Colleges

Youth exodus prompts MN ‘talent task force’

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:10am

Minnesota is currently facing a population loss problem labeled a “youth exodus.” The Star Tribune reported that yearly, the average number of people ages 25 to 34 moving into the state – a measly 1,549 – is doing little to combat the huge loss of 18- to 24-year-olds, which is roughly 9,300. Most of those leaving are recent college graduates pursuing jobs or other post-graduate endeavors in various parts of the country. While many have found specific opportunities that motivated them to leave, a large contributing factor is a general idea that Minnesota lacks opportunities for young people. This attitude drives many away, and is leaving us at a loss for young, competent workers.

The same Star Tribune article suggested that by 2020, Minnesota will have a shortage of more than 100,000 workers, an unheard-of deficit since World War II. Why exactly are so many young people deciding to leave? As many have suggested, it all comes down to image. Minnesota lags behind in this regard, apparently lacking a certain appeal despite a wealth of opportunities. Many have lauded the Twin Cities as a pair of modern metropolises, marked by great opportunity and potential for success. Somehow, this is lost on the modern generation, and many opt to leave for what seems more like a traditionally successful city or region.

It is difficult to pin down any particular attitudes that the public shares, but certain notions certainly seem clear. Among these is the idea that Minnesota, and much of the Midwest, is a place to settle down, not a place for real opportunity. Many recent college graduates crave success and upward mobility, so they go somewhere that appears exciting and full of opportunity. What generally happens is that these young people, searching for immediate success, wind up settling down wherever they go and seldom return to Minnesota as they had planned. The Midwest doesn’t feel exciting, regardless of how much is actually going on.

To garner a good, reliable workforce, it is crucial to draw in the workers when they are young. This is why it is so important to keep young people grounded in successful Midwest regions. To really motivate people to stay, the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area has assembled a “talent task force.” This group of up-and-coming professionals and CEOs is exploring several plans to incentivize college graduates to work in the state. A large part of this includes emphasizing the nightlife, food, entertainment and the outdoors. This is meant to demonstrate that Minnesota is valuable beyond jobs, making it a place where young people could see themselves living.

This idea of young life and booming opportunity is what really drives youth representation, and what Minnesota certainly doesn’t lack in reality, it may lack in advertisement. The Twin Cities boast a wide variety of things targeted specifically to the young adult crowd. With its specialized bars and restaurants, an exciting nightlife and Minneapolis’ reputation as the top city for biking in the United States, Minnesota certainly does not lack a place for the young to work and live. It seems that, with publicity, Minnesota has the opportunity to become very successful in terms of a large workforce.

There is a hole in our labor that needs to be filled, and it seems likely that it will soon become not only a place for Minnesotans to stay, but the promised land of some other state’s exodus.

Conlan Campbell ’18 (cambe1@stolaf.edu) is from Burnsville, Minn. His major is undecided.

Graphic Credit: ERIN KNADLER/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

Criminal injustice

Manitou Messenger - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:03am

Traci Burch lectured in Viking Theatre on Monday, April 20, offering a perspective on the detrimental effects of mass incarceration in the United States.

Burch is an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University and a research professor for the American Bar Foundation.  Her lecture, “Mass Imprisonment: Consequences for Society and Politics,” was sponsored by the political science student group Pi Sigma Alpha as well as the Institute for Freedom and Community.  Given the prominence of police brutality as a topic in the news media, the groups selected Burch as the speaker to give the spring lecture for Pi Sigma Alpha.

Her lecture focused primarily not on police brutality itself, but rather on the way mass incarceration of young black men has been institutionalized into the criminal justice system in America. Burch’s research examined the ways in which the system is slanted toward certain groups and areas.

“It is both demographically and geographically concentrated,” she said. “As many of 10% of residents in disadvantaged communities are in prison at any given time.”

Burch illustrated that there are “communities that are prone to incidences of mass incarceration,” displaying maps with shading to represent black density (black people per square mile) superimposed over a map with prisoner density (prisoners per square mile).  Her research showed that prisoner density can even be drastic within specific neighborhoods, showing that one area in Georgia had a prisoner density of 470 prisoners per square mile.

Olivia Slack ’15, member of the executive board of Pi Sigma Alpha, helped to organize the lecture and contact Burch.  She described the data sets with the juxtaposed maps as visually jarring and discussed how it was a distinct and understandable way to see the connection rather than simply hearing about it.  She praised Burch’s lecture, saying, “Her research is very clear and accessible by people that are not political science majors and people not knowledgeable on the topic.”

Following this, Burch enumerated the various consequences of mass imprisonment: crime, disease, difficulties with familial relationships and lack of political representation for the imprisoned.  To highlight the effects beyond crime rate and incarceration, Burch discussed familial structure and the way children are adversely affected by this phenomenon as well as our political system.

“Individual offenders and their treatment are not the only factors that matter when we look at criminal justice policies,” Burch said. She argued that the problem within the criminal justice system is not merely police brutality, but rather it is an institutionalized issue.

Slack was also intrigued greatly by these detrimental effects.

“It’s a huge issue, and I especially was surprised by her point about how 20% of black men in Florida had been incarcerated,” she said. “If you’re a felon, you can’t vote, and that has huge political importance.  If 20% of the black male population can’t vote, that’s voter suppression in a way. I don’t think people usually think of imprisonment as another form of voter suppression.”

Burch concluded her lecture by imploring students and faculty to consider the ways in which we might change the system to better the lives of people in disadvantaged communities by bettering conditions in and out of prison.  Burch asked the audience, “Are there ways, for instance, that we might revise penal policies to decrease infectious disease within prisons?”

Additionally, she discussed simpler ways the system can be fought at a grassroots level by fostering things like stability in disadvantaged neighborhoods through creating friendships and trust within communities.

Overall, the lecture was received well through the St. Olaf community in both the political science community as well as the general student and faculty population.  Slack described the reactions to Burch as typically positive and additive to the ongoing campus discussion of race and politics in the United States.

jeddel1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Lit Crawl celebrates wide range of works

Manitou Messenger - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:19pm

On Friday, April 24, students and faculty gathered to attend the 2nd annual Lit Crawl, getting drunk not off of alcohol, but off of their love for literature. The event, organized by St. Olaf English honors society Sigma Tau Delta with help from the English department, the Poetry House, the Race and Ethnic Studies Program and the St. Olaf Theater Appreciation Society was well attended and featured voices from all over campus.

The idea for the Lit Crawl came about last year in an effort to build a community in the English department and feature voices from students from all over campus. The Lit Crawl utilized the concept of a pub crawl at which  the participants move from location to location with a different event happening at each station. The event was held in three parts, starting with a reading from professors, followed by an open mic and ending with a reading by award-winning Minneapolis author Ed Bok Lee.

This year, Sigma Tau Delta co-presidents Andrew Wilder ’15 and Madalyn Rose ’15 decided that they wanted to take the event further and incorporate new elements into the previous year’s event. They made changes that increased attendance, including bringing in pizza for the last station (attendance dwindled as the dinner hours approached last year) and bringing in an author from the Cities to do the final reading. This offered students a chance to hear from not only their professors, but also from outside authors that students don’t typically have the chance to witness.

The event began in Rolvaag Memorial Library, where students sat and listened to professors read from their favorite authors, with some professors even sharing works of their own. The works ranged from the abstract to the more lyrical, each bringing a different element to the room.

“I think the professors really enjoy this because it gives them a chance to share the literature that they love outside of a classroom setting,” Wilder said. “It’s a chance for them to organically bond over the common literature they all love.”

After the readings by professors, the event transitioned to the undercroft of Boe, where attendees could hear readings from students in a more informal setting. The space was quiet as each person stepped up, yet it transformed once they started speaking. The power and presence of their voices filled the room with each word uttered. 

The students that participated came from multiple departments around St. Olaf. The open mic offered students who were not English majors the opportunity to feature their pieces and to meet other students and professors with similar interests.

The final event was held in the Lair. There, Ed Bok Lee read poems and pizza was provided. The incorporation of Lee, who is an exceptionally performative poet, gave students the opportunity to connect with an award-winning author and be inspired by the success he has achieved.

The event will continue annually in order to foster an environment where English majors and non-English majors can come together to appreciate a common love for literature. In future years, students hope to continue to bring in outside authors and keep the well-rounded spirit of the event to highlight students, professors and other working authors.

“I really enjoy having a mix of the classics, but also the contemporary stuff that’s being written here and now,” Wilder said. “Its kind of the idea that literature is alive. There is great literature that is being produced right now and right here at St. Olaf, and I think that’s something to celebrate.”

madsen1@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: ANDREW WILDER/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

Holocaust survivors remember

Manitou Messenger - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:00am

On April 23rd, St. Olaf was honored to host Nelly Trocme-Hewett and Francelyn Lurie, two individuals who lived and experienced firsthand the German occupation of France, along with the horrors of the Holocaust. Their stories are told in A Good Place to Hide, a book by Peter Grose that focuses on their memories of the war.

Trocme-Hewett, who was a Protestant teen living in the rural village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon at the time, had parents who worked with the French Resistance in order to house Jewish refugees from all over France and other parts of Europe. In fact, the village in which Nelly grew up had been a safe haven for refugees ever since the Huguenots were persecuted by the Catholic Church, starting in the 16th century. As a teen, Trocme-Hewett never truly understood what was actually going on, because all information that was being sent in and out of the village could cost those working with the French Resistance their lives, including Nelly’s father. In fact, her father was arrested by French police being used by the German military, and was told to sign support for the Vichy Government or face possible arrest again. Her father was eventually released, but it was a close call. He later found out that the day after his release, the entire prison population was deported, never to be seen again. Trocme-Hewett claimed that she was never aware just how bad the situation was, considering that severe lack of food and other supplies that many individuals take for granted

“I never realized we were poorly fed,” she said. She also emphasized the important role that young people must play in times of strife and struggle.

“We are not progressing (in terms of peace and suffering). Moments of goodness are important. The role of young people is very important, for you decide what philosophy shall be continued,” she said.

When asked how she managed to remain strong throughout the war, Nelly simply said, “I lived by my value. This is part of my Christian philosophy.”

Unlike Trocme-Hewett, Francelyn Lurie lived through the war as a member of the Jewish faith, as was her entire family. Francelyn remembers her childhood as “wonderful,” until the Germans came to Paris. When World War II broke out, Lurie’s family was forced to flee their home not only because they were Jewish, but also because Francelyn’s maternal grandfather happened to have been a French spy during World War I, raising the fear that the Germans would come looking for him and his family. Her grandfather eventually escaped with her grandmother through Portugal, actually taking the final ship out of the country. She and the rest of her family fled to a small village in Vichy France and lived in an abandoned house and were supported by the local townspeople who risked their own lives to help others. Lurie stated that there was little to no food and water, “otherwise it was wonderful.” She and her family would often travel to the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, the same village where Trocme-Hewett lived at the time, but the two never met one another. It was during one of these stays that Francelyn found out that her father had been tortured and killed after he was caught sabotaging a train bound for Germany.

Lurie’s father was honored by France after the war and is a hero to the country and his family. One of her happiest memories from the war was when she and her siblings were walking along the road, shortly after her sister had heard that the war was over on the radio. As they were walking, they heard tanks coming up the road and immediately hid in the ditch. She remembers how much she and her sister were shaking, thinking that the Germans had sent out false messages to trick Jews into coming out of their hiding places. Much to their surprise, when the tanks approached, they were throwing out Hershey’s candy bars and chewing gum; the Americans had arrived.

Lurie’s mother was also honored after the war due to her efforts in the resistance, and ended up becoming the headmistress of five orphanages. Lurie eventually settled in America and married a man from Minneapolis.

It is important to remember these stories, especially since there are increasingly few people who lived through that time. We might be the last generation able to hear the life stories of many of those who suffered through the hardship and strife of World War II, and it is essential that we preserve whatever memories we can before it is too late.

hatzky1@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: ANDREW WILDER/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

Stimulant prescription abuse increases in adult population

Manitou Messenger - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 3:16am

An increase in productivity in the workplace may be positively correlated with the abuse of the stimulant Adderall. While high school and college students have long abused this drug to help them focus on their schoolwork, a recent New York Times article detailed an increase in adults abusing the drug in the workplace to increase productivity.

This article revealed that in interviews, dozens of people from a wide spectrum of professions said they and co-workers misused stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta to improve work performance. More and more adults have been faking Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) symptoms to obtain prescriptions to stimulants. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or access to the medication.

Addiction to unprescribed stimulants has become common in students, but has previously been rare in adults. Dr. Kimberly Dennis, the medical director of Timberline Knolls, a substance-abuse treatment facility for women outside Chicago, said, “We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45.”

This trend is not just found in the public workplace. Some stay-at-home mothers admit to taking Adderall. Lisa Dawes, a stay-at-home mother from Indiana, calls the pill “like mommy crack.” She admits to have taken the pill regularly over the course of three years. This expands the type of adults abusing these stimulants and adds another layer of complexity to this abuse: it not only encompasses working adults motivated to perform efficiently, but also individuals struggling to maintain a stable home life.

It is not enough that we live in an overworked and sleep-deprived nation, but now it has gotten to the point where people are so desperate to succeed that working hard is simply not enough. In a way, taking Adderall makes sense. If you don’t use it, someone else will take it and they will be more productive than you and stand out more. They will be up for promotion and will eventually climb the corporate ladder until one day, they are your boss. Your superiors either won’t care or they won’t notice that one of you was only more productive due to the use of stimulant that provided an unfair advantage. All they care about is the end result and the final product.

The ideas of working and having a career have become twisted. We have developed into a powerful nation with a fantastic workforce behind it. But it is not worth it if the workplace becomes a place where doing one’s best is simply not enough. The problem does not lie directly with the misuse of the drug. If people are feeling as if the only way for them to succeed is by taking drugs to complete more work than their colleagues, then something is wrong with the message, not the person.

Elizabeth, a Long Island native in her late 20s, said that not to take Adderall while competitors did would be like playing tennis with a wood racket. In a way, the use of Adderall in the workplace is much like an athlete’s use of amphetamines, which enhance athletes’ abilities and make them stronger. Steroids make athletes perform better, though with negative side effects and consequences if caught by their sport’s regulations committee. Members of a workplace should not have to feel so desperate to be so productive that the only way they can accomplish such a goal is by taking Adderall or other stimulants.

In some industries, the use of stimulants has been banned due to “reasons of safety and fairness.” According to the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there is an increase in emergency room visits due to the misuse of prescription stimulants.

The message that society is sending out to the younger generation is this: you will never be good enough. You must become a better version of yourself (preferably with stimulants) in order to succeed. It won’t matter that you will have some nasty side effects or that you will be breaking the company’s rules as long as it gets you ahead.

Is this really the message we want to send?

Devon Brichetto ’18 (briche1@stolaf.edu) is from Grand Rapids, Mich. She majors in biology.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiments: May 1, 2015

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 2:19pm

In the past three semesters, I have produced food waste a total of five times in the Caf. In that total, I am not including when I have tossed peels, rinds and used napkins because they are nearly inedible. I have and will argue to the bitter end that such technicalities do not account as food waste in any meaningful way.

Wasting clearly edible food by virtue of one’s eyes being larger than one’s stomach, however, is a subject on which I silently fume, and is the basis of my sentiments today.

My reasons for being angry over food waste are not new. We are lucky to be living in the abundance of St. Olaf College, and that should not be taken for granted.

Soon, my class, the class of 2015, will graduate and realize more fully the struggles off the Hill, perhaps one of which is how 14.3 percent of U.S. citizens are food insecure. Our ample choice and access to nutritious food is a blessing that many do not possess.

Thankfully, St. Olaf composts 100 percent of its food waste and uses it in many ways on campus. Yet, this is an energy intensive process, and the required resources are better suited elsewhere. Continued food waste compounds into an unnecessary demand that, although dealt with sustainably at St. Olaf, still requires our action and energy.

Most likely, Oles are aware of these reasons. Yet, it is difficult to enact a change on a large scale. Altering our food waste is a collective problem, and a small amount of uneaten food by any single individual a few times per week does not make an appreciable dent in the 175 tons of wasted food composted by St. Olaf every year. It is also easy to grab too much with our buffet-style eating, to receive too much from an apathetic Caf worker or to dislike what appeared, at first, intriguing to our eyes. Yet, I would argue, it is not hard to combat these pitfalls.

You can ask for specific amounts to ensure you do not get too much at any line, nor from the server. I consistently ask for a scoop-and-a-half of eggs at breakfast, and its specificity gives an amount generally consistent with my appetite. In addition, if a new food appears delicious, ask for a small amount so as not to feel the need to choke it down later if you indeed dislike it.

These suggestions are clearly not exhausting, and there are surely better solutions for change waiting to be discovered or implemented. Possible solutions are not within my area of expertise, but they are my concern. Until we develop new ways to reduce food waste, perhaps the best method of prevention comes from a reminder such as this.

hessea@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

AlcohOLES: thirsty for change

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 10:55am

Empty wine bottles are hidden among books in Rolvaag, beer cans hang from trees outside Kildahl and glass evidence of a weekend spent drinking is piled high in dorm recycling bins. What looks a bit like a senior art project is actually a protest by a group of St. Olaf students who call themselves the AlcohOLES.

The AlcohOLES are requesting that the Board of Regents revisit St. Olaf’s dry campus policy. Flyers that the group has spread around campus note a few of the hypocrisies and harmful aspects of the current alcohol policy. They argue that the dry campus policy fosters an unhealthy drinking culture, one in which students turn to binge drinking behind closed doors and avoid seeking necessary medical help in fear of punishment. The AlcohOLES urge the Board of Regents to recognize that drinking occurs, and will occur, on campus regardless of the policies in place.

The group encourages students to show their support for the movement by photographing empty alcohol containers that they’ve placed publically around campus and sending them to the AlcohOLE email, alcohole666@gmail.com. The photos are then posted to a Tumblr page, alcoholesunite.tumblr.com.

After some initial buzz on YikYak, the group has slowly and quietly been gaining momentum. Jack Williams ’16 supports the idea behind the movement, but was a little confused about the group’s original motives.

“I thought that they laid out a lot of good points, but they also sort of framed it in such a way that it seemed kind of like a joke,” Williams said. “I get some of the moves they made were probably very purposeful, like for example ‘alcohole666’ e-mail alias. I’m sure it was part joke, part commentary on the demonization of alcohol on this campus, but I think that by doing elements like that, they made it kind of unclear whether their purpose was to bring a serious case up in front of the Board of Regents.”

The AlcohOLES have been responsive to the feedback from students. They are dedicated to making sure that the movement is representative of the whole campus.

“We don’t want this protest to be about our own opinions – we want it to represent everyone’s,” the AlcohOLES said. “Ideally, a reconstructed alcohol policy will take into account the students that don’t drink, the students that drink responsibly and the students that struggle with substance abuse and need better support from the administration.”

At this point the AlcohOLES have not received any response from the St. Olaf administration, the Board of Regents, or the Student Government Association.

“It does not surprise us that these authorities have still remained silent. We simply wish that silence be broken. We simply wish for those who have the well-being of St. Olaf students in their hands to actually question what is best for our well-being,” the AlcohOLES said.

Despite the lack of official recognition, the AlcohOLES have seen discussion of campus alcohol policy begin to form. Social media platforms including Facebook and YikYak have fostered new conversations. The campus sketch comedy show “In Black” satirically addressed the policy in their recent performances, and there is also a petition against the current policy on change.org.

The conversation began by the AlcohOLES is one that St. Olaf students have been wanting to have for a long time. Sara Albertson ’18 said that she would definitely support an open discussion about St. Olaf’s dry campus policy.

“It’s inevitable for any college campus to have drinking on it… it’s something that the United States deals with as a whole,” Albertson said. “The [St Olaf] drinking policy, I believe, makes students overdrink, because they have to pregame in their rooms or somewhere private before they go into a public spot. And usually, when students go out they don’t go back to their rooms until later, so they consume more alcohol than they would if they could bring a beer with them to a football game, because they want to make it last.”

Naomi Chalk ’18 agrees.

“I think the only people affected by [dry campus policy] are the people that are over 21. People that are under 21 are going to smuggle in alcohol no matter if the campus is dry or wet,” Chalk said. “I don’t really care, personally, because I’m not a huge partier, but I think the fact that St. Olaf is a dry campus makes people a lot riskier with their alcohol consumption.”

While debate over the issue persists, the AlcohOLES will continue their attempt to stimulate the conversation. It is well understood by the group and students on campus that similar movements have been unsuccessful in the past, but the AlcohOLES are committed to keeping the discussion current.

“There are many of us – a huge majority, we’d reckon – who have kept our mouths shut for years because we don’t think that anything we actually do will constitute a move towards change,” the AlcohOLES said. “If we can convince even one of those people that it is worth it to express our thoughts and that, for the sake of our own health and the health of our friends we share this community with, we are required to do so, then the AlcohOLES are one step closer in our goal.”

whitfo1@stolaf.edu

Graphic Credit: ERIN KNADLER/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

Emily Rapp brings inspiration and humor

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 10:21am

Writer Emily Rapp ’96 returned to the Hill on Monday, April 20 to speak and read a selection of her work to a room packed with eager students and faculty. After graduating from St. Olaf, Rapp worked abroad in Korea, Switzerland and Thailand before entering Harvard Divinity School. She then went on to receive her M.F.A in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at Austin. Rapp is currently a professor of creative writing and literature at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design.

Professor of English Diana Postlethwaite introduced Rapp, describing some of her St. Olaf connections as well as some of her achievements – including completing the Great Conversation program, studying abroad in Ireland, working in North Korea as a Fulbright Scholar, publishing two memoirs and a multitude of articles and essays and, currently, raising her 13-month old daughter.

“Her most formative journeys are not to Dublin, Manitou Heights or Korea, but to places none of us have ever probably been. . . places we might prefer not to go.” Postlethwaite said.

Indeed, Rapp faced many challenges, but she used her experiences to learn and grow into the talented writer and woman she is today. Rapp radiated humility, liveliness and good humor. In fact, Rapp struggled for a minute to work the clip-on microphone, before ditching it and wondering aloud why on earth Popular Mechanics was allowing her to write an article for the magazine. The audience laughed, and the atmosphere of the room immediately felt relaxed and inclusive of all in attendance.

Rapp’s career focused mainly on personal narrative. Her first memoir, Poster Child, described being born with a congenital defect that caused her to have one leg amputated, and living with the effects of that; she attributes much of her humor to growing up like she did.

“It’s a coming of age story,” Rapp said.

Her second memoir, Still Point of the Turning World, relays the heartbreaking account of her son, Ronan, being born with Tay-Sachs disease. The New York Times described it as “a brilliant study in the wages of mortal love.”

Rapp chose to read from her newest piece, a short essay collection called Cartography for Mourners. She first described how she was always getting lost and hated maps, which inspired her to use them to tie together some of her personal experiences.

“I even got lost in Northfield today,” Rapp said.

“Cartography for Mourners” was an honest, if not cynical, piece that included many poignant personal memories, including being told things like “It sure is a good thing you’re smart,” and “you’re made wrong,” regarding her amputated leg. Some of the stories centered around losing her son, Ronan, to Tay Sach’s disease, others around her grandmother’s funeral or her travels abroad. All the short essays conveyed a sense of being lost; listeners followed along her turbulent journey, sometimes feeling disoriented themselves. Rapp ended by saying, “I’m happy I don’t have a map.”

In the question and answer session that followed her reading, Rapp described lessons from her personal and professional life, which applied both to the students and the faculty members in attendance. When asked if she recommended an English major for aspiring writers, Rapp said, “It’s not worth it to get a degree in something when you’re not passionate about it.”

Rapp herself was a religion and women’s studies major at St. Olaf, but has always expressed herself using writing.

“We all have those childhood experiences – those stories from our past to call on,” Rapp said. Writing is an obvious career choice for Rapp, and she was incredibly humble in describing what she does.

“Anyone can write a memoir,” she said. “It’s basically like a novel. It’s writing about how a person changes.”

However, the difficult reality of the writing and publishing process did not go overlooked by Rapp. She described rewriting the same section of her first memoir 55 times until her editor accepted it. Rapp also described the joys of her job.

“The best part of being a writer is the community,” she said. “I just really like my people. It’s kind of like college, only spread out.”

The memoir genre includes works from a diverse range of writers and people, as Rapp described. The recent “memoir boom” has inspired an increase in life narratives focused around contemporary cultural issues. These topics can include anything from addiction to disability to celebrity to sexuality. Unlike autobiographies, memoirs center around specific themes or aspects of the author’s life.

Despite overwhelming responses to her writing, Rapp refuses to read any reviews of her work. She said she sometimes gets nasty letters or hears about glowing reviews of her books, but she ignores both. Rapp said that choosing not to care was the best decision she ever made, and she recommended to aspiring writers to consider doing the same.

Rapp provided some final advice for students sitting where she sat 20 years ago.  Rapp’s comments demonstrated the  fierce individuality and independence that she has developed over her life and career.

“You don’t have to go to every party,” she said. “Do your own thing.”

meeder@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Relevant resume includes failures, not successes

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 10:11am

As this semester on the Hill draws to a close, it is that time of the year when many college seniors begin to take the last few steps that will lead them into the real world, where they can – ideally – give back to the people around them. However, this task is always much easier said than done. In a society where there are 20 people fighting for one piece of pie, all graduating seniors want to be sure that they have the best chance to claim it.

In many ways, the workforce is like a battleground in which the resume is one’s weapon of choice. A document that lists all of one’s best qualities, highest achievements and widest-ranging capabilities as incentive for hiring corporations and businesses, the resume – in theory – should make every candidate seem like the best one for the job.

Earlier this month, however, advertising executive Jeff Scardino created the concept of “The Relevant Resume,” that, unlike a regular resume, does not list all of one’s accomplishments, academic achievements, general talents, extracurricular activities and so on. Instead, Scardino’s resume lists one’s learning experiences through the mistakes that one has made, one’s failures and conflicts one has had that can pinpoint one’s flaws and defects.

Scardino points out in an interview with Business Insider that the resume “provides a template for job seekers to ditch the inflated skills and not-so humble brags of their careers in favor of setting them apart by showcasing their failures.”

Interestingly, he came up with the idea for the “relevant resume” as he was conducting job interviews and realized that asking for references from people that failed to see eye to eye with the candidates would perhaps give him a more accurate representation of them as well-rounded individuals.

For most of us, Scardino’s idea would probably be seen as a creative, yet overly optimistic, to the point of naïveté. If every employer used the relevant resume instead of the version that is used now, and valued candidates for their failures rather than for the way they present their accomplishments, then more and more potentially under-qualified people will be able to fight for the ever shrinking piece of pie.

Still, it may be valuable for experiences gained through failure to be taken into consideration, both by the employer and the applicant. Would it not be better to have gone through a lot of failures and learned about the harsh reality of life than to have succeeded in almost every way possible and failed to learn anything?

As Aunt Billie said to Lewis in the Meet the Robinsons: “From failing, you learn. From success….eh, not so much.” May all of us Oles be able to own up to our failures as we begin our own search for success.

Samuel Pattinasarane ’18 (pattin1@stolaf.edu) is from Jakarta, Indonesia. He majors in  political science and Asian studies.

Categories: Colleges

How do pro athletes go bankrupt so quickly?

Manitou Messenger - Sun, 05/03/2015 - 2:31pm

Seeing stories of former athletes filing for bankruptcy several years after retirement often seems ridiculous, but it is not uncommon. For example, a Sports Illustrated article published in 2008 stated that three out of five National Basketball Association (NBA) players go broke within five years of their retirement. It’s astounding. How can these athletes, who earn millions of dollars a year, possibly lose absolutely everything they have so quickly?

Former NBA player Josh Childress offered some explanations in an April 17 Huffington Post article, saying that young athletes don’t understand the severity of the impact of taxes on their mindblowingly high incomes.

“The first mistake is people say, ‘Okay, I have $11 million.’ [No,] you got five over four years. So that million dollar house that you [bought thinking] you had $10 million more – that house then becomes more expensive,” Childress said.

If Childress’ argument is true, then perhaps providing players with some tax lessons before they enter the NBA draft could be a solution. However, Childress also identifies other reasons for the phenomenon, such as the pressure on players to keep up with the spending habits of those around them, particularly when associating with veteran NBA players.

“If those are the guys that are taking you under their wing, that’s what you get used to,” Childress said. “And so that’s how you think it has to be, and that’s how you think the life is, and you get caught up in that and you end up spending way more than you should.”

The issue of former athletes going bankrupt is not unique to the NBA;  approximately 16 percent of former National Football League (NFL) players go bankrupt as well, according to studies produced by the National Bureau of Economic Research. However, unlike their NBA counterparts, this is the percentage that goes bankrupt 12 years after their retirement.

The institute published a paper entitled “Bankruptcy Rates Among NFL Players with Short-Lived Income Spikes,” which highlights the fact that athletes hit their peak earnings almost immediately after school. Then they retire young, and in the vast majority of cases, never again earn at the same levels. Because of that model, it can be difficult for them to save. They are often taken advantage of financially, or simply haven’t had any guidance in preparing to manage their money after retirement.

It seems as though education needs to be improved for athletes coming out of college in order to address this problem. It is unreasonable to expect 18- or 19-year-old athletes, recently out of school, to be financially responsible when they suddenly earn millions of dollars.

It is my hope that organizations like the NBA and the NFL can implement programs to educate players in a move that would indicate that they care about their players – and not just when they’re competing.

nolans@stolaf.edu

Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER

Categories: Colleges

Ole women’s tennis powers past Royals

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 2:27pm

The St. Olaf women’s tennis team took on Bethel University on April 25 at Bethel’s home courts in Arden Hills, Minn. It was the last regular season match of the 2015 season. The Oles, who were looking to secure the fourth seed for the MIAC playoffs, did not disappoint, recording a resounding 9-0 victory.

After losing all three doubles matches to University of St. Thomas three days earlier, St. Olaf needed to get off to a better start this time around. Lisa Hall ’16 and Maya MacGibbon ’16 provided the early boost for the Oles, winning 8-4 at number one doubles. Margaret Zimmerman ’18 and Kristi Kroker ’15  were dominant at two doubles, recording an 8-3 victory. Erin McDonald ’18 and Andrea Jumes ’15 completed the doubles sweep for the Oles with a tight 8-6 win at third doubles, giving St. Olaf a 3-0 over the Royals.

Singles play also proved to be straightforward for the Oles, with all six players winning in straight sets. Hall was ruthless at one singles, defeating her opponent 6-0, 6-0. Kroker was also strong at two singles, powering to a 6-1, 6-1 win. Zimmerman was pushed in her first set at three singles, managing to stay calm under pressure at 5-4 and served out the set to take it 6-4. The second set was more comfortable, as she rolled to a 6-0 victory, taking the set and the match. Erin Hynes ’15, who only played singles for the Oles, recorded a 6-2, 6-0 win at fourth singles. Bailey Kent ’16, like Zimmerman, fought to win the first set 6-4 at fifth singles, but did not drop another game en route to a 6-4, 6-0 scoreline. Finally, McDonald sealed the 9-0 sweep for St. Olaf with a 6-2, 6-3 win at sixth singles.

St. Olaf finishes its regular season with a 7-3 MIAC record, enough for fourth place in the conference. The Oles defeated College of St. Catherine 7-2 on April 29 in the MIAC quarterfinal, earning them the right to face Gustavus Adolphus College in the semifinal on May 1.

nolans@stolaf.edu

 

Photos courtesy fo St. Olaf College Athletics.

Categories: Colleges

Horoscopes: May 1, 2015

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 2:22pm

Fee-fi-fo-yum. Get ready to hobble and gobble your way through this tiny leprechaun’s refuse. Is there a pot of gold at the end of this black and white rainbow? Um, think again. There is a pot, but it leads to the deepest darkest part of Narnia. The part good ol’ C.S. couldn’t publish without getting an NC-17 rating. You can fight your way out, but you’ll never be able to shake the feeling that you’re cursed. See you on the other side. The other side of the pillow. Wake up; you’re dreaming.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

There’s nothing more sexy than a dolled-up big toe. That spring air has got your big toe’s derrière saying, “I wish I had more hair.” Grant thy toe’s request. Place the sickest wig on your toe’s head before it takes control of your body. Then draw an incredibly creepy smile on its toenail. A smile so creepy it makes even the Joker say, “please sir, may I not have some more?” Everyone will be oddly attracted to only your toe. At least it’s a step in the right direction. Get it? Toe, step.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20)

Like penguins? Like digging holes with penguins? Great! Well, now’s your chance. Reenact the entire movie Holes using penguins instead of people. The second you scream out that horribly out-of-tune “that’s a wrap,” the penguins will accept you as their own. Now you’ll be as jazzy as Happy Feet, as funny as Madagascar and as loveable as Tobey Maguire’s mom if she were a penguin. You’ve made the big time.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Loki can tell that you’re onto something big. Finalize your plans for a new invention and enter it in Ole Cup. Bring that very undercooked loaf of meat in front of the judges and start plowing through that stank bomb until the judges award you first prize just so you’ll, “for the love of God, stop.” When you’ve fully recovered from a raw-meat-induced hospital visit, people will try to tell you that meatloaf has already been invented. This is unacceptable. Make a waffle out of lint and hair and make all the haters eat it by switching out their morning waffle for your abomination. Now called Loaf of Meat (patent pending) will sweep the nation.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

We’re headed to a world of extreme technological takeover. Time to turn your brain into one big barcode. Read the book Brain Surgery for Dummies and take a sharpie to your mushy pink mass. Then go to Walmart and scan your wee little brain to see in you can get a discount.  Life pro tip: sell your brain high and then buy it back low. Woah.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Many despise lice, but they are a wonderful commodity. Rub your head against every door, door knob and door hinge on campus until you get lice. Once you obtain those obiedient little fools, you can implement your vision of world domination. Refuse to cleanse yourself of these so-called “pests.” Once you have the number of lice on your head up into the thousands, use them as your minions. Have them infect every surface known to man, but not before literally buying all the lice removal products in the world. Once everybody has lice, you can leverage whatever you want out of “the man.” If they refuse your demands, they’ll be sleeping with the lices, if you know what I mean.

 

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22)

Y’all remember the campus chupacabra named “Ol’ Man Dogbeast?” No? That’s what Loki thought, because the school covered up its perfectly executed plan that killed the bloodsucking folklore legend. Ol’ Man Dogbeast was the sweetest, most murderous little buddy. It’s up to you to bring this campus favorite back. Open up your soul to the devil himself, and the rest will work itself out.

 

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22)

No summer plans? Find yourself a cougar. I’m not talking about a seductive older woman, no, I’m talking aboout the beast itself. Wade into that golden Natural Lands bush and stalk yourself a cougar. That’s right there is a pride of cougars in the Natural Lands. Is it pride? Bunch? Buncho? Muncho? Mancho? Womeno (gender equality)? Nacho? There is a nacho of cougars in the Natural Lands.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22)

Make a difference in the world. Seriously, for once in your godforsaken life, make a difference. Remember that one time you didn’t hold the door for that person even though everyone knows you probably should have but you didn’t because you were so stressed and honestly believed your time was more valuable? You owe karma this one. Perform your favorite yoga position, upward facing dog, while fusing two microscopic bikes together in order to make a sweet tandem ant-bike. It’s different. Do you get it? It’s a difference because it’s something different. It doesn’t make sense but that’s the point. It’s different. Deal with it.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21)

It’s finally nice out. Time to break out that birthday suit and get that glorious tan while getting exercise. Go on a run around campus. Slowly people will join in and, before you know it, St. Olaf will become a nudist colony. The government will be so surprised, they’ll give the school a ton of funding. Pocket that money for yourself in your skin pocket that you made on your thigh because you don’t wear clothes anymore, remember?

 

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)

Give back to the community. Eat dinner with an elderly person who can’t hear that well and a total bro who can’t stop saying “sup.” The bro will continually say “sup,” and the elderly person will continually say “yes, this is supper. How are you doing, young man?” The process is self-perpetuating. You’re bridging age gaps.

 

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19)

Snap, crackle, stop. Why did you think it was a good idea to snap every bone in your body and crackle every paper on campus? Go flatten every piece of paper back out and don’t even think about getting a cast. This is punishment, not therapy.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)

The seniors shouldn’t be allowed to graduate. They all broke the honor code by collectively dreaming about cheating on their finals. Don’t ask how Loki knows this, just know that Loki watches all your dreams like a crow watches a person with a half-eaten chicken Chipotle burrito with mild salsa but no guacamole because the person forgot that extra $20 bill their parents gave them for their birthday in the car. However, the honor council will never believe you, so take matters into your own hands by making hands out of everyone’s caps and gowns and then slapping all the seniors with their own gown hands. Justice served.

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 (johnso16@stolaf.edu) is from Gladstone, Mo. He majors in history.

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.

pilkingt@stolaf.edu

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 oleville.com 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 oleville.com/borsc and clicking on “Talk Box.”

belisle@stolaf.edu

Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER

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 http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/data/spi.

Emma Whitford ’18 (whitfo1@stolaf.edu) is from Middleton, Wis. She majors in political science.

Graphic Credit: ERIN KNADLER/MANITOU MESSENGER

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.

nolans@stolaf.edu

 

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 (lightman@stolaf.edu) is from Lewisburg, Pa. He majors in religion and political science.

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.

 

nolans@stolaf.edu

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.

dipietro@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

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