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As many readers most likely know, the St. Olaf Men’s baseball team recently had its season canceled due to issues arising from the hazing of underclassman team members. This hazing involved harassment, ridicule and the consumption of alcohol by minors – all violations of the school’s hazing policies.
I can understand where the administration’s decision came from. Many students I have interacted with have professed disbelief about the incident, mostly regarding around the seriousness of the hazing. Yes, there have been much worse cases of hazing in the past at many institutions across the nation, but that is not the point. Even if the hazing was “not that bad,” schools like St. Olaf cannot make exceptions for every incident because those exceptions would eventually undermine the policy against it.
St. Olaf’s hazing policy is very similar to the drinking policy on campus. Everyone knows St. Olaf is a “dry” campus, but I have yet to see a large-scale level of enforcement for every student who drinks on campus. It has gotten to a point where the school’s policies on drinking can best be described as fairly lenient. If St. Olaf were to take this leisurely approach in regard to hazing, too many incidents would most likely go unnoticed. At that point, these actions would create an environment unsuitable to the culture that St. Olaf wishes to provide. I can understand why many students, particularly members of the baseball team, might feel that these actions are too severe. However, when it comes to school policies that involve the well-being of students (even if nobody was physically harmed), exceptions cannot be made.
Despite the seriousness of the whole issue, there is definitely humor to be found, particularly in the fact that the entire process was more or less discovered by administrators through the social media application Yik Yak. Yes, kids, you actually are being watched by the authorities, but they are not out to get everyone in trouble for violating school policies.
In fact, considering that almost every single post on the app was about the baseball team, students on campus are most likely the reason that the team got in trouble in the first place. That’s right, St. Olaf. You have become your own police force via Yik Yak, so don’t complain the next time you get busted by Public Safety or your RA down the hallway. Maybe this is simply a warning from the administration that despite our belief that Yik Yak is anonymous, it still has consequences. This is another learning experience brought to you by St. Olaf College.
I just hope that students can let the whole situation pass so players, staff and faculty can move on from the incident. There will be plenty more seasons to come and these issues hopefully put a stop to hazing for good, allowing for a safe environment that nurtures learning and camaraderie here on the Hill.
Cole Hatzky ’18 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from Iowa City, Iowa. He majors in English.
The coordinators of the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) would like to make the student body aware of recent transphobia on campus. The week of March 15, during the GSC-hosted Preferred Gender Pronoun (PGP) Awareness week, several photos of students were removed from our display in Boe Hallway. Based on the individuals whose photos were removed, it was obviously targeted against transgender and non-binary students.
For those who are unfamiliar with gender-related language, transgender is an umbrella term that refers to anyone who identifies with a gender different from the gender that they were assigned at birth. For many transgender-identified folks, their gender does not necessarily match their biological sex. Non-binary individuals fall under the transgender umbrella, and usually have an identity that is outside the gender binary and is neither male nor female.
The experience of being a non-binary individual can be incredibly alienating and invalidating on a daily basis. Often non-binary individuals will choose to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir/hirs. For transgender folks, every time anybody makes an incorrect assumption about their gender or even says something as innocuous as “both genders” that reinforces the gender binary, they are reminded of how they are different.
This vandalism occurs within a larger context of institutional ignorance toward transgender students. There is no gender-neutral housing or policy for how to meet the housing needs of transgender students. There are also few gender-neutral bathroom facilities on campus, making the daily process of going to the bathroom an uncertain experience for non-binary students. Sports teams are also separated by gender, which can be tricky to navigate as a transgender athlete.
Off campus, one in five transgender individuals has experienced homelessness, and only 17 states have anti-discrimination policies that extend protection to transgender individuals. Sadly, a staggering 41 percent of transgender individuals have attempted suicide.
As a community, we have an opportunity to learn how we can work to make every student feel safe and respected. Many of the people who participated in our PGP Awareness week were invested in improving campus inclusivity. It is unfortunate that the ignorance and intolerance of a single individual has eclipsed all of the positivity that the week inspired.
The GSC would like to thank everyone who participated in PGP Awareness week, as well as SGA, Dean’s Office and MCA for their support.
Carly Tsuda ’15 (email@example.com) is from Fullerton, CA. She majors in sociology/anthropology and American studies.
On Friday, April 10, the St. Olaf Theater Department hosted a tea event to thank alumnus Steven Fox ’77 for his sizable financial support. The event took place in the King’s Room of Trollhaugen Dining Room. Attendees consisted primarily of Theater Department faculty as well as several members of the cast and crew of Big Fish.
Fox made a large donation to the Theater Department’s 2014-2015 production budget, which made the grand scale of shows such as Big Fish possible.
In addition, Fox also made a donation to establish the Patrick J. Quade Endowed Chair in Theater, as well as the Robert Schultz Endowed Chair in Music. Both chairs are named after former St. Olaf professors that were influential to Fox during his time at St. Olaf.
During his speech, Associate Provost Dan Dressen fondly recalled being present at the meeting in which Quade and Schultz were informed that the chairs would be named in their honor.
Professor of Theater Karen Wilson ’77 was appointed as the first Patrick J. Quade Endowed Chair. She will hold the position for four years, after which it will rotate to another member of the theater faculty.
“It was a thrill to be named the Patrick J. Quade Chair in Theater, and it’s a wonderful gift to our department,” Wilson said.
Some readers may be confused as to exactly what an endowed chair is. It is in fact not the same as a department chair. Dressen explained in more detail.
“An endowed chair is a donation that pays for a faculty line. It pays for all the salary, all the benefits, and provides a discretionary professional account for the holder of that chair,” Dressen said. “The contribution these days to endow an existing line is $1.5 million. That was the case as we are endowing a line that Karen held, and we are endowing a line now in music that Chris Aspaas is holding. Steven has given a donation to endow both those chairs.”
Attendees of the event enjoyed a variety of refreshments. Beverages included tea and lemonade. In terms of food, options consisted of miniature sandwiches, breads baked with various cheeses melted into them and small pastas. There were also tiny desserts – mostly cookies and combinations of chocolate, cream and berries.
Beverages and hors d’oeuvres aside, the event consisted of four speakers expressing thanks to Fox.
First to speak was Associate Professor of Theater and Department Chair Brian Bjorklund, who emphasized the faculty’s gratitude for Fox’s contributions.
Bjorklund was followed by Dressen and Associate Dean of Fine Arts Mary Griep who detailed the significance of Fox’s donation from an administrative perspective and expressed their hope that current students would one day be inspired by Fox.
The last of the four speakers was Big Fish sound designer Becky Raines ’16. Raines brought a more personal touch to her speech as she recounted a personal anecdote of her excitement upon the arrival of the department’s new soundboard that was purchased with money Fox had donated.
Then it was Fox’s turn to speak. He began by thanking the Theater Department and St. Olaf for having him and reasserted his appreciation for all that the college and its faculty had done for him during his time as a student at St. Olaf.
He ended his speech on a fun note, sharing stories about Wilson, with whom he had attended St. Olaf. With a grin he informed the students in the room of where in the Theater Building they could find a photograph of a young Wilson.
As a gift, Wilson presented Fox with framed certificates that said a star had been named after Fox.
“There is now a star in the sky called the ‘Steven Fox Theater Star,’ and it will shine on forever,” Wilson said.
The year 2015 marks a momentous time for the LGBT community and its allies. Thirty-seven states have legalized same-sex marriage, a law banning “therapy” that claims to convert queer-identified individuals into heterosexuals appears to be in the works and LGBT characters are slowly gaining representation in the media. As a nation, we have come a long way in supporting gender and sexual minorities, but recent legal events show how far we still need to go.
The uproar began when a “religious freedom” bill allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT people on the grounds of religious beliefs became law in Indiana. A similar law was passed in Arkansas, with another on the way in Louisiana. Then another setback occurred in southern Missouri: voters in the state’s third largest city, Springfield, repealed an ordinance adding sexual orientation and gender identity to categories protected from housing and employment discrimination. These pitfalls are especially disheartening and frustrating in a time of such progress.
It is important to acknowledge that the religious freedom laws are not direct attacks against LGBT people. The bills do not say, “And you can totally refuse to serve gay people.” Instead, they give business owners who refuse service to anybody a way to avoid being sued by allowing them to claim they are religiously “burdened.” However, conservative Christian groups are indeed using the bill to further such discrimination. When a new case of a gay person or couple being refused service pops up nearly every week, it is hard to deny that these laws provide a gateway for discrimination. Meanwhile, there is nothing other than a negative connotation behind the events in Springfield: LGBT residents have lost their legally-deserved protections.
“But LGBT people don’t need protection,” some will say. “It is the business owners who need protection. After all, look at the bakery owners and photographers who are insulted and sued for refusing service.”
Sure, but it is a business’ choice to deny service. Bakeries and photographers and such have the power in this scenario. If they wish to refuse doing business with a segment of the population, so be it. By this time they are aware of the potential consequences and open themselves up to lawsuits and media firestorms. Businesses do not need a law protecting them from the results of their active decision to discriminate. What about the people being discriminated against, who are denied service for being themselves? To me, these attempts to embarrass LGBT people and take away their legal protections show how badly such legal protections are needed in the United States.
This claim is not made in an attempt to bully business owners and religious organizations. It is simply a conclusion based on information, like the fact that less than half of states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and less than 20 prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Twenty-one have statewide laws banning housing discrimination, and those same states have laws protecting the LGBT community from refusal of service by businesses. Most shocking, 19 states don’t include sexual orientation and/or gender identity in their laws addressing hate crime.
Numbers do not lie. The truth is that most states have no laws or very few laws protecting their LGBT residents. The recent events resulting in removal of existing protections for LGBT Springfield residents and creation of a legal basis for discrimination in Indiana, Arkansas and Louisiana show that laws are necessary to protect LGBT people in this nation. Does the majority really need protection from the minority? That is not equal treatment; that is oppression.
We as Americans are granted the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Laws like these are not designed to help anyone pursue their own happiness – these laws are meant to actively take away somebody else’s. It is not okay to discriminate, and current legal events are disturbing in their willingness to further the agenda of prejudice. LGBT people are not scary or gross; they just want to buy a cake or keep a job. It is time to enact legal protections for protection against discrimination – preferably protections that are not later repealed.
Audrey Walker ’18 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from Mountain Grove, Missouri. Their major is undecided.
Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER
Treasures in the College Archives
St. Olaf is considered to be one of the most haunted college campuses in the United States. The college’s archives department routinely gets calls from television shows and other requests for information. In addition to spooky tales, there are many interesting and rarely talked about stories and objects detailing the extensive history of St. Olaf.
In the days of old at St. Olaf, when people like Mohn and Kittlesby were walking around, there was an outbreak of Scarlet Fever. Professor Ytterboe decided that the contagion was in the men’s bathroom in the basement of his namesake dormitory. To get rid of the cause of the disease and protect his students, the concerned professor decided to burn chemicals in the bathrooms. He did this for around ten weeks in the fall of 1903.
Unfortunately, while burning the chemicals, he did not open the windows or leave the room. Professor Ytterboe died a few months later, in February of 1904, as a result of formaldehyde poisoning. The man who had been beloved by St. Olaf faculty and students died on campus with his nervous system severely compromised.
In the early days of the College, many families lived on campus. These were the families of faculty. In fact, many families started at St. Olaf; around half a dozen babies were actually born in Old Main.
Some college practices have, thankfully, come to an end. According to an alumnus’ diary, in the early 1900s, female students had to be in their dorms by 10:00 p.m. and have their lights out by 10:45 p.m. In addition, if a gentleman wanted to take one of the ladies out to spend some quality alone time with her, he would have to meet with her “housemother” first. These processes gradually ended.
Some St. Olaf traditions have come to an abrupt halt in more dramatic ways than others. The Homecoming Court was discontinued at St. Olaf when a few disgruntled students entered a large female farm pig in the race for Homecoming Queen. “Alice Swineson” became homecoming queen in 1969.
However, Swineson did not get to wear the queen’s crown and it was donated to the college archives in 1972. Several students have had the opportunity to try on the ornate crown.
“If students come down with a little bit of notice, I am always happy to show them our treasures,” said Jeff Sauve, college archivist.
Sauve is caretaker to this treasure trove of college history. The college archive includes roughly 2,000 linear feet of manuscripts, 5,000 photographs, 700 videos, 1,000 audio recordings and one silver crown.
Two coins dating back to the time of the Roman Empire are among the rarest items in the archives.
“We have one coin dating to around the time Of Jesus’ birth and one dating to the end of the empire,” Sauve said.
These objects were a surprise find in papers given to the St. Olaf archives by an alumnus who was an art collector. Alumni have bequeathed most documents in the archives. This ensures that there are always interesting items such as 80-year-old locks of hair – and even teeth – in the basement of Rolvaag Library.
Along with collecting and assessing historical documents, the archivist’s duties include undertaking projects to preserve the history of the College.
Coming out this summer is a “Sight Story Mobile Historical App,” a virtual tour of historical – and present day – St. Olaf College. Included will be 28 sights with a plethora of information.
The information includes, but is not limited to, audio clips, pictures, biographies, video clips and tours. This was made possible with a grant from the Minnesota Legacy Collection. The goal of the project is, “to make new information available and dig into the story of St. Olaf.”
Nina McConigley ’97 transferred to St. Olaf in the fall of 1994 at the beginning of her sophomore year. She sat in the back of an English classroom in Rolvaag and listened to a professor read poetry; she knew she was in the right place.
Twenty years later, on Thursday, April 9, McConigley addressed a crowd of students, English professors and fans in the same room she remembered from all those years ago.
McConigley, who now teaches in the English department at the University of Wyoming, only took one creative writing course as an English major at St. Olaf – during the second semester of her senior year. After she graduated, she worked in the insurance business for a year. She hated it, and decided to give writing a try. McConigley went on to earn her MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston and then her MA in English from the University of Wyoming.
McConigley returned to St. Olaf to read from her acclaimed collection of short stories Cowboys and East Indians. Though the stories are works of fiction, they reflect experiences that the author and her family encountered as what McConigley calls “the wrong kind of Indian” in rural Wyoming. With an Indian mother and an Irish father, McConigley was different from those around her in their tiny oil-and-gas Wyoming town.
“There’s just no other Indians,” she said. “There’s not an Indian restaurant in the entire state of Wyoming.” McConigley read aloud from the first story in the Cowboys and East Indians collection, “Pomp and Circumstances.” The story described a masculine, elk-hunting Wyoming man who shares a personal secret with his employee’s wife, an Indian woman. McConigley joked that nothing much “happens” in her stories, but that they explore the perspectives and identities of characters as they experience life.
“Stories are a really great way to try out different lenses – different points of view,” she said. “Your writing is your witness to what you’re experiencing.” Other stories in the collection feature characters – of different ages and genders and backgrounds – in both the United States and India as they explore questions of identity that have always fascinated McConigley.
“I’m always thinking about my identity,” she said. She talked about traveling to India when she was 23, standing on the street and realizing that, for the first time, she was not in the minority. Even so, she felt like an American in India; she did not necessarily belong.
“I found it really hard,” she said. “I was really confused, and then I hated myself for feeling confused.” This confusion, though, prompted more questions about identity and authenticity not only in her own life, but in everyday experiences of all people. She cited the online self as a universal example.
“I’m a total hermit, but on Facebook I look like the most outgoing, fun-loving person ever,” she said. “I don’t even know what’s authentic about anything – at all. I love that feeling.”
Audience members asked McConigley lots of questions about her journey as a writer, and the author’s responses were thoughtful and frank. She discussed the ways in which creative writing has been an opportunity for her to experience the world.
“[Writing] is a kind of therapy, actually, for me,” she said. “There is a lot of truth. . . but in my stories I can make my characters sassier and braver.”
For all of her discussion of identity, authenticity, and the writing experience, McConigley never came across as lofty or pretentious. Rather, she was funny and friendly and simply a joy to listen to.
“I really am well-adjusted,” she said, to laughs.
Cowboys and East Indians won the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and the High Plains Book Award, and was named on Oprah’s list of award-winning books. Because the collection was published by a small publisher and then received such critical acclaim, the book is essentially out of print at present. However, interested readers can find a copy in Rolvaag Library.
The St. Olaf softball team took on Bethel University on April 11 in a doubleheader on Mabel Shirley Field. The Oles got off to a flying start capturing the first game 3-2, but they were unable to keep the momentum as the Royals cruised to a 10-1 victory in game two.
The Oles began the game in spectacular fashion, scoring twice in the first inning. The Royals responded with a game-tying run in the fourth inning, leaving the game in a delicate balance. The battle was poised evenly right through until the seventh inning. Jessica Bentley ’18 starred for St. Olaf, hitting an RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, which allowed Becca Walz ’16 to score. Danielle Collins ’15 pitched all seven innings for the Oles, recording one strike-out along the way.
Despite claiming victory in game one, St. Olaf was unable to stop a Bethel onslaught in game two, as the Royals raced to a comprehensive 10-1 win.
The Oles were led by Afton Wolter ’16 , who batted in Alex Lopez ’18 in the second inning to put the Oles on the board. Nothing could stop the Royals though, as they out-hit the Oles 14-5 on their way to victory.
The Oles also competed in doubleheaders on April 12 and April 14, against Gustavus Adolphus College and Augsburg College respectively. Despite falling 0-5 and 1-5 to the Gusties, the Oles bounced back to record resounding 7-3 and 6-4 wins over the Auggies. St. Olaf currently sits at 11-21 overall, with a 6-8 conference record, good enough for eighth position in the MIAC. St. Olaf, who has several games in the coming week, will play at home for the last time on April 22 against University of St. Thomas.
Photo Credit: ABBY DAVIS/MANITOU MESSENGER
On Saturday, April 11, St. Olaf’s Model United Nations Club put on a World War I simulation, where attendees represented different factions involved in the conflict, specifically in the time immediately following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The simulation was designed to actively engage students in the study of history and government by allowing them to take a direct role in the conflict and make choices that directly influenced the course of the simulation.
The Model United Nations Club is a student-run organization that seeks to enrich the study of social science through the simulation of real-life government and political dynamics.
“It allows you to work with real-world issues in a much more hands-on way than you would in a class or through independent study,” Alex Luna ’18 said.
The group occasionally competes in larger Model United Nations conventions, including an annual conference in Chicago. Members of the group meet every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., and are open to any interested students who wish to try their hands at political negotiation.
This most recent simulation placed participants in the roles of specific cabinets of government, including ministers of the interior, war, economy and foreign relations. Each of these positions came with its own powers, outlined on a sheet of paper. These were unique to each player and contained information about specific positions and countries.
Due to the size of the simulation, three countries – Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia – were controlled by four active participants, with the remaining countries simulated by administrators. Many actions required the approval of all four cabinet members, but other actions could be enacted by individuals alone. These powers allowed for complex decision-making among team members creating the possibility of conflict and in-fighting among factions. This system also gave a certain degree of power to each participant, so that no one was left powerless.
The experience was structured so that the different groups were placed in their own rooms, emphasizing a certain separation where deliberation was mostly isolated from the other groups. Important declarations were shared, through Google Docs, to the other groups, but most were kept secret, unless shared in face-to-face interactions with a representative from another country. Essentially, players were left somewhat to their own devices, being fed information that was either particularly pertinent or directly requested regarding the social context of the conflict, but mostly ignorant of what was happening outside of their own assigned countries. This added a sense of gravity to the decision-making process, and made the consequences of these decisions unpredictable.
The simulation heavily emphasized historical realism, and all participants were offered a fair amount of context regarding the dynamics of the conflict. Members of each country had objectives both to protect themselves and to maintain national peace, and the simulation was framed so as to make war likely but not inevitable.
The choices offered in the simulation truly did hold weight. Not only was their the possibility that war could be prevented, but also almost all aspects had the capacity to follow a different path from that of history. Despite this potential, the simulation offered a perspective to history that made it fairly clear how WWI began. Despite participants’ efforts to end diplomatically, the objectives offered for each country made it very difficult to avoid war, something that ultimately appeared necessary.
Ultimately, simulation participants were able to prevent a full-blown world war. There was still conflict in central and eastern Europe, but major world powers, like the United Kingdom, were kept out of the war and prevented escalation.
The simulation, despite its relatively basic structure in regard to actual government, served to offer a realistic depiction of history. This engagement was not only a learning opportunity, but also was a fun and exciting opportunity to interact with other students and to learn about an event in history that still resonates today. This type of simulation can be applied to any event in history, allowing for the accommodation of a variety of students interests in regard to politics and government.
The simulation was more or less a game that required the use of skills that apply to many fields of study offered at St. Olaf. Students were encouraged to talk clearly and effectively, and put into consideration the ultimate benefit of their country while working with a group of likeminded peers.
Beyond everything else, this simulation was a very enjoyable experience where participants were given an opportunity to test their wits while working through history to a common goal.
Carleton College will observe Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, with a vigil and service on Sunday, April 19 in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Author Peter Grose will be the featured speaker and Carleton associate chaplain Rabbi Shosh Dworsky will lead the service, which begins at 5 p.m. A vigil/name reading of Holocaust victims will precede the service, beginning at 12:30 p.m. For a detailed schedule of the event, visit go.carleton.edu/calendar. This event is free and open to the public.
Founder of ‘TheMuslimGuy.Com,’ Arsalan Iftikhar will present Carleton College’s weekly convocation on Friday, April 17 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. An international human rights lawyer, global media commentator, and author of the book Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era, Iftikhar has been called Islam’s “It” guy by many in the global media and is a much sought-after interview or commentator for those seeking the American-Muslim perspective. NPR host Michel Martin calls Iftikhar “…the voice of a new era: hip, funny, smart and globally aware” and New York best-selling author Deepak Chopra wrote, “The world needs more Muslim Ghandi’s like Arsalan Iftikhar.”
Becky Morrison, a proponent of collecting and refurbishing electronic waste and converting it into usable instruments around the globe, will present Carleton College’s weekly convocation on Friday, April 10th from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Entitled “ Revolutionary Ideas: How to Achieve the Impossible,” Morrison’s presentation is free and open to the public. Carleton convocations are also recorded and archived online at go.carleton.edu/convo.
World renowned classical and jazz pianist Jon Nakamatsu will perform in concert on Sunday, April 12 at 3 p.m. in the Carleton College Concert Hall. A Van Cliburn gold medalist, Nakamatsu is considered to be one of the most sough-after pianists of his generation. Bernard Holland of the New York Times wrote, "This young American pianist has stunning technical control and can do anything at the piano he wants." Nakamatsu’s not-to-be-missed performance will feature selections by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin—and is free and open to the public.
Spring term exhibit opens Friday, April 3 and on display through May 3 in Weitz Center for Creativity.
Thursday, April 2, from 5 to 6 p.m., University of Amsterdam history professor Dienke Hondius will present “Mapping Urban European Histories of Slavery” at Carleton College in Leighton Hall Room 304.
Friday, April 3, Carleton's convocation series returns with a special presentation by Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Ysaye Maria Barnwell. From 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel, Barnwell will present “Building Vocal Communities,” a lecture that traces the evolution of African American communal vocal music from Africa through Spirituals and work songs to the music of the Civil Rights Movement. And later that evening at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall, Dr. Barnwell will conduct a Community Sing, bringing together voices of all ages from across the campus and greater communities. Both events are free and open the public. Convocations are also recorded and archived online at go.carleton.edu/convo/.
Dr. Carolyn H. Livingston, currently senior associate vice president for campus life and Title IX coordinator for students at Emory University (Ga.), has been named Carleton College’s new vice president for student life and dean of students. Livingston replaces Hudlin Wagner, who announced her retirement in September, effective at the end of the current academic year. Livingston will assume her new post June 22, 2015.