Colleges

Ruth Steinke 4th, Knights 14th at NCAA Championships

Carleton Sports - 2 hours 26 min ago

Ruth Steinke capped her spectacular junior season with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. That result propelled the Carleton College women’s team to 14th out of the 32 teams competing at the national meet. This was Carleton’s ninth trip to the NCAA Championships since 2004.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Finish 18th at NCAA Championships

Carleton Sports - 3 hours 41 min ago

Led by Hart Hornor’s top-20 finish, the Carleton College men’s cross country team placed 18th out of 32 squads at the Division III Championships. This was the Knights’ second straight trip to nationals and 22nd overall time competing at the NCAA Championships.

Categories: Colleges

Music on Trial: Popular artists are all about that bass, and lyrical freedom

Manitou Messenger - 7 hours 38 min ago

Miley, Britney, Kesha and Justin Bieber are widely controversial artists. They have each had their ups and downs, including run-ins with law enforcement, questionable personal choices and provocative projects. Many people recognize the influence of celebrities and heavily criticize those who put forth a negative image.

It seems quite logical that the more popular an artist, the more widespread his or her message will be and the more influence it will have on the general population. The phrase “it takes a village” holds truth in that everyone has some impact when it comes to shaping Generation Z. But should impact necessarily mean responsibility, particularly in a society that values so highly rights to speak and act freely?

In arguments against publicizing negative celebrity viewpoints, critics often cite the popularity of certain artists as reasons to be careful of the images and ideals they put forth, but what this criticism fails to recognize is the volatility of the music industry. Can you say you knew Meghan Trainor six months ago? “All About That Bass” is controversial in many ways, and yet it has been near the top of the Billboard Top 100 for 18 weeks, while Miley isn’t on it at all.

Let’s take a second to talk about why “All About That Bass” is arguably problematic, for those of you who are shaking your head saying, “it’s a beautiful song about body image; what’s your problem?” One of the lyrics mid-song says, “I’m bringing booty back/ Go ahead and tell them skinny b*tches that . . . No, I’m just playing.”

So, yes, she took the time to acknowledge that she shouldn’t be skinny shaming, but there are two problems. First, “no, I’m just playing” is so quiet it is practically background noise – an afterthought – thoroughly undermining the work it does to save Trainor from her own implied prejudice. Second, it is sort of like saying “no offense.” Has anyone ever done that to you? “No offense, but… you could stand to participate/exercise/work harder/do better/etc.”

Trainor did not expect the song to go anywhere and wrote the “skinny b*tches” lyric as a joke. So how do we account for negative messages that are spread by artists who had no idea how popular their songs would become? What responsibility do musical artists have to the community? It’s a tough question to address, but let me try.

Music is art. If we lump music in with other arts, rhetorical and visual, we should treat it as such. There are paintings and novels galore that tell gruesome stories, use vile language and depict sexual activity or violence. Other media explore elements of sexual and physical subjects through erotic poetry, nude figure drawing and even pornography. The complexity of, and emotional reactions to, this provocative subject matter lead artists to continually experiment with it in their work.

The music industry is primarily different from these other media because music gains popularity in a way that no other medium does. It is easily accessible via the Internet, the radio and almost any store’s PA system. Musicians are the face of their art like no other creator. We make excuses for actors, because, generally, they didn’t write the film. Authors tell stories which rarely have visuals, and books are not often forced upon people (we college kids are in a special, controlled environment).

Given the freedom of speech and art of expression, along with the fact that no other industry operates quite the same way music does, I think it is only fair to allot musicians the same artistic freedoms other artists receive. If you don’t like the music, you can choose not to listen. If something like “skinny b*tches” stirs the pot, as it has, we all have the opportunity to express our opinions on the matter in order to learn what to watch out for the next time a well-intentioned artist with a foolish lyric or two comes along.

christeg@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiments: Nov. 21, 2014

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 1:57pm

In a few short days, Thanksgiving break will be upon us. Many Oles spend these five days traveling home, spending time with family, enjoying home-cooked meals and engaging in pleasant conversation with relatives. Reuniting with parents, siblings and extended family members around the dinner table is a highly-anticipated event for many students who have been away for several months.

At a glance, Thanksgiving appears to be a time for celebration. After all, this may be the year that you are finally allowed to sit at the “adult table” (ooh, ahh!). However, after the turkey has been carved, many Oles find Thanksgiving to be a time of discomfort, confrontation and annoyance. After only a few bites, one relative or another is sure to ask the most dreaded and irritating question of the holiday season: “So, how’s school? What are you majoring in again?”

These questions may not seem all that daunting, unless you are one of the many Oles majoring in the humanities. At this point in the conversation, humanities majors have two choices: gloss it over or tell the truth. If you are majoring in English, history, art or any of the other humanities disciplines, you have most likely contemplated this awkward encounter:

You can simply say, “It’s good; classes are good, my roommate is great and I love college,” regardless of your actual feelings on the matter. This response allows you to provide a polite response and appease the relatives while simultaneously shutting down the conversation. Unfortunately, this answer does not allow you to share anything about your passions or interests, the exploration of which dominates your life on the hill.

However, if you are feeling bold and courageous – as in, you would be up for bungee jumping or swimming in a tank of sharks – you can answer truthfully. This is a highly risky choice, because it gives you an opportunity to share your true passions with your family while simultaneously setting you up for a fleet of awkward and unanswerable questions.

Are you getting nervous already? Fear not! Here are three tips for humanities majors to survive Thanksgiving dinner conversation this year. This simple survival guide will provide you with all the tips necessary to enjoy an only slightly-awkward Thanksgiving meal.

1) Your major does not define your intellect or self-worth. The first thing you need to remind yourself is that everyone at this school is “smart.” We all went through the same admissions process and took the same standardized tests, and therefore, for the most part, when we enter this school as  first-years, Oles have similar academic qualifications. Just because students don’t decide to major in math or science doesn’t mean that they couldn’t major in these disciplines. It simply means that their interests lie elsewhere. You may even feel pressured to add a caveat, such as “I’m a history major, but I am pre-law” or “I am an English major, but I am pre-med.”  If you really are one of these unique vocational combinations, then that is excellent. If you aren’t, that is also excellent. Be proud of the major that you have selected and use Thanksgiving dinner as an opportunity to affirm your passion for your area of study.

2) It is okay if you don’t know what you want to do with your life right now. After you explain your academic situation, most relatives are likely to ask the dreaded follow-up question: “So, what are you going to do with that?” This can be a heart-stopping, blush-inducing quandary. While it might be a good idea for your own vocational discernment to frequently consider this question during your time on the Hill, you do not need to commit to any single career path this Thanksgiving. It is okay to provide a broad answer, explaining the types of careers you are interested in. It is even okay to admit that you aren’t sure yet. Under no circumstances should you feel like you need to make an excuse for your major. This is your education, and these are your choices.

3) Use this as an opportunity to find common ground. The people you are dining with this Thanksgiving are often people you only get to see a few times a year.  Take advantage of this conversation as an opportunity to strengthen your relationships with family members.  Remember that your interests are not a coffee table book for your relatives to flip through absentmindedly. Actively engage in the conversation by highlighting some things you care about. Maybe talking about your academic interests will make your family members think about an artist, author or cause that they care about as well. Who knows? Maybe this Thanksgiving you will rekindle a new relationship with that slightly eccentric aunt or uncle.

Let’s face it. Even if you follow these tips, your conversation is still going to be a little awkward. Okay, it will probably still be really awkward. But your conversation will be a reflection of your true interests, rather than a superficial description of a falsely-constructed identity.  So this Thanksgiving, proclaim your passions unapologetically, and find affirmation in your own intellect rather than the approval of your relatives. Also, eat lots of pie.

 

mihelich@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

‘Love of Three Oranges’ keeps things fresh

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 1:16pm

Last weekend, the St. Olaf Theatre Department premiered its newest show, The Love of Three Oranges, written by Carlo Gozzi and directed by Assistant Professor of Theater Jeanne Willcoxon. The show was done in the style of Commedia dell’Arte, a classic form of comedic troupe acting that reached prominence in 16th-century Italy (think the street performers in movies such as Gladiator). In keeping with the Commedia dell’Arte traditions that inspired the production, Three Oranges is set up as a traveling show, each performance taking place at various St. Olaf locations and even a trip to the Carleton campus.

With auditions taking place at the beginning of the semester, the cast and crew had substantial time to build their show from the ground up.

“Early on in the rehearsal process we all read the script together as a group . . . and then we threw it away and never looked at it again,” cast member Matt Stai ’18 said.

The actors used the basic structure of Carlo Gozzi’s script more as a jumping off point to create an entirely unique show custom-fit to the specialties and talents of the cast.

These talents were on display even before performances began. For about 20 to 30 minutes before each show, a few members of the troupe would be out among the crowd to mingle with and entertain the waiting audience. These preshows included the acrobatics of Memo Rodriguez ’16, card-tricks performed by Francesco D’Aniello ’16 and the opportunity to take a selfie with actor Denzel Belin ’15. Also during this time, another cast member, Jenna McKellips ’16, offered every audience member a button that looks like an orange as a souvenir of the show.

“Come to three shows so you can get three orange buttons,” Belin said. “Then you can put on your own show called The Love of Three Buttons!

Once it was time for the show to begin, the rest of the cast – all in clown get-up – flooded the performance area, prancing around and howling with exaggerated laughter. The play was introduced with a prologue delivered in character by Christine Menge ’18. She outlined the story of a prince, played by Shannon Cron ’15, who falls in love with three pieces of fruit. Though a relatively short play, with a runtime of about one hour, Three Oranges was not at all short on laughs. The charming comedy won audiences over.

The show leaves absolutely no time for boredom with a constant stream of unrelenting jokes and gags to accompany the wonderfully hammy plot. But what really sells the comedy is the top-notch chemistry between the actors that makes all of the character interactions truly come to life. Whether it is the bickering of the king’s advisors (played by Nathan Aastuen ’17 and Stai), a magic battle between sorceress Fata Morgana (played by Joey LeBrun ’15) and the Great Wizard Celio (played by Noelle McCabe ’15) or a tap dancing competition between two country bumpkins (played by Shannon Brick ’16 and Amy Jeppesen ’15), seeing the actors have as much fun performing as the audience had watching was definitely a treat.

The comedy was very well played, with gags ranging from playing around with a mannequin arm, to throwing confetti as an ineffective magic spell, to an entire scene performed as a puppet show. A couple of the jokes fell a tad flat, mainly the references to modern day pop culture. One such reference was a rant about Kim Kardashian’s eyebrows. Another was the cringe-inducing line: “My anaconda knows you twerk.” These seemed very out of place in a show of primarily zany, timeless comedy.

However, whenever these lulls occurred they never lasted more than a couple of seconds as the actors pushed through with the show and kept the laughs coming. Through the use of clever puns, rib-tickling physical gags, wacky props and the occasional musical accompaniment, the cast of Three Oranges created one of the funniest works on the Hill this year.

The Love of Three Oranges performs in venues big and small through the course of its tour. The venues do indeed impact the performances. Bigger venues, such as the Caf, draw much more energy from the actors, as they are fueled by the booming thunder of laughter inevitably produced by a larger audience. Smaller venues, on the other hand, are not quite as zany, but find value in a stronger connection between the actors and audience, facilitating subtler gags, such as Prince Tartaglia drawing hearts on fogged-up windows upon seeing his loves. Audiences are encouraged to attend more than one performance to get the full experience.

The Love of Three Oranges continues this weekend with a 7:30 p.m. show on Friday, Nov. 21 in Tomson Hall Atrium, and two shows on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 2:00 p.m. in the Ytterboe lounge, and 7:30 p.m. in Stav Hall.

Pro tip: sit in the front row, it’s even more fun!

mayo1@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: ASHLEY BELISLE/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

Sexual assault gets needed attention: SGA Town Hall meeting raises community response

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:00pm

No e-mails carry as much weight as those from Fred C. Behr. So far in the 2014-2015 school year, students have seen an unnerving rise in messages tagged “Crime Alert.” As of Nov. 7, there have already been five reports of sexual assault – as many as there were in the entire 2013-2014 academic year.

This increase in assault reporting on our campus – as well as increased attention to the issue on a national scale – has understandably sparked concern and confusion. St. Olaf Student Government Association (SGA) responded with the launch of “It’s On Us,” a campaign to foster community accountability for sexual assault on campus. The sense of urgency spiked, though, after a student reported an assault that took place at this year’s SGA-sponsored Halloween Pause dance. To generate feedback on how to move forward, SGA hosted a “Town Hall” meeting and open forum on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

In the spirit of discussion, chairs were arranged in a circle, with a central ring consisting of administrative figures and representatives from SGA and the Sexual Assault Resource Network (SARN). Vice President for Student Life Greg Kneser, Dean of Students Rosalyn Eaton-Neeb ’87 and Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Pamela McDowell were present to field questions regarding the institutional end of assault procedures.

Students filled the available seating and flowed over into standing room. Though the event was Wellness swiped, less than half of attendees lined up to swipe their cards.

SGA President Rachel Palermo ’15 kicked off the conversation by addressing the student body’s concerns about increased assault reporting. She emphasized that although frequent reports are upsetting, they can be “a step in the right direction.” More reporting does not necessarily indicate a surge in actual rates of assault; it is more likely that more students feel empowered to speak up.

Maren McGill ’15, Co-Chair of SARN, took the floor next to establish a common understanding of the terms “rape” and “consent.” She clarified the need to refer to “survivors” and “perpetrators” rather than “women” and “men,” since sexual assault does not always adhere to the stereotypical man-attacks-woman model. McGill then explained the difference between confidential (Boe House, pastor’s office, SARN) and non-confidential (residence life, faculty, Public Safety, EMTs) resources, which is that non-confidential resources act as mandated reporters. Eaton-Neeb rounded off the introduction by breaking down St. Olaf’s sexual assault statistics from the past several years, and elucidating the action that the College takes when an assault is reported.

“When a complaint is received by the college, a no-contact order is issued and an investigator is assigned,” she said. If there are witnesses, they are called upon. Throughout the proceedings, the complainant and respondent never meet in the same room.

A disturbing trend in reported cases at St. Olaf is the near-universal presence of alcohol. Eaton-Neeb noted that of the cases brought to her attention over the past five years, all but one of them involved alcohol and/or other substances.

The discussion was then opened up to questions from the group as a whole. SGA members passed around microphones to participants who raised their hands. The first question – posed by Olivia Slack ’15 – asked why college and police discipline are separate, with the latter often completely absent from the proceedings. Kneser explained that the decision to report assault to the police is at the discretion of the survivor.

“We encourage people to make the report to the Northfield police, but ultimately, it is [the survivor’s] choice,” he said. Jo Treat ’15, Co-Chair of SARN, reiterated that survivors often make the decision not to involve the police.

“For a survivor, it’s whatever they choose… we never push them to a certain option,” Treat said. She acknowledged that going to college authorities rather than the police tends to be “a lot less traumatic.”

Further questions focused on the degrees of punishment available to perpetrators. A general sense of dissatisfaction with disciplinary measures pervaded the conversation. In an emotional moment, a survivor rose and spoke about her dismay that her assailant still attends St. Olaf, and stated that he was in the room. Josiah Mosqueda ’15 also questioned the apparently limited range of discipline.

“Why is expulsion not on the table?” Mosqueda said. Though the Deans were eager to engage in the dialogue, it was difficult to do so while respecting the confidentiality of individual cases.

“We can’t release the outcome of cases. We can’t say exactly what happened,” Kneser said. “Expulsion is on the table… ‘suspension’ often means four years.”

“Suspension does not mean automatic return,” Eaton-Neeb said.

Two other survivors shared their experiences near the end of the conversation, receiving thunderous applause for their courage. One of them suggested having a SARN advocate present at Pause dances, rather than flat-out canceling them. The other – a survivor of male-on-male sexual assault – also suggested taking another path.

“If you cancel Pause dances, it won’t eradicate the problem,” he said.

Some students were interested in the concrete steps that the campus community could take to prevent assault. The possibility of mandatory bystander training was discussed, though SARN’s first-year corridor training remains voluntary. McGill mentioned that SARN is seeking “increased support from Residence Life.”

The conversation was still heated as the SGA leadership drew the event to a close. Though it was emotionally-charged and wide-ranging in subject matter, SGA regarded it as a success.

“I think it was good that we got people together for a dialogue. These are the conversations we should be having,” said Nick Stumo-Langer ’15, SGA Vice President.

“Seeing 300 people show up to the event meant a lot to us. We were proud to see so many of our peers and friends thoughtfully share their questions, comments and ideas, especially when it was about difficult topics,” Palermo said.

Although many attendees were grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in an open forum, there is still a limit to the tangible change that can stem from such an event.

“There were many helpful questions asked and points made at the town hall meeting. Students are right to ask what the college is doing,” said Campus Pastor Matt Marohl. “But, a truly safe campus requires every individual student to be part of the solution.”

grosse@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: HAILEY SALAZAR/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

School suspension policy requires overhaul

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 11:01am

Recently, Minneapolis schools have been embroiled in a conflict surrounding school suspensions for students. The issue has ignited debate about race and suspensions.

Minneapolis Superintendent Bernadela Jones is changing the suspension policy in Minneapolis public schools to combat the unfair treatment of minority students. New data reveals that black students are 10 times more likely to be suspended from schools than white students, reflecting some problems that the superintendent and other school officials hope to address by approving all suspensions (excluding cases of violence) before the student is sent home. The superintendent’s hope is to eliminate the racial gap in suspensions by 2018, while closing the achievement gap by 2020.

The U.S. Department of Education’s graduation rates show that Minnesota – as of 2012 – has a high school graduation rate of 78 percent. The break down according to race is disproportionate. Racially black students have a graduation rate of 51 percent, and Hispanic students have a rate of 53 percent. The group that suffered the most were American Indians, who graduate at a rate of 45 percent.

There are many contributing factors that influence the graduation rate, such as district funding, access to a school, student-to-teacher ratio and family involvement. Minneapolis schools are now saying that suspension rates are also a factor.

According to statistics cited by Superintendent Jones, racially black students are also even more likely than their white peers to be sent home for the same offense. Jones is asking for future nonviolent suspensions cases of students of color to be reviewed by public school officials.

There has been pushback on this new policy by teachers who think they now have to accommodate students who are being disruptive to the learning environment. Many teachers are claiming that this disruptive behavior is a result of untreated mental illnesses or behavioral issues.

These responses to the new policy are cop-outs. There is strong evidence to support a disturbingly large graduation gap, but also that suspension rates may factor into that outcome. Also, by attributing the behavior to what they perceive as “mental illness” or “behavioral problems” is to ignore one thing: race.

By ignoring race and not reflecting upon internalized racism and prejudice, it is easy for teachers who are racially white to justify their suspensions by simply saying that “this is just how this group of students acts.” If this is “just how students act” then the suspension rates would not point to an inordinate gap between white students and students of color. Racial profiling is not a new thing, nor a thing that has gone out of style.

In other words, teachers have internalized negative stereotypes and generalizations about people of color and let these stereotypes infiltrate the classroom.

Many would say that this is discriminatory to the white students, but as stated in a recent Star Tribune article, they aren’t being suspended for the same behavior as their racially diverse peers. Certain privileges are being extended to racially white students by their teachers and school officials.

Suspension policy has two purposes: to stop students from disrupting the learning environment and to discourage poor behavior. Although removing a student may create a peaceful classroom environment, it does nothing to rehabilitate the student. Suspension removes the “problem” from the classroom without fixing or addressing that “problem.” There are even plans to reduce police forces, as many are saying these suspension rates are also a factor in the school-to-prison pipeline that has been created.

In reality, though many would like to think that making someone “pay time for their crime” changes behavior, it has shown time and time again to be ineffective. There are greater structural problems that need to be addressed.

Removing a student from the classroom for any amount of time means that the student is accumulating large quantities of homework without the instruction to understand the material. This student now not only has a record with the school but also poor grades. If the student is not receiving passing grades they will be failed and held back. By missing out on the credits, they either do not graduate on time or at all. Because these students tend to be students of color, it perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

There are other ways of addressing the suspension gap and graduation gap at the same time. For instance, implementing adequate training for teachers to teach in a multiracial and cultural environment might foster a sense of interracial acceptance. Having teachers understand the environment that they come from contextualizes students’ experiences and leads to understanding. It also addresses internalized racism that could lead to racially-charged suspensions.

Another tactic that should go into effect is increasing the percentage of teachers of color relative to students of color. According to an article from Minnesota Public Radio, 30 percent of students attending public schools in Minnesota are students of color. Yet the percentage of teachers of color is around three and a half percent, hovering below the national average.

Suspensions are causing more harm than good for our students of color in Minnesota. This new policy and possible additional routes of implementing change will close gaps in suspension and graduation, and will help public schools become a place of equality for all children.

Cynthia J. Zapata ’16 (zapata@stolaf.edu) is from Rosemount, Minn. She majors in English and race and ethnic studies.

Graphic Credit: ERIN KNADLER/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

Movember: facial hair for a worthy cause

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 10:57am

Members of the St. Olaf community may have noticed an increase in the number of campus mustaches over the past few weeks. Movember is here once again, the time of year when the world rejoices in the growing of mustaches and other facial hair escapades.

Movember is not only an excuse to grow out that mustache, but it is also first and foremost an attempt to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and depression. The Movember Foundation charity, founded in 2004, sponsors events in order to raise funds for the cause, and many students have put the time and effort into growing that perfect mustache all for the sake of men’s health.

The hope is that this movement will increase the detection of many male health issues, and inspire men to take preventative measures against these conditions. The Movember Foundation has raised over $174 million thus far in November.

From the thin, refined English mustache, to the thick “Ron Swanson” version, there are many different styles to choose from. As usual, the hockey team has had no trouble growing an impressive array of facial hair and continues to impress mustache aficionados throughout the area with an assortment of Minnesota-inspired facial hair variations.

There are many different motivations for facial hair growth within the Movember movement. Ian Sutherland ’18, a potential mustache aficionado, said that in addiion to growing facial hair for the Movember cause,

“I want to see just how far my beard-slash-moustache can get. I am looking to perfect the mountain man beard-slash-moustache. When not unkempt, I’m looking for a neater ‘Iron and Wine’ kind of thing. I like the way full beards look, and I want to have it on my face.”

While raising money for the movement is certainly a motivation, many men see Movember as a challenge and as a point of personal pride. Zach Greimann ’15 has been an enthusiastic participant in Movember.

“I’m mostly growing out a mustache for Movember because I really like mustaches. Movember is a good chance to see where my own mustache-growing abilities are at, appreciate the progress I’ve made from last year, and have a mustache for a while,” he said.

Movember has evolved to become a competition among those who consider themselves capable of sporting a mustache. Although the growing is fun, the event has become similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge in that some participants ignore the movement’s true purpose. Greimann expressed some concern about Movember’s newfound popularity.

“Unfortunately, while I support the ideal behind Movember, I don’t think I can really talk about why it’s important for people to participate because for me it’s kind of like Christmas – it’s not really about the principle. I think that’s sad, but for me and for some other people that I know, Movember is the most socially acceptable opportunity to try our best and grow facial hair,” he said. No matter the motivation, the popularity of the Movember movement is undeniable.

The sheer number of mustaches seen on campus is outstanding, and would be enough to make the Movember Foundation proud. Facial hair is a constant in human society, and has brought men – and women intrigued by facial hair – together to celebrate the wonders and joys brought to the world by mustaches. Whether they are grown for the sake of the foundation or simply for the look, mustaches are clearly a blessing to this campus, and not only look good, but also makes the Hill that much more cozy and inviting.

hatzky@stolaf.edu

Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

New project highlights seldom-seen artworks in Flaten collection

St. Olaf College - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 2:41pm

Ola Faleti ’15 holds “Unidentified Girl (Blue Shirt with Teddy Bear)” by famed pop artist Andy Warhol. It’s one of several pieces from the Flaten Art Museum that she highlights as part of a video tour of the collection.

St. Olaf College’s Flaten Art Museum is home to more than 4,000 objects, ranging from a collection of Andy Warhol photos to Southwest Native American pottery.

Yet the bulk of these objects largely go unseen by the greater public.

Flaten Art Museum Director Jane Becker Nelson ’04 and students Ola Faleti ’15 and Liz Brindley ’15 are working to change that. Through a new “Collection Stories” initiative, they have created video tours of the college’s extensive art collection.

In one story, Faleti highlights a woodcut by famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

In another, Brindley relates a painting by Kurt Larisch to her personal experiences during her Manhattan Art Interim course.

“Instead of relying on art historical genres, or the linear ‘march’ of art history, we decided to pursue thematic stories that focus on how the objects in our collection speak to us today,” Nelson says.

The three recently shared their work at the Universities Art Association of Canada annual conference in Toronto.

Nelson co-presented a talk with Laurel Bradley, the director of the Perlman Teaching Museum at Carleton College, as part of a larger panel called “Art Collections for engagement, teaching, learning, and research in the 21st century.”

Liz Brindley ’15 records the audio for her Collection Stories segment. “The intention of this project is to start the conversation around artwork,” she says.

Faleti and Brindley jointly delivered a presentation about the student perspectives behind the Collection Stories.

Nelson created the Collection Stories project after seeing a similar initiative at neighboring Carleton College.

“I wanted to present the pieces in Flaten Art Museum in a way that focuses on how the objects relate to our community,” she says.

The project is part of the college’s Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry program. The team began the project by researching other existing models of digital collection engagement, including projects out of the Portland Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At an early field trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, they met with TDX (The Digital Experience), a cross-departmental team dedicated to enhancing visitors’ digital learning experiences in the museum.

Telling the stories
As curators and storytellers, Faleti and Brindley played integral roles with the Collection Stories. They developed virtual exhibitions, narrated video slideshows, and published them as part of Flaten Art Museum’s online collection. Using artworks as a springboard for interdisciplinary inquiry, their work highlights thematic relationships among works from disparate periods, cultures, and media.

Faleti and Brindley found inspiration in themes that seemed to emerge from the collection as they created ideas for the stories. With Nelson’s guidance, they each developed a core topic, researched related objects, and developed scripts. They recorded their stories, and, after editing videos, they created a website to house the videos and object descriptions.

“Der Kuss,” a woodcut by Edvard Munch, is one of the pieces featured in the Collection Stories.

“My favorite part of this project was getting the unique and rare opportunity to look through our collection and find pieces that I connected with,” Faleti says. “Art is multipurpose, of course, but it also exists to elicit emotions and express the human experience, which can be difficult to remember within a scholastic setting. I’m glad that I got to tap into those feelings through the Collection Stories.”

Only the beginning
Two Collection Stories have been published thus far, featuring roughly two dozen pieces of art.

Nelson says that the published stories are only the beginning of this project. She envisions that the Collection Stories model could be adopted in various fields across the liberal arts.

“As a course assignment, the project would require thoughtful ‘curating’ of visual and interpretive material to create a cohesive whole. This is an important skill for the 21st century,” she says.

The Collection Stories are being screened continuously during the current Flaten Art Museum exhibition, Art Works: Gifts from Dan ’69 and Nancy Schneider, which runs through December 14.

“The intention of this project is to start the conversation around artwork, to begin telling our stories as an invitation for others to do the same,” Brindley says.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Pull Away from Vikings to Win Season Opener

Carleton Sports - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:55pm

Buoyed by a raucous crowd that got into the Hawaiian Night theme, sophomore Tianen Chen scored a game-high 14 points and senior Shane McSparron added 13 as the Carleton College men’s basketball team kicked off the 2014-15 campaign with a 69-53 triumph over visiting Bethany Lutheran College.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Clipped by Falcons in Home Opener

Carleton Sports - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:14pm

Michele Arima scored a team-high 15 points and Skylar Tsutsui chipped in 14 points, but the Carleton College women’s basketball team dropped its home opener, 58-51, to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Categories: Colleges

Panel discusses global epidemic of environmental racism

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:00pm

Although the topic of environmental racism may be unfamiliar to most St. Olaf students, it is an important topic that warrants discussion. On Nov. 6, a panel was held in the Gold Ballroom to inform students on the topic. The panel was composed of Professor of Political Science Anthony Pahnke, Professor of Philosophy Michael Fuerstein, Professor of Sociology Bruce Nordstrom-Loeb and a local Northfield activist, Cliff Martin.

The presentation began with a simple definition of environmental racism:

“Environmental racism is when environmental degradation adversely affects minorities of color.”

The audience was then provided with several examples of environmental racism. These included the slow response to Hurricane Katrina that disproportionately affected poor African Americans, as well as pollution in Hyde Park, a predominately African American neighborhood of Augusta, Ga. where inhabitants have suffered from pollution.

The first speaker from the panel was Professor Nordstrom-Loeb. He discussed the politcal causes of environmental racism.

“Minority communities with less political clout are more likely to be downstream to pollution,” Nordstrom-Loeb said.

He also stated that this problem is not just confined to the United States but in fact is a global problem.

“The effect of world climate change disproportionately affects countries with people of color,” he said. These countries are succeptable to exploitation by governments and private companies.

Next, Professor Pahnke took the podium. He had personal experience combatting environmental racism and spoke of the challenges involved. He addressed the situation in southern Brazil, where local farmers battle European companies for land rights. It is often hard for activists to help because the locals view them with suspicion.

“CIA, privileged, white … that’s what they saw me as,” Pahnke said. Another concern expressed by Pahnke was that too much white leadership for causes affecting minorities could have a negative effect. A main focus of the panel was how best to address this issue considering St. Olaf’s position as a largely white campus.

Professor Fuerstein addressed some of the moral assumptions that perpetuate environmental racism, stating that people should “not suffer conditions for which they are not responsible.”

He also argued that environmental racism is part of a larger pattern of prejudice toward minorities. These include social segregation, lack of access to education and poverty.

“Society shares benefits pretty equally; however, the burden of environmental degradation is not shared equally,” Fuerstein said. Wealthier – generally white – people often move away from areas with pollution, thus leaving polluted areas exclusively to the poor whom are often economically disadvantaged minorities.

The final speaker, Cliff Martin, is an environmental racism activist from Northfield. He linked environmental racism to American economic and political systems.

“[In the United States], communities and families are systematically killed by capitalists,” he said. He urged students to become involved in peaceful organizations to reform political practices and change mindsets that lead to environmental degradation.

“If all humans have worth,” he said, “we’re obligated to fight back.”

johnso16@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: MATT TYLUTK/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

Poet sheds light on nature, winter, darkness

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:13am

St. Olaf’s environmental studies program is renowned for its interdisciplinary approach, and on Thursday, Nov. 6., the Department of Environmental Studies hosted an event to highlight its dedication to the humanities. Students, faculty and fans from the community gathered in RML 525 to sip hot apple cider, eat cookies and listen to Tom Hennen share a combination of some of his oldest and most recent poetry.

Over the past several years, Hennen has earned a respected place for himself in the cannon of Minnesota poets. In 1972, Hennen began The Minnesota Writer’s Publishing House out of his garage. In 1974 he published his first book, The Heron With No Business Sense, and he has been writing and publishing ever since.

Rebecca Judge, Chair of the St. Olaf Department of Environmental Studies and Associate Professor of Economics, introduced Hennen, explaining that he worked nine months out of the year on environmental conservation. He used the other three months in snowy Minnesota to focus on his writing.

“Tom is the only poet I have met who can tell you the nine species of trees that can survive negative-40-degree weather, and tell you the mechanisms that keep the trees going during the cold,” Judge said.

Embodying the ideal of “Minnesota nice,” Hennen smiled at the audience and adjusted his glasses. The full house applauded his credentials as he prepared to read a few selections from his 2013 anthology of poetry, Darkness Sticks to Everything.

“I’ll just read, and if anyone wants to interrupt me, or ask a question or whatever you feel like doing, go ahead,” Hennen said.

It only took a few poems for the audience to grasp Hennen’s deep appreciation and awe for the outdoors. Though his works of prose-poetry were often relatively short, Hennen depicted the vastness of nature through his subtle word play and sensory imagery. Often, the beginning of the poem explored a seemingly obvious aspect of nature and ended with an idea of such profound significance that it seemed to echo through the space of the room long after the poem had concluded.

“Winter Twilight” was no exception to this pattern. The poem began by explaining that winter is a time of cold, darkness and dead grass, but ended with the lines “And the last of sunlight is being hunted down / By something frozen.” Hennen immediately looked up at the audience with an amused grin.

“It’s more cheerful than it sounds,” Hennen said.

At this time, a student raised her hand and asked Hennen if he thought there could ever be a time when the darkness didn’t stick. He took a moment to explain the overarching themes of darkness and cold in his work. Hennen acknowledged that people often ask him why his poetry is so dark.

“There is a bit of darkness sticking to everything in the world – that isn’t a bad thing. It is used as a negative image a lot, but darkness can be a comfort to a point,” Hennen said. “When we sleep we close our eyes, and that is dark.”

Symbols of cold, wind and rain saturate Hennen’s poetry. When asked about why he focuses so much on the more dreary elements of the outdoors, he explained that they are a present part of nature.

“I try to be realistic, and I still want to have some hope, but I want to point out the stuff that is tough too,” said Hennen. “I feel good about my poems. In the course of life it does get to be winter; things get cold and freeze up, but that is how it is.”

Hennen pushed the limits of his audience’s attention as he shared his works for over an hour. After he finished reading his final poem, the audience enthusiastically applauded the poet and lined up to have him sign their newly-purchased copies of Darkness Sticks to Everything. The audience left with a greater appreciation for space, darkness, nature and the increasingly present reality of Minnesota winter.

mihelich@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Public outrage at pregnant employee fired for inability to work overtime

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:00am

When the New York City Council passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in January, it seemed like a win for feminists. The law mandates that working women who become pregnant must be given the necessary accommodations that will allow them to keep their jobs, such as allotted times for rest and a lightened workload. For women who are living on a minimum wage salary, the ability to keep working is absolutely essential because it allows them to get by without making further sacrifices.

Apart from its obvious benefits, this law also seems to at least partially make up for the widespread workplace discrimination against pregnant women, which has included firing them when they become pregnant, discounting women entirely if there’s a chance they could become pregnant or paying women less under the assumption that if they have a family, they are not the sole breadwinner and can rely on their husband’s income. With all of this in mind, the Pregnant Workers Fairness act is the kind of law that signals a huge step forward in a historically male-oriented arena of American society.

Angelica Valencia, a pregnant woman from Queens, felt none of these benefits. After she became pregnant, Valencia’s doctor told her that because there was a high risk of her miscarrying, she should not work overtime at her labor-intensive job in a potato-packing plant. When she was forced by her supervisor to work overtime and fell ill, a note from her doctor prompted her supervisor to fire her rather than give her the accommodations she needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy. What’s more, Valencia was never informed of her rights under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and did not even know that the law existed at all.

This kind of neglect is absolutely inexcusable. First of all, the law requires that pregnant women be informed of their rights, so Valencia’s ignorance is completely unjustified and unfair. Secondly, her doctor’s note should have been sufficient evidence to prove that her working overtime was for the moment impossible, but her regular work hours could have been maintained. While it is reasonable to assume that any work at her laborious job would have been risky, Valencia was presumably unqualified to work anywhere else. Especially with the law in place, it was her supervisor’s duty to keep her employed in some capacity.

Women like Valencia, whose survival is completely dependent on access to a regular, steady paycheck have so few vocational options that this law should have (and in other cases has) acted as a sort of lifeline, giving them financial security at a time when they need it the most – when they’re preparing to expand their family and need a way to cover all of the expenses that come with doing so. Valencia’s medical condition should have given her employer incentive to adjust to her needs rather than turn her away because of it.

Valencia has since filed suit against her former employer, saying that she was wrongfully terminated because the company failed to adhere to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. While she has been offered her job back with the company, which cites a mere “misunderstanding” as the cause of her firing, there is more at work here than miscommunication between employer and employee. The actions of Valencia’s supervisors clearly constitute discrimination. She was fired because of a natural health condition – one that, it should be noted, most readily affects women – and one that under the circumstances should have been accounted for and worked around, rather than denigrated.

I hope that Valencia’s story will act as a message for other employers to refrain from making similar discriminatory choices and instead choose to honor and accommodate all of their employees’ individual needs in the workplace. This law should represent a major step forward, and let’s make sure it accomplishes for all women what it was created to do.

Opinions Editor Nina Hagen ’15 (hagen@stolaf.edu) is from St. Paul, Minn. She majors in English with a concentration in women’s and gender studies.

Categories: Colleges

Winter Closes In

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 9:30am

On a cool fall night, Jenny Dao ’17 captured the sun setting behind Hoyme with her iPhone camera

Categories: Colleges

This Week in History: 11/9 – 11/22

Manitou Messenger - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:01pm

Sunday, November 16: The Sound of Music opens on Broadway

On Nov. 16, 1959, the original production of “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway in the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The musical is based on the memoir of Maria Von Trapp, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.” The musical was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein; sadly, however, Hammerstein died of cancer only nine months after the premier. The production tied for the Tony Award for Best Musical with Fiorello! It also won Best Scenic Design and Best Musical Direction, along with Mary Martin (Maria) winning Best Actress in a Musical, and Patricia Neway (Mother Abbess) winning Best Featured Actress. The original production closed on June 15, 1963 after 1,443 performances.

 

Monday, November 17: The Act of Supremacy is passed

The Parliament of England passed the Act of Supremacy on November 17, 1534, declaring King Henry VIII as the supreme leader of the Church of England. The act came out of Pope Clement VII’s refusal to grant Henry an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon (who could not bear a son for Henry). In response, Henry broke England entirely away from Rome, establishing the Ecclesia Anglicana (the Anglican Church of England), placing himself as the head. The Treasons Act, which stated that to disavow the Act of Supremacy was an act of treason, punishable by death, came soon after. Henry’s Catholic daughter, Queen Mary I, later repealed these acts in an attempt to realign England with Rome. But, yet again, the acts were reinstated by Mary’s half-sister, Elizabeth I, when she took the throne. Elizabeth reinstated the monarchy—herself—as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, instituting the Oath of Supremacy, requiring all members of public office to declare allegiance to her as the head of the church. This Second Act of Supremacy permanently and officially established the Anglican Church of England. The legal position of the monarch as the head of the church is still stands in the modern day United Kingdom.

 

Tuesday, November 18: Calvin and Hobbes is launched

On Nov. 18, 1985, Bill Watterson and Andrews McMeel Publishing first distributed possibly one of the greatest pieces of literature ever produced: the comic series, “Calvin and Hobbes.” The comic tells the humorous tale of Calvin, the ultimate adventurer, troublemaker, questioner and mischievous six-year-old, alongside his stuffed Tiger, Hobbes. The two are named after John Calvin, the French Reformation theologian, and Thomas Hobbes, the 17th century English political philosopher. One of the defining characteristics of the comic is that, to Calvin, Hobbes is a living, anthropomorphic tiger, whereas all the other characters see him as a stuffed toy. The comic was revolutionary in that it not only provided humor, but also called into question serious political, social, environmental, educational and philosophical issues. Since the beginning, people have loved “Calvin and Hobbes”; within a year of syndication, it was already being published in over 250 newspapers. The comic ended on Dec. 31, 1995 after 3,150 strips were published.

 

Wednesday, November 19: Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address

On Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches in history: The Gettysburg Address. Delivered about four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, where the Union soldiers had trounced the Confederate soldiers, the speech was given at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Before Lincoln spoke, Edward Everett delivered what was supposed to be the Gettysburg Address. Known as the Gettysburg Oration, the two-hour, 13,607-word oration is rarely ever read. Lincoln then got up and delivered his speech in just over two minutes during which he stated the principles of human equality, the struggle for preservation of the Union and the birth of freedom in America. Although more than 150 years have passed since President Lincoln delivered the address, the words are still well known throughout American culture: “Four score and seven years ago…”

 

Thursday, November 20: Nuremburg Trials begin

The Nuremburg Trials were a set of military tribunals held to prosecute the leaders of Nazi Germany after World War II. They began on November 20, 1945, in the city of Nuremburg, Germany. Several of Germany’s leaders, including Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels, were not tried as they had all committed suicide several months before the trials began. The judges consisted of two Soviets, two Brits, two Americans and two Frenchmen. The first set of trials entered indictments against 24 major war criminals and seven organizations. Only three men were acquitted. The trials have been criticized since the “crimes” these men had committed were not defined until after they were committed, and were invalid as a form of “victors’ justice,” where the victors write the rules, as they want them.

 

Friday, November 21: Mayflower Compact is signed

The Mayflower Compact was the very first governing document of the Plymouth Colony in the New World. The dissidents who had fled to the New World after facing religious prosecution by King James of England wrote it while aboard their ship, Mayflower. They travelled aboard the Mayflower, and signed the Compact aboard the ship on Nov. 21, 1620. (The date was Nov. 11 in the Julian Calendar, used by the men at that time; the Gregorian Calendar would place the date on Nov. 21.) The ship was set to sail for the Colony of Virginia, but strong storms forced them to anchor near what is now Massachusetts, and this is where they chose to establish their new lives. The Compact was based on a majoritarian democratic rule (excluding women, who were not allowed to vote), which stated that whatever the majority ruled, went. The settlers named their new colony “New Plimoth” (using the early English spelling), based on the port in England from which they had sailed.

 

Saturday, November 22: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated

At 12:30pm, Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while travelling in a presidential motorcade through Dallas, Texas. The sniper was identified as Lee Harvey Oswald, who was caught by police but never stood trial because, while being escorted to a car for transfer to the Dallas Police Headquarters, Oswald was fatally shot by a Dallas nightclub owner, Jack Ruby. Ruby was immediately arrested, but maintained that he had killed Oswald out of distress over the death of the President. Many have not bought into this story over the years, and consider the President’s assassination as a possible conspiracy, a belief shared by the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations, which concluded in 1978 that the FBI’s investigation was seriously flawed. Right before the assassination, the First Lady of Texas, sitting next to Kennedy in the uncovered limousine, turned to him and said: “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.” The President replied, “No, you certainly can’t.” Those were his final words.

 

fulco1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Wagenbach Receives Grant from the Mary Alphonse Bradley Fund

Carleton College News - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 7:15pm
Gary Wagenbach, Winifred and Atherton Bean Professor of Biology, Science, Technology, and Society, Emeritus, has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Mary Alphonse Bradley Fund. The support will be used to transport six teachers from the Lumbini Academy in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) to the US to receive content training and tutoring in best practices and pedagogy for K-12 science teaching.
Categories: Colleges

Keïta's Documentary Featured as Keynote Event at the Annual African and African Diaspora Studies Program Meeting

Carleton College News - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 6:59pm
Chérif Keïta, Professor of French, had his film, uKukhumbula uNokutela/Remembering Nokutela, as one of two keynote events (along with African-American poet Haki Madhubuti) of "Legacies: Black Cultural Transnationalisms, Remembering Nelson Mandela and Amiri Baraka," a meeting organized for the 20th Anniversary of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program at Florida International University in Miami, on November 6.
Categories: Colleges

McKinstry Presents at the North American Conference on British Studies

Carleton College News - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 6:41pm
Susan Jaret McKinstry, Helen F. Lewis Professor of English, gave a talk entitled "Digital Victorians" at the North American Conference on British Studies, November 7 through 9 in Minneapolis. The presentation was a part of a roundtable discussion titled "Digital British Studies for the Long Nineteenth Century."
Categories: Colleges

Hager Awarded Established Artist Grant by the Southwestern Minnesota Arts Council

Carleton College News - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 5:26pm
Paul Hager, Instructor in Cinema and Media Studies, has been awarded an Established Artist grant from the Southwestern Minnesota Arts Council. The $4,865 fund will be used to write Cannon Shoals: A Ten-Episode Screenplay. The capstone of the project will be a staged reading of the screenplay at the Northfield Arts Guild in October 2015.  Hager's ultimate goal is to produce the screenplay as a cycle of videos for showing on cable and the web.
Categories: Colleges

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