Asian studies professor receives four grants to support teaching, research

St. Olaf College - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 3:23pm

St. Olaf students (from left) Jacob Caswell ’17, Cameron Rylander ’16, and Nathalie Kenny ’16 are working with Assistant Professor of Chinese Ka Wong this summer to examine environmental awareness in China. Wong has received four grants to support his teaching and research.

St. Olaf College Assistant Professor of Chinese Ka Wong has been awarded four grants that he will use to support projects ranging from field research in China to an in-class exploration of what it means to be a hero.

Wong received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), ASIANetwork, and the Digital Humanities on the Hill program.

The Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows Grant from ASIANetwork will support Wong’s travels to China this August with three St. Olaf students — Jacob Caswell ’17, Nathalie Kenny ’16, and Cameron Rylander ’16 — to conduct field research for a cross-disciplinary project titled A Tale of Two Eco-Cities: Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Urban Development in Tianjin and Qingdao, China.

Examining the concept and construction of the “Eco-City,” a significant chapter in Chinese environmental development, this cross-disciplinary project combines environmental studies, cultural studies, ethnography, economics, natural science, and engineering. Each of the three students will conduct their own research on distinct aspects of the Eco-City, and they will present their findings at St. Olaf this fall during a symposium on campus.

“We want to understand whether the Chinese public is broadly aware of sustainability, recycling, carbon footprint, urban development, and other environmental concerns,” Wong says. “And we wonder if this has led to a relationship with the Chinese government that embraces pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors, as well as support for grassroots, business, and international joint ventures.”

Looking at Asia in the American Midwest
In contrast to visiting China, Wong also received a grant from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) to look at the Asian American experience right at home in the Midwest.

“Midwestern Asians, unlike their coastal counterparts, have been largely overlooked in academic research and literature,” Wong says.

Titled Asia in the American Midwest: Enhancing Diversity, Visibility, and Connectivity through Digital Learning, the project will look at devising digital teaching and learning materials from a uniquely Midwestern perspective that all colleges in the ACM can share. This will be an expansion of Wong’s current Asia in Northfield project.

Wong will also focus on the Midwest in terms of Japanese American experiences during World War II for a project sponsored by the Digital Humanities on the Hill (DHH) Summer Grants program.

While Japanese families were being placed in internment camps during the war, St. Olaf was one of the very few higher education institutions that accepted Japanese American students. In 1943 and 1944, 10 Japanese American students enrolled, representing seven of the 10 internment camps nationwide.

“Their stories offer fertile ground and a distinct vantage point from which to view American history, and St. Olaf is in a very special position to offer important insights on this topic,” Wong says.

He will create a digital project that will include ethnographic videos, visual artifacts, critical analysis and readings, as well as research tools “to bring key issues such as race, culture, identity, nationalism, and diversity to the forefront of our discussion of American society and history,” he says.

Examining an enduring question
In addition to all of these projects, Wong received an Enduring Questions Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a new course at St. Olaf that examines a simple question: “What is a hero?”

The course, which will be offered this fall, will prompt students to consider and investigate various questions about heroism: What does it take to become a hero? How are heroes different in various cultures? What is the heroic way to live, and more importantly, to die? Is a hero simply someone we admire and respect? In a post-9/11 world, can our own hero be someone else’s villain?

“To ask these questions is to explore fundamental ideas of the humanities,” Wong says. “I believe that a course that asks ‘What is a hero?’ will not only intrigue our students but will also motivate them to read widely across cultures and reflect on their own understanding of morality, mortality, heroism, patriotism, and good versus evil.”

Categories: Colleges

Knights Receive 48 Academic All-Conference Honors

Carleton Sports - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 3:22pm

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) announced its Winter/Spring 2014-15 Academic All-Conference honorees today, with Carleton student-athletes earning distinction 48 times.

Categories: Colleges

Internship in Japan helps student design her future

St. Olaf College - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 3:11pm

Lexi Swenson ’16 is combining her academic and professional interests with an internship in Japan this summer.

What happens when your academic interests come to life in a professional setting?

St. Olaf College student Lexi Swenson ’16 is finding out during a two-month internship in Tokyo this summer.

There, she is combining her love of Japanese culture and graphic design while working at Northshore Inc., a creative technologies company.

“The whole place is a creative center where people are sharing ideas with one another,” says Swenson, who is working on a wide range of projects while honing her graphic design, photography, and marketing skills.

Her internship is supported through the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund at St. Olaf, which awards need-based grants that enable students to take part in high-impact learning experiences and pursue their post-graduation goals.

“One of the most valuable things I have learned from this internship is how marketing in Japan is also looking at how to market to the U.S. and European markets,” Swenson says. “It is interesting to see Japan playing on an international field.”

St. Olaf College student Lexi Swenson’s workstation at Northshore Inc.

Swenson came to St. Olaf interested in both graphic design and Asian studies.

She studied Japanese and participated in the Asian Conversations Program, a learning community that introduces students to some of the key texts of Asia as well as key historical, cultural, political, and linguistic constructs through an integrated sequence of three courses. During Interim, students in the program travel to Japan and China to learn about the culture and practice the language firsthand.

She also turned to a variety of organizations on campus to build her portfolio and experience with design. Swenson has served as the marketing and communications officer for the Student Government Association’s Music Entertainment Commitee, art director of KSTO Radio, and has done freelance design and marketing work for campus bands and other organizations.

“These organizations really made me learn how to teach myself skills I was interested in,” Swenson says. “From photography to graphic design, I learned a lot while on the job.”

With all of those experiences, Swenson set out to find an internship that would combine her interests. One of her mentors from Concordia’s Japanese Language Village was doing graphic design work in Tokyo.

The Northshore Inc. office in Tokyo.

“This was exactly what I wanted to do, so I contacted her and she helped me create a small profile that I sent to Northshore Inc.,” Swenson says. “They don’t really have an internship program, but they were really excited about the idea and took me on.”

So far she’s enjoying her time in Tokyo, and is working toward her goal of becoming fluent in Japanese.

“I know that isn’t entirely possible to achieve this summer, but I do want to move beyond thinking about a grammar point,” Swenson says. “I want to be able to jump into conversations.”

This is her first time traveling by herself, and Swenson also hopes to learn how to navigate new terrain on her own.

“I want to experience the culture beyond being a tourist,” she says.

Swenson hopes to eventually return to Tokyo after graduation to continue a career in graphic design.

Categories: Colleges

Theater faculty, recent graduates earn rave reviews for their work

St. Olaf College - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 2:51pm

St. Olaf College graduate Julia Valen ’14 (far right) performs a scene from the Jungle Theater’s “You Can’t Take It With You” alongside (from left) Twin Cities theater veterans Angela Timberman, Cathleen Fuller, Hugh Kennedy, and Nathaniel Fuller.

“Julia Valen maybe doesn’t fully understand it now, but there will be in a time in her life when she will look back on the summer of 2015 and be awestruck,” begins a St. Paul Pioneer Press story that highlights the young St. Olaf College alumna’s new acting role.

“Valen, a recent St. Olaf College grad, plays Essie Carmichael in the Jungle Theater’s current production of You Can’t Take it With You. She and a couple of other young performers have the great good fortune to be surrounded by a veritable Who’s Who of Twin Cities theater. The company comprises one of the warmest and strongest ensemble casts in recent memory in the service of a chestnut from the canon that retains the power to provoke laughter and thought.”

And Valen isn’t the show’s only connection. The production is directed by St. Olaf Artist in Residence Gary Gisselman, who the paper praises for his “wise-eyed handling” of a large and talented cast.

In addition, the Jungle Theater itself will soon be led by another St. Olaf theater alumna, Sarah Rasmussen ’01, who takes on the role of artistic director on July 1. Rasmussen, who has worked in theater venues around the country, tells Minnesota Public Radio that the Twin Cities is “an incredibly dynamic place with such a great ecosystem of theaters.”

That ecosystem provides ample opportunities for St. Olaf theater and dance alumni to demonstrate their talent on stage. Earlier this summer, the Star Tribune took note of the performance Grace Wehrspann ’15 gave in a Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater production just weeks after graduating from St. Olaf.

“Wehrspann’s acting skills demonstrate an understated melancholy and vulnerability,” notes the paper, calling her performance “compelling.”

Categories: Colleges

Emeritus faculty member Lynn Steen dies

St. Olaf College - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 9:19pm

St. Olaf College Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Lynn Steen, who spent more than four decades making mathematics accessible to all students and shaping the way teachers approach the discipline, died June 21.

Steen was born in Chicago and grew up on Staten Island, New York. In 1965, four years after graduating from Luther College, Steen completed a Ph.D. in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined the St. Olaf faculty.

Early in his career, Steen focused on teaching and developing research experiences for undergraduates. One result was the widely used reference book Counterexamples in Topology, co-edited with J. Arthur Seebach Jr. and partly authored by St. Olaf students.

Another was a gradual change in mathematics at St. Olaf from a narrow discipline for the few to an inviting major of value to any liberal arts graduate. By broadening the major and focusing student work on inquiry and investigation, Steen and his departmental colleagues grew mathematics into one of the top five majors at the college — and one of the nation’s largest undergraduate producers of Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences.

As his teaching led Steen to investigate links between mathematics and other fields, he began writing about new developments in mathematics for audiences of non-mathematicians. Many of his articles appeared in the weekly magazine Science News and in annual supplements to the Encyclopedia Britannica, and he penned a groundbreaking report for the National Research Council on the challenges facing mathematics education in the United States.

Steen held numerous leadership posts in national mathematics organizations, serving as president of the Mathematical Association of America and director of the Mathematical Sciences Education Board, a National Academy of Sciences entity that works on improving math education. In 2013 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

In addition to his teaching, Steen served as head of institutional research at St. Olaf and as special assistant to the provost before retiring from the college in 2009.

A memorial service for Steen will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 26, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield.  A visitation will be held one hour prior to the service.

Read Steen’s obituary.

Categories: Colleges

Amelia Campbell Joins Carleton’s List of Academic All-Americans

Carleton Sports - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 12:23pm

Carleton College women's track and field star Amelia Campbell ’16 (Sturgeon Bay, Wis./Sturgeon Bay) is the latest Knight to be selected to the Academic All-America® Division III Track and Field/Cross Country Team. Recognized for excellence in both the classroom and the field of competition, Campbell was a second-team selection. Carleton student-athletes have won the Academic All-America award a total of 22 times overall.

Categories: Colleges

‘C’ Club Hall of Fame Welcomes Four New Members for 2015

Carleton Sports - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 11:13am

In conjunction with Carleton College’s Alumni Reunion activities this past weekend, four new members were welcomed into the 'C' Club Hall of Fame during the 40th annual induction ceremony. The 2015 inductees include football player and men’s golfer Mike Barnes ’75, nordic skier and distance runner Brigette (Breuer) Ketterson ’85, men’s cross country and track All-American Dan Bucy ’05, and volleyball and women’s basketball star Beth (Freeman) Moncrief ’05.

Categories: Colleges

Chicago Tribune story highlights St. Olaf student’s Fulbright fellowship

St. Olaf College - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 11:25am

A Chicago Tribune story describes how recent St. Olaf College graduate Julia Irons ’15 (far right) will use her Fulbright fellowship to conduct research in Sofia, Bulgaria. She is one of nine recent St. Olaf graduates accepted into the prestigious program. Others include (from left) Ida Sobotik ’15, Sarah Beam ’15, Nels Thompson ’15, and Serina Robinson ’15, as well as (not pictured) Beret Amundson ’15, William Wertjes ’15, Clarissa Angeroth Franks ’14, and Lara Palmquist ’13.

“Julia Irons was not just bitten by the travel bug; she was infected,” begins a Chicago Tribune story highlighting the Fulbright fellowship that will take the recent St. Olaf College graduate to Bulgaria this year.

Irons, one of nine recent St. Olaf graduates who have been named Fulbright fellows for 2015–16, will use the prestigious award to travel to Sofia, Bulgaria, to investigate Thracian sociocultural identity during the Roman period.

It follows a series of study-abroad opportunities that Irons has taken advantage of during her time at St. Olaf, the Chicago Tribune story notes.

Last summer she spent four weeks at an archaeological excavation site in Turkey studying ancient history as part of the college’s Archaeological Methods course. Taught by St. Olaf Associate Professor of History Timothy Howe, the course introduces students to Mediterranean archaeological field techniques and methods and gives them the opportunity to unearth ancient artifacts.

Before that, Irons spent four months in Costa Rica during her junior year, where she studied attitudes toward Nicaraguan immigrants.

Those experiences, she tells reporter Dayna Fields, gave her the confidence to pursue her Fulbright studies in Bulgaria.

“It’s having that experience of living with people whose life experiences and perspectives are different from yours,” says Irons, who is among the 70 percent of St. Olaf students who study off campus. “And I’ve always found that really challenging and scary but also really exciting and enriching.”

Categories: Colleges

Studying Asia leads to opportunities near and far

St. Olaf College - Mon, 06/15/2015 - 4:06pm

Bradley Sancken ’15 with his host dad on a trip to Mount Fuji in the summer of 2014.

During his four years at St. Olaf College, Bradley Sancken ’15 immersed himself in Asian studies.

He participated in the college’s Asian Conversations program, studying in Beijing and Tokyo. He learned Korean through the St. Olaf Alternative Language Study Option (ALSO) program, then spent a semester studying at Yonsei University in Seoul. He was involved in interdisciplinary projects focused on environmental issues in Asia. And he’s been a member of the Korean Culture Association and Vietnamese Organization: Inspiring Cultural Engagement (VOICE).

Now he’s applying those experiences to an internship at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), a think tank based in Washington, D.C., that works to promote dialogue and understanding of economic, political, and security relations between South Korea and the United States.

After his internship at KEI, Sancken will move to Japan for a position with the Labo International Exchange Foundation. The Japanese organization promotes cross-cultural understanding by exploring global narratives in the English language and promoting and organizing homestay exchanges. Sancken will be able to help students in Japan participate in the same homestay exchange opportunities he was able to have.

“I am hoping to combine the hard skills I will develop in my internship in D.C. with the soft skills of cultural competency and language that I plan to refine in Japan. My goal is to return to D.C. to work with an international organization,” Sancken says.

Bradley Sancken ’15 speaks with a Labo International Exchange student in Japan about her upcoming exchange to the United States. After an internship at the Korea Economic Institute of America in Washington, D.C., Sancken will move to Japan to take a position with Labo.

A wealth of opportunities
While at St. Olaf, he took advantage of a number of opportunities to learn more about Asia.

He joined Asian Conversations, an interdisciplinary program that integrates the study of the Chinese and Japanese languages with investigations into the culture, history, language, and societies of Asia. Through the program, students spend Interim studying in Beijing and Tokyo. Sancken also took classes in Japanese.

Over the summer in 2013, Sancken further embraced the liberal arts and obtained a different perspective about Asia by going to East Africa and interning in Tanzania and Rwanda.

There he saw, experienced, and researched firsthand the impacts of East Asia’s globalizing efforts in East Africa, expanding his perception of Asian Studies beyond the Asian continent. He received internship funding from the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career to work with Mwangaza Education for Partnership and Global Youth Connect as part of a technology training seminar and human rights advocacy development and training program.

The Alternative Language Study Option (ALSO) program at St. Olaf also enabled Sancken to learn Korean, which prepared him for his study-abroad experience at Yonsei University in Korea in the spring of 2014.

Throughout his time at St. Olaf, he has also been a member of the Korean Culture Association, Vietnamese Organization: Inspiring Cultural Engagement (VOICE), and Environment-Asia Connections, which he started as an earlier part of the Henry Luce Foundation grant. Through that organization, he created events that facilitated discussion of environmental issues in Asia. He also worked as an international student counselor for two years.

“I recommend taking advantage of the Asian language classes and cultural immersion opportunities on campus, not only because East Asia is growing politically and economically as a region and will continue to be influential into the future, but also because the St. Olaf Asian Studies Department’s professors have served as inspiring mentors and have challenged me to expand my thinking and skills over the past four years,” Sancken says. “Students can gain many different work and travel experiences through St. Olaf connections.”

Categories: Colleges

Ranum Named 2015 Engel Award Recipient

Carleton Sports - Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:21am

Carleton College men's golfer Jorde Ranum (Sr./ Spring Lake Park, Minn.) was recently honored as the recipient of the 2015 Andy Engel Memorial Award by the Carleton Physicial Education Athletics and Recreation department following the conclusion of his senior season. The Andy Engel Award is given annually to a male or female student-athlete who embodies characteristics Andy was know for: leadership, athleticism, and intelligence. Award recipients are recognized for athletic achievement in addition to being great teammates and classmates.

Categories: Colleges

Math professor earns NSF grant to host international symposium

St. Olaf College - Thu, 06/11/2015 - 8:52am

Professor of Mathematics Paul Humke received a National Science Foundation grant to support the International Summer Symposium in Real Analysis.

St. Olaf College Professor of Mathematics Paul Humke has received a National Science Foundation grant to support the 39th International Summer Symposium in Real Analysis.

The annual symposium includes lectures about research progress and discoveries by various academics from around the world. Among this year’s presenters are mathematics professors Marianna Csörnyei from the University of Chicago, Alexander Olevskii from the University of Tel Aviv in Israel, and Miklós Laczkovich from Eötvös Lorand University in Hungary.

The more than 50 researchers attending the symposium hail from 13 countries, and all work in an area of mathematics known as real analysis, a branch of mathematical analysis dealing with the real numbers and real-valued functions of a real variable.

The St. Olaf Mathematics Department has an active group of researchers focused on analysis. Humke is the current editor-in-chief of the Real Analysis Exchange Journal. Professor of Mathematics Paul Zorn, whose professional interests include complex analysis and mathematical exposition, has written a book titled Understanding Real Analysis.

The St. Olaf mathematics program is recognized nationally for innovative and effective teaching. The program was cited as an example of a successful undergraduate mathematics program by the Mathematical Association of America, and St. Olaf consistently ranks as a top producer of students who go on to complete Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences.

Humke says the Summer Symposium in Real Analysis can show students what a research community looks like and how it operates. Moreover, he added, students can see firsthand the nature of an international research community and how it connects individuals.

“It’s good for students to see that mathematics is not something that you learn out of books in class alone. As a science, it is alive, and there are people behind it,” Humke says.

This is the first time St. Olaf has hosted the symposium since 1984.

Categories: Colleges

Music professor awarded McKnight Composer Fellowship

St. Olaf College - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 8:53am

St. Olaf College Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Reinaldo Moya has been awarded the 2015 McKnight Composer Fellowship.

St. Olaf College Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Reinaldo Moya has been awarded the 2015 McKnight Composer Fellowship, which provides recognition and financial support for mid-career composers working in any musical genre.

Moya received $25,000 of unrestricted funds through the award, in addition to an opportunity to devote up to one month of concentrated time to work in an artist residency setting of his choice.

“In a state where we have so many wonderful composers writing all kinds of truly beautiful and amazing music, I feel very fortunate and thankful to be recognized,” he says.

Moya earned a bachelor of music degree in composition from West Virginia University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied under the tutelage of Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser.

His music has been performed in Germany, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Australia, and throughout the United States. Some of his well-known works included the orchestral piece Siempre Lunes/Siempre Marzo (Always Monday/Always March), the chamber music Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold), and the opera Generalissimo.

Moya is also the recipient of Meet the Composer’s 2011 Van Lier Fellowship, as well as multiple Morton Gould Young Composer Awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. His orchestral work Aurora Australis was awarded the Walter Friedman Memorial Prize for Orchestral Composition in 2008. In November 2013, Moya’s selections from Generalissimo were performed as part of the Amazonas concert series at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Moya will use the McKnight fellowship to explore his current interests more deeply, among them the immigrant experience in America. He is working on an opera that draws from his own experience as an immigrant, as well as the experiences of others.

“It’s very important and eye-opening to see other realities and try to really understand an issue deeply. Only then can we as artists really hope to do something meaningful, moving, and artistically resonant,” Moya says.

Moya is one of just four 2015 McKnight Composer Fellowship recipients. One of the other recipients of the fellowship is St. Olaf alumna Abbie Betinis ’01. Betinis has been commissioned by more than 40 music organizations, including Cantus, the Dale Warland Singers, and the Schubert Club, where she has been the composer-in-residence since 2005.

Categories: Colleges

A liberal arts preparation for Harvard Law

St. Olaf College - Tue, 06/09/2015 - 8:35am

Brianne Power ’15 says the experiences she’s had at St. Olaf College have prepared her well for Harvard Law School, where she’ll enroll this fall.

From working alongside law students and attorneys as part of St. Olaf College’s Legal Scholars Program to researching juvenile law in her Legal Aspects of Business course, Brianne Power ’15 has had numerous opportunities to closely examine the legal field.

And what she’s discovered is that majoring in mathematics at a liberal arts college has provided her with many of the skills she’ll need to be a successful attorney.

“I found that legal professionals find patterns, make predictions, and solve problems every day,” Power says. “Pure mathematics also involves a lot more writing and analytical reasoning than I think most people realize. And St. Olaf’s dedication to the liberal arts ensures that students from every discipline graduate with the necessary reading, writing, and analysis skills.”

She’ll put all of those skills to work at Harvard Law School, where she will enroll this fall. Power — who also pursued a concentration in family studies at St. Olaf — was particularly drawn to Harvard Law’s programs in mediation and child advocacy work, as well as its dedication to service.

“The commonality among the students there seems to be their passion for effecting some sort of positive change, which is definitely energizing,” she says.

Power is no stranger to service work herself.

As a student at St. Olaf, she has volunteered with organizations including Story Circle, which helps local retirees share the stories of their lives; the Nightingale Project, which pairs St. Olaf women and Northfield middle school girls with the goal of building ongoing relationships and mentoring; and Blue Key Honor Society, which focuses on scholarship, leadership, and service. She was also president of the Honor Council.

And this year Power lived in the Gender Equality and Empowerment Honor House, which provides a safe space for people on campus to discuss gender issues. Through the honor house, she volunteers at Thursday’s Table, a weekly dinner hosted by the Northfield Community Action Center to aid community members in transition.

Hands-on legal experience
In addition to her volunteering and classroom experiences, Power participated in St. Olaf’s Svoboda Legal Scholars program last summer. The program provides an opportunity for a select group of undergraduate students to perform intensive legal research and serve in a legal support role to social impact–oriented clinics at several institutions.

Power worked under four rising third-year law students at the University of Minnesota Legal Clinics — mostly serving in the Civil Practice Clinic and the Child Advocacy Clinic — and was supervised by professors of the law school.

“There are not very many opportunities to spend a significant amount of time actually in a law school before being admitted as a student, so I really appreciated gaining familiarity with a law school as an undergraduate student,” she says.

She also spent several summers interning at a law firm in Iowa.

Power gained hands-on legal experience in the classroom, too. Through her Legal Aspects of Business class, taught by local attorney and Visiting Assistant Professor of Management Studies John Ophaug, she developed a research project that investigated the role of Guardians ad Litem in Iowa and Minnesota.

Through legal research and interviews with attorneys, Guardians ad Litem, social service providers, and a juvenile court judge, Power “created a portfolio outlining experiences and recommendations for the revision of statutory Guardian ad Litem requirements to better serve children’s best interests,” she notes.

All of these things, as well as her time in the St. Olaf mathematics program — which is nationally recognized for its innovative and effective teaching — have left Power well-prepared to join one of the nation’s top law schools.

And she’s not alone. Two Oles entered Harvard Law School last year, including a 2012 math major. Other law schools that members of last year’s graduating class enrolled in include New York University School of Law; University of California, Berkeley School of Law; the University of Michigan Law School; Vanderbilt Law School; and the University of Minnesota Law School. Nearly 90 percent of St. Olaf students who applied to law school from 2008 to 2012 earned acceptance.

Of this year’s graduating seniors, Bayley Flint ’15, Elizabeth Archerd ’15, and Caroline Bressman ’15 also will be attending top 20 law schools in the fall. Flint will be attending Washington University School of Law, Archerd will be attending Emory University School of Law, and Bressman will be attending the University of Minnesota Law School. Bressman also participated in the St. Olaf Legal Scholars Program with Power.

Categories: Colleges

Clear app censors social media history

Manitou Messenger - Sun, 05/17/2015 - 9:44pm

We have all been warned of the dangers of social media. In every conversation regarding blogging, tweeting or posting, one warning is consistently restated: once you put something on the Internet, the rest of the world is able to see it forever. In today’s world of technology, employers, potential romantic partners and even grandparents prowl social media, hoping to learn more about the lives of those they search. What you post is a crucial factor in determining how you are seen as a person.

But, we have all had our moments. We have all written a post that others were not very fond of. I admittedly have tweeted references to people that are less than flattering. Yes, you can manually delete posts, but what about the long-lost posts that people may accidently stumble upon that put you in a horrible light? Well, there’s an app for that now.

Clear is an in-the-works iOS app that flags old Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts that could be considered offensive and will, upon request, delete them from your feed. According to Techcrunch, the app prowls your feeds not just for blatantly offensive posts containing, for example, profanities and racial slurs, but also for “warning signs like references to racial groups or sexual orientation.”  The app can even analyze the general sentiment of past posts.

The creator of the app, Ethan Czahor, wanted to help others avoid the consequences of social media that he himself was unable to navigate. But how effective is the app?  For one, it could be a useful device in helping social media users choose less offensive words. This could enforce better social media habits, and make people aware of what they post and its effects.  Another great feature is that Clear does the work of revisiting old posts for you, which saves time if, for example, you have a job interview and want to clear your profile quickly.

The app holds people accountable for their posts by showing any faults and allowing them to decide whether or not to post, but there are some issues. For one, if someone decides to screenshot your post or photo, the app cannot erase that from the device afterwards.

Another misconception is that this new app will “clean up” social media. In theory, it could. However, those who use their social media as an outlet for airing grievances may not be willing to get the app. No one likes being told that they need to clean out their posts. People who are aware of their derogatory posts are not likely to be the ones to purchase and use this app.

While this app will help hold people accountable for what they post, it may also make it too easy for some to censor their past. We should all have to accept our faults on social media. Clear just makes it so you don’t have to pay for them later.

Margaret Shaver ’17 ( is from Centennial, Colo. She majors in English and sociology/anthropology with a management concentration.

Categories: Colleges

Hillary’s fundraising comes under scrutiny

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 9:37pm

At this year’s White House Correspondents Association Dinner, after President Obama’s remarks on Hillary Clinton’s efforts to gain funds for her 2016 Presidential Race, the president’s anger translator Luther, a character originated and played by comedian Keegan-Michael Key on the sketch show “Key and Peele,” had one thing to say: “She gonna get that money, she gonna get all the money… Khaleesi is coming to Westeros!”

Luther’s words summarized the controversy that has been brewing lately surrounding the source behind Clinton’s funding for the presidential campaign.

This controversy boiled to flash point just days before the association dinner, when HarperCollins announced their plans to publish Clinton Cash, a 186-page book investigating the donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities, written by author and political correspondent Peter Schweizer. Several news agencies, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fox News, were given advanced copies of the book under the agreement that they will pursue in greater detail the stories covered within the pages. Following the announcement of Clinton Cash, a huge debacle began throughout the news media centered on whether or not the book revealed a black chapter of yet another Clinton or was just a normal part of the political conduct, blown out of proportion by Schweizer.

According to The New York Times and the news agencies that received the book in advance, there are various examples of Hillary working in cahoots with different organizations in exchange for massive donations. One such example touched on a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation’s development projects in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The book also detailed the more than one million dollars in payments to Ms. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department. 

But what does all this suggest? When we take a look across the aisle, money is still an incredibly important asset and resource for Republican campaigns. The Guardian pointed out the extensive ties Jeb Bush and the Bush family have to the energy industry, with former president George H.W. Bush having made his fortune in oil wildcatting. These same connections that funded former president George W. Bush’s personal failed energy companies now extend to Jeb Bush as well.  The New York Times also reported that Ted Cruz gained the financial backing of Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of hedge fund magnate, Renaissance Technologies. According to Politico, Rand Paul has turned to the billionaire venture capitalists of Silicon Valley, such as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Napster’s billionaire co-founder Sean Parker, in his own attempts to garner campaign funds.

Gathering funding for a political race is not an action that is technically illegal, and has been done by politicians for years. Furthermore, as reported by Newsweek, Schweizer did not attempt to prove any laws were broken in Clinton Cash.  In fact, he practically begins the book by hedging his accusations: “I realize how shocking these allegations may appear. Are these activities illegal? That’s not for me to say. I’m not a lawyer.”

Will Clinton Cash cause some degree of backlash towards Clinton and her campaign?  Most likely, yes.  However, although the book is aimed at just the Clinton family, the information presented sheds light on the common practice employed by politicians, regardless of party, during campaigns: giving companies and donors what they need in return for funding. Because of its discussion on this practice, Clinton Cash is poised to become a hard-hitting investigative piece on the unsavory ways politicians receive money.  But as Taylor Wafforf wrote in Newsweek, “throwing up a bunch of dots and not connecting them isn’t great judgement either.”

As such, it will be up to the readers to choose whether to take the book as a surface level attack at the Clintons, or as a piece of solid investigative journalism.

Sam Pattinasarane ’18 ( is from Jakarta, Indonesia. He majors in political science and Asian studies.

Categories: Colleges

Music Dialogues Lecture

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:53pm

The Musical Dialogues Conference, which is a collaboration between St. Olaf and Carleton colleges, aims to provide a forum for students to share original research and creative work. Multiple students from both schools presented their projects and papers regarding music and some of the deeper meanings behind music. Music faculty at the two colleges host the symposium with support from the Broadening the Bridge initiative. Broadening the Bridge launched last January as a result of collaboration between St. Olaf College President David Anderson and Carleton College President Steven Poskanzer. The initiative attempts to foster teamwork and communication between the two Northfield colleges.

University of Michigan Associate Professor of Musicology, American Culture and African American Studies Mark Clague delivered the keynote speech for the Musical Dialogues symposium on May 2 to St. Olaf and Carleton students and faculty gathered in Dittman Center.  His lecture, entitled “This Is America: Jimi Hendrix’s Reimaginings of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock and Beyond,” focused on intersections of  American culture and music, specifically how music symbolizes what it means to be a citizen and a nation.

Categories: Colleges

The Love Column

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:52pm

When our parents bought their first mobile phones in the early aught’s, they were used exclusively for emergencies. Now we assume that our friend is having an emergency if they don’t respond to a text within fifteen minutes.

Most of us carry computers in our pockets that are more powerful than the machinery that was used to put people on the moon. Technology is changing and we’re changing with it.

Our cellphones have become extensions of ourselves. Most college students can’t go anywhere or do anything without their mobile device.

Though they enable us to have quick, reliable communication with people outside our immediate vicinity, cell phones negatively impact how we interact with those around us. Whether we’re texting, checking our Facebook or swiping on Tinder, cellphones consume our attention, even when we are engaged in a good personal conversation. It’s distracting and frustrating for a group dynamic when one or more people are so engrossed in texting that vibrating ringtones interrupt every other word.

It seems that we use cellphones as everything except as a phone. In terms of efficiency, this doesn’t make any sense. Mobile phones were created to improve our communication, but they have regressed it instead.

When we type text messages, we have to engage much of our focus. We use our eyes to watch the screen for typos, engage our thumbs to type and put our concentration on developing a succinct message.

We’re fooling ourselves if we think that we can still be present while doing all that. When the response comes, we again revert our attention away from our surroundings back to the screen in our palm. This back and forth can go on for ages. This takes time away from quality interactions with friends and family members, not to mention paying attention in class.

Why not call? It may seem old fashioned but it’s much quicker and more personal than texting. Telephones are remarkable; we have the ability to hear the voice and expression of friends that are miles away. Quality of conversation is also higher because you are completely focused on that conversation with the person on the other end the whole time.

By calling people, we can connect at a more human level without all the hassle and misunderstanding that plagues texting. We have all had those awkward experiences of someone interpreting a text message in a way that we did not intend.

We also don’t irritate the people around us by being distracted for long periods of time, like we do when we when we are texting (have you ever worked on a group project with one of those people? It’s the worst). A one minute call accomplishes the work of ten minutes of texting.

My challenge to you this summer is be conscious of how often you text. If you’re doing it to make plans or flirt, consider dropping a line instead so that you can showcase your personality.

Rather than just typing little quips, make plans to get together. Face-to-face interaction time is seriously declining among our generation, in both amount and quality.

Spend that time being present with the people you love rather than letting your phone distract you with what’s far away or coming next.

Are you an expert on all things romantic? Let everyone on campus benefit from your fabulous advice! Email for more information on becoming one of our love columnists for next year’s Manitou Messenger.

-the A&E Editors

Categories: Colleges

Olympia Snowe stresses importance of bipartisanship

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:14pm

On Wednesday, April 29 the Political Awareness Committee invited former Republican senator Olympia Snowe to speak to the St. Olaf community. She served as one of Maine’s senators from 1995 to 2013. Snowe made history as the fourth woman in American politics to be elected to both houses of Congress and the first to serve in both houses of a state legislature. Snowe is known for her criticism of the extreme partisanship in Congress, as outlined in her 2013 book,  Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress. Her speech, entitled “What’s Gone Wrong in Washington and Why it Doesn’t Have to Be This Way,”  addressed these problems and challenged students to rethink the paralyzing divide of modern-day Congress.

Snowe started her speech with a summary of her personal background. Both of her Greek immigrant parents died before she was nine. After this tragedy, she moved in with her aunt and uncle but continued to commute over an hour to school every day, occasionally getting stranded in Grand Central Station overnight and sleeping on benches. She has always considered herself “a minority of a minority of a minority,” as a female Greek-American from New York who moved to Maine.

On Snowe’s first day as a senator of Maine, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole caught her looking around the chambers in awe. He said to her, “You are looking around wondering how you got here, but in six months you will be looking around wondering how everyone else got here.” She found out he was right.

“There are smart people in Congress, but there are fewer and fewer who are willing to reach across the aisle and act bipartisan,” Snowe said. She discovered that for many Congressmen, the first priority was working towards re-election instead of focusing on making productive changes during their current term. She expressed frustration that many politicians only care about the potential gain of political capital from each bill rather than the content of the bill itself and therefore sacrifice bipartisanship to please donors and constituencies.”

The 2013 and 2014 Congressional sessions were the least productive in modern history. The last time Congress was this ineffective was in 1805, when the government ran out of money after the Louisiana Purchase. This extreme gridlock is unacceptable to Snowe.

She maintained that when Congress fails to accomplish anything, the American citizens feel the lack of productivity and lose trust in the government. She cited that the recent presidential election had the lowest turnout of voters – 36 percent – since 1942 when America was at war.

“Americans feel powerless to affect the process,” Snowe said. “They don’t receive any benefit from participating in their democracy.”

In 2014, over half of the American public supported compromise across party lines. Snowe believes that now is the time to enact change.

She went on to detail many of her accomplishments during her years in Congress and how she personally tried to end partisanship and encourage compromise. Because of her work, she was named the 54th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2005 and one of the top 10 U.S. Senators by Time magazine in 2006.

In 2012, Snowe chose not to seek re-election to the Senate, but she has stayed committed to encouraging bipartisanship in Congress.

  “I did not leave the United States Senate because I no longer believed in its potential, but precisely because I do. I wanted to give voice to the millions of Americans who believe as I do that the Congress has gone awry,” Snowe said.

“After having two hyper-polarizing political leaders from either side of the aisle, Newt Gingrich last spring, and Rev. Al Sharpton in the fall, it was great for PAC to have someone that stresses bipartisanship,” said Grace Kane ’15, a previous College Republicans representative on PAC.

Snowe urged the audience to speak up about the importance of bipartisanship, saying that “silence is not golden. We have to demand cooperation, and the voices that demand cooperation have to be louder than the voices that demand polarization.”


Categories: Colleges

Professor critiques new genre

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 9:19pm

Associate Professor of Sociology Ibtesam Al-Atiyat is currently working on a research paper analyzing “native informant” writings. A native informant is a person of a particular race, culture, ethnicity or religion that is perceived as an expert on said group due primarily to the fact that he or she belongs to it. Planned to be published in the academic journal Critical Sociology, Al-Atiyat’s research focuses on a new genre of native informant writings about Muslim women that has emerged in Western markets. This genre is generally written by Muslim women themselves, many of whom have fled to the West from oppression in their native countries. Their stories are retold as memoirs.

Despite the claim that the purpose of these stories is to expose the lives of women oppressed by extremist Islam and Islam-related cultures, many of the memoirs are written primarily for Western audiences in Western languages. In turn, the average Western reader consumes the story without sufficient context and understands it as a true representation of the entire Muslim world. Though there are differences within the stories, they depict the same stereotypical images of secluded, veiled and oppressed Muslim women.

“[Due to these stories]women in the Muslim world can only be explained by one variable: Islam,” Al-Atiyat said. “You eventually can’t look at the historical background, or colonialism, economy and politics. The only variable needed is Islam.”

Al-Atiyat also noted that writing about Islam and Muslim women has become a huge money-making industry in the West. Many native informants taking refuge in the West, particularly in the U.S., are now seeking and receiving fame and money for their stories.

“If you want to become famous and be interviewed at CNN and be a celebrity in the West, the one thing you can do is criticize Islam and show connections between Islam and terrorism. And this is how many of those women approach the discourse,” Al-Atiyat said.

The rise in popularity of these novels has generated problems. Al-Atiyat explains that since Muslim women are portrayed in a uniform and homogenized manner throughout the literature, the diversity of stories and conditions of women in the Muslim world is lost. Furthermore, this discourse presents the lives of Muslim women in an abrasive, gloomy and hopeless manner, as if every Muslim woman is suffering from brutal oppression under the patriarchy. However, many Muslim women, including Al-Atiyat herself, serve as counterexamples to this stereotype.

“I am a Muslim woman. I do not necessarily cover my head, not that I have anything against [that choice]. I hold a Ph.D. I am an independent woman. I have a career. My religion did not really limit my life choices,” Al-Atiyat said.

She argues that native informant memoirs generalize the lives of Muslim women by offering an individual face and story as representative of an entire culture. This serves as the catalyst for Al-Atiyat’s criticism.

To prevent oneself from being convinced by this way of understanding, according to Al-Atiyat, one must have critical perspectives that can help in distinguishing good literature from bad literature, or even good scholarship from bad scholarship.

“You have to subject every form of knowledge about women in the Middle East, and about women in Islam, through a thorough critique that should inform one’s criticism of this literature or scholarship,” Al-Atiyat said. In the end, however, the ultimate purpose of this research for Al-Atiyat is “to provide the reader with the critical framework on how to approach this genre of literature, and how to reflect on it critically without losing the sympathy with the human stories.”

Regarding how St. Olaf students should approach this genre, Al-Atiyat believes that the way in which one approaches the text is important.

“It depends on how you read and the purpose of your reading. If you’re reading [these stories] for entertainment purposes, then there is something wrong with you, reading about victimized women for entertainment. If your purpose is to learn about the lives of women, then you owe it to yourself and you owe it to those women to learn about their lives in a more complex, sophisticated and critical manner. And do not take a native informant’s story at face value. You have to critically think and reflect on it. The story might be true, but its representation might be wrong. What is happening to one woman does not necessarily mean that it’s happening to every woman.”

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiments

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 8:53pm


hen I was younger, at a sleepover, my parents would come to pick me up and I would beg for another hour because I felt like it hadn’t been long enough. Now, after a four year sleepover, it’s still not enough.

My dad used to say, when I was in the process of picking a college – and, eventually, when I chose St. Olaf for real – that I “drank the Kool-Aid.” 

The idea of college doesn’t become real until you have to hug your parents goodbye. Walking out of that gymnasium, trying to look brave, I found myself surrounded  by teary-eyed freshmen. There was a crying girl walking next to me. Being unequipped to handle this situation I looked for anyone to help me. I made eye contact with the boy on the other side of the crying girl. That boy from Wyoming turned into one of my best friends.

I didn’t hold back the tears. Actually, as soon as I moved to the Hill, I hardly ever held back the tears. I drank the Kool-Aid and surrendered myself to the wild emotional adventure that the next four years became. St. Olaf became the best thing that ever happened to me, simply because of the hundreds of thousands of everyday moments I’ve gotten to share with friends and classmates and teachers and all the people I’ve met along the way.

She didn’t hold back the tears. The first day on a Hoyme window seat – back when Hoyme still had window seats – on the second floor we didn’t hold back the tears. Later that day, in response to one of her questions, I told her, “if this friendship continues, I’ll tell you.” Little did I know.

He told me the next day. The friendship continued. I don’t even remember what I asked anymore. Probably something personal about an old girlfriend, or something like that. We met more friends, shared cookies that somebody’s mom sent along for move-in, watched Paranormal Activity 2 in a dorm room and marched down Ole Ave with a pack of other Hoyme babies to experience our first Jesse James Days.

It’s weird to think about. If, tomorrow, I packed up my things and moved to a new “St. Olaf,” and sat on a window seat with a complete stranger, what would I say about the last four years? I’ve been to class, I’ve done hours of homework, I’ve learned a lot (I hope) but the things that stick out, the things that are window seat worthy are the almost imperceptible moments. The Jesse James Days, the Pause pizza, the poop jokes and the people you’ve shared those moments with.

Do you remember the first snow at St. Olaf? We built a fire in the Hoyme lounge (back before they remodeled the building and made it bright and updated like some sort of hotel) and baked cookies and read books and nobody could stop smiling. 

That was one of those rare moments when I realized I was living through a lasting memory while it was happening.  Remember the first time we went sledding?  It’s funny that most of our memories involve snow. We took trays from the caf and made long sled chains, I tried snorting snow and we took too many pictures of us trying to look “cool.”

How about the time we spent a Saturday trying to film a St. Olaf themed version of The Breakfast Club? Or the night a whole bunch of us ran naked through the baseball fields when nobody else was around? We watched Lutefest die. We watched Cherry Berry open and then close. We went to probably at least 25 Pause dances – some super fun and some awful. We knew Hoyme when those window panes were red. We lived on campus before road signs and roundabouts arrived. We watched potstickers in the Caf take a leave of absence, and we happily welcomed their return. We elected civil servants, defeated some Minnesota amendments, attended demonstrations, started conversations about sexual assault and had open dialogues with one another. As Oles, we have grieved, celebrated and worshiped together.

Categories: Colleges

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