Faculty in Focus: Karil Kucera

Manitou Messenger - 56 min 38 sec ago
Resting on shelves are numerous collectibles ranging from items associated with the Buddha to hand-made tea cups. Make no mistake, this isn’t a museum exhibit or a stupa containing relics – this is the office of Karil Kucera, Associate Professor of Art and Art History and Asian Studies.After growing up in rural Wisconsin, Kucera took a nontraditional path and spent a few years in France after high school. She studied French literature and language before earning a second degree in Chinese history. Kucera first travelled to China while working on her senior honors thesis at the University of Wisconsin. She has since been to China every year for the past 30 years. She earned her Master’s in Art History at the University of Oregon and gained her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Kansas. Kucera was able to pay for her education without loans by using the money she earned from teaching English in China during the 1980s. She has been a visiting professor at Dartmouth College, Lewis & Clark College and the University of Washington. Kucera currently teaches art history and Asian studies here at St. Olaf. One of her most recent publications is her book “Ritual and Representation at a Chinese Buddhist Site: Visualizing Enlightenment at Baodingshan from the 12th to the 21st Centuries.” Baodingshan is a Buddhist site near Chongqing in southwest China. The site is about 1.5 miles long and contains roughly 6,000 sculptures. Kucera explains the significance of this site in her book and maintains an interactive website containing more information about Baodingshan: The book and website are designed specifically for tourists to use as they visit Baodingshan. Kucera distinctly remembers a time when she was at the site and, much to her dismay, overheard the tour guides stating blatantly inaccurate information. “The tour guides were just awful,” she said. “They told people this stuff and it was all wrong.” She hopes that her book, website, and research will help promote a greater understanding of the site’s significance. Kucera is currently working on an electronic textbook for her students titled “Sacred Sites of Asia.” By creating it digitally rather than in the form of a traditional print textbook, she can incorporate more images and videos. She can also add and change content in the future, so students won’t have to spend money on purchasing a new textbook edition every year. When it comes to some projects and assignments, Kucera believes her students should be permitted to choose what works for them. Some elect to write papers, but many choose to physically create their work or utilize digital resources such as Google SketchUp. The teacups on her shelves, for instance, were created by students in her Arts of Japan course. Kucera admits that the variation in submitted work makes grading difficult. “The medium [of the work] is different,” she said. “But, structurally, they’re the same stuff.” Besides offering variety in coursework, another core component of her teaching method is ensuring that her students know where to go to discover information, rather than simply providing them with pertinent facts. Kucera lives in Northfield with her husband and her two dogs. She and her husband have been making efforts to be as sustainable as possible, going so far as to install solar panels and collect water in a 1,000 gallon tank. Autumn is generally a fairly busy time for Kucera. Nevertheless, she and her husband usually try to spend one weekend in a hotel in St. Paul and eat sushi, given that “there is no good sushi in Northfield.” Another less known aspect of Kucera’s personal life is that she enjoys playing March Madness based on team mascots. For example, in a match between an Ole Lion and a Carleton Knight, Kucera asserts that she would “take a lion over a knight any day. The lion will pull you down.”
Categories: Colleges

Champion of the Hill captivates

Manitou Messenger - 56 min 38 sec ago
Cosi Pori ’18 was crowned Champion of the Hill Saturday night at St. Olaf’s homecoming pageant event. Formerly known as King of the Hill, the Student Activities Committee (SAC) switched to the term “Champion” after Director of Student Activities and Buntrock Commons Kris Vatter informed SAC that the male-only pageant was not in accordance with the rules specified in Title IX. “In the past, King of Hill was a male pageant, and the purpose of the event was to challenge the idea of pageants,” Homecoming Co-Chair Jacob Pullen ’18 said.However, under “Other Sex-Specific Activities and Rules,” Title IX reads “unless expressly authorized by Title IX or its implementing regulations, a school may not segregate or otherwise distinguish students on the basis of their sex, including gender identity, in any school activities or the application of any school rule.” The challenge, therefore, was to adapt King of the Hill to fit within the specifications of Title IX while maintaining the tradition of the event. SAC embraced the change, making the event gender-inclusive. According to Pullen, a gender inclusive King of the Hill wasn’t a new idea. While planning the 2015 King of Hill, SAC and the Gender and Sexuality House discussed the possibility of a King of the Hill event that was less masculine and heteronormative. While in 2015 the idea remained simply that, this year the change was mandatory. The first step of adapting the event was coming up with a new name. The homecoming co-chairs wanted to maintain the spirit and tradition of the event, and therefore chose “champion” to replace “king” since it was gender-neutral. The next step was to modify parts of the structure. Though the events remained the same, modifications were made to make the events less heteronormative. For example, in years past, male competitors were accompanied by a female “escort.” This year, the competitors were able to choose any “guest(s)” to accompany them. In years past, the SAC committee would ask students to participate in King of the Hill. In this year’s Champion of the Hill, SAC tabled and allowed students to nominate peers. The nominations were gender inclusive. “The purpose of Champion of the Hill is to showcase Ole pride, spirit and talent, and to move away from making fun of pageant shows,” Pullen said.The St. Olaf community embraced the change to Champion of the Hill. On Saturday night, the Pause was packed with Oles eager to watch their peers showcase their talent and humor. Among the judges were Pastor Matthew Marohl, Peter Costanza and Student Government Association president Emma Lind ’17. Champion competitor Nicholas Swanson ’17 started off the night by dropping – or raising – some notes to Lind, while singing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Swannie Willstein ’19’s cover of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” won her second place. Willstein substituted words in the song with “spaghetti,” and each time she said the word her parents tossed spaghetti at her. Pori was crowned Champion of the Hill after his showcase of talent. His primary talent was shoveling grapes into his mouth while singing with great passion. The EMTs on hand cast each other uneasy looks, and made sudden movements when they thought Pori was in need of the Heimlich maneuver. The crowd cheered weakly when the song ended, exhausted over their concern for Pori’s airway; nobody, however, could deny Pori’s extraordinary talent and embodiment of the Ole spirit. Later, Pori established power by appealing to the cross country team, who sat in a pack in the audience. When Pori donned the cross country jersey and tattoo, the cross country team stood in unison, applauding. Champion of the Hill’s gender inclusivity and initiative to showcase Ole talent and spirit was successful.
Categories: Colleges

Signature book relates St. Olaf’s history

Manitou Messenger - 56 min 38 sec ago
It is difficult for many to imagine  St. Olaf College as anything other than the modern institution it currently exists as. However, a recently donated document may help students gain new insight as to what the school was like in generations past.A signature book dating back to 1883 was donated to the college by Dennis Thompson ’68. The book belonged to Henry Gilbertson who was enrolled at St. Olaf at the time.  The book offers insight into what life was like on the St. Olaf campus 130 years ago.For some historical context, it’s important to understand the fundamental ways in which the institution has changed over the span of generations. Originally, St. Olaf was not a college at all – it was a preparatory school. Its class size paled in comparison to the size of our student body today. In 1883, the year Henry Gilbertson drafted the signature book, only 91 students were enrolled at St. Olaf’s School and only 20 were women. Today, 3,179 students roam St. Olaf’s 300-acre campus and 58 percent of the student body is female. Most students in 1883 were first or second generation Norwegian-Americans, and attended college in a town made famous for its confrontation with the James-Younger gang only seven years prior.Gilbertson himself is pictured in the book, although he did not graduate from St. Olaf. It is assumed he left early in order to return to work on his family’s farm in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha Country – or modern day South Dakota. Students weren’t the only ones who left their mark in Gilbertson’s book. Its pages are littered with the writings of faculty and administrative officials, among them Halvor T. Ytterboe and T.H. Mohn. Ytterboe joined the faculty of St. Olaf in 1882. He was respected by his students and admired by many. Mohn served in the college’s administration, and unlike President David Anderson ’74, he was addressed by a different title: Principal. Mohn was 30 years old when St. Olaf appointed him to the position of headmaster. He worked tirelessly to expand the school until his death in 1899.Among the signature book’s pages are some short remarks by Hannah Thorson, who studied at the school from 1882-1883. She wrote, “May he to whom this book belongs few sorrows meet, if any; his gloomy hours be short and few, his happy days be many.” She addressed the note to “Mr. Gilbertson,” her fellow student. The formal address is indicative of the standard etiquette between males and females at the time. During this period in the college’s history, genders sat at separate tables during meals and dating was restricted. School regulations governed other aspects of students’ lives, prohibiting tobacco use, billiards, card playing and profanity. Students were expected to spend their free time in their rooms studying, and lights were blown out at 10 p.m.Henry Gilbertson’s book provides a window into an era we can only imagine, enabling current readers to get a glimpse into the history of St. Olaf. While giving insight into the adversities these students faced, it simultaneously portrays students who are not so different from their modern colleagues. Those interested in learning more about the book can visit the College Archives in Rolvaag Memorial Library.
Categories: Colleges

Pro-black display highlights police brutality

Manitou Messenger - 56 min 38 sec ago
“Does our citizenship not hold enough value? Or does our education not speak volume?”These are the questions written on the bottom of Tia Schaffer ’20’s cardboard sign, which she wears around campus to raise awareness of Terrence Crutcher’s death in Tulsa, Okla. on Sept. 16, and its implications for black Americans. In the days following Crutcher’s death, news media fixated on the deaths of both Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was shot four times by police outside of his parked SUV in Charlotte, S.C. after they repeatedly demanded that he “drop the gun.” It is unclear whether or not Scott was holding a gun at the time of his death. Crutcher was shot and killed by policewoman Betty Shelby after the Tulsa police station received calls that Crutcher’s car was stalled in the middle of the road and blocking traffic. He was unarmed and police helicopter footage showed that his hands were in the air before Shelby fired her gun. Crutcher had been on his way home from Tulsa Community College, where he studied music.“People have this stereotypical idea of black people, like ‘Oh, they’re hoodlums,’ and ‘He was doing something suspicious,’ or ‘He probably just came from doing this or doing that,’ but this particular individual was going home from class,” Schaffer said. “He was enrolled in Tulsa Community College, so this is actually a student that we’re talking about – regardless of his age – he’s a student.” Crutcher’s identity as a black student resonated with Schaffer. She was inspired to speak out about the injustice and to call on St. Olaf students to take a photo with her as a symbol of alliance. “‘Take a picture with me as a symbol of alliance.’ I think I wrote that too small because [students are] like ‘Oh is it okay if I take a picture with you?’ I’m like ‘Yes, okay, that’s the purpose! I want you to take a picture and I want you to post it again on social media,’” Schaffer said. “This is a predominately white institution, so I expect most of the students I come in contact with to be white, and I think that union and that partnership is very crucial to making progress because we can’t do it by ourselves.”Though Schaffer is the only student participating in this particular demonstration, she hopes that social media will further her cause and she encourages students to post photos with her to spur discussion. Schaffer has been a vocal activist for much of her life. She takes pride in her race and does what she can to speak out against racial injustice. “I consider myself very pro-black. Not anti-white, not anti-anything else, I’m just for the progression of my people,” Schaffer said. “I’m also unapologetically black, and that’s how I was able to just walk around and be extremely annoying with this big board from class to class.”In high school, Schaffer launched an online business and movement called Reincarnating Black Life. She sells T-shirts on her website with the goal of empowering black Americans and inviting the community to talk about the T-shirts and what it means to be black. “On the T-shirts are different slogans that promote black life, that promote the progression of the black race,” Schaffer said. “I just have people buying them, sporting them. Every day you walk up to your place of work, you walk into restaurants, you walk into the store and people are like ‘Hey, what does that mean?’ That opens the gate for conversations.”Schaffer hopes to expand this initiative once she graduates college.“I kinda want it to be [a] movement – an actual movement where our everyday lives are literally [dedicated] to do nothing but advance ourselves and just advance in this country, period.”Schaffer has received positive yet hesitant responses from the St. Olaf community, but said that more and more students and faculty are approaching her to show solidarity or to engage in conversation about Crutcher’s death. She plans to continue wearing her sign, or some version of it, indefinitely.
Categories: Colleges

Behind the Scenes of a Pause Dance

Manitou Messenger - 56 min 38 sec ago
At 9:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the beginning of the homecoming  Pause dance, the Pause Mane Stage was mostly vacant save for paper decorations bearing the names of various St. Olaf landmarks. James Wheeler ’18, one of the night’s DJs, bounced behind his turntable underneath a huge pair of hanging dice. Swirling, bright lights spun from the stage to the floor as Pause security assembled chain-link guards that blocked  entrance to the stage from the floor.“Oles come excited for Friday and Saturday nights, and no matter what they are always excited to dance,” Wheeler said. “It takes the pressure off planning your night.”Wheeler’s DJ group, Dangerous Volcano, was formed with his roommate Cosi Pori ’18 out of a mutual desire to share their love of dance with the St. Olaf campus. The position of Pause DJ is unpaid, and Wheeler commented on the lack of transparency in the DJ selection process. He noted that a fair number of students wanted to win the spot, “but it is not very well advertised how to get it.” He expressed a desire for more students to begin DJing.Clad in a pair of overall-shorts, Wheeler affirmed the performative aspect of his role. “I can move my hips in ways you can’t even imagine,” he said. “It’s fun to get up wearing something that is loose and dancing in front of a lot of people.”Around 10:00 p.m. a line began to form around the dance entrance, but otherwise students went about their business watching TV, playing pool or conversing over pizza. Deep End APO, a theater organization, sat at a table by the dance entrance, organizing pizza deliveries.Two members of the Student Activities Committee (SAC) sat at the table in front of the dance, turning away enthusiastic dance-goers who had arrived too early.Morgan Turk ’18, one of the SAC members, expressed her excitement to work the dance.“I always take this shift. People are really excited to see you, and so friendly,” Turk said. She enjoys working the early shift so that she can leave at 11 and go back into the dance. She and her partner for the night recalled some problems in the past, such as individuals being turned away for being belligerently drunk, but clarified that Pause security is responsible for handling such issues.Being inclusive and making attendants comfortable were clear goals of the dance. Non-St. Olaf students could enter by showing a photo ID. Turk and her partner also noted a change in the pat-down lines. Where previously there were separate lines for men and women, now there is one line where attendants can choose to be patted down by either a male or female security worker.Directly outside the dance stood a table occupied by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), on hand in case someone in the dance needed medical attention. One of the EMTs, Madeline Wagner Sherer ’18, described the funding process. “SGA contracts out our club,” she said. “They pay our club money per event that we staff as EMTs and we use that money to buy medical supplies, new radios, jackets – stuff like that.” Inside the dance, SAC member Jeremy Storvick ’18 sat behind a table with huge bowls of pretzels, goldfish and other snacks. “We just make it a little more hospitable for people who aren’t super into the dancing, or want to take a break,” he said, noting that the food was also useful for attendants who consumed alcohol before the event.Around 10:45 p.m. the dance started to fill up and Pause security stood at every exit to make sure that dancers didn’t leave through the wrong door. Sam Caspar ’18, security manager, described the role of Pause Security.“[We watch] for people who aren’t being safe in terms of too much drinking. If they need an EMT we look out for that, we look on the floors if there is a potential liability they could hurt themselves,” Caspar said. In addition to student-run Pause security, the Student Government Association (SGA) contracts security from private firms for big ticket events such as dances or concerts. According to Director of Student Activities Kris Vatter, SGA began hiring outside security for Pause dances during the 2011-2012 academic year, a practice which constitutes 0.3 percent of SGA’s annual allocation. The outside firm is used to help enforce rules that may be difficult for student security workers, Vatter noted, referencing a situation within the last three years where a member of outside security had to “restrain a student in handcuffs for a significant amount of time to get the situation resolved.” At the homecoming dance, guards from Asia Security scanned the Pause for signs of danger.Around 11:30 p.m. the dance was at peak popularity and the entry line extended well beyond the Pause doors, up the main Buntrock stairs and past the Cage. Those waiting in line excitedly chatted and Vatter stopped one student as he carried two others down the stairs on his back.She offered a warning while heading back to the Pause floor.“When we go back in there will be a distinctive smell. Are you ready for it?”Back on the dance floor the air was damp and the floor was covered in the dust of crushed pretzel pieces and scattered chunks of salt. The cups were running low and workers scrambled to find new ones. Vatter opened a side door and placed a fan in front of it, letting in a cool breeze from outside that stopped multiple transfixed dancers, fatigued from the tightly-knit floor.The dance was more brightly lit than in years past, for the sake of security.  “The light deters people from doing what they wouldn’t do in public,” Assistant Director of Student Activities Catherine Paro said. Still, many of the dancers danced very intimately and one couple shared a prolonged kiss as they swayed to a slow ballad.Outside, the Pause was mostly occupied by those who had recently left the dance and Deep End APO had relocated their pizza delivery operation to the Lair. They cited the harsh reverberations of the bass against the wall as their reason for moving.One student in the group expressed that she felt less safe delivering pizzas on the night of the Pause dance, noting that there were more raucous individuals out on campus grounds than usual.Starting around 12:40 a.m., the dance began to wind down. The previously packed floor began to show gaps, and many of those dancing started to scan the room until locking eyes with a familiar face. Some of those dancing with a partner left quietly together, while others split up to go their separate ways.At 12:56 a.m., Pori grabbed the microphone and exclaimed “everybody go home,” leaving those remaining to exit through the now propped-open Mane stage doors. There was a clear sense of relief running through Pause security as the last stragglers left. Many of them stared down at their phones as they trekked out into the Pause while others carried out containers of food not consumed during the night.“Come on, let’s get this place cleaned up,” Vatter said while workers stowed away unused cups and swept crushed animal crackers off the sweat-slick floor.
Categories: Colleges

Dark comedy to open the theater season

Manitou Messenger - 2 hours 56 min ago
On Oct. 7 through Oct. 9, the St. Olaf theater department will run its first show of the 2016-17 season, “Fuddy Meers” by David Lindsay-Abaire.The play, guest-directed by Randy Reyes, tells the story of Claire, a woman who suffers from memory loss.  As Claire struggles to regain her memory, she is bombarded by a cast of kooky characters including her pothead son, her speech-impeded mother and an escaped convict with a sock puppet.Reyes comes to St. Olaf not only to direct the fall Haugen show, but also to teach this semester’s beginning directing class. Reyes is the artistic director of Mu Performing Arts in Minneapolis and serves as a theater educator at institutions across the country, including the Playwrights’ Center, the New York University graduate acting program and the University of Minnesota/Guthrie bachelor’s acting program.  In short, he is a brilliant professional actor and director.The process for “Fuddy Meers” has been atypical compared to the St. Olaf norm. Rather than rehearsing a few hours a night throughout the week, the cast has rehearsed only twice a week for eight hours at a time. Though intense, this process has not become tedious for anyone involved.  “It perfectly fits the show because it really lets [the actors] get into the characters which are really bizarre and which are not easy to just take off and put down easily,” assistant director Aaron Lauby ’19 said.“There was no atmosphere or hesitation around it. We were into it from day one,” stage manager Shelby Reddig ’17 said. “No one ever realizes how fast the time has gone,” Lauby said. “Every time we practice we find a new thing about the language.”Reddig agreed that the team is enjoying their hard work: “You get funny moments in the rehearsal with misunderstanding,” she said. “Actors have to make big choices to make it an interesting show. And then the directors have to say, ‘Thank you for making that choice but it is a little weird so we are not going to do that.’” “Fuddy Meers” is a dark comedy that promises to keep the audience laughing for long stretches, whether it be out of mirth or of nervousness.“[‘Fuddy Meers’] is supposed to make you think of important things but not in a really heavy way,” Reddig said.For instance, Claire’s psychological status is not simply a source of entertainment, as Tara Maloney ’19, who plays Claire, pointed out.“It’s finding the balance between being innocent and also being skeptical,” Maloney said. “I read it like she is completely happy but in real life someone would not be just completely happy. She is just trying to be. So I have to show that she is trying.” Other members of the cast include: Ian Sutherland ’18 as Richard, Ash Willison ’17 as Kenny, Chaz Mayo ’18 as Limping Man, Christine Menge ’18 as Gertie, Will Ibele ’18 as Millet and Avery Evangeline Baker ’19 as Heidi.“Fuddy Meers” will perform in Haugen Theater from Oct. 7-9. Tickets are free for students and can be reserved online or at the Theater Building’s box office.
Categories: Colleges

Oles honor Wetterling before win

Manitou Messenger - 2 hours 56 min ago
The men’s soccer team wasn’t wearing its typical black and gold on Saturday –instead, it opted for red.Prior to their homecoming game, the Oles took to the pitch and honored Jacob Wetterling and his hope for the world by donning crimson warm-up jerseys with the number 11 imprinted on the back.Wetterling, a child growing up in St. Joseph, Minnesota, was kidnapped from his hometown at the age of 11 on Oct. 22, 1989. His disappearance remained a mystery for nearly 27 years until Sept. 6, 2016, when Daniel Heinrich confessed to kidnapping and later killing the young man. These recent developments have had a profound impact on the hearts of many Americans, with Minnesotans feeling particularly somber.Wetterling, an avid sports fan during his life, always wore a red number 11 jersey as a child. To show a commitment to making the world a better place for kids, the Wetterling family asked athletic teams to use the number 11 as a symbol of hope to honor their son and raise awareness about missing and exploited children. “I thought that wearing the red shirts to honor Jacob Wetterling provided a touching tribute to a young boy who was unfortunately targeted,” forward Henrik Kowalkowski ’17 said. “It really makes you think about the pain the parents must have endured, not knowing what happened to Jacob in the ensuing years.”The Oles are not alone in their sentiments; many sports organizations including the Minnesota Twins and Vikings have poured out support for Wetterling’s family and the cause. The response from students across the state has been particularly strong. Along with St. Olaf, the University of Minnesota and several Twin Cities high schools have paid tribute to Wetterling since the tragic report broke early this month.“The boys were all in when they found out we were going to honor Jacob and support his family at our game,” team manager Scott Perkins ’17 said. “Just a great group of guys on and off the field.” The homecoming game itself ended in a 2-0 victory for the Oles over conference rival Concordia on the back of two early goals by Kowalkowski, who was later named the MIAC Men’s Soccer Athlete of the Week for his strong efforts on an emotional day. It was the first conference win of the season for the Oles, who now have an overall record of 3-1-3. Kowalkowski attributes the win to the power of the jerseys in uniting the team in a single cause.“The team really enjoyed wearing the shirts and I think it brought all of us a little closer together as well,” Kowalkowski said.
Categories: Colleges

Stets leading charge for conference title

Manitou Messenger - 2 hours 56 min ago
Under a new coach with a new philosophy, the women’s soccer team is putting together a remarkable bounceback season, jumping to 5-2 after its homecoming win against Concordia. Midfielder Abby Stets ’18 has caught fire with goals in each of St. Olaf’s last four victories to become the team’s top scorer of the season. Three of them came in matches decided by only one goal, making Stets’ clutch factor and recent hot streak a major component in the Oles’ pleasantly surprising early success.
Q: What’s the area of your own personal game that you feel has seen the most improvement over the past year?A: This year I feel more confident that I can help score goals and bring something unique to the team. I think in the past I was too nervous to keep the ball for too long so I just passed it off, but this year I feel like I can be more productive as a forward combining speed and a drive to the goal. Q: The team is remaning highly competitive in an extremely tough conference. What is the main cause of this rapid improvement?A: I think collectively our mindset is completely different. We’re focusing more on working productively and smartly as a team rather than trying really hard individually all over the field. We’re also playing to our strengths more – we have a lot of great work ethic and athleticism on our team and I think our formation reflects that. Coach Rachael has done a great job setting the bar for our potential and we work hard towards that since she came in with a fresh pair of eyes.
Q: Looking back, what’s the highlight of your career so far at St. Olaf? What’s something specific you still hope to achieve?A: The highlight so far was this year when we scored in double OT to win against UW– Oshkosh. The day before, we had lost in the last minute of double OT to Loras, so to come back and beat a regionally ranked team was super exciting. This year our goal is to be at the top of the MIAC and make the tournament.
Categories: Colleges

Fernandez leaves legacy

Manitou Messenger - 2 hours 56 min ago
Sixteen years ago, a young boy was driven by a dream that only ever comes true in spirited fairy tales with happily-ever-afters. It was the kind of ambition most would deem impossible for an impoverished child living in communist Cuba, but this particular child remained digilent. After three failed attempts to escape his native country, the dream persisted. After being imprisoned for months in a Cuban prison at the tender age of 14, the dream survived. And despite all this hardship, even when his family’s boat eventually did close in on the shores of Mexico, the young man was willing to throw it all away to save his mother who had suddenly fallen overboard. He dove in the ocean without hesitation, risking his dream to save the woman who raised him.This tenacious, selfless young man was Jose Fernandez, and his dream was to become the greatest pitcher to ever grace Major League Baseball. Nearly a decade later, that improbable goal was becoming a reality. After being drafted 14th overall in the 2011 draft by the Florida Marlins (now Miami) and raised through the minor leagues, Fernandez emphatically burst into the majors in 2013, becoming the first Cuban-born player to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. Possessing a scorching fastball and a deceptive curveball that made the world’s best hitters look silly, Fernandez was pure electricity on the mound. Yet he never became corrupted by arrogance. His beaming smile always displayed a pure, unbridled joy that won over the most jaded of fans and bitter of opponents. The young phenom possessed the heart of a champion and the excitement of a child unhardened by a world that breeds pessimism, a rare combination that produces legends whose stories are told decades after retirement. With the highest strikeout rate in baseball and a pristine ERA this season, Fernandez seemed poised to become such an icon, a savior for a franchise that hasn’t tasted postseason play in nearly 13 years.Tragically, however, the brightest candles always seem to burn the fastest. Early Sunday morning, Sept. 25, Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident just off the coast of Miami Beach, leaving behind the mother he saved, the grandmother he worshipped and a loving girlfriend who is five months pregnant with the daughter he will never meet. He was only 24 years of age.Fernandez was a pure joy to watch, never failing to entertain with that uncanny mix of talent and enthusiasm. Beyond the field, he was an extraordinary spirit who embodied the best of humanity, acting as a symbol of inspiration for Cuban refugees and the South Florida community. He would always sign autographs before games and talk with the fans, even on days when he was starting and needed to maintain focus. Marlins fans loved him for it; attendance at home games spiked by nearly 6,000 whenever their hero was scheduled to pitch. Simply put, Jose Fernandez was the Miami Marlins. Without him, the franchise is in disarray. Far more importantly, his family, the Florida community and baseball fans alike now have a gaping hole in their hearts where his warm optimism used to reside.Fernandez experienced more raw life in 24 years than some people encounter in a century, but in a year that has seen countless tragic celebrity deaths, Fernandez’ is particularly devastating because of all he had yet to achieve. Cy Young awards, World Series titles, a potential Hall of Fame selection and of course raising his child – all parts of a shattered future. With baseball’s postseason fast approaching, tensions run high between rival teams and their dedicated fans – the culmination of six months of emotions ready to boil over. But no matter who you support or who you root against, one certainty remains: right now, we are all Miami Marlins fans.Rest in peace, Jose. We love you, and we miss
Categories: Colleges

Football stumbles in homecoming defeat

Manitou Messenger - 2 hours 56 min ago
For the first two weeks of the season, St. Olaf football was looking like a possible dark horse contender. Following a convincing victory at Grinnell in which the offense exploded for 69 points, the Oles took Luther to double overtime in their first game on Manitou Field’s new artificial turf. While the eventual outcome of that contest was still a heartbreaking 46-40 loss, the team showed dramatic improvement over last year, when Luther won handily by three scores. The fierce passing attack was a force to be reckoned with; Jack Goldstein ’18 threw for eight touchdowns, four of which were hauled in by breakout receiver Jorgen Salveson ’18. St. Olaf seemed to have a brand new contender to go along with its new turf and optimism was running high.Fast forward two weeks, however, and that enthusiasm has significantly decreased. Following a humbling 44-0 beatdown in their first conference game against St. John’s, the Oles returned to Manitou Field on Saturday, Sept. 24 to reclaim their competitive ways in the highly anticipated homecoming matchup against Bethel, a team that had yet to gain a single victory.It should have been a close game. The Oles possess the raw talent capable of hanging tough against one of the conference’s weaker opponents. Unfortunately, that latent potential remained untapped as St. Olaf was soundly outmatched by Bethel, 44-7.Beginning the game with possession, things started off promisingly for the Oles as Goldstein fired two laser passes in a row to Troy Peterson ’18 and Salveson for 9 and 10 yards, respectively, netting St. Olaf a quick first down and immediate momentum. Sadly, it was to be the team’s only first down in a half that rapidly got out of hand. Following the first change of possession, Bethel’s offense started and quite simply didn’t stop, rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for one. Tommy Fleetham ’19 nabbed an interception with just under two and a half minutes remaining in the first quarter, reenergizing the Oles, but this momentum was halted two plays later when Goldstein threw an interception of his own and Bethel found the end zone three plays later. By halftime, the Royals led 27-0 and had replaced most of their starters with the second string.After taking a brutal sack at the start of the second quarter, Goldstein was replaced by Ricardo Johnson III ’18 who quietly put together a solid performance in Goldstein’s absence, throwing for 178 yards and zero interceptions. He even led the Oles to a touchdown of their own late in the game, though it occurred in garbage time after victory was well out of reach. Curiously enough, the statistics for both teams ended up being fairly comparable. Overall, St. Olaf actually had more total passing yards (204) than the Royals (152), and the time of possession was almost identical, with the Oles controlling the ball for 29:27 compared  to Bethel’s 30:33. Both teams even committed the same number of penalties throughout the contest (9 for each side), with Bethel’s 133 penalty yards topping St. Olaf’s total of 121. The outlier statistic and clear difference maker in the game was the rushing attack. Bethel posted 379 total yards on the ground, while St. Olaf actually ran for negative four yards during the game’s entirety.The Oles’ inability to establish the run game made them one-dimensional and easy to predict early on, which crippled  the offense. The defense’s inability to prevent Bethel’s running backs from lighting up Manitou Field clearly didn’t help matters. The stats are transparent; the Oles failed with the running game on both sides of the ball and that mistake cost them a win.Next up, St. Olaf gets a much needed week of rest before facing off against Hamline, an undefeated conference heavyweight. Things aren’t getting easier from here on out – the Oles must reclaim some semblance of fight if they hope to salvage a season that looked promising not too long ago.
Categories: Colleges

Laura Schunter and the Mystery of Hillboe Chapel

Manitou Messenger - 3 hours 56 min ago
It isn’t easy treading the paths of St. Olaf, knowing what I know. That there are things many of us don’t understand—can’t understand—don’t want to understand. That there are (probably) ghosts centuries old haunting this very campus. Demons unseen slinking along the very edge of our comprehension. I, Larla Schnutter, vow to uncover the spooky secrets this college (probably) has to offer, using my detective skills, my girlish gumption, and the 500 words allotted to me on this page. I am the paranormal investigator this grimy town has been waiting for. I am the private eye Northfield didn’t even know it needed. I am the detective Northfield deserves.. . .Hilleboe Chapel resides on the third floor of the Hilleboe residence hall, nestled beside the stairwell. A small, mysterious space, used mostly for informal activities. Why such a cranny exists, I wasn’t sure. If such a nook held secrets unknown, I was about to find out!A long-legged dame passed me as I stood in front of the Chapel, perhaps on her way to class. I stopped her, asked, “Do you know anything about this place?”“No…” she said.“Don’t you find it rather spooky to live next to it?”“My friend just lives here, and I don’t think you can smoke in here.”I looked down at the gray spire of smoke rising from the end of my lit cigarette. Obviously, this dame didn’t know I was a detective. When I looked back up, she was gone and I knew: I had to be on the case!. . .I went to my trusty informant, Google™ search engine, and looked up Hilleboe Chapel and came up short. No articles, no pictures, nada. Having been in the business of shadows for a while now, however, I knew this was no dead end. It was time to give the nook a solid once-over, maybe twice-over.

As the late afternoon sun boiled through the windows, I stepped into Hilleboe Chapel. As usual, it was empty—a shell of what it could be, the stained glass window of the Virgin Mary at the end of the room looking down in disdain. This was supposed to be a place of prayer, the church of God. Not “Make-out Point.” I walked up to the altar where an oversize version of the Bible lay open. A chill ran up my spine, three dissonant notes played on a piano in my mind: A clue was near. I flipped through the Bible until a piece of paper fell out. I picked it up with two fingers, opened it carefully, and discovered what could only be a poorly written haiku:
She is deadDead dead deadYou don’t want to know the truth
A head-scratcher. This person doesn’t utilize proper haiku structure at all. Also this person is wrong: I do want to know the truth, and I will find the truth because…Larla Schnutter is on the case!
Categories: Colleges

XVII. On Construction

Manitou Messenger - 5 hours 57 min ago
From where did all these brick slabs arrive?Was it while I was asleep?Did they seep from some unseen atticand drip down from behind some locked door?
And when did they take this town away?It seems today the only thing I recognize are the stoplightsblinking cautionary reds.
Give me a sign:“No parking.”It shows me a sign:“Under construction.”
I am disdainful of these metals;they are not what I adore.They move so quietly…Can’t hear themas they creep up from behind.I feel I’ve lost it and need a reminder.
So if this is a dream and everything is fine,and the slabs are just frogs croaking in timeand the bricks that were built on top of my memoriesare destined to crumble like sight and Jenga blocks,then let the concrete we pissed on when we were twelvesprout old wings and a conscienceand flap away from all this new money.
Preserve something, preserve yourself.
Categories: Colleges

Untitled (or, this fucking gnat)

Manitou Messenger - 5 hours 57 min ago
this fucking gnat stuck in my jacuzzidrowning in what seems like an oceanconfused and lost in something it can’tUnderstand won’t  Understandlike some benevolent god i reach for itpull for it finally free from its turbulent demisebut it’s too latethe fucking gnat is dead.
Categories: Colleges

NFL protests inequality

Manitou Messenger - 5 hours 57 min ago
“If our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed…If their freedom is taken away, our freedom is not secured,” U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his Flag Day Radio Address in June 1942, when the Second World War was at its darkest moments and the possibility of an Axis victory loomed in people’s minds.Nearly seven decades later, Roosevelt’s words continue to ring; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has attempted to take a stance against racial injustice in America by sitting down during the national anthem prior to football games. Explaining his protest, Kaepernick says that he will not “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Waves of backlash and support have flooded in, from critics who denounce him as a traitor to fellow athletes who have followed his example by kneeling down in solidarity.This debate certainly reflects the time we live in. American philosopher Cornel West refers to this time as the “Age of Obama,” when many Americans believe that the election of Barack Obama as president signifies a historic breakthrough in race-relations in America and that the country has become officially “colorblind.” Despite this claim, the past two terms of Obama’s presidency have also brought the racist tendencies of some Americans out into the open.In Kaepernick’s case, colorblindness is actually a part of the problem rather than a solution. Scholar Michelle Alexander, who authored the book “The New Jim Crow” argues that colorblindness reflects the racial indifference that has become a more prevalent form of racism in America than outright racial hostility. Racial indifference, as Alexander puts it, is a “lack of compassion and caring about race and racial groups.” From this perspective, colorblindness has distracted Americans from seeing the deep-rooted racial and structural divisions that still exist in the country. Unequal educational opportunities, jobless ghettos and general public discourse that excludes African-Americans as outcasts in American society all present contemporary barriers that colorblindness has thus far failed to solve. These problems continue to plague America, so is it really surprising to see a young African-American quarterback take a stand by protesting the national anthem? Some see Kaepernick’s actions as treasonous, claiming that he has brought dishonor to those who have fought and died for his freedom. The obvious question to ask, then, is what have those same individuals contributed to the good of this country? Does wearing a T-shirt with the American flag on it while spouting racially oppressive rhetoric indicate that one has achieved their civic duty as an American citizen?In 2014, a Annenberg Public Policy Center poll discovered that only 36 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government; 35 percent fail to name even a single branch. Furthermore, only 27 percent of Americans know that it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto, and 21 percent incorrectly think that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration. Despite all this, these same people have no qualms in criticizing those who are being proactive for the betterment of his country. If that isn’t hypocritical, I don’t know what is.  By sitting down, Kaepernick has echoed Roosevelt’s words, screaming out the need for justice to take its stand in America. He’s demonstrating first hand what true patriotism means by displaying a tough love that, as bitter as it may seem, will eventually take the nation forward. It is up to the rest of America whether to continue down this path or to continue enjoying the pleasures, or lack thereof, of blind patriotism, which is rapidly approaching totalitarianism.
Categories: Colleges

Goldstein impresses as new starting QB

Manitou Messenger - 5 hours 57 min ago
In his first year under center as the Oles’ quarterback Jack Goldstein ’18 is off to an explosive start, currently placing third overall in the conference with 223.7 passing yards per game and second with a total of eight touchdowns. His dynamic presence in the starting roster has led St. Olaf to some surprising early success, most notably a 69-14 blowout victory against Grinnell in which Goldstein led the charge with four touchdowns. 
Q: What’s going through your mind before the snap, and how does that change depending on the situation? 
A: I go through the same progression before every snap regardless of the score of the game. I start by trying to figure out what the defense is going to do by looking at what coverage they are running and if they are sending any pressure. After I have a good idea of what to expect, I think about where the openings will be based on what play was called and if I need to change anything prior to snapping the ball. 
Q: What role models do you follow, or rather who inspires you to keep improving?
A: My parents have been my biggest role models and fans my entire life. They have always been there for me no matter the situation. My teammates are who inspire me to keep improving every day. I want to play my best for them so that we can have as much success as possible on the field. 
Q: What challenges do you still face, and how do you think you can overcome them?
A: There is a challenge every Saturday that we need to overcome as a team. Every person on the team needs to strive to get better each day so that we can have success on Saturdays. It is a difficult task, especially during a long season, to make every practice as important as a game.  Our coaching staff has stressed this each day and it is hard not to notice the strides we have taken on a daily basis.
Categories: Colleges

Volleyball down, but hardly out

Manitou Messenger - 6 hours 56 min ago
Saying that the first half of the volleyball team’s season was uneven would be the gravest understatement one could make about any fall sports team thus far. Opening the season with five consecutive victories seemed to inspire confidence and optimism, especially considering four of those wins came in convincing shutout fashion. The Oles seemed well on their way to piecing together their first winning season since the team dominated the conference with a 31-5 record back in 2010. Unfortunately, while the first week of play was the model of consistency, the second has been anything but. Since the hot start, the Oles have fallen into a discouraging slump, losing seven of their last nine contests, including a 0-3 beatdown at the hands of division rival Augsburg. This rough patch has made the early momentum a distant memory; in the blink of an eye, the season has transformed from what looked like a surefire playoff run into a scramble to get back on track before the remainder of the conference leaves the Oles in the dust. And with ten of the final twelve matches coming against divisional opponents, it’s time to do or die.Yet there is still reason to be optimistic. Three of the Oles’ next four matches come against teams with losing records, including Concordia (3-7), St. Benedict (5-7) and Macalaster (5-7), the latter of whom St. Olaf already subdued handily earlier in the season. If they defeat these weaker opponents as they’re projected to, the Oles will sit comfortably above .500 as they did a week ago, once again riding a respectable winning streak that should help restore their mojo just in time for the biggest showdown of the season against conference leader St. Mary’s. Furthermore, though the team as a whole has struggled recently, the headline players have kept their excellent pace, allowing St. Olaf to remain competitive even through the losses. Megan Grimes ’19 has emerged as the team’s top-level offensive threat, currently placing third in the entire conference with 152 kills and fourth with 3.04 kills per set, well on pace to eclipse her already impressive totals from 2015. Lauren Rewers ’20 is right behind Grimes with 144 kills, placing fifth in the conference and making an immediate impact in her debut season. Veteran Abby Slack ’17 has handled the defensive side of things with 241 digs, fourth in conference – impressive for most players, but the norm for her after three seasons of comparable defensive prowess.So though this recent stretch of misfortune may cause some to push the panic button, the reality is that the Oles control their own destiny and have the talent to get back on track. The hole they’ve dug themselves is rather deep, but don’t believe for a second that it is insurmountable.
Categories: Colleges

Sushner leads resurgent Oles to success

Manitou Messenger - 6 hours 56 min ago
Last winter, the future of the St. Olaf women’s soccer team was looking bleak; after limping to the finish line with a string of six straight losses, the Oles ended a disappointing season with their second losing record in as many years. Furthermore, head coach Jeremy Driver elected to step down as head coach after ten consecutive seasons leading the team, and with only five members out of the 24-player roster returning as seniors leadership was scarce. Expectations for this fall were low.Evidently, however, nobody seems to have informed first-year coach Rachael Sushner of these obstacles. Against all odds, the Oles and their new leader have silenced all doubters during the first two weeks of the season and are poised to put up their best record in years.Sushner, a former all-region soccer player herself during her undergraduate days at Skidmore College, took the head coaching job in January after serving in assistant coaching roles for Wellesley College, Clarkson University and, most notably, Washington and Lee University. During the last three seasons with the latter, she helped lead the Generals to an impressive 45-8-3 record. Her knowledge and history of success have combined with a strong emphasis on teamwork to make the women’s soccer team a serious contender – a 180-degree turn from a mere season ago.“Our main focus this season is to play as a team,” Sushner says. “This means being organized, defending as a unit, pressuring hard and going at the other team with numbers. We have some really good athletes in our team and we are taking advantage of this... although it’s not always pretty, it’s been effective for the players we have and we feel good about it.” Taking advantage of a cohesive whole rather than relying on a few individuals has been an enormously successful strategy that has helped the Oles topple some of the conference’s mightiest opponents, culminating in a convincing 3-1 victory last Saturday over previously undefeated Gustavus. True to Sushner’s word, St. Olaf divvied up the glory in an honest team effort with three quick goals from Lauren Martin ’17, Claire Bash ’20 and Abby Stets ’18, the latter two of which came off of razor sharp corner kick assists from Grace Bestler ’17. The Gusties later responded with a goal of their own to make it an honest contest, but the Oles were in control from the opening seconds. When the final whistle blew, St. Olaf walked away with its fourth victory this fall, equalling its total for the entirety of the 2015 season a mere two weeks into this one.Sushner notes how a creating a positive atmosphere has contributed to the team’s rapid turnaround. “We try to have an environment where it’s okay to make a mistake and your teammates and coaches will encourage you to be better next time,” she said.Sushner immediately prioritized fostering this air of positivity when she took charge of the team.   “I believe this type of environment is the best way to succeed and walk off the field feeling good about yourself instead of frustrated or lacking confidence,” she said. Beating Gustavus was a great leap forward for the relatively young team, but the real challenges begin on Saturday when Concordia will attempt to halt the Oles’ momentum. The contest is the first of nine straight conference bouts that will define this season as either a true Cinderella story or merely a positive step towards future success. “Every single game we play is difficult because our conference is really tough,” Sushner said regarding the games ahead. “Constantly learning difficult lessons is challenging – it’s exhausting and stressful, but it’s also what makes it so rewarding when we do succeed.” If the first two weeks are any indication, the Oles are going to keep succeeding and feeling rewarded; under Sushner’s guidance of teamwork and positivity, they’ve transformed into a serious threat capable of keeping pace with the conference’s best.
Categories: Colleges

Bizarre indie film refreshes

Manitou Messenger - 6 hours 56 min ago
This past summer, a film titled “Swiss Army Man” was released in theaters. Most reading this column have probably never heard of it. The few who have likely only  know it based on the reputation of its tabloid nickname: “the Daniel Radcliffe farting-corpse movie.” Yes, it does star Daniel Radcliffe. And yes, he does play the role of a farting corpse. And surprisingly enough, it is the most touching film I have ever seen.The film, written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known collectively as DANIELS), tells the story of a young man (Paul Dano) who is apparently abandoned on a desert island until a corpse (Radcliffe) washes up on shore. This corpse begins speaking to the young man, who soon discovers that the cadaver and its natural functions can be used as a sort of tool (hence the title), including: farts used as a flamethrower, his throat to launch small objects machine-gun-style, and of course an erection that functions as a compass. I swear to God this movie is endearing – you’re just going to have to take my word on this.I’m not going to talk too much about the plot of “Swiss Army Man” here though, as there simply isn’t much need. Though a truly original and bizarre movie, it is relatively simple. This simplicity does not weaken the film, however. Rather, it emboldens the heart of its own storytelling as it blends the macabre and the childish to reflect on the nature of loneliness, friendship and love. In “Swiss Army Man,” DANIELS explore the humanity in the insignificant aspects of life that we are often too embarrassed to talk about.Beautiful narrative aside, another reason I love this film is that it so wonderfully highlights what is missing from most other movies. “Swiss Army Man” is a properly cinematic experience, eschewing the pablum of the film industry’s ever-increasing risk of being “spoiled” by the audience simply knowing the bare facts of a narrative. It cannot be boiled down to just a list of events. It is a story that belongs in film and film alone; no other medium could convey it honestly.In a time when Hollywood’s near-refusal to innovate causes many viewers to become jaded amidst the cynicism of trope-ridden adaptations and remakes, the “farting-corpse movie” is a freshly genuine film that reminds us of why we first fell in love with cinema.“Swiss Army Man” is set for home media release on Oct. 4, and I have already preordered my copy.
Categories: Colleges

A devotion book devoted to college students

St. Olaf College - 7 hours 47 min ago

St. Olaf College Pastor Matthew Marohl and Associate College Pastor Katie Fick with “Faith in College” — the newest edition of the devotion book they write each year.

In his first two years on campus, College Pastor Matthew Marohl was asked the same question a surprising number of times:

Can you recommend a devotion book written for college students?

The query came from all kinds of students. Religion majors. Athletes. The leaders of student organizations.

“They all wanted a devotion book aimed at college students,” Marohl says. “And there are shockingly few.”

So the summer after completing his second year at St. Olaf College, Marohl sat down and wrote one. The book, titled Faith in Motion, included 50 prayers and 20 devotions that focused on everything from roommate problems and exam anxieties to the excitement of going home for a visit.

“I wanted to produce a devotion book that got to the heart of what college life is really like,” Marohl says.

He had 300 copies printed and set them out for students to take. They flew off the shelves.

When Associate College Pastor Katie Fick arrived the next year, they worked on producing a second volume together, titled Living Faith. They each wrote 30 prayers and included 20 new devotions, focusing on issues that they knew would speak directly to college students. This time they printed 500 copies — and by the end of the year, they too were gone.

This fall the St. Olaf pastors released the third volume of the book, titled Faith in College: Devotions and Prayers.

Like the first two editions, it includes prayers and devotions designed to help students connect their faith to the issues they’re actually dealing with.

Take, for example, a prayer titled “When Homework is Difficult”:

I really like what I am learning, God,
but this homework is so hard.
I thought that if I studied something I loved it would be easy,
but it takes much more effort than I realized.
Sometimes I think it means this isn’t what I am meant to do.
Other times I am determined to work hard and
keep pursuing my goals.

When I get frustrated, O God, be with me.
Encourage me to take a break and refocus.
Give me the determination to finish my work,
strengthen me in my vocation as a student and
help me discern which work I truly love to do.

Or a prayer titled “I Wish I Was Dating” that begins with a line many people might not think of including in a prayer:

Loving God, I really want a date.

Marohl says the goal of the book is to model that all of life’s experiences can be included in prayer.

The devotion book — which St. Olaf students can pick up for free or download from the College Ministry website — focuses on issues that speak directly to college students.

“Why would you only pray for the health of your grandmother when what’s also on your mind is wishing someone would see you as interesting and creative and find you attractive?” Marohl says. “These prayers actually speak to college life.”

Fick notes that the topics included in Faith in College are not ones that she and Marohl simply think will resonate with college students.

“These are topics that we actually hear and answer questions about over and over again when we’re talking with students,” she says. “And to offer prayers on those topics means that we’re connecting faith with what they’re going through.”

The St. Olaf pastors — a lively, fun-loving duo popular with students — note that creating the devotional is a truly collaborative process. They have such similar styles and ideas of what students care about that in this third edition of the devotional, it can be hard for them to remember which pastor wrote which prayer or devotion.

But they can each easily rattle off the core components of faith life that the book touches on — things like grace, forgiveness, love, and serving one another.

“All students who come to campus will be wrestling on some level with questions of ‘What do I believe about the world?’ and ‘What is going to be meaningful in my life?'” Fick says. “And part of the Lutheran tradition is caring about that and helping all students address these questions.”

The devotion book, designed by Lisa Brown in the College Ministry Office with photos she’s taken all across campus, is funded by the Leif and Joen Mattila Jacobsen Endowment in Campus Ministry.

While Marohl and Fick have heard from students who read and use the devotion book, they note that — as with much of their work — they simply don’t know its full impact on campus.

“We certainly hope that they will get used, but part of our measure of success with it is that they get picked up every fall,” Fick says. “They disappear.”

Categories: Colleges

Bookmark and Share

Syndicate content