Sperm bank mix-up illustrates lingering institutional racism

Manitou Messenger - 2 hours 30 min ago

Three years ago in Uniontown, Ohio, same-sex partners Jennifer Cramblett and Amanda Zinkon were informed five months into Cramblett’s pregnancy that sperm from an unintended donor of African heritage was mistakenly provided for the artificial insemination. As a result, Cramblett and Zinkon’s daughter Payton is mixed-race rather than Caucasian, like her parents. Cramblett is in the process of suing the Midwest Sperm Bank with the intention to force a change in company policy, as well as for financial reparations for the family to pay for therapy and to relocate to a city more tolerant of racial diversity.

Among the new parents’ greatest fears is that they will be incapable of dealing with problems their daughter may face, as trivial as how to style her hair to more substantial issues of possible discrimination in their small, purportedly conservative hometown. Cramblett’s attorney reflected this idea in an interview with CNN earlier this month.

“Uniontown is a wonderful town, wonderful people, but there are no biracial children and no mixed marriages,” he said. “We need to relocate Jennifer and her family to a town that offers that type of diverse culture.” It is sensible that the pair intends to help their daughter avoid scorn, but the dubious fear of being unable to relate to their daughter also seems to be central to their decision.

This is a fairly open-and-shut court case, in the sense that the sperm bank is clearly guilty in misrepresenting the product provided. By sharing the wrong sperm, even unintentionally, the company undoubtedly violated a standard trade agreement with consumers. From a sociological standpoint, however, it is nuanced and complicated. Taking out of the equation the social status or ideals of the parents, the fact is that they were provided with an outcome contrary to what they expected and one that potentially changes their place in the social structure in the community. Cramblett’s attorney referenced the couple’s struggle.

“At times [Cramblett] feels that she is underwater,” he said. “She loves her child to death. But what she needs is assistance in handling it properly.” This case is indicative of a larger issue, and it is important to remember that these parents were thrust into it through no fault of their own.

Overall, the societal issues here are deeply-rooted, nuanced and difficult to evaluate. The fact that parents would feel the need to vacate their current residence and undergo therapy to deal with the issues of having a mixed-race child demonstrates that institutionalized racism clearly still exists. In this case, racial differentiation is clear from almost all parties: the parents fear that their child will have innate differences – like her hair – that they can’t effectively deal with and that the Uniontown community may be incapable of including and accepting a mixed-race child. All these differences are assumed be to intrinsic, and forecast that the child will be ostracized because of her genetics and regardless of her upbringing.

Underlying this conception of race is the fact that even implicitly, racism has a perverse way of forcing itself to the forefront. As people assume that there are irreconcilable differences between races, children like Payton will internalize those beliefs as the norm and continue to propagate them. That is not to say that Payton will take on the traits people assume her to have, but she may realize that she is treated differently for reasons that are likely not clear to her. Ultimately, her life will undoubtedly be different than that of the hypothetical white child the couple intended to have. Race is ever-present in public consciousness and there is no clear way to remove it.

The most impactful change that an individual can make is in her or his own approach, and in turn, allowing those ideas to effect greater change. It is a divisive culture that stigmatizes individuals instead of trying to broaden limited worldviews.

Conlan Campbell ( ’18 is from Burnsville, Minn. His major is undeclared.


Categories: Colleges

Task force aims to improve sustainability

Manitou Messenger - 2 hours 32 min ago

On Oct. 16, Dave Van Wylen, professor of biology and faculty coordinator of the St. Olaf Sustainability Task Force, met with students and faculty members in Regents Hall. The meeting’s purpose was to discuss the direction and strategies of the task force. 

“We want to be more intentional about our sustainability efforts,” Van Wylen said.

In May 2014, President David R. Anderson ’74 implemented a task force aimed at focusing on sustainability in the St. Olaf community. Its stated goals were:

“To document current policies and practices in the College’s operations regarding sustainability, to recommend strategies appropriate to the College’s sustainability efforts and to propose metrics to enable the College to measure the success of its efforts.”

The beginning of the current academic year saw the full implementation of the charge, and Van Wylen and his team have started working directly on the goals outlined for President Anderson’s task force. According to Van Wylen, the goals are:

“To enable an informed, fact-based consideration of how we are doing in this area, to consider what else we might do that is appropriate for the College and to measure the results.”

“We are really early in our work,” Van Wylen said. He was quick to point out that while the task force is young, it is quickly learning its role.

“We met with the Facilities Department and learned what’s happening on campus with building and grounds,” said Van Wylen. “We have people who think about their roles and responsibility with sustainability.

Assistant Directors of Facilities Kevin Larson and Gregg Menning were also present at the meeting. They provided information for the College’s sustainability efforts.

“Next summer there will be two insertions of insulation in the walls of Kildahl to monitor heat and cold,” said Manning. “Many of the buildings had single pane glasses, but now we are going to, at the very least, double pane glasses.

Manning also spoke briefly about the College’s high electricity use and emphasized the need for a change.

“We are looking at LED lighting as we are trying to move away from incandescent lights, which is probably the most inefficient form of lighting,” Manning said.

Larson took a different approach. He addressed the student responsibility to increase campus sustainability.

“Students who reside here have a huge part to play,” said Larson. “You, our users, have a huge input in what our facilities cost us.”

Larson urged students to turn off unused lights in their dorm rooms. He also encouraged students to look at an outline of the college’s sustainability spending efforts, which is due out soon. The report will be on the Facilities Web site.

Students asked questions about the college’s carbon usage and composting efforts. St. Olaf implemented a composting program at the beginning of the 2012 – 2013 academic year, but realized it did not have the resources to execute the program’s goals efficiently. There were too many students composting with too little natural space outside dorms. Moreover, students would throw away their compost waste in bulk, prolonging the decomposing process. Consequently, the composting program in residence halls is currently on hold.

The efforts to make St. Olaf more sustainable will continue.

“We want to leave college with an established metric that demonstrates how we measure sustainability of St. Olaf’s campus,” Van Wylen said.

The task force team meets one a week. For more information, contact Dave Van Wylen at

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf football defeats Carleton

Manitou Messenger - 4 hours 32 min ago

The St. Olaf football team broke a 15–game losing streak in a thrilling manner, defeating Carleton College at Laird Field on Oct. 17. J.J. Strnad ’16 stole the victory for the Oles, when he caught a game-winning touchdown pass on a nine yard reception with just over a minute remaining.

Following a scoreless first quarter, the Knights finally broke the deadlock with a three–point field goal to take the lead. The score stayed at 3-0 in Carleton’s favor, until four minutes before half-time, when Ezra Coughlin ’15 made a 30–yard field goal attempt to level the scoreline.

The game came to life in the fourth quarter, when Zach Creighton ’17 made a 44–yard run to score a touchdown for the Knights, giving the hosts a 10-3 lead.     However, the Oles immediately responded with a 15–yard touchdown reception by receiver Troy Peterson ’18. Coughlin added the extra–point, tieing the game at 10-10.

With just over five minutes left in the contest, Carleton’s Brandt Davis ’17 kicked a field goal to give the Knights a 13-10 lead.

The Oles, however, responded emphatically when Strnad caught a pass from Nate Penz ’16 with 1:08 remaining in the game, lifting the Oles to a 17-13 lead. It proved to be enough, as St. Olaf reclaimed the goat trophy and lifted itself from the bottom of the MIAC ladder.

The St. Olaf defense sacked the Knights quarterback five times, led by John Bennett ’16, who had 1.5.

Coleman Foley ’17 had a team-best 15 tackles while Bennett had seven, including 2.5 for a loss.

St. Olaf held advantages in first downs (22-16), total offense (400-299) and converted on 6-of-15 third down tries. Carleton was 4-for-14 and 1-for-3 on fourth down.

St. Olaf will return to action on Oct. 25 in a home clash against Augsburg College.


Categories: Colleges

“The Glass Menagerie”: Small cast delivers grand performance

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 7:00pm

In a world of broken dreams, steep falls and wanderlust, what does it mean to be fragile glass that can be shattered by any of these? According to Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, these broken dreams can be our great equalizer. This journey of melancholy and hope played in Kelsey Theatre, Oct. 15 through 18, and was co-directed by St. Olaf College alumna Lauren Bartelt ’12 and Artist in Residence Dona Freeman.

Set as a memory, the show follows the unsatisfying stagnation of everyday life as a result of the rising and inescapable tensions at home that finally inspire Tom, a young man played by Dylan Stratton ’16, into leaving, even if it means abandoning his intensely shy and physically disabled sister, Laura. In this flashback, Laura, played by Tara Schaefle ’16, battles her constant anxiety through escaping into the reverie of her glass menagerie as she struggles to find her own way in the world. Despite embarrassing past failures, she remains hopeful even as her first brush with love, Jim (played by Jordan Solei ’15), is not the happy ending she and her mother, Amanda (played by Freeman), expected.

The acting felt so natural that the audience was confused over what was imaginary and what was real. For instance, when Freeman spilled lemonade on herself and shrieked that she was “re-baptizing” herself, the audience fell into titters and many gazed at Freeman with disbelief and deep respect. Many students believed that Freeman had improvised the line as a result of the glass shaking, commenting on it as they left the theatre. The action and line are both in the play, but Freeman’s organic acting convinced the audience that it was all an accident.

Stratton’s reactive imitations of Freeman when she recited the story of her 17 suitors was relatable for any annoyed teen. Likewise, his monologue about the “horrors” had everyone wrapped up with the mounted frustration felt within the mother and son relationship that was reaching a breaking point.

Solei’s character is a good ol’ boy who seems so interested in the fate of Laura’s glass unicorn that you’d swear it was his to begin with. It’s hard to be mad at him for kissing Laura when he’s already engaged – his apologies are real.

Schaefle plays a delicate Laura who somehow seems incredibly strong in the depths of her mind with a cheerfulness that saves her from despair or slipping into meekness. While the stage light actually covered all actors equally, Schaefle sparkled and drew the focus of the audience to her quiet voice and broken sobs.

The entire play was encased within an off-kilter frame that changed tone by the images projected upon it. The program stated that it is Tom’s imagination, yet at times it seemed like Laura’s. There were moments, such as when Freeman ripped apart the typewriter guide, that the images became traumatizingly splattered in exaggeration, like the images of the keys raining from the ruins of typewriters and shattered inkwells exploding ink across the smears of her mind. These images were not logical or inspirational like those representing Tom’s point of view. Instead, they provided insight into why Laura often screamed and hid from what seemed to the audience to be normal situations, by making them grotesque or more beautiful – such as the progressively accumulating mountain of blue roses that blush to pink and become more than an idea.

For a play often remembered for its focus on glass, this production instead chose to concentrate on images of fire, smoke and matches, including that the house technically was encased in a matchbox. Beyond being another reference to smoke and mirrors, and therefore illusions, it could show how once the match is lit, the dreams are like smoke – the characters can grab for them all they want, but they will never be able to hold them in their hands. The match itself has potential that is forever untapped until it is lit, but even then it burns out and the dream is over. This could be seen when the projection of the matchboxes turned to black and white when Jim left and when Tom and Amanda fought. Finally, Jim is seen as the only one who actually lights a match, which fits his line, “I’m superman.” It complements the idea that only their source of hope, “long delayed but expected but that which we live for,” can bring them their adventure and goals, which ultimately end when the match does.

Another notable scenery choice was a clear absence of green. In heavily draping everything with its converse, red, the sense of illusion is strengthened. It does make things dreamier.

And yet, the reality of Tom’s disappearance comes careening to the forefront through the heart-wrenching last scene. As Tom narrated his attempts to block out Laura, she gazed gently into the candles, as if fondly watching him. As he begged her to blow out the candles and let him go, she deliberately blew them out one by one, matching the tempo of her lullaby-like theme, leaving the audience wanting to scream for her not to blow out the last candle, not to let this happen, and yet feeling strangely caught up in her belief that he will be all right, assured by her unconditional love for him. So when the last candle, lit by Jim, is blown out, all the dreams are over and there is only the end.

Categories: Colleges

Arb Notes

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 4:11pm

The Carleton College Arboretum, located on the border of two distinct prairie and forest habitats, works to accomplish many conservation efforts, such as ecological restoration.

Categories: Colleges

Someone's Gotta Do It: Unusual Student Jobs - Some campus jobs you’ve never heard about

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 4:08pm

Have you ever wondered who answers Carleton’s telephone line, who manages Carleton’s student records, or who that elusive stud in the sculpture studio is?

Categories: Colleges

Ask Aphrodite

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 4:05pm

Dear Aphro,

I think I’m madly in love with my roommate’s amour. We’re a pretty close trio. Ah!! What do I do?

Please help, Lusting Lucy

Categories: Colleges

Big Questions and the Big Bang

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 4:02pm

If you have never philosophized about what came “before” the Big Bang, it may be a fun little enterprise for you to ponder in passing time, or perhaps a larger existential question from which you derive some sort of meaning.

Categories: Colleges

Horoscopes: October 24, 2014

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 4:00pm

I, Loki the Great, the ultimate authority on all things clairvoyant, do hereby declare this week to be Party Week. Midterms are over. Let the faculty and righteous scholars of the campus despair!

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21)

In order to reinvigorate your sex life, you will role-play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. First, you have to find a few radiated turtles and an old rat. Good luck!

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)

Erik Gartland ’15 is swagadocious. If you see him, ask him to “Cat Daddy” for you. Loki deems it to be lucky.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19)

President David R. Anderson ’74 loves colorful fall leaves. Find a beautiful leaf and give it to him! Don’t forget to take a picture and send it to

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)

You have eaten the eye of Odin and been bestowed his endless wisdom. Now use it and stop going to Triplex.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20)

You will see your ex while walking through the quad. It will be beautiful and sunny and you will walk right past her/him. You will attempt to greet your ex, only to have your throat close up at the last possible second. He/she will then avert his/her eyes to the ground. It will be awkward.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

After mistaking your sister’s Zoloft for your vitamins, you will come to the conclusion that life is fantastic and that we’re all part of the same cosmic ball of energy.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Pizza bagels are the way forward!

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

After shadowing the Norwegian mafia on-campus, you will finally meet the illustrious Cod-father. Be sure to pay your respects and don’t get too cheeky, lest he have you turned into Christmasfest lutefisk.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

If you put on a blazer, you better be ready to wear a tie. Who do you think you are, Robert Downey Jr.?

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22)

Yeah, those textbooks have been heavy, but it’ll pay off when you are ceremoniously offered the position of first-string quarterback for the St. Olaf football team.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22)

Who let the dogs out? You did. That’s not good. There are literally hundreds of rabid hounds swarming around Dundas. See you in court, Virgo.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22)

October is the month of philanthropy. Treat your favorite Mess writers to a bag of Funyuns. Loki has the munchies.

Categories: Colleges

It’s On Us: Wrong For Our Community?

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:56pm

Around mid-September, the White House unveiled a new initiative to work towards ending sexual violence specifically on college campuses.

Categories: Colleges

The Happiness Myth

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:53pm

Often, moments of insight don’t come from reading Tolstoy and listening to Bach.

Categories: Colleges

Checked Out: Guidelines for Interacting with a Cashier

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:50pm

If I go home over a break, I typically work some hours at the job I have held for about a year and a half: cashier at a large retail chain.

Categories: Colleges

Talking Animals

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:49pm

This morning, a squirrel hopped up on the windowsill and peered intently at me through the glass.

Categories: Colleges

Google Nexuses and Android Lollipop

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:48pm

Tech companies release new and updated products every year, some more useful than others. But all new products are cool (or just interesting), and as a techie I try to keep up with what is happening in the market even if I am not buying. Sadly, this year’s line-up does not feature anything particularly new and noteworthy for students, though Apple did announce the Apple Watch and launch the iPhone 6 and the iPad Air 2. Last week, Google chimed in by providing more information about Android 5.0 (nicknamed Lollipop) and announced the Nexus 6, 9 and Nexus Player. All of these should arrive in time for Christmas and I will introduce each of them here.

Android Lollipop focuses on a “Material Design” which simplifies the interface and is (hopefully) more intuitive. The main design elements are plain, geometric shapes, offering a crisp, clean feeling. The latest animations for responding to touch, opening apps, and browsing multi-tasking panes illustrate more clearly how the device responds to touch input. For example, the screen shows a lot of movement response when swiping and app transition reveals what is opening where (usually a window from the bottom of the screen).

The focus on animation helps develop a mental path of movement through the interface, which especially benefits non-visual people who struggle navigating UI. Furthermore, it appears in the preview that the home screen acts as an easy point of reference by acting more like the desktop of your PC or Mac than before. Animations create the feeling that menus and apps cover the home screen and rest on top of it (like a desktop window), rather than replace the home screen altogether, thus users are less likely to become lost. If these types of changes are successful in the UI, Android could be really inviting for first-time users.

Next we have the hardware which will run Lollipop: the new Nexus 6 made by Motorola. It looks a lot like the Moto X, naturally, but it’s much bigger and faster. The Nexus 6 features a larger screen than the iPhone 6 Plus, at 5.96″ vs. 5.5″ and 2560×1440 (493 PPI) vs. 1920×1080 (401 PPI). Inside, the CPU is the latest Snapdragon chipset with a Quad Core up to 2.7 GHz and 3GB of RAM, which means this device handles like a dream. For added bonus, Google claims you can charge fifteen minutes for six hours of additional use. These specifications make the Nexus 6 entirely capable of replacing a tablet and even a laptop. Large phones can appeal to individuals who use their computers only for web browsing, e-mail and video, and are interested in consolidating. For everyone else (like myself), I hope they make a more pocket-friendly version of this phone.

Another potential laptop replacer is the Nexus 9, which is working hard to strike a balance between work and play. With a 8.9″ screen, you can still hold it in one hand like a reader (though you might grow tired) and the optional attachable keyboard/folio ($129) adds work functionality. Interestingly, the Nexus 9 only has 2GB of RAM, compared to the 6’s 3GB, and sports a 64bit Nvidia chip at 2.3GHz. Though the specs differ, performance between the 6 and 9 will be comparable so customers are left selecting between sizes and prices. Price hasn’t been announced yet for the Nexus 6, but you can pre-order a Nexus 9 (Wi-Fi, 16GB) for $399.

Finally, Google’s latest product line extension is the Nexus Player, another entrant in the streaming device market, similar to a Roku Player or Amazon’s Fire TV. The Nexus Player takes the success of casting and adds video streaming from apps like Netflix, Hulu, TED and Crackle, as well as gaming through apps from the Google Play store. I think that means you can play Candy Crush on your TV… It will be interesting to see how many users purchase the additional game remote for this purpose. The Nexus Player could provide a console gaming experience for budget conscious users. However, even more budget conscious users who already own a laptop can invest in an HDMI cable and connect a laptop to their TV for a similar experience.


Categories: Colleges

A Faculty Voice For Divestment

Carletonian - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:47pm

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee (CRIC) will hold a town-hall meeting (Great Hall, 6-8 pm) to discuss divesting the Carleton endowment from fossil fuels.

Categories: Colleges

Japanese Gardens in North America subject of Art History Lecture

Carleton College News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:17pm
The Carleton College Department of Art and Art History will present “Rising Suns in the North: Japanese Gardens in Minnesota” on Friday, Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. in the Boliou Hall Auditorium. Art historian Kendall Brown, author of “Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America” will discuss his book, tracing the local manifestations of this trans-Pacific imagination by examining the rich history of Japanese Gardens in Minnesota.
Categories: Colleges

Carleton Symphony Band celebrates Halloween with “Danse Macabre”

Carleton College News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:15pm
The Carleton Symphony Band will celebrate Halloween with a special concert entitled “Danse Macabre” on Friday, Oct. 31 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the Concert Hall. An appropriately “eerie” evening of music, the performance will accompany excerpts from the horror film classic, “The Bride of Frankenstein,” along with other short classic horror films, “all guaranteed to amaze and frighten,” says Symphony Band director Ron Rodman. Halloween treats will also be served.
Categories: Colleges

Carleton presents North Indian Musical Guest Artists, Red Baraat

Carleton College News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:10pm
Carleton College is pleased to present a not-to-be-missed appearance by critically acclaimed and very popular music pioneers, Red Baraat. The event takes place on Sunday, Nov. 2 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Carleton Concert Hall.
Categories: Colleges

Carleton to Commemorate ‘Day of the Dead’

Carleton College News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:06pm
Carleton College will host a service and celebration on Sunday, Nov. 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Severance Great Hall in commemoration of ‘Dia de los Muertos’ (Day of the Dead). In addition to a religious ceremony, the event will feature food and dancing, and members of the community are invited to bring objects symbolizing remembrance of departed loved ones for a special alter display. This annual event is free and open to the public. 
Categories: Colleges

Carleton Players present Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”

Carleton College News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:04pm
The Carleton Players will present William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” October 30 through November 2 in the Weitz Center for Creativity Theater, with performances nightly at 7:30 p.m. October 30, 31 and November 1, along with two 2 p.m. matinee performances November 1 and 2. Directed by David Wiles, Performances are free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged and can be made online at
Categories: Colleges

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