, then somebody’s like, ‘Oh, I love those sneakers.’ . . . I feel like it enforces a feeling of community.”