Two faculty members named to distinguished professorships

St. Olaf College - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:46am

Professor of Classics James May has been named the Kenneth O. Bjork Distinguished Professor.

Two long-time St. Olaf College faculty members have been appointed to distinguished professorships.

Professor of Classics James May has been named the Kenneth O. Bjork Distinguished Professor, and Professor of Mathematics Paul Zorn the Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professor.

They are two of several faculty members that the St. Olaf College Board of Regents has chosen to recognize for distinguished teaching, professional work, and service to the college and community.

Bjork chair
An expert in ancient rhetoric and oratory — particularly that of the great Roman speaker and statesman, M. Tullius Cicero — May joined the St. Olaf faculty in 1977 after earning his B.S.Ed. from Kent State University and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In addition to publishing numerous scholarly articles and books on Cicero and related topics and co-authoring two textbooks with his colleague Anne Groton, May served as provost and dean of the College from from 2002 to 2011. He has won the American Philological Association’s award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Classics, and the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership.

The chair honoring Kenneth O. Bjork was established in 2006. The author of two books, Bjork taught history at St. Olaf from 1937 to 1974 and served as editor for the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) from 1960 to 1980. The inaugural recipient of the chair was Professor of Mathematics Martha Wallace, and it has since been held by Professors of Religion Gary Stansell and Charles Wilson.

Professor of Mathematics Paul Zorn has been named the Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professor.

Meyer chair
Raised by missionary parents in India, Zorn earned his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle. He joined the St. Olaf faculty in 1981. He is past editor of Mathematics Magazine and recently completed a two-year term as president of the Mathematical Association of America. His 1986 paper “The Bieberbach Conjecture” was awarded the 1987 Carl B. Allendoerfer Award for mathematical exposition, and he has co-authored several calculus textbooks with his colleague Arnold Ostebee. His most recent book is Understanding Real Analysis.

The Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professorship was also established in 2006. The former English professor taught Shakespeare and world literature, was one of the first St. Olaf recipients of a faculty Fulbright award, and for over a quarter of a century was a member and frequent chair of the faculty’s Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee. Professor Emeritus of Biology Henry Kermott was the first to hold this appointment.

Categories: Colleges

Oles fall to nationally-ranked Cobbers

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 10:00am

The St. Olaf football team was looking to register its first victory in over 12 months when it faced off against No. 25 Concordia College on Sept. 27 in Moorhead, Minn. Unfortunately for the Oles, the nationally-ranked Cobbers proved too strong in a 14–52 loss.

In front of a crowd of nearly 5,000 spectators, Concordia started the game strong, racing out to a 14–0 lead after the first quarter. The second quarter followed much the same pattern as the first, with the St. Olaf defense unable to find answers as Concordia led 28–0 just before half–time. The Oles finally got on the scoreboard when Alex Nelson ’15 caught a 16-yard pass from Nate Penz ’16.

Nelson caught another touchdown pass for the Oles with 7:28 left in the third quarter, in an 11-yard completion from Penz. It proved the be the last points St. Olaf could manage in the contest, eventually succumbing to a 38-point defeat.

Penz finished the day with 21–of–39 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. The defense was led by Tyler Vajdic ’16, who had 11 tackles.

St. Olaf will return to action for a homecoming game against the University of St. Thomas on Oct. 4 at 1:10 p.m. The Oles fell 23–45 the last time they took the field with the Tommies and will be looking to reverse the score in order to record their first win of the 2014-15 season.

Categories: Colleges

Poetry and picnic initiate house hand-off

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 10:00am

The poetry house is back on campus for a third year. This year, the house members are women coming from many areas of study and backgrounds. Clair Dunlap ’15, Sweta Bhattacharya ’15, Cynthia J. Zapata ’16, Lisa Cole ’15, Tasha Viets-VanLear ’15, Olawunmi Faleti ’15 and Lexi Swenson ’16 are a diverse group of women with varying passions. It was important for them to collectively bring their interests together and incorporate them into this year’s poetry house.

Traditionally, the Poetry House has been occupied only by males. However, after working closely with last year’s Poetry House members, the campus poetry community decided that the house would be taken over by women this year to showcase more women in the arts.

The house hosts meetings on Thursday evenings, where all are encouraged to come and share or listen to poetry. More plans are in the works for future events such as a feminist poetry night, featured poets and open mic events.

On Friday, Sept. 22, the house members hosted their annual picnic. Students shared music and poetry, or simply listened, and the vibe in the room was infectious. Even some students who came and had not planned to share wrote their names on the sign-up sheet to recite an original piece or a favorite poem.

Each house member could cite the pivotal moment that drew her to poetry. Those moments ranged from hearing a poem like “Having a Coke with You” by Frank O’Hara for the first time and wanting to create something of their own that made them feel the same way, to experiencing the invigoration of performing.

For house residents, this year’s living situation is ideal; the women are inspired by friendship and creativity to achieve their house goals. Though their goals are slightly different this year, they were left with a good blueprint from previous house members to start their year. Most traditions will be upheld along with a few new additions meant to better fit this year’s particular mission statement.

“We’re focusing primarily on highlighting women in the arts, women of color especially,” Dunlap said. “We think that is lacking in general in the world.”

This year, the house members’ service project involves working with the youth of Northfield. They will be traveling into town to do workshops with female students interested in any sort of expressive writing.

“I think all of us really wanted to work with the female youth of Northfield,” Dunlap said. “We want to go and help these girls be creative and form bonds. There is so much girl-hate in high school and junior high, and that’s unfortunate. But if they can be creating together and sharing their stories, we feel that would be really empowering.”

Providing mentors and friends to these students will also give them an artistic outlet that they may not have otherwise considered. The house members know that poetry is scary at times. It is a completely intimate, unfiltered way of expressing oneself. But with the help of a mentor, it can be a little less frightening.

“A lot of people are just intimidated by poetry,” Zapata said. “I think that is also a part of our mission statement – to create a safe space and show that poetry really isn’t that scary. There is something really personal about it that’s incredibly different from writing prose or an essay. All of those come from a creative process, but poetry seems to be this language that is really human.”


Categories: Colleges

Professor’s book explores indie band Cloud Cult

Manitou Messenger - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 10:00am

English professor Mark Allister reads from his new book Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story. The book chronicles the journey of the Minnesota indie band Cloud Cult. The band has played at St. Olaf multiple times and remains popular with the student body.

English and Environmental Studies Professor Mark Allister has authored a new book narrating the inspiring story of Minnesota indie band Cloud Cult. Allister read from Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story on Sept. 24, giving gathered students, faculty and community members a glimpse into his account of the beloved indie band.

Zaq Baker ’15 introduced Allister, who then read several passages from his book and answered questions from the audience.

“I began just as a fan of the music, like so many people, and then that was coupled with my admiration for their principles,” Allister said. These principles mostly involve environmental awareness. The band strives to be carbon-neutral, a commitment which includes recycling CD cases and planting trees to offset carbon footprint. But what ultimately intrigued Allister in writing about Cloud Cult was the unique relationship between the fans and the band, as well as the spiritual journey of founder Craig Minowa.

“Craig is one of the deepest thinkers about philosophy and spirituality and religion of anybody that I’ve ever known or read,” said Allister. “He had always been that way but then the death of his two-year-old son kind of plunged into something that made him go down the spiritual mystical path.”

Cloud Cult was founded out of tragedy. Minowa began seriously creating music as a response to the sudden death of his toddler son. Cloud Cult’s music addresses the pain of devastating loss, but also features powerful themes of hope and healing. This raw but uplifting emotional journey has attracted many fans.

Allister was flooded with responses when he asked for fan testimonies about Cloud Cult’s music. Allister included some of those emotional odes to the band in his book. One story that he shared at the reading involved a mother who drew strength to continue the bureaucratic adoption process by listening to the tender “You Were Born.”

The fact that Cloud Cult’s music creates such intense connections with its fans speaks to the maturity and emotional depth of its songs.

“Minowa knows that his idealism and optimistic spirituality are an easy mark, but he seems not to care,” said Allister, reading an excerpt from the book. He quotes Minowa: “I want to have real human emotion struggle in the albums. But there’s a difference between using music as a method for whining about everything and using music for confronting your problems with the intention of trying to figure out how to get better.”

This philosophy is part of what makes Cloud Cult so special. The band has always striven for something more.

“I think there’s a really big responsibility when you’re an artist with even a modest following, and that responsibility is to try to use that limelight to propagate goodness,” Minowa said.

Allister’s fascination with the band developed slowly before eventually emerging as a full-length book.

“First I thought I should just try writing a short piece about them, partly to see whether I was interested in spending weeks or even years on this project. I didn’t know whether I could write about music. But the deeper I got into the project, I realized there was a great story here that someone ought to tell,” Allister said.

He maintains that the book is not just for fans of the music, but is an amazing story in itself. For their part, Cloud Cult members are very grateful for the opportunity to have their story told.

“We are incredibly honored and humbled that Mark Allister would choose our story as a topic for one of his books,” said Minowa. “The attention, carefulness and intuition that he used in approaching this whole project has been something we are inspired by and have deep respect for. He is a beautiful being, and we are lucky to have run into him.”

Students interested in buying Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story can contact Allister, and those wishing to hear more of his musical ruminations can tune in to KSTO on Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. to hear his show Prof Rock with Mark Allister.


Categories: Colleges

Convocation proposes using the power of data analysis to bring about positive change in the world

Carleton College News - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 9:10am
Carleton College’s weekly convocation, entitled “Using Data for the Greater Good,” will be presented by data scientist Jake Porway on Friday, Oct. 10 at 10:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Porway’s presentation proposes using the power of data analysis to bring about positive change in the world. This event is free and open to the public. Convocations are also recorded and archived online at
Categories: Colleges

Carleton presents the Lake Wobegon Brass Band in concert

Carleton College News - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 9:07am
Carleton College is pleased to present a public performance by the popular Lake Wobegon Brass Band on Friday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall. The Lake Wobegon Brass Band opens its 23rd season at Carleton, with an impressive performance of brass and organ music. This event is free and open to the public.
Categories: Colleges

Moede Leads Knight Charge to Top of MIAC Championships Leaderboard

Carleton Sports - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 10:59pm

Kelsey Moede matched her season best with a three-over par 75, and a back-nine birdie barrage lifted No. 2 Carleton to the lead after the second round of the 2014 MIAC Championships. The Knights recorded seven birdies among their four scoring players over the final nine holes on Saturday, reversing what had grown into an eight-shot deficit to a seven-shot advantage by the end of the day. The red numbers allowed the Knights to post the low round of the championship at 311, giving them a 636 two-day total. The Knights lead Bethel (643) and St. Thomas (647) heading into Monday’s final round.

Categories: Colleges

This Week In History: 10/5 – 10/11

Manitou Messenger - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 7:08pm

Sunday, October 5th:  Monty Python’s Flying Circus Premiers

On October 5th, 1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus premiered on BBC One. The series featured 45 episodes over its run, until it ended in 1974. The show was a comedy, but its members were highly educated, with two of them being Oxford University graduates, and three more having attended Cambridge University. Throughout its run, the show drew great acclaim and great criticism for its satiric descriptions of English society.


Monday, October 6th: Thomas Edison Shows Off First Motion Picture

Even though Thomas Edison is most remembered for the light bulb, he actually held about 1,300 international patents. One of his inventions, the Kinetophone, was used on October 6th, 1889 to premier the very first motion picture. It was a huge success! Later on, the Edison Company started its own production company, producing more than 1,700 films.


Tuesday, October 7th: Battle of Lepanto

On October 7th, 1571, the fleet of the Holy League decisively defeated the fleet of the Ottoman Empire off of Greece. This battle was a turning point in stopping the advance of the Ottomans into Europe. This was the first major naval battle that the Ottomans had lost since the 1400’s. It was a catastrophic blow, and, even though the Ottomans were able to replace the ships they lost, they could never replace the experienced sailors who had died.


Wednesday, October 8th: First Perfect Game in the History of the World Series

Don Larson, former pitcher for the New York Yankees, pitched the first perfect game, or no-hitter, in the history of the World Series on October 8th, 1956. This game is one out of twenty-three perfect games in the history of the MLB. It remained the only perfect game until 2010, when Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. Larson’s amazing game earned him the World Series MVP award and the Babe Ruth award.


Thursday, October 9th: Beginning of the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot

Sukkot begins at sundown on October 8th, and continues until sundown on October 15th. Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths, is a biblical Jewish holiday. During the holiday, Jewish families live in sukkahs, or booths, that they build themselves. The sukkah is meant to help the Jewish people remember the dwellings of the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for 40 years after the Exodus form Egypt.


Friday, October 10th: Fiji Becomes Independent From the United Kingdom 

The Republic of Fiji became independent from the United Kingdom on October 10th, 1970. Fiji is comprised of an archipelago of more than 332 islands, only 110 of which are permanently inhabited. Europeans began settling permanently on the island during the 1800’s, with the British taking control. Then, in 1970, the British granted Fiji independence.


Saturday, October 11thSaturday Night Live Premiers

On October 11th, 1975, the television show Saturday Night Live first premiered. SNL originated under the title NBC’s Saturday Night. Throughout its run into the present, SNL has won 36 Primetime Emmy Awards, and was ranked 10th in TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. It has received over 150 Emmy nominations, the most received by any one show in history.


Categories: Colleges

Pistorius case incites media frenzy, proves pervasive fixation on celebrity criminals

Manitou Messenger - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 2:00pm

Among the most discussed and publicized cases of 2014, the trial of Oscar Pistorius has perhaps caused the most worldwide consternation. Pistorius was arrested and charged with killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Feb. 14, 2013. This case raises many pertinent points of discussion, not least of which is the media treatment of accomplished athletes-turned-criminals.

South African-born Pistorius had both of his legs amputated below the knees as a young child and has won popularity and acclaim through widespread success as a sprinter. He has competed in events for both below-knee amputees and able-bodied athletes. Despite his disability, the runner has become a highly successful elite athlete, often cited as an inspirational success story and acknowledged in TIME magazine’s “TIME 100 List of Influential People.” He has also garnered accolades such as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

The killing in early 2013 was ultimately ruled a culpable homicide (equivalent to manslaughter), after Pistorius fired multiple shots into Steenkamp through a bathroom door, claiming he believed her to be an intruder. This was not the first firearm charge filed against the South African track star, who had previously been found not guilty of charges related to public firearm use and possession of ammunition. Among these charges, Pistorius has been reported to have an explosive temperament. As told to The Telegraph by ex-girlfriend Sam Taylor, he is an “accident waiting to happen” and “… as soon as he got agitated it showed in his presence, everything got very dim almost.”

The evolution of Pistorius’ public persona in light of recent events is perfectly encapsulated by the sentiment pasted on a TIME magazine cover photo of the athlete, simply stating, “Man, Superman, Gunman.” Ever-changing as they are, the public personae of celebrities of this caliber (especially athletes) are instrumental in shaping the outcome of criminal cases.

There are a multitude of examples when referencing athletes facing criminal charges — among the most often cited in light of this case is the trial of O.J. Simpson. While it is far from the point of this discussion to reference Simpson’s guilt or innocence in relation to the homicide charges, the parallel is clear in terms of the media reaction and that of the populace at large.

As the dust settled with the trial of O.J. Simpson, much of the popular discussion related to the athlete wasn’t merely about the ruling or Simpson’s culpability, but about Simpson himself and how certain aspects of his behavior could be reconciled or justified.

Currently, as the iron is still hot with Pistorius, much of the popular discussion is related to the factors that contributed to his actions. Many people cite his upbringing, referencing his father’s purported regret at raising him the way he did. Another oft-referenced justification of the killing is his disability, with some arguing that Pistorius, not wearing his prosthetics, felt particularly afraid and vulnerable when facing an intruder.

While it is difficult to know Pistorius’ intention at the time of the killing, the sympathetic attempts to reconcile his actions by many of the sprinter’s fans contradicts the nature of the justice system. In reaction to the trial’s verdict, Steenkamp’s mother stated, “You want the truth and it’s going in the wrong direction, that’s how you feel.” This echoes the sentiment that her daughter’s death is being overshadowed by an analysis of Pistorius’ motives.

When the personae and reputations of those on trial are treated with more importance than the impartial justice that is meant to be given, we need to reevaluate our priorities.

Conlan Campbell ’18 ( is from Burnsville, Minn. His major is undeclared.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiments: October 3, 2014

Manitou Messenger - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 12:45pm

Last week, as I was reading a book in the quad, I couldn’t help but notice a rustling coming from behind me. I turned around slowly and found myself face-to-face with a curious squirrel. As we made eye contact, I realized this was no ordinary squirrel. Unlike others I have encountered in the past, this squirrel had a certain look in his eye that can best be described as spellbinding. I could hear the sounds of drums and flutes drifting through the air around me, and our breathing synchronized.

In those few seconds of eye contact, we had a moment – a moment between man and animal. The squirrel and I were on the same level of consciousness, and it felt magical. I knew I had stumbled upon some ancient relationship lost through time. I looked around to see that there were other squirrels running about, and my mind began to wander. Who are these creatures we share the Hill with? Do they have feelings? Do they use tools? What do they do in inclement weather? I knew I had to put this experience down on paper. I finally understood that these squirrels deserved all of our respect, love and friendship.

Since most of you are probably unfamiliar with what a squirrel is, I’ll give you a brief summary. Coming from the ancient Greek word skiouros, meaning “shadow tailed,” squirrels are an ancient species dating back to the Eocene Era. Squirrels, known as the “chickens of the treetops” or “tree kittens,” by many communities around the world, are a small or medium-sized rodent most closely related to the mountain beaver or dormouse and are known for their ludicrously fast breeding.

The creatures are also believed to have excellent eyesight, which I believe they use to judge the character of the human soul. Most squirrels live around six years (although after close examination, I have concluded that the squirrels on our campus don’t appear to age), yet still increase in size, strength and mental capacity.

These creatures are wicked fast, and, at times, near impossible to see. Although squirrels are known to be herbivores, top scientists in the field have seen the creatures prey upon young chickens, and have found squirrels’ stomachs lined with reptile, bird and rodent meat, suggesting, to me, that squirrels share more characteristics with the Velociraptor than a harmless dormouse.

Many consider the squirrel to be a stupid animal, but after my experience at St. Olaf I beg to differ. I’ve deduced that squirrels’ brains are developing at tremendous speeds, making me question how St. Olaf students and squirrels can live together in the future. Squirrels are becoming more and more adventurous, as evidenced by a report from one St. Olaf student that a squirrel attempted to climb up an individual’s leg. With our worlds overlapping, it is important that we understand each other so students don’t feel violated by these increasingly audacious squirrels.

I hope my experience clearly shows that students and squirrels on this campus can become one, and maybe even someday work together to make this campus a better place. Some of you might be questioning my reasoning, saying; “Squirrels aren’t smart,” or “Squirrels don’t deserve my respect,” or “Cole, your writing career is doomed!” Maybe this article is a bit over the top, but stereotypes about squirrels do nothing but harm their image.

It’s time we become closer with our fellow Oles, no matter what species. I only urge you to take the time and interact with our cohabitants on the Hill; it might just make you a better person in the process. Next time you walk by a squirrel, take a moment and talk with it. We won’t judge you. Even a quick smile will do. Once, I saw one of my best friends talking with squirrels. In response, a beautiful girl standing next to us said, “That is the kind of man I want as a husband; I only wish more guys were like him.” Chatting with rodent friends is not only a gratifying method of becoming closer with nature, but hanging with squirrels is also a great way to pick up the ladies.

I have only skimmed the surface of this newfound relationship, but I know there is a deeper meaning, regarding the interaction between students and squirrels on campus, just waiting to be discovered.

All I ask is that you find a little room in your hearts for our furry little friends, because they deserve our undivided respect, love and friendship.

Categories: Colleges


Manitou Messenger - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 12:44pm

I, Loki the Great, will use my foresight to score each student of St. Olaf a hot date and ensure the daily serving of chocolate macadamia nut cookies in the Caf (results may vary).

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22)

After finishing Breaking Dawn, embark on the enigmatic 50 Shades of Grey series. It will change your life (and score you points in the bedroom).

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21)

Adopt an exotic animal. Llamas and capybaras match well. Beware of armadillos and kangaroos.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)

Saturday night is ladies’ night! Loki recommends hitting up the biker bars in Dundas. Find yourself a good ol’ country boy!

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19)

Loki predicts that, as you walk alone through Norway Valley, a bright light will appear to you. These celestial rays will reveal the true location of that attractive Carl you’ve had your eye on.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)

Break out of your semester routine and pick up a hobby! Loki suggests brewing mead [Editor’s note: off-campus, if you are of age!] or carving celebrities’ faces into apples. Can you think of a better way to celebrate the equinox?

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20)

October is the month of philanthropy. Treat your favorite Mess writers to a chicken tender melt from the Cage. Loki prefers the pepper-jack cheese.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Hold the door open for a fellow Ole; otherwise Fenrir, the monstrous Norse wolf, will find you.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Today is a day of radical change. Throw off the chains of oppression and vie for the St. Olaf presidency. Viva la Revolución!

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Gemini freshmen: Loki realizes you may still be pre-med. Next month you will most likely be pre-PT. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Take advantage of these few and glorious years on campus. Roll with the punches.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

You are intelligent, gregarious and all-around awesome.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22)

It’s time to revive that revered St. Olaf tradition: streaking. Get some friends together and meet Loki in front of Buntrock at 9 p.m. It’ll be a beautiful night to go au naturel.

Virgo (Aug. – Sept. 22)

Switch deodorants. Do it now. Axe Musk body spray is not a valid scent. Looking at you, athletes.

Categories: Colleges

Ole volleyball swept by Pipers: Team fails to overcome Hamline University

Manitou Messenger - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 12:42pm

The St. Olaf volleyball team took on Hamline University in a MIAC clash on Saturday, Sept. 27, at Skoglund Center. The Oles were looking to build off a victory over the College of St. Catherine three days earlier, but were unable to stop the Pipers’ blistering offense.

With the first set level at 9–9, the Pipers went on a four-point run to open up a slight advantage. It was an advantage that the Oles were unable to close throughout the remainer of the set, falling desperately close in a final score of 22–25.

After the close first set, the Pipers hit  an impressive .353 in the second set to take it with a 25–12 advantage. Needing to claim the third set to keep the match alive, the Oles found themselves in trouble, down 13–20. The Oles rallied impressively, winning 10 of the next 14 points to get within one point of the Pipers. However, Hamline closed out the match 25–23 to record the victory.

St. Olaf was led by Maggie Prunty ’15, who recorded seven kills on 17 swings. Abby Carpenter ’18 had six kills and Abby Slack ’17 had 26 digs in the loss for the Oles.

St. Olaf, which now has a run of games on the road, will return to home action on Oct. 24 in a clash with College of Saint Benedict. In the meantime, the Oles will compete against teams throughout Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.


Categories: Colleges

‘A Box of Chocolates’ delivers directing tips

Manitou Messenger - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 12:33pm

“Teamwork is the key.”

That was the theme of the Musical Theatre: A Box of Chocolates presentation that occurred on Saturday, Sept. 27. Over the course of two hours, presenter Gary Butler of Shakopee Schools provided an organized, step-by-step guide about “everything you always wanted to know about producing a school musical.” The event was sponsored by the Department of Music.

As attendees shuffled into Christiansen Hall of Music, packets were distributed as a reference for all the content that would be covered in the session. Butler authored the packet as a helpful guide that students could turn to years from now, when they are directing school musicals of their own.

Butler began with the most essential, basic step that must occur before proceeding to anything else: budgeting. In the budgeting phase, theater managers must consider several costs, such as the rights to a show, costumes, sets and any semi-professional tech workers. That last point was especially stressed.

“It’s about fairness,” Butler said. “These people with skills are giving their time, and to not compensate them for that time is, I believe, a disservice to our art.”

In order to gather money for said budget, Butler advocated getting funds from wherever possible, and not being afraid to haggle with the higher-ups in attempt to squeeze a few extra bucks into the program.

“One of my talents is explaining to administrators why they’re wrong,” Sean VanderVeen said. VanderVeen, also of Shakopee schools, interjected several times with witty-yet-wise comments throughout the presentation.

While the importance of paying production staff was often highlighted, Butler advised that all publicity be run by a parent volunteer network. This network would be run by a director-appointed volunteer coordinator who would not only organize and oversee the parent network’s jobs, but would also act as a liaison between the parents and the director, creating much more organized and efficient communication.

Butler also stressed the importance of selecting a good stage manager to be the representative of the student actors. Together, the director, the parent volunteer coordinator and the stage manager should work closely together to unite all three aspects of putting on a show – production, publicity and actors – as one team.

Despite having the stage manager as a go-between from students to director, it is still important to interact with student actors.

“Get to know your kids,” Butler said. “That way, you know what to expect. Especially in those junior high and high school years, sometimes drama kids have a little drama.”

Overall, Butler recommended to hold many team-building exercises with the cast and the students working behind the scenes.

“Too often we forget about our stage workers,” Butler said. “Everyone is important. Theatre is such a collaborative thing, and you cannot expect to succeed if not everyone is working together as equals. Teamwork is the key.”

Butler also suggested that casting should be discussed and decided by a team made up of the director and a couple essential members of the production staff. Once a cast list has been made, Butler advised, the team should wait 24 hours before posting it to give members of the casting team time to ponder their choices. Once the cast list is released, it is incredibly difficult to change.

“It’s more professional to live with your mistake than to change things later,” VanderVeen said.

To stay organized, Butler advocated the necessity of keeping detailed notes and schedules on all aspects of the production. A director should have a plan that includes details such as the time of each rehersal, who should be present and what must be accomplished. That way, everyone knows what is expected of them.

Always have a pencil! Everyone involved in a production should bring a pencil with them to every rehearsal for taking notes on any and all things. “During rehearsals, go around and ask ‘Where’s the pencil you brought?’ If they don’t have one, you give them one of the five or six you have in your pocket,” Butler said.

Celebrate each performance with fun activities. Any fun little thing to make each night special. However, to maintain a professional relationship the students, the cast party should be organized by parents,and the director should not attend. “When you’re standing behind a game of Cards Against Humanity, it can get rather awkward,” VanderVeen said.

Categories: Colleges

CURI illuminates ‘Asia in Northfield’

Manitou Messenger - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 10:00am

St. Olaf Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) is a unique campus organization that gives students research opportunities in any discipline. In this past year alone, 112 students participated in the CURI program. On Thursday, Sept. 25, in Viking Theater, two students presented their CURI project, “Asia in Northfield.”

Ka Wong, Professor of Chinese Language and Cultural Studies, was the event moderator as well as the faculty advisor for the student research on Asian-Americans in the Northfield community.

Wong worked with student researchers Jacob Caswell ’17, Paoge Moua ’15 and Meena Wainright ’16. He was enthusiastic about the project, calling it “an inspiring experience.”

Karil Kucera, who serves as chair of the Asian studies department, then gave a brief history of the department.

“I want to show the arch of where the Asian studies department has been and where it is now,” Kucera said. She provided dates that highlighted monumental achievements in the Asian studies department. The first Asian studies class debuted in 1937, and the first Chinese language course began in 1978.

Wong thanked Kucera for her words and invited the student researchers to present their work.

Caswell, a math and physics major, talked about community engagement and the danger of self-absorption.

“It is too easy to be wrapped up in ‘you against the world,’” said Caswell. “I got to work with a small group of people and got to discuss and debate on the community level. It was a humbling experience.”

Wainwright, an Asian studies concentrator and the second presenter for the evening, discussed the benefits of CURI research.

“I learned how to interview properly and gained an appreciation for Google,” said Wainwright. “The research expanded my knowledge of the Asian community in Northfield.”

Caswell and Wainwright gave the audience a glimpse into their research methods. They explained that their futile efforts to gain information from the Internet on counties in Minnesota led them to an ethnographical approach. They selected 10 Northfield residents – eight women and two men – and ultimately selected eight of these cases for analysis. Though the research went well, the presenters stressed that more male interviews would have improved their research. Caswell justified their interview- based research, stating that personal interactions gave a clearer picture of the Northfield Asian-American community than pure data.

“Answers convey very little compared to stories,” Caswell said.

Caswell was asked, “What was the most eye-opening revelation captured throughout your interviews and how did it affect your outlook on Asian – and, by extension, minority – culture in Northfield?”

Caswell answered, “I didn’t think of them as Asians. I thought of them as people.” He continued, “It was difficult to witness the strong cultural tension. It was hard to swallow.” He said that growing up in a neighborhood that was predominately white definitely shaped his perception of culture, but added that this research certainly provided a new, positive perspective on different cultures in society.

Wainwright highlighted the growing Asian population in Northfield. Currently, Asian-Americans make up 3.5 percent of the population.

The student presenters also showed a video with live interviews of the project participants. One storyteller said, “People say we all look alike.” She then went on to identify different cultural groups within the larger Asian-American community. These distinctions are often ignored.

Another storyteller was asked about her biggest regret as an Asian immigrant. The storyteller said, “losing my native language.” She lamented the fact that immigrants often abandon their native cultures and languages out of desire for acceptance.

After the video presentation, Caswell and Wainwright spoke one final time.

“These Asians’ experiences are different, but their dreams of a better life remain the same,” Caswell said. Wainwright added that Asians in the Northfield community are often ignored and are even mistaken for Hispanics.

“We should try to focus on the visibility of this community,” she said.

Professor Wong emphasized the benefits of personal nature of the CURI program.

“It is one thing to read books in class, but it is another to actually talk to the person who experienced these episodes in life,” said Wong.

Categories: Colleges

Jordan Cammarota Does It Again as Knights Top Johnnies in OT

Carleton Sports - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 9:17pm

For the second time in eight days and the third time this season, senior Jordan Cammarota delivered the game-winning overtime goal for the Carleton College men’s soccer team. This time, his 94th-minute free-kick goal accounted for all the scoring in the Knights’ 1-0 victory at Saint John’s.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Control Play, Top No. 13 St. Ben’s

Carleton Sports - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 5:36pm

In a battle of teams undefeated in conference play, a 27th-minute goal by sophomore Ava Lewis put the Carleton College women’s soccer team ahead, and the Knights never looked back en route to winning a 2-0 victory against national No. 13 College of Saint Benedict.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Upend No. 17 Blazers in Four-Set Thriller

Carleton Sports - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 5:12pm

After having to wait almost three weeks since their last victory, the Carleton College volleyball team earned their first MIAC win in dramatic fashion, as the Knights defeated No. 17 Saint Benedict in four sets (25-23, 25-20, 20-25, 27-25) Saturday afternoon. The win marks the Knights' first victory over a ranked opponent since Carleton topped No. 31 Laverne during the 2010 season. The victory also marked Carleton’s first win over a ranked conference team since the Knights defeated No. 17 Concordia-Moorhead during the 2007 season.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Unable to Ground Gusties' Aerial Attack

Carleton Sports - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 4:07pm

The Carleton College football team could not slow down one of the top passing attacks in the nation, and the Knights lost, 50-0, at Gustavus Adolphus College. The Gusties came into the day ranked fourth in Division III and seventh in the NCAA (all divisions) after averaging 407.8 passing yards per game over their first four contests.

Categories: Colleges

Poll’s generalizations simplify cultural groups

Manitou Messenger - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 12:00pm

A recent article by Haya El Nasser in Al Jazeera (a self-proclaimed unbiased, global news source) addressed the importance of Latino voters in the upcoming elections and their stance on environmental issues. The article cited a poll conducted by the Hispanic Access Foundation claiming that Latino voters are more concerned with the effects of climate change than voters in the general population. Activists latched onto this fact, claiming that they had reached a tipping point in the environmental movement. The activists believe that leaders are slowing waking up to the fact that the Latino community could be instrumental in shifting political operatives’ agendas. Although these topics are important and voter demographics are in some ways vital, the major points of the article are problematic.

First of all, El Nasser uses the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” interchangeably. The words themselves are actually more distinct. This matters because Mexicans/Mexican-Americans and Cubans/Cuban-Americans are considered Latinos and Hispanics, whereas someone from Brazil would only be considered a Latino. Even within those three ethnicities, there are different political trends. Mexicans/Mexican-Americans tend to vote Democratic while Cubans/Cuban-Americans tend to vote Republican. The terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are thrown around a lot even within a single sentence. These semantic oversights make the article problematic. Although there is an understanding that the author speaks about a certain ethnicity and its voter trends, the author’s reliability comes into question because the article does not concretely define “Hispanic” and “Latino.”

For instance, how are Spanish-Americans voting compared to Salvadorian-Americans? What do Hispanic and Latino signify in this poll? Also, who exactly are they polling? Increased specificity would create a more concrete understanding of who within the Latino and Hispanic groups care most about specific issues instead of lumping them in one group: Latino/Hispanic.

At the beginning of the article, the author mentions that this poll was conducted with Latino/Hispanic voters in Florida. The article makes it seems as though the importance of the issue is a universal one among all Latino/Hispanic voters. Again, data from one polling location does not necessarily pertain to other members of the community who live throughout the United States. If the question, “What political issues are you most interested in for the next election?” were posed in Texas or California, would the answer still be environmental issues? Both states have been in the news due to the influx of child refugees from Central America. This suggests that the Latino and Hispanic groups there would have a reason to vote differently.

Nonetheless, the issues surrounding climate change are important, and it would make sense for Latinos and Hispanics to vote so heavily on this if they are from Florida. Florida has a high population of Cubans/Cuban-Americans and Puerto Ricans. In the article, the author comments on some voters who are concerned with the surety of their family’s agricultural success in their home countries (most of which are close to the equator). These individuals in Florida come from countries that are very sensitive to climate change due to their geographic location.

Race does play an important role when it comes to voter issues, but why wouldn’t it? Many Latinos and Hispanics vote Democratic, as most candidates from the party are particularly concerned with immigration and worker rights. Yet, there is a flaw when distinctions aren’t made within the group as a whole. If pollsters fail to closely examine their data and see the numbers broken down into specific categories, they could end up making false generalizations.

Cynthia Zapata ’16 ( is from Rosemount, Minn. She majors in English with a concentration in race and ethnic studies.

Categories: Colleges

Pause pizza price hike cooks up controversy

Manitou Messenger - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 10:00am

The Pause, which accepts both cash and Ole Dollars, raised the price of a large pizza from $8 to $9 this year.

When students returned to the Hill this fall eager to revisit their favorite on-campus pizza place, the Pause Kitchen, many were surprised to see unexpected price increases in their favorite items.

The Pause is a branch of Student Government Association (SGA), though it largely functions as an independent organization. The Pause’s profile on the SGA Web site,, describes the venture as “a student-run event space [that] offers several event venues, a study area, a pool and sports lounge and a kitchen offering a full menu including our famous pizza and shakes.”

The Lion’s Pause Kitchen is an entirely student-run and student-managed enterprise. It offers a menu of popular snacks and dinner items including quesadillas, cookies, chicken fingers, pizza bagels and the timeless campus favorite: Pause pizza.

The Pause Kitchen is open during the academic year from 10:30 a.m. until midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 10:30 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Free delivery is offered to students living in campus residence halls.

When the Pause Kitchen opened for business at the beginning of the current academic year, many students quickly noted slight increases in the prices of most of their favorite items. A large one- or two-topping pizza, for instance, one of the Pause’s most popular items, saw an increase in price from $8 to $9. A few prices remained unchanged. A small pizza, for instance, is still $6.

Andrew O’Neill ’15 and Nathan Hartwig ’15 serve as co-coordinators of the Pause for the 2014-2015 academic year. O’Neill and Hartwig hire, train and supervise the Pause executive staff. O’Neill served as a kitchen co-manager of the Pause last year, and he says it was then that he first became aware of the price issues. O’Neill said that he and Hartwig, with input from Director of Student Activities Kris Vatter, decided prices had to be raised.

“We tasked our newly-hired kitchen managers and kitchen purchaser with assessing which items should receive a price increase and how much that should be,” O’Neill said. “After long thought and a lot of math, we arrived at the decision that we did. Our goal was to ensure that we were making a profit, while attempting to keep our items as affordable as possible for our customers.” While some customers were disgruntled, Pause executives stand by the changes, citing rising food costs.

“The cost of all of our ingredients has risen since prices were last set seven years ago,” O’Neill said. “Specifically, the cost of cheese has more than tripled and the cost of dough has about doubled.” Indeed, the Pause is not the only pizza joint that has been forced to raise its prices due to rising food costs.

According to a Feb. 5 article from entitled “Higher prices for pizza?  Blame cheese,” cheese is generally the costliest ingredient for pizza restaurants, making up about 35 to 40 percent of total food costs.

The article further notes that the “price of mozzarella cheese is up about 16 percent since the beginning of December [2013], and the price of cheddar cheese has jumped about 25 percent.”

The St. Olaf bubble is not immune to inflation, either. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, $8 in 2007 has the same buying power as $9.18 has today.

“The Pause Kitchen is the only area of the Pause that makes money,” O’Neill said. “This means that apart from the relatively small amount of money we get from SGA for startup costs, all of our purchases including food, equipment repairs, new tech equipment, facilities improvements, employee training and anything else needs to come from kitchen profit.”

O’Neill said he wants students to know that their input is always welcome, whether it has to do with food prices or any other Pause-related concern.

“If you ever have any comments, concerns, questions or ideas, please feel free to post them on the suggestion board, contact anyone on the Pause Executive Team, or just stop by the Pause Office to talk to one of us,” he urged. “We have had reports of people becoming upset with our cashiers about price differences, and we want to clarify that they had nothing to do with that decision and have little power to do anything about it.”

Any change on campus, especially when it involves pizza, is rarely met with a wholehearted embrace. As the academic year continues though, students will undoubtedly find a new campus cause to tackle, and $2 pizza bagels will become a distant memory.


Categories: Colleges

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