Civil rights activist Huerta calls students to action

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/10/2016 - 11:52am
On Wednesday, Oct. 26, civil rights activist and American labor leader Dolores Huerta came to campus to speak for the fall Political Awareness Committee event. The Lion’s Pause was packed with excited St. Olaf students, faculty, staff and Northfield community members by the time Huerta began her talk.Throughout her life, Huerta has played an integral part in many efforts to improve the rights of marginalized populations in the United States. She began her activist career in Stockton, Calif., where she worked as a lobbyist for a branch of the Community Service Organization. It was there that she met César Chávez, with whom she organized what would later become the United Farm Workers (UFW). Through the UFW, Huerta fought for the rights of farmworkers, eventually playing a key role in the Delano Grape Strike, one of the most prominent strikes in history. As a result of the strike, American consumers boycotted non-union grape companies, resulting in better working conditions and labor agreements for over 10,000 workers. Huerta has spent her life acting on her belief that all people are equally deserving of humane treatment and equal opportunity.  “I have always felt discriminated against [and] I have always felt inferior,” Huerta said. “As a person of color, I can tell you [racism] has always been here.”Huerta demonstrated how deeply her worldview is rooted in United States history. She discussed numerous historical struggles, movements and tragedies, from genocide of American Indians during the colonial period to slavery.“These are the things people have to learn, so that they know the history of the contributions of people of color [to the United States] ... This country was built by people of color,” Huerta said.Citing the fact that the White House was built by slaves, Huerta spoke about how her work has been shaped by the oppressive foundations of the U.S. She adopted this belief into her life’s work, beginning as a union organizer and continuing her career into the present as a public speaker and as president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Her passion for and dedication to her work began when she was exposed to the inhumane conditions of migrant workers.Huerta used her life experiences to contextualize current social and political events in the United States. Born in 1930, Huerta has lived through some of the most transformative periods in U.S. history. From immigration reform to social security for public workers, Huerta has covered many of the most controversial and integral issues that threaten the rights and welfare of United States citizens on a daily basis. She emphasized the importance of labor unions when it comes to protecting workers from what she referred to as the “corporate powers of greed.”“If it were not for labor unions, we would not have a 40 hour work week, we wouldn’t have minimum wages [and] we wouldn’t even have public education,” Huerta said. “[However], if our minimum wage had kept up with the cost of living, it would be 30 dollars an hour. There is no reason why people working really really hard should not have a comfortable life.”To move forward as a country, Huerta argued that the United States needs more widespread education concerning these issues. The reality is that the world is changing, and inequalities will continue to be challenged by those affected by it. “One of the reasons we have this huge ignorance in our society is because we don’t have ethnic studies in our schools,” Huerta said. “Ethnic studies, women’s studies and labor studies should not be electives, they should be requirements.”Huerta believes that as it stands, the U.S. population is not aware enough about the intricacies of inequality in its own country. She challeneged audience members to become involved in social justice in any way they can. She said it is okay that not everybody wants to go into activist work, as all occupations have value and importance. However, she advised that if everybody could just find one issue to be passionate and active about, change could be a much more attainable goal. In closing, Huerta reminded the audience of the importance of selflessness and sacrifice. “[No matter what you want to be], don’t just think about being a millionaire, because as much as you can earn, you can only eat three meals a day. Think about the legacy of justice you leave behind.”
Categories: Colleges

Bring Ice Home benefits some, displaces others

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/10/2016 - 11:52am
As part of the fundraising campaign “For the Hill and Beyond,” St. Olaf has launched “Bring Ice Home,” an initiative that aims to raise six million dollars for the construction of an on-campus ice arena in what is currently the field house in Skoglund Athletic Center. At press time, “For the Hill and Beyond” has met 62 percent of its 200 million dollar goal and “Bring Ice Home” has met 30 percent of the six million dollars it must raise.The “Bring Ice Home” campaign has been largely advertised on the St. Olaf website and social media. This includes the rink’s own webpage, which features virtual tours of the proposed rink along with student testimonials to the value it would have for the St. Olaf community.“We’ve had a lot of buzz about it. We feel like we have a lot of momentum right now,” athletic director Ryan Bowles said. “A lot of people are working really hard to promote this, to solicit and identify donors. It’s been a true team effort in that regard.” He emphasized that there was no definite deadline on the fundraising, but that they aimed to raise the funds quickly so they could start construction.“Once we raise the funds, 12 to 18 months would be construction time,” Bowles said. “Probably closer to 12 months is what we think.”The rink may also have some revenue-generating power.“We charge game tickets and we charge concessions now for some of our programs, so that would continue for sure,” Bowles said. “I think there would be rental opportunities, but our primary responsibility is to make sure that it serves the entire St. Olaf community.” He continued to describe the arena’s benefits for the existing curling club and broomball teams, giving them an indoor facility on campus to practice and compete. He also noted the utility of the arena for the hockey team’s recruiting.“We will be able to attract the talent, in our men’s and women’s programs, that will allow us to be top 10 in the country,” Bowes said. “But I also think it will help overall recruitment to the campus. This ice really benefits all 3,000 students.”However, the arena would come at a cost. Many of St. Olaf’s athletic groups, including the tennis and soccer teams, a number of intramural and club sports teams and several classes use the field house when the weather does not permit outdoor practice.Scott Nesbit, the coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams, addressed the current situation, noting the difficulty of holding tennis practice on the floor of Tostrud Center because the surface causes balls to bounce too quickly. “You couldn’t play any games, you couldn’t do any point situations,” Nesbit said.One possible solution to the problem that Nesbit addressed is a plan to resurface the floor of Tostrud to make it more conducive to tennis. While this would help the tennis team in the immediate future, there is also a proposal in the Framework plan to eventually construct another field house on the land behind Skoglund to accommodate the lost practice space.“You can say we are adding this rink, but really it is taking away more than it gives … there are going to be more people who lose out than gain,” Nesbit said. “But in the long run, it is going to be much better. Club teams and intramural teams are going to get a nicer space, tennis teams are going to get a nicer space.”Despite the prospect that the space would ultimately be filled with superior facilities, Nesbit expressed concern at a possible interim period between the beginning of the ice arena’s construction and the creation of alternative practice space for displaced teams, clubs and classes. He referred to a time earlier in his career at St. Olaf before Tostrud existed as a practice space. He recalled that only having the field house for indoor practice gave club and intramural teams little to no chance to reserve practice times.“Classes were in there the whole time basically, and then as soon as 3:30 hit, the teams went in there until 11:30,” Nesbit said. Among the teams to feel the immediate impact of the loss of the field house as a practice space is Vortex, one of St. Olaf’s Ultimate Frisbee teams. Tulsa Douglas ’18 and Aidan Zielske ’18, both members of Vortex, expressed their concerns about being displaced by the ice arena. “There would be half the space that there is currently for indoor use in the winter,”  Douglas said. “Basically, there wouldn’t be any time for club sports.”“For us, the frustrating part is that we just wouldn’t get to practice, and we’ve gotten fifth at national three years ago and third last year and for us we are competing at a very high level,” Douglas said. “If we lost a whole chunk of our year it would definitely be detrimental to our team.”“We consistently perform well, push ourselves, practice constantly and travel across the country,” Zielske said, adding that she felt those efforts often go without recognition.Douglas and Zielske both emphasized that they did not oppose the construction of the ice arena in principle, but were opposed to the project so long as they were not offered an alternative practice space.“It will be cool to go to hockey games, but when it says it will benefit all 3,000 students, it will actually hurt us more,” Douglas
Categories: Colleges

New York bill restricts Airbnb

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/10/2016 - 11:52am
It’s not surprising that the access economy – the renting of goods and services temporarily rather than selling them permanently – has increasingly become everyone’s favorite business model. This model has become a new way for many property owners to earn some extra income. Airbnb is one of the largest open access business platforms, where its users rent their residential properties for short-term stays with the cost set by the property owner. Airbnb claims a certain percentage of the fee from renters and hosts.  However, on Oct. 21 the company faced a new challenge after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will heavily fine those who advertise their vacant apartments for a stay of less than 30 days. The new law is obviously going after Airbnb. The company interpreted the bill as a threat to its business and immediately filed a lawsuit against it. Airbnb argues that “it violates the company’s right to promote its business and it conflicts with internet-based business proliferate.” The New York Times states it is by far one of the “toughest” laws in the city and will make finding cheaper lodging difficult for tourists.Airbnb isn’t the first open access company to face backlash. Open access business models are usually operated informally, at lower prices and on a personal level. They are often seen as undesirable in the eyes of the government and big corporations because these types of businesses harm the existing market, which provides these services at a higher price. Before Airbnb, the growth of Uber caused a strike by taxi companies and governments around the world. According to them, Uber presents unfair competition to taxis since the company does not pay taxes or licensing fees. A study conducted by the Hotel Association of New York showed that Airbnb cut into the revenue of New York hotels by about 780 million dollars in 2016, and is predicting that it will reach one billion dollars by 2018. Hoteliers also claim it is unfair that Airbnb hosts do not pay the corporate tax and are not complying with the relevant health and safety regulations. In other words, they claim that Airbnb is operating under legal loopholes. Clearly the passing of this law was due to influence from the hotel industry and huge corporations. New York State Senator Liz Krueger, who sponsored the bill, said that it was a “huge victory for regular New Yorkers over the interests of a $30 billion corporation.” Kreuger also argued that Airbnb is encouraging illegal activities and taking business from both the hotel and housing markets.Joe Gebbia, the founder of Airbnb, has spoken out against Krueger’s statements, saying that the passage of this bill was just an attempt to destroy the home-sharing market and protect the interests of the hotel industry.Other legislators who supported the bill were concerned that Airbnb wasn’t paying its share in taxes, but Gebbia has made it clear that Airbnb is open to paying lodging taxes and in fact has contributed over $110 million in tax revenue worldwide.Airbnb has a booming business in New York, and average, middle class New Yorkers are benefiting significantly from this side business. The biggest irony here is that legislators who favored this law did so under the guise that they were helping these average New Yorkers. But this law only stifles creative enterprise and continues to put the interests of big corporations over the average citizen.

Ariel Mota Alves ’20 ( is from East Timor. His major is undecided.
Categories: Colleges

Student’s project provides economic opportunity for Ebola survivors

St. Olaf College - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 1:08pm

Using a Davis Projects for Peace grant, Leonard Vibbi ’17 developed a program to help female survivors of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone begin rebuilding their lives.

Two years ago, West Africa experienced the largest Ebola outbreak in history — and for months, the deadly disease struck fear around the world and dominated the international news cycle.

Earlier this year, long after the media frenzy subsided and most of the world had moved on, the World Health Organization officially ended the public health emergency associated with Ebola.

The survivors, however, still deal with the effects of the disease on a daily basis. St. Olaf College student Leonard Vibbi ’17 is working to assist those who are still dealing with the impact of the disease — particularly women, who face more obstacles to rebuilding their lives.

Vibbi received a grant from the Davis Projects for Peace initiative that he used this summer to support female survivors of Ebola in Sierra Leone, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus.

“Female survivors are more vulnerable, especially those who lost their husband or brother during the outbreak. Most women lost their business, home, and other property during the curtailment of the outbreak — through the burning of those properties by the government,” says Vibbi.

“As a result of those events, they were more vulnerable and needed assistance in getting back on their feet,” he adds. “Male survivors will, for example, acquire jobs much more easily than women because of the patriarchal nature of Sierra Leonese society — hence, the need to empower and support the female community.”

The $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grants are awarded to students who use creativity and innovation in the development of a project that both promotes peace and addresses the root cause of conflict.

Leonard Vibbi ’17 (third from left) with some of the 25 women who participated in his workshop this summer.

Vibbi, a native of Sierra Leone who attended UWC Red Cross Nordic in Norway and has designed his own Technology Innovation in Civic Development major at St. Olaf, used his grant to lead a series of workshops in his hometown of Kenema. The workshops aimed at empowering female survivors of Ebola so that the women and their families may return to some sense of normalcy.

“There are development strides being made, both from local partners and international organizations, but most are focused in the west and north of the country. One reason for this may be due to the limited resources available to the government in order to both help survivors and revive the economy that plummeted as a result of Ebola,” says Vibbi. “Irrespective of that, the irrefutable fact is that like all survivors in Sierra Leone, female survivors need urgent help.”

Bringing survivors together
Vibbi, along with leaders of the local community, selected 25 women to participate in the workshops.

Vibbi’s first action was to bring the 25 women together for the initial workshop. Both literally and figuratively, it was a task easier said than done. Heavy tropical rain batters Sierra Leone during the summer months, making it difficult for the women to get to the workshop.

In the more metaphorical sense, survivors of Ebola often feel like outsiders because of the social stigma that still surrounds the disease. While unable to change the weather, Vibbi was able to bring the survivors emotionally closer together through the first of the workshops.

“We started with asking the survivors to share their stories and experiences with one another. We later found out this approach to be very successful as the group started bonding and there was an establishment of solidarity, friendship, and sisterhood among the participants,” he says.

Leonard Vibbi ’17 works with several women in his group to develop business plans. Each participant in the program received a loan to purchase the materials and machinery required to get her businesses to market.

Building businesses
After the initial workshop session had concluded, the group turned its attention toward the economic toll that the disease placed on the survivors and their families.

To overcome this, Vibbi aimed to give the 25 women the means to create their own businesses. He partnered with the Kenema Survivors Organization and Catholic Relief Services to provide the women with the necessary training required to start a business, the space to cultivate ideas for businesses, and the financial capital to get the businesses off the ground.

After initial brainstorming sessions had concluded, the women split into teams and created six business proposals focused on goods such as wood fuel, palm oil, and clothing.

Each program participant received a loan of approximately $200 to purchase the materials and machinery required to get her businesses to market.

The newly created businesses were also paired with longtime business owners from the local community who acted as mentors to the first-time business owners, a big form of assistance in a difficult economic climate that Ebola had a large role in creating.

With the programming concluded and women now ready to do business, Vibbi has high hopes for what lies in the future for Kenema.

“The long-term impact of the project will be to focus on helping other vulnerable women in Kenema,” Vibbi says. “I believe it will work because there is strong community mobilization around the project, which will keep it going and help other women in the near future.”

Categories: Colleges

Experience with World-Class Coach Keeps Luciano Battaglini Grounded

Carleton Sports - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 1:06pm

If the collection of awards, certificates, plaques, and trophies overflowing from the office of Carleton College women’s tennis head coach Luciano Battaglini weren’t already impressive enough, the three-time MIAC postseason and regular-season champion has a shiny new addition to his arsenal of accolades.

On October 16, Battaglini served as demonstrator for Magnus Norman, coach of current world No. 3 singles player and former US Open champion Stan Wawrinka, at Norman’s conference on modern player development at Lifetime Fitness in Bloomington, Minn.

Categories: Colleges

Carleton Invites Community to Annual Holocaust Remembrance Service and Vigil

Carleton College News - Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:22am
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 This event is free and open to the public.
Categories: Colleges

Arasalan Iftikhar, founder of ‘TheMuslimGuy.Com,’ to present Carleton convocation

Carleton College News - Fri, 04/10/2015 - 10:51am
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.”
Categories: Colleges

Convocation highlights global recycling innovation

Carleton College News - Fri, 04/03/2015 - 1:04pm
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
Categories: Colleges

World renowned pianist Jon Nakamatsu makes rare Northfield appearance

Carleton College News - Fri, 04/03/2015 - 1:02pm
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.
Categories: Colleges

"Swing Low" opens in Perlman Teaching Museum

Carleton College News - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 9:23am
Spring term exhibit opens Friday, April 3 and on display through May 3 in Weitz Center for Creativity.
Categories: Colleges

History Lecture Maps Urban European Histories of Slavery

Carleton College News - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 9:21am
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.
Categories: Colleges

Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Ysaye Maria Barnwell presents Convocation and Community Sing

Carleton College News - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 9:16am
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
Categories: Colleges

Carleton Names Emory's Livingston As New Dean of Students

Carleton College News - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 10:48am
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.
Categories: Colleges

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