Sociology professor earns National Endowment for the Humanities grant

St. Olaf College - Thu, 04/30/2015 - 9:21am

St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Sociology Ibtesam Al Atiyat has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the fieldwork for her forthcoming book, Body Politics and Nation Building in Modern Jordan: An Analysis of Public Discourses on Honor Killings and Rape.

The book analyzes the different discourses that are framing the laws and legal procedures about rape and honor killings. It also examines the circumstances that have led to public debates around these issues, and how the amendment or preservation of laws has been presented as essential to special visions of progress.

“I argue that the clash between groups — often classified as traditionalists and modernists — regarding women’s sexuality, is actually a struggle for legitimacy and power, shaped by national and global factors such as the expansion of Western hegemony in the Arab World,” says Al Atiyat.

This summer she will travel to Amman, Jordan, where she plans to examine court trial scripts in cases of rape and honor crimes. She will also be interviewing women’s activists, Islamists, tribal leaders, judges, and lawyers.

This research will be published in her book, which Al Atiyat hopes will benefit undergraduate and graduate students interested in the Middle East and Islam.

Al Atiyat earned her B.A. and M.A. in sociology from the University of Jordan and her Ph.D. from Freie Universitaet Berlin in Germany. She has taught at the UN International Leadership Institute in Amman and German Jordanian University. She joined the St. Olaf faculty in 2009.

NEH Summer Stipends support individuals pursuing advanced research that contributes to scholarly knowledge and the public’s understanding of the humanities. Recipients produce scholarly articles, monographs on special subjects, books on broad topics, archeological site reports, translations, editions, or other scholarly tools.

The award is highly competitive, accepting just 8 percent of the proposals it receives. Al Atiyat is the second St. Olaf faculty member to receive an NEH Summer Stipend award in the last two years.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Win Three Times at Tommie Twilight

Carleton Sports - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 11:32pm

The Carleton College women’s track and field team won three events at the 14-team Tommie Twilight meet hosted by St. Thomas. This was the final tune up for the Knights in advance of the MIAC Championships.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Open Postseason Play with 8-1 Win Over St. Ben’s

Carleton Sports - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 9:03pm

The Carleton College women’s tennis team swept the singles competition en route to an 8-1 triumph over the College of Saint Benedict in the quarterfinals of the MIAC Playoffs. The Knights (14-3) now advance to Friday’s semifinal at St. Thomas.

Categories: Colleges

Mental health needs funding at St. Olaf

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 2:58pm

Further investment in the mental well-being of students at St. Olaf could possibly pay dividends. Diagnoses of mental health issues have spiked in the last half century, and an article published by Psychology Today in 2010 claims that high school and college-aged students were five to eight times more likely to meet the criteria for depression than their counterparts of 50 years ago. This trend shows little sign of reversal. More recent findings in sources like the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry corroborate the findings of Psychology Today, with the increase in anxiety being especially marked in women. It is true that as society has advanced, its view of mental disorders has progressed in leaps and bounds.

To name a famous example, in 1943 the famous general George S. Patton slapped a soldier suffering from battle fatigue, known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although Patton came under criticism, he was not removed from his command in World War II. Actions like these would be seen as completely abhorrent in the present day. Perhaps mental disorders have become more frequently diagnosed as they’ve lost some of their stigma, but the studies and statistics on the issues still remain alarming.

With all the current discussion over mental health, many companies, colleges and schools have been making an effort to offer help. St. Olaf, like most post-secondary educational institutions across the country, has several resources and organizations in place to address the need for assistance with coping and treating mental disorders and illnesses. Among these is the counseling center, Boe House, which offers group programs as well as individual counseling for students by licensed psychologists and a psychiatrist.

Due to the non-physical nature of mental illness, its debilitating effects can often be lost on those who have not experienced it. This type of illness is seen as more fictive than a strictly physical disease, such as mononucleosis (more commonly just called mono), but it is perhaps just as debilitating. Unfortunately, some do see professing mental illness as false pretense for obtaining a Xanax prescription or a sign of poor character. GOOD magazine published an article on mental health that will even appeal to such people. In this article, the author cites a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that estimates that as much as four percent of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can be lost due to the mental health issues. These losses usually come in the form of reduced productivity of workers and other indirect costs that can be hard to quantify.

These GDP losses are exacerbated in poorer countries where, for economic and often cultural reasons, the development of psychological issues is more likely to occur and less likely to be treated. However, this certainly does not mean that more developed countries are immune to the same problems. A study by the Australian Mental Health Commission claimed as high as a $2.30 yield in increased productivity return for every dollar spent on creating a mentally healthy workforce.

One can only imagine how much more academic progress could be made if fewer students had personal problems to deal with or the monetary savings for the college if it spent less on issues relating to drug and alcohol abuse, such as property damage or medical liabilities.

Although St. Olaf is not a profit-making venture, it could be beneficial to further invest in the mental health of Oles, not only for the students, but also for the college itself.

Scott Johnson ’18 ( is from Gladstone, Mo. He majors in history.

Categories: Colleges

Four Knights named to NFF Hampshire Honor Society

Carleton Sports - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 11:50am

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced the members of the 2015 NFF Hampshire Honor Society, and four Knights made the list.

Categories: Colleges

Companydance preps for concert

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:00am

At 7:30 pm from April 30 to May 2, the St. Olaf Dance Department will host their annual spring Company Dance showcase, in Kelsey Theatre.

“This year it is very diverse, in the types of dancing: there’s going to be modern dance, lyrical, there’s even going to be one bluesy lindy swing, so it’s very different” explained Jacob Borg ’17, student choreographer for the concert.

Beginning in September, auditions are held by the dance department for members of Company Dance and dance class students that professors select, allowing for a mixture of dance majors and dance enthusiasts. Generally these dancers are selected from the Sophomore, Junior and Senior classes, as the first years are involved in their “First Year Project.”

The concert itself is compiled of seven pieces: two pieces by Karla Grotting, the guest dancer in residence, two pieces by students Jacob Borg and Nicole Volpe ’16 and three by dance department faculty. Performances range anywhere from two and half minutes to 18 minutes.

Grotting’s two pieces are a mixture of jazz variations, with inflections of ballet and modern in their explorations. Her first piece, “Maiden,” is a timeless, Nordic folk rock reflection on the rattling experiences of her daughter’s time in middle school.

“It’s a really rhythmic, really driving, modern dance piece but how I use the music is much more of a jazz piece… It’s about shifting relationships, that approaching of adolescence and trying to figure out what your feelings are, connections are, what can you count on, what old ideas of looking at the world are thrown away and what new ideas of looking at the world appear,” Grotting said.

Her second piece, “Walk this Way,” is an existentialist crisis for the genre of jazz. A Ted Nash piece that uses instruments such as the accordion and violin, are untraditional for the category allows for playing with the question of what makes jazz “jazz.”

“There isn’t a specific vocabulary for that or steps that you do in jazz class, but maybe you do a ballet shape and blue the note- bend the shape, make a parallel, turn it in: find ways to shift and adapt, find more expressiveness and transcend the technique” Grotting said.

Resident chair of the dance department, Sherry Saterstorm, has a piece that blends swing, modern dance, body mind centering principles and “contact improvising,” that experiments with each of these pairings and interactions. Anthony Roberts crafted a devised piece along with his noticeably larger cast, allowing for students to learn experientially how to create a work from start to finish. Janice Roberts’ piece focuses on an Irish immigrant’s story, channeling intensive costumes with old time fiddle music and themes of what it means to leave home and fine one elsewhere.

Student choreographers Borg and Volpe also break out of the department’s modern-centric traditions; Volpe’s piece is more lyrically based and Borg’s errs on the side of the contemporary.

“My piece is called ‘I.’ So, it started off, like, trying to find myself through dancing, because dance is an art that, for example, in my case, when I was thinking about it and we talked about it in class, it gives me another face, but it doesn’t mean the way I act, the confidence that dance gives you, it doesn’t necessarily mean who I am or how I feel on the inside, so it’s more like ‘who am I really?’” Borg said.

For a process that began months ago, the journey has been about more than performance pieces; it has been about experimentation and expanding boundaries.

“I’ve enjoyed helping the dancers with what it means to make artistic choices in their training…I’m interested in pushing dancers to think of themselves like a soloist and when we repeat a combination, instead of thinking ‘I’m going to make it more perfect,’ (think) ‘I’m going to experiment, I’m going to explore, I’m going to apply these dynamics and qualities,’” Grotting said.

“It’s a concert that takes a full year effort; we meet twice a week. We’ve been working on them since September. I think it will be a nice experience for everyone to experience and it’s up to each and every individual to judge the dancing, everyone has their own aesthetics. But I think it’s an experience where you get to see the dancing, which is now more concert like, more polished, than what you normally see in Friday Night Lights. It has professional lighting: it’s more of a production base than just dancing,” Borg said.

Tickets are available for all, $8 for general admittance, but free for students, faculty and staff. They are available by calling the box office number, (507) 786-8987, between 11 am and 4 pm or through the St. Olaf web site.

Categories: Colleges

BORSC ‘Talk Box’ starts conversation

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:00am

The Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC) has launched an initiative to facilitate communication between students and the Board of Regents. Called the “Talk Box,” BORSC’s new enterprise invites students to anonymously submit comments or questions – via Oleville or on old-fashioned paper – about some aspect of St. Olaf. Members of BORSC will then find answers to those questions and responses to those comments.

Talk Box – as well as other recent BORSC initiatives – are meant to bridge the perceived gap between the interests of the Board of Regents and current students. Evan Davis ’15 currently serves as BORSC coordinator, and has worked this year to restructure BORSC so that its role is more relevant to Regents and students alike.

“The Board of Regents is a 35-member committee of mostly alumni who are highly dedicated to the college,” Davis said. “It’s very similar to a business model, and most higher education institutions – with the exception of big state schools – use this same model.”

“They decide things like which profs get tenure, and appoint the president,” Katelyn Regenscheid ’15, who serves as the Marketing and Communications Officer for BORSC, said. She explained that board members are appointed to six-year terms and have varied roles. Current Regents choose the new appointees, and a recent graduate joins the board each year as well. The board meets three times each year and focuses its attention on three specific issues at a time.

Because the Regents address a few topics in detail each year, BORSC underwent a restructuring beginning this academic year to align itself with the system the Regents use.

“BORSC used to be a committee that would research one big topic relevant to campus,” Davis said. “Last year, we decided to take on diversity – in the broadest sense.” However, when the Board of Regents was focused on sexual assault and BORSC was focused on diversity, conversations between the groups were less productive than everybody hoped.

“They really want student feedback and opinion, but it’s not really helpful if we are saying things that aren’t productive,” Regenscheid said. “It’s just a little more strategic and a little more effective if we are talking about the same issues.” She said that the Board of Regents and BORSC do some negotiation about what the plenary issues are; they are not merely dictated by the Regents for students to accept.

“We do have to take a step back as students and realize that the issues that are ours right now can’t be the only issues they are focused on,” Davis said. “We have to try to balance what our urges are right now with what is strategic and possible in the long term.” This year’s topics of focus are refreshing the strategic plan, faculty governance and marketing and communications.

“What we are doing now is being more project-oriented,” Davis said. Rather than focusing on one year-long project, BORSC aims to create platforms for communication between students and Regents on a variety of subjects. This is where Talk Box comes in.

“The Talk Box is an opportunity for students to give feedback that we are going to look at and use for conversations with the Regents,” Davis said. “At the same time, it will educate students about what happens at our school.”

Students can find birdhouses in Buntrock Commons with slips of paper next to them. They can write down any question or comment and slide it into the box. Alternatively, students can visit and submit an anonymous comment via the Web site.

The current Talk Box theme is “myths and rumors.” Students are encouraged to submit any rumors they have heard to the Talk Box. Then, members of BORSC will do their research and find answers to those questions.

“A lot of times, people say, ‘Well, how am I even supposed to get answers about that?’” Regenscheid said. Talk Box was launched to demystify “the administration” and to help students find the answers they are looking for. After “myths and rumors,” BORSC will announce more Talk Box themes.

“In coming weeks, we will be asking questions that directly relate to what the Regents are talking about,” Hannah Fedje-Johnson ’16 said, who was recently elected as BORSC coordinator for the 2015-2016 academic year. BORSC members said they are looking forward to not only educating students, but also making sure that students’ voices are heard by the Regents.

“We know we’re going to get lots of responses about gender-neutral bathrooms and about Black Lives Matter, because that’s what students care about,” Regenscheid said. “We can then tell the Regents that that’s what students are talking about.”

“The project, so far, is doing exactly what we wanted,” Davis said. “Some questions are serious and some are less serious. We will take everything seriously and give students a legitimate answer.”

“We’re actually more excited about some of the more controversial ones,” Fedje-Johnston said.

The next step for BORSC is to organize the submissions into categories, and then publish the answers on Oleville. Students can – and should – join in the conversation by visiting and clicking on “Talk Box.”


Categories: Colleges

Knights Take On Oles at Rolex Classic

Carleton Sports - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 9:56pm

After a one-year hiatus, the Rolex Classic returned to the schedule as the Carleton College men’s track and field team hosted crosstown rival St. Olaf College for a dual meet. The Knights won seven of the 16 events contested.

Categories: Colleges

Playoff Hopes Dashed as Knights are Swept by St. Thomas

Carleton Sports - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 9:15pm

While game one came down to a throw at the plate in the final inning, game two was decided by a huge third inning as University of St. Thomas dealt the visiting Carleton College baseball team a pair of setbacks and ended the Knights' playoff hopes by scores of 3-2 and 12-4, respectively.

Categories: Colleges

Social progress index beats out GDP

Manitou Messenger - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 2:57pm

The United States has the 38th lowest child mortality rate, 55th lowest maternal mortality rate, 41st lowest number of homicides and ranks 80th in political terror. According to lists by CIA World Factbook, International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations, the United States has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world.

For years, we have been measuring a country’s growth and potential for growth using economic indicators such as GDP. However, economic standing is a limiting form of measurement. The old cliché rings true: money doesn’t buy happiness. Economic measurements don’t include social and political conditions and fail to take into account the history of each country. These measurements also fail to define exactly what each country is spending its money on.

However, according to the newly-created Social Progress Index, the United States ranks 16th, falling behind fifteen other countries in a variety of social and political measurements. Clearly, whatever factors are placing the U.S. behind Norway, Sweden, Canada and Japan are not reflected in our economic standing.

The Social Progress Index, developed in 2014, aims to measure a variety of social and political data using only social and environmental indicators. This means that all economic indicators – like GDP and median income – are excluded from the calculations. The idea is that by excluding these indicators, the Social Progress Index can systematically analyze the relationships between social and economic progress. This analysis will help to highlight flaws in economically successful countries and strengths in economically stagnant countries.

An interesting aspect of this index is its holistic focus on all countries. Many previous social measurements are designed for and focus on the poorest nations. The Social Progress Index can point out stark inequalities and social problems throughout the world. The index emphasizes quality of life, citizen health, political advancement and types of spending as marks of progress within a country. The data also pinpoint a variety of areas in which specific countries are doing well, have room for growth or are scoring poorly.

I believe that this index will help us redefine what we consider development. Many of the wealthiest countries, including the United States, China and Saudi Arabia, have staggering wealth inequalities and stagnant political processes. States such as the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Japan and Canada have all made great strides in healthcare, reduction of crime rates and overall happiness of citizens. These are things I think we should care about. The goal of government is to protect and provide for its citizens, and by focusing on outside definitions of wealth, we ignore the hindering social problems that cause countries to deteriorate.

The Social Progress Index highlights flaws and allows us to look around the world at what is working. For example, if the United States wants to reduce homicide and the number of incarcerated citizens, it might take a closer look at Social Progress Index data and analyze the more-effective justice systems of Norway and the Netherlands. The index is cohesive and globally-focused. It presents the condition of the world as an intricate web, and not a ladder with 196 rungs for each country.

On top of all of that, the Social Progress Index also has a pretty spiffy website. Check it out at

Emma Whitford ’18 ( is from Middleton, Wis. She majors in political science.


Categories: Colleges

Ole tennis clinches playoff position

Manitou Messenger - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 10:59am

The St. Olaf women’s tennis team took on the College of St. Benedict on April 18 in a MIAC clash that was important to both teams’ playoff aspirations. Nothing could stop the Oles, as they rolled to an 8-1 victory.

The match started off in a troublesome fashion for the Oles, as the number one double tandem of Margaret Zimmerman ’18 and Kristi Kroker ’15 fell to a heavy 0-8 defeat. However, St. Olaf rallied in the number two and three doubles positions, with Lisa Hall ’16 and Maya MacGibbon ’16 winning second doubles 8-4, and Erin McDonald ’18 and Bailey Kent ’16 giving the Oles a 2-1 lead with a tight 8-6 victory at the third doubles position.

With a slender advantage heading into singles play, the Oles were relentless, winning all six matches in straight sets on their way to a dominant victory. Hall led the way at number one singles, winning 6-3, 6-4. Hall has an outstanding 12-2 record in singles over the course of the season.

Kroker had a battle at number two singles, where she edged her opponent by a scoreline of 7-5, 6-4. Not to be outdone, MacGibbon controlled her third singles match from start to finish, recording a 6-1, 6-3 victory. Zimmerman also fought through a tough first set at fourth singles, which she won 6-4. However, she raced away with the second set 6-1 to score a comfortable win. The fifth and sixth singles matches proved to be no problem for the Oles, as Erin Hynes ’15 and Kent won their matches 6-1, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-0 respectively.

The Oles, with a conference record of 6-2, have secured their playoff spot, despite having two remaining regular season matches to complete. They will be joined in the playoffs by the University of St. Thomas, Gustavus Adolphus College, Carleton College, College of St. Catherine and one other team that has yet to be determined.

St. Olaf appears destined to begin its postseason campaign in the quarterfinal round on April 29. The Oles will be looking to improve on last season’s performance, where they fell in the quarterfinal to College of St. Catherine 4-5.


Categories: Colleges

NBC affiliate talks to St. Olaf students from Nepal

St. Olaf College - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 9:53am

St. Olaf students (from left) Bishwas Sharma ’16, Stuti Thapa Magar ’15, Pika Pokharel ’18, and Yazmin Moktan ’18 talk to NBC affiliate KTTC-TV about the earthquake that hit their home country of Nepal.

St. Olaf College student Bishwas Sharma ’16 tells KTTC-TV that the two hours between when he first learned about the earthquake that devastated his home country of Nepal on Saturday and when he was able to reach his family was “one of the scariest times in my life.”

The powerful 7.8-magnitude quake has claimed the lives of more than 5,500 people and left thousands more injured.

Sharma and three other St. Olaf students from Nepal — Stuti Thapa Magar ’15, Pika Pokharel ’18, and Yazmin Moktan ’18 — tell the Rochester NBC affiliate that witnessing the devastation from afar has been difficult.

Nepal is the home country of seven current St. Olaf students, and together they organized a candlelight vigil held in Boe Chapel April 29 to remember the victims and discuss ways to “come together as a community to provide aid to this country of rubble that we call home,” as Moktan noted in a letter she sent to the campus community.

The students emphasize that while aid is starting to pour into Nepal’s largest cities, like Kathmandu, help is still not getting to many rural areas.

That’s a point that St. Olaf alumnus Subhash Ghimire ’10, the editor of the daily Nepalese newspaper Republica, reiterated in an interview with National Public Radio. Ghimire is from a village in the mountainous district of Gorkha, which is near the earthquake’s epicenter, where he said not a single house is left standing.

He says the devastation from the earthquake, combined with the lingering effects of a decade-long civil war, have left the country facing a massive rebuilding task.

“We were still trying to get out of the conflict and rebuild some of the structures destroyed in the wartime,” Ghimire tells NPR. “And now you add all the destruction from the earthquake, and it has taken us back at least a decade.”

Yet Moktan tells KTTC that her family members in Nepal are already expressing hope for the future. “My dad, who is in Nepal, said people are so stressed but he said we’re shaken, but not broken.”


Categories: Colleges

Micaela LaRose Leads Knights to Sweep of Martin Luther in Season Finale

Carleton Sports - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 9:16pm

Talk about giving it your all. In her final two games for the Knights, senior captain Micaela LaRose had a field day in game one, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 3 RBI, including the walk-off single in the bottom of the sixth to end the contest early as the Carleton College softball team defeated visiting Martin Luther College by scores of 8-0 (6 inn.) and 4-2.

Categories: Colleges

Letter to the Editors: Second from April 24, 2015

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 7:55pm

In the March 20 edition of the Messenger, Christine Barkley ’18 wrote about the media coverage of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, calling it “ridiculous.” This scandal started with the revelation that while serving as Secretary of State, Clinton used a private email address instead of a government email. Barkley asserts, “Who really cares?” This story has been “blown out of proportion” and was a “simple oversight.”

Let’s take a deeper look at what has happened here: in lieu of using her mandated government email, Clinton installed a private server in her New York home under the name “Eric Hoteham,” and then used a personal email to communicate as our nation’s top diplomat. It is hard to see this as a simple “oversight,” especially coming from Clinton, who is one of the sharpest legal and political minds in our country.

As I see it, this scandal is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, her private email server is significantly more vulnerable to hackers, lacking the sophisticated privacy measures one would find on a government server. Secondly, the release of her work-related emails to the government has been done by her own personal lawyers, leading to no public transparency. We can only take her word that she released all the relevant emails. If she had something to hide, she could simply not include it in the 55,000 pages of emails her lawyers already released. Why not let an objective third party review her emails?

This scandal is emblematic of a criticism commonly waged against Clinton: that she operates with little transparency. In fact, the insularity of her campaign for president in 2008 is largely seen as the cause of its failure. Most recently, this criticism resurfaced when it was revealed that the Clinton Foundation had been surreptitiously accepting large donations from foreign governments while Clinton was the nation’s top diplomat.

As a vanguard female political leader, Clinton has sustained much criticism – some unnecessary and rooted in sexism, and some warranted. I think this is a case of warranted criticism. I find it ridiculous to disregard a clear ethics violation. We should strive to be critical of the politicians that represent us, holding them up to the high moral and ethical standards that our democracy deserves.

Taylor Lightman ’16 ( is from Lewisburg, Pa. He majors in religion and political science.

Categories: Colleges

Young Knights Conclude Season at SJU Invitational

Carleton Sports - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 1:49pm

The Carleton College men's golf team wrapped up its spring schedule at the Saint John's University Spring Invitational this past weekend. With three rookies in the lineup, the Knights finished 17th out of 18 teams with a three-round total of 938, which put them at 82 strokes above par.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiments: April 24, 2015

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 10:05am

It’s common knowledge that St. Olaf College is superior in every meaningful and tangible way to our dear friends over at Carleton College.

Gone are the days of the 1930s, when students from each college would fight it out in downtown Northfield, in scenes of destructive violence (the Oct. 18, 1961 Carletonian edition indicated that one store owner claimed his glass window had been smashed eight times from 1923-1936 due to the colleges’ students clashing).

Fortunately, we no longer have to resort to these brutish displays, but there are several other ways that Oles still reign supreme over Carls.

1. Athletics: do we even need to bring this one up? It’s often said that the St. Olaf-Carleton rivalry is mainly about sports, but it’s not really fair to call something a rivalry if one side wins basically every time.

Sure, Oles will occasionally be kind and let the Knights win the odd game of volleyball or tennis to keep their spirits up, but most of the time, it’s not even fair.

Our friends do like to celebrate these rare victories in fashion though. For example, last year, following a late goal in a soccer game between the two colleges, several Carls raised their middle fingers, and even pulled down their pants to reveal their bare buttocks in front of the Ole fans in celebration. Talk about seizing the day.

Luckily for us, their hair basically touched the ground and obscured most of their pale derrières from our view. It was the first time in my life I’d ever appreciated awful hippie haircuts.

2. Food: It’s all in the numbers. Go ahead and take a look at the Princeton Review’s 2015 edition of the “Best 379 Colleges,” and you’ll find St. Olaf comes in at #5 in the Best Campus Food category. I don’t even know where Carleton ranks, because what’s the point of looking past the top 10 to see who all the losers are? A Carl might argue back, and say something about how great their entrance SAT scores are over there. But you know what, I can’t eat an SAT score, so I really couldn’t care less.

3. Fictional Alumni: let’s just compare two fictional alumni from each of the two colleges. Carleton has Ben Wyatt from the television series Parks and Recreation. I hate that show, and I think it’s stupid. St. Olaf has Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. I like that book. St. Olaf – 3. Carleton – 0.

4. Geography: it’s time to consider the most basic reason that we’re superior. We’re on a hill, and they’re at the bottom of it. You know what else was built on a hill? Ancient Rome, and that was pretty cool, wasn’t it?

Basically, what I’m getting at is that if both schools decided to go to war, it would be easy for Oles to repel the invading Carls. I know, it’s a hypothetical, but you never know when they’re going to get sick of eating their inferior food and decide to attack.

There are a lot of other reasons St. Olaf reigns supreme over Carleton, but I can’t list them all. I have things to do, like interact in a non-socially awkward way with my friends, make eye contact with people, do something athletic or eat good food. You get the point.

Categories: Colleges

Academic offices transition leadership

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 10:00am

Two major faculty appointments were announced this spring, bringing changes to the Hill. The offices affected include the Registrar’s office and the Academic Support Center. Steve McKelvey, currently a professor in the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (MSCS) department, will be serving as the Registrar and Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs. Kathy Glampe will be moving from Director of Student Support Services to Director of Academic Support and Advising.

McKelvey has been as St. Olaf for 30 years – in the MSCS department the entire time – but plans to commit the next six years to the registrar position. Typically, the registrar serves three-year terms, but the outgoing registrar, Mary Cisar, has resigned from the position after 12 years of service.

Cisar plans to go on sabbatical to pick up her French research, and will return to teaching in the Romance Languages department after that.

“I have enjoyed all the people I got to meet and all the experience I have now with the cirriculum, and I am looking forward to taking all this knowledge I’ve built up and incorporating it into my teaching, and bringing it back to my department,” Cisar said.

McKelvey is unsure if he will stay in the registrar’s office after his six years, or if he will return to the MSCS department after his commitment.

In addition to teaching and research, McKelvey has also served as the Honor Council Faculty Observer, the Interim Director of the Center for Experiential Learning (now known as the Piper Center), the Director of the Center for Integrative Studies and four years as the Junior/Senior Class Dean in the Dean of Students Office. He is excited to join the staff in the registrar’s office next year.

“The college is lucky to have such an excellent collection of people in its registrar’s office, and I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to work closely with them in their mission of service to students,” McKelvey said. He will also miss teaching, however, as he transitions to this new position.

“I have found great pleasure and meaning in my role as teacher and mentor, and I am unsure what life will be like without close and long term contact with students,” McKelvey said. “I will miss teaching and watching my students as they slowly grow and mature during their four years at St. Olaf.”

His previous experiences, as well as his time working directly with students as a professor, will help in his new role. His goal is to be “responsible for keeping St. Olaf’s curriculum and teaching current, excellent and relevant to a changing world while remaining true to the time-tested and undeniable value of a traditional liberal arts education,” McKelvey said.

Kathy Glampe, the other new appointment for next year, will be moving from her role with the TRiO program to working in the Academic Support Center. TRiO traditionally works with high schools in the Twin Cities to encourage and assist students to pursue postsecondary education. She has directed the Student Support Services (SSS) for the past 18 years.

As an alumna of the college herself, she feels connected to the community of students here. In her role within SSS, she “created and implemented innovative programming to support students with the goal of improving their academic achievement, retention and graduation rates.” Glampe is hoping this change is permanent, and is looking forward to beginning her work in the Academic Support Center.

“My goal as the Director of Academic Support and Advising is to create and implement programming that will support all students to be successful at St. Olaf through the services provided by the Academic Support Center and through the relationship that students build with their faculty advisor,” Glampe said of her new role.

Both new appointments promise to bring about positive change as well as maintain the continued success of these offices in the 2015-2016 school year.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf to award honorary degree to renowned elephant ecologist

St. Olaf College - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 9:05am

St. Olaf College will award an honorary degree to Raman Sukumar, an internationally renowned conservation biologist and elephant ecologist, on May 1.

The honorary degree convocation, part of the college’s Honors Day celebration, will be streamed and archived online. Sukumar will deliver an address at the ceremony titled Through an Elephant’s Eyes.

While on campus, Sukumar will also deliver two lectures. The first, on April 29, is titled The World of Elephant Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. The second, on April 30, is titled Climate Change and the Resilience of Tropical Dry Forests. An exhibit of his papers and books will also be on display in the Hustad Science Library.

Sukumar’s connection with St. Olaf extends more than 20 years, during which time he has welcomed students participating in the Biology in South India program — 60 students to date — to his research teams, guiding their work and providing training in field ecology and conservation research.

A professor of ecology at the Indian Institute of Science, Sukumar’s specialties include wildlife ecology with a focus on the Asian elephant, tropical forest ecology, climate change, and conservation biology. He has worked on several projects over the years, including designing the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which was established in 1986 as the first of its kind in India.

He also initiated and directed the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, an independent organization that worked with governmental and nongovernmental agencies to best conserve elephant habitat and manage human-elephant conflict.

He has also been published on the behavior of the Asian elephant, climate change, and tropical forest ecology in many leading journals. He has four books to his name, the most recent one titled The Story of Asia’s Elephants.

Over the years, he has received several awards for his work, including the Whitley Gold Award for International Nature Conservation, the International Cosmos Prize, and the T.N. Khoshoo Memorial Award for Conservation, for which he was the first recipient. In 2007 he was commended by the prime minister of India for contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that shared the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 2014 he was elected a fellow of the World Academy of Sciences.

Sukumar earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Madras, and then went on to earn his doctorate at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). He then joined the IISc faculty at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, and became a Fulbright scholar and completed a postdoctoral fellowship Princeton University. He is currently a professor of ecology at IISc, is on the faculty at Divecha Centre for Climate Change, and is an adjunct senior research scientist at Columbia University.

Categories: Colleges

‘Microadventures’ encourage vacationing close to home

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 8:51am

Most Americans have a clichéd notion of what the typical travel destination should be like: exotic beaches, historical cities, famous landmarks and so on. Yet British novelist, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and (former) world traveler Alastair Humphreys is moving toward a different type of vacation – one that can be found right in your back yard.

Humphreys preaches the idea of the “microadventure,” or an adventure that an everyday individual can experience without the cost and time required for a larger vacation. These microadventures are not only a good way to get out of the house and discover new locations close to home, but are also a great way to relieve stress and spend more time with family and friends.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Humphreys emphasizes the amount of work that many Americans put themselves through and the belief that Americans need to get away (far away) in order to cure the woes of the nine-to-five life.

“But Americans, perhaps even more than Brits, need to get out of the office because they work so many hours. Plus, America has so much empty space and beauty,” he said. Humphreys definitely has a point: we Americans tend to devalue the land and nature that we have. One only has to look at Carleton College to see an outstanding example of what the state of Minnesota has to offer, considering that it boasts an 880-acre arboretum. This may sound crazy, but St. Olaf also has natural lands and students can even walk there by foot.

I believe that this new concept of the microadventure is important for us living in a culture that values the extravagant and exotic. Downsizing is the new fad, and America needs to hop on the bandwagon if it wants to keep up with the rest of the world. The grass may not be any greener on the other side, and it is important to recognize the vast beauty that we have access to in the Midwest.

Small adventures such as hiking, camping in the back yard or biking to a town you have never visited are the small steps needed to live a better life. Not only do these microadventures shine a new light on the idea of travel and vacation, but they also allow individuals to see their own cultures and experiences here in the Midwest in a much different perspective.

“I didn’t invent bike rides or sleeping out, but I think the hashtag (#microadventure) makes it look a little cooler, and seeing what other people are doing becomes inspiring,” Humphreys said.

Humphreys hits the nail on the head here: these adventures are not only accessible, but are also spreading around the country. They are a great way to spend time with family, friends and maybe even yourself along the way. So give up trying to book that dream vacation in Spain and head on out to your back yard. You may never know what you’ll find.

Cole Hatzky ’18 ( is from Iowa City, Iowa. He majors in English.

Categories: Colleges

Knights One Shot Short in Home Invite

Carleton Sports - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 10:58pm

Shannon Holden fired a two-under par 34 on the back nine, ending the day at 76 and the tournament in a tie for third while Grace Gilmore posted her seventh top-10 finish of the season, but Carleton came up just short of its sixth win of the season as the Knights finished one shot back of St. Thomas at the Carleton Invite.

Categories: Colleges

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