Blogosphere

SUNY strives for equal education access

Manitou Messenger - 41 min 32 sec ago
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) system decided to stop asking high school applicants questions concerning their criminal histories. Affecting over 300,000 applicants at 64 campuses annually, this new admissions policy is an attempt to step away from institutionalized inequality in higher education.SUNY made a bold choice to be the first university system to exclude criminal history requirements from the initial admissions process. The Center for Community Alternatives argues that there is no statistical difference in crime rates between schools that ask students about their criminal histories and those that do not. However, skeptics are concerned that the removal of questions about past felony convictions will drastically decrease safety on campuses, placing collegiate communities at risk.To address such worries, SUNY has taken the measures necessary to eliminate potential risks. Some uncertainties center around sexual assault and the possibility that an increased number of assailants will be admitted into schools without the knowledge of the universities. However, sexual offenders are obligated to report changes in address to the city that they live in, which would then report that change to the college they plan on attending. In regards to convictions other than sexual assault, applicants are only asked about their criminal record if they apply for on-campus housing or study abroad programs. As a result, past convictions will only affect how, and to what extent, students can interact with campus communities. This limits the negative impact a student’s past can have on their level of education and future financial stability.   The idea behind the less intrusive and more inclusive application is founded in the self-evident reality that the United States criminal justice system is both skewed and corrupt, convicting people of color disproportionately more than white people. According to the Department of Justice, one in five Americans have some form of a criminal record, with a disproportionate amount being people of color. This means that about 20% of the American population has been unjustly disadvantaged by criminal record requirements in college admissions for far too long.SUNY has recognized that most students with criminal records who apply for college have already satisfied the sentence that resulted from their conviction, as they are not likely pursuing higher education from behind bars. These students should no longer be continuously penalized for past mistakes that have already been accounted for. SUNY’s decision is based on the fact that if criminal histories are permitted to affect the college enrollment of minority students, those specific incidents will remain limiting factors throughout the entirety of their lives. The new policy halts the practice of allowing criminal records to severely impact people of color more than, and longer than, the majority of Americans.SUNY made an indisputably positive change that should be mirrored by university systems nationwide. In an era of efforts to increase the diversity of universities, many programs have been established to decrease achievement gaps that parallel race and class lines. Outreach programs, like TRIO and Reaching Our Goals (ROG) at St. Olaf, are successful in encouraging first generation students to apply for college. However, if one of the first questions on college applications requires reporting of past misdemeanors, the work of such programming is negated. Criminal inquiries on applications have the power to deter first generation students from applying before having even written their admissions essays. Should a student have the determination to overcome this invalidating portion of the application, there is a large possibility that past misbehavior will result in rejection anyway. The requirement of prospective students’ criminal histories on college applications is entirely hypocritical amidst efforts to diversify staggeringly white campuses. These questions directly contradict the purpose of an application – to demonstrate ability, integrity and ambition.In a post-industrial age, an undergraduate degree has become integral to living above the poverty line. Limiting college accessibility for people of color in college admissions has, and will continue to, play a sizeable role in perpetuating income inequality. The cycle of poverty that affects 13.5 percent of the United States population, according to the United States Census Bureau, is seen in this pattern of adolescents commiting felonies, being denied admission to universities and subsequently being confined to minimum wage. Economic inequality is at an all-time high, and access to higher education has the power to break the cycle of poverty. A college education must not remain regulated by past behaviors attributable to disadvantaged environments, and while concerns for student safety are valid, the prioritization of these concerns is discriminatory. The removal of criminal history requirements from all college applications is an imperative step towards equal access to higher education for all. 
Avery Ellfeldt ’19 (ellfel1@stolaf.edu) is from Denver, Colo. She majors in communications and cultural studies.
Categories: Colleges

Theology at St. Olaf in need of diversification

Manitou Messenger - 41 min 32 sec ago
The debate on the Biblical and Theological Studies – Bible (BTS-B) and Biblical and Theological Studies – Theology (BTS-T) General Education (GE) requirement is not new, but it is always lively.As a Lutheran-affliated college, St. Olaf requires its students to enroll in two courses where they “study major biblical texts and their interaction with theology, religious practice, ethics and social values [in order to] understand the essential content of Christian belief in a critical and coherent manner.” These courses used to be appropriate when the majority of St. Olaf students were descendents of Norwegian immigrants and practicing Lutherans. However, as the world becomes more pluralistic and St. Olaf diversifies its community of faculty, staff and students, the college faces a problem: Are the BTS-B and BTS-T requirements still relevant to a liberal arts education and reflective of St. Olaf’s diversity?It is necessary to clarify that BTS-B and BTS-T requirements are not problematic themselves. In fact, they can be a valuable academic experience for many students, both religious and secular. The goal has never been to convert students, but to foster an intellectual and critical environment where diverse views are accepted through the efforts of the college administration and religion professors. Yet Christianity as the principal focus of the theology requirements is a problem.When reflecting on St. Olaf’s history, Christianity has shaped the college in more ways than just hosting a daily chapel service or a Bible reading. Lutheran values have shaped St. Olaf’s education philosophy as well.A former professor of Lutheran studies at Gustavus Adolphus College Darrell Jodock argues that there is a unique relationship between Lutheran studies and a liberal arts education. Jodock believes that Lutheran tradition “serves the community … [encourages] academic excellence … and honors freedom of inquiry.”Rather than obstructing academic curiosity or isolating non-religious people, Lutheranism has encouraged an open and welcoming environment at St. Olaf.I admit that the Lutheran philosophy, with its emphasis in liberal learning and vocation for community, is valuable. However, I don’t believe that students must read the Bible to benefit from a liberal arts education. One might say that Luther originally recommended reading the Scripture as a way for Christians to exercise their freedom. However, on a newly diverse campus, a sole focus on Christian scripture is no longer appropriate. Others might say that a large part of the student body is still Christian; therefore, it is best to keep the current BTS-B and BTS-T requirements. I would respond by arguing that the freedom to study whatever religion you want is important, even if the students choose Christian theology. As much as Christianity benefits us intellectually and spiritually, other religions have many valuable tenets as well. The opportunity to study other religions should not only be given to religion majors.The Christian emphasis of the theology requirements can be attributed to St. Olaf’s identity as a Lutheran college. These courses exist partly to remind students of the college’s history. It would be regrettable for St. Olaf to lose sight of its Lutheran heritage. Without these requirements, is St. Olaf still St. Olaf? I believe that the college can still maintain its Lutheran identity as long as it educates its students of the founding principles of the college and adjusts to its more diverse community by defining “Lutheran” in a broader sense, as a liberal spirit and service for the community. This adjustment can be made by the diversification of the religion GE requirements.

My Khe Nguyen ’19 (nguyen7@stolaf.edu) is from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. She majors in political science.
Categories: Colleges

Boastful college claims are misleading

Manitou Messenger - 41 min 32 sec ago
President David Anderson ’74 was proud to announce at Opening Convocation this year that St. Olaf is now a carbon neutral campus. To be considered carbon neutral, all of the electricity used on campus must produce no carbon emissions. It really is quite an accomplishment to power all of a college campus – even a small one – with no carbon emissions, and this is something that St. Olaf should take pride in. However, the term “carbon neutral” isn’t quite as simple as producing no carbon emissions. St. Olaf still produces carbon emissions, but those are “offset” by our solar and wind power sources. Natural gas is still used to heat the school, and natural gas is not a carbon neutral source of energy by any means. So calling St. Olaf a carbon neutral campus is more of a technicality than anything. If you asked me what carbon neutral meant, I would probably say that it meant we didn’t use any power that produced any carbon emissions whatsoever. And I would bet that when our president announced to campus that we are now considered carbon neutral, most others would have an interpretation of carbon neutral similar to mine.It’s not that this one particular claim bothers me all that much, but it does follow a pattern I’ve noticed more and more as I enter my third year at St. Olaf. I feel as if I can’t take anything that the administration says at face value, because there’s always a complicated backstory behind it. They tell us one thing and we interpret it as such, when in reality it’s probably far more nuanced than the catchy two sentences in the admissions brochere.When prospective students walking through campus on guided tours are told about the diversity of the campus, what they don’t know is that of the 830 students in the class of 2020, only 51 are domestic students of color. There are over 200 student organizations on campus, but in reality only half of them ever meet or plan events. The Piper Center advertises funding for unpaid internships, but they fail to mention that the deadline is in March and many people haven’t been hired before then.It’s a pattern of misrepresentation and I’m tired of it. It’s definitely not something that just St. Olaf is guilty of. All colleges have to market themselves and try to convince prospective students to spend $50,000+ a year at their institution. St. Olaf certainly can’t keep its doors open if no new students are enrolling. But I also feel like young people are more aware of these marketing strategies now than they have been in the past. When I was applying to college, I knew that the brochures strategically used pictures of minority students in order to show how “diverse” they were. But I was applying to small, liberal arts colleges – often in rural areas – and I knew the reality of what the student bodies typically looked like at these schools.St. Olaf proudly declaring itself a carbon neutral campus seems like a stretch at best and a lie at worst.

Cassidy Neuner ’18 (neuner1@stolaf.edu) is from Carmel, Calif. She majors in political science and economics.
Categories: Colleges

Champion of the Hill is example of helpful “PC”

Manitou Messenger - 41 min 32 sec ago
The annual St. Olaf homecoming pageant King of the Hill has traditionally been a well-loved event showcasing the best talents, styles and one-liners of St. Olaf’s men. However, it was slightly modified this year when its name was changed to “Champion of the Hill.” In doing so, the hope was that Oles of all gender identities could show off what they are capable of. The contestants showcased their talents last Saturday and I truly enjoyed the diversity that the rebranded event encouraged. One could truly feel a greater sense of togetherness in the Pause that night.Even though I have personally developed a disdain for political correctness (PC) over the years, in the case of Champion of the Hill I think political correctness managed to bring our community together. Maybe it was the fact that the organizers of the event were not motivated by an activist agenda that made the name change go over so smoothly.  Over the years, politically correct Oles have made their mark on campus through advocating for various changes. From establishing a system of safe spaces and trigger warnings in classes, to diminishing the use of the word “retarded” to describe mentally disabled people, St. Olaf has had their fair share of political correctness police.  I have no doubt that the PC police have good intentions. Nor do I harbor suspicions about the sincerity of their goals. Nevertheless, some cases over the years have shown how college PC police have advocated the liberal agenda by using censorship measures that can seem quasi-totalitarian. In December of 2014, Smith College president Kathleen McCartney apologized after receiving backlash for saying that “all lives matter.” In another case, Yale University professor Erika Christakis sent a campus-wide email in October of 2015 challenging students to stand up for their right to decide what Halloween costumes to wear, even if those costumes were offensive. The protests that followed led to Christakis’s resignation the following December.At this point, one has to ask whether political correctness is just another way of declaring that your own personal beliefs are the ultimate truth and invalidating the personal beliefs of everyone who disagrees with you. There’s not only an emotional, but a selfish quality to this mentality. It is hard to dismiss the arrogant nature of the PC movement on college campuses, where students feel that they have sufficient wisdom to pass judgement on what is right and what is wrong.  However, as Bill Maher puts it, “wisdom isn’t something that you can just Google.” No matter how much one believes that they are standing on the right side of the argument, forcefully convincing others that they are saying the wrong things or are wearing the wrong clothes isn’t wisdom – or even freedom of speech for that matter. It is oppression, pure and simple. That being said, I am pleased that PC police were not overtly present in the decision to change the name of King of the Hill. The fact that Oles from all sides of the issue warmly received the name change demonstrated that dramatic measures aren’t always necessary to achieve a monumental change in your environment. All it takes is a level head and the ability to listen to one another rather than vehemently disagreeing with others. If this attitude could be adopted for all politically charged issues, such as trigger warnings or the use of the word “retarded,” the change that PC police seek would be easily attained.

Samuel Pattinasarane ’17 (pattin1@stolaf.edu) is from Jakarta, Indonesia. He majors in political science and Asian studies. 
Categories: Colleges

Mass media enables spreading of Trump’s lies

Manitou Messenger - 41 min 32 sec ago
Truth and politics have always had a bit of a tumultuous relationship. Truth is preachy and controlling. It tells you that 30 minutes of exercise a day will make you healthier, that loosened gun control leads to unnecessary deaths of innocent people, that torture doesn’t actually work and that all vaccines actually do is prevent long-cured diseases from re-emerging and leaving a generation in miniature coffins in their wake because their neglectful parents trust grocery store magazines more than scientific experts. Truth is ridiculously stubborn and actually gets somewhat mad when you disagree with it.Politics has a semi-monogomous relationship with truth. It’ll have consistent affairs but ultimately fall back on truth, at least if voter turnout is high enough. Unfortunately, a certain tanning-bed-orange-skinned reality TV star is playing homewrecker and things aren’t looking good. Truth is near dead, and Donald Trump is killing it.Lying politicians are not a new breed, but there used to be certain limits. When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, he made economic promises he couldn’t – and didn’t – keep. This is typical. It is the kind of untruth that a politician can later plead occured out of a sense of hopefulness or misguided optimism. Voters may respect optimism and forgive the lie, butTrump outright disregards reality.Trump’s sell to the American public is that he, unlike most politicians, gives them what they want: a fast food, reality-TV candidate that doesn’t ask them to think about him or his policies, just to hate his opponent. He has a tagline and that is it. He doesn’t “tell it like it is” and he isn’t a powerful speaker who questions the established order. Rhetorically, Trump is an incredibly passive and weak speaker, communicating almost exclusively in brief clusters of words and qualifying an embarrassing number of statements with  “I don’t know” or claiming it is something “he heard.” His speeches lack authority because he hesitates to make permanent statements regarding his own beliefs. He throws tantrums and whines when criticized and offers petty, grade-school nicknames for his opponents. He mocks the disabled and vilifies entire racial groups, and then softens and essentially retracts his offensive statements once he is around an audience he knows does not support him. His appeal is not strength or defiance and it certainly isn’t consistency. His appeal is that he is easy to talk about and easy to remember.I would imagine those who support Trump walk a hard road, but really all they have to do is defer any comments made about him to someone else. He is an incredibly bright shadow without any actual substance. You don’t have to mire through policy, read a newspaper or watch the news to know that Trump claims to support you.Trump’s system of lies has been propped up by a media system that assumes different opinions on any issue are of equal value, or at least should be reported that way. Trump has revealed the inherent flaws of this system. Dean Baquet, an executive editor for the New York Times, discussed this particular phenomenon and how Trump prompted the publication to use the word “lie” to call out a politician for the first time.The specific lie was regarding the never-ending absurdity of the birth place conspiracy surrounding President Obama, which is nothing but a gross political ploy built and sustained by racism, xenophobia and a notion that region of birth as a determinant of character. It’s as outdated and ludicrous as skull shape defining a person. Beyond the simple lie of perpetuating this unfounded and baseless argument, Trump went so far as to outright lie about facts. He claimed Obama hadn’t released his birth certificate after he had.The particularly depressing thing about this lie is that it doesn’t even feel like it matters. So long has the media been offering credence to political lies – untruths or half-truths that politicians play ignorant towards – that now people feel that it is worth considering outright lies. The lies that Donald Trump spreads every day. Politics is about perspective and for too long large-scale media has taught the narrative of two equal stances on every issue. Trump is just the disgusting sore that alerted us to the pervasive sickness eating away at us from the inside.So what can we do? More and more sources are calling out Trump’s lies, showing them as rightly unequal, but supporters just play it off as partisan propaganda. There are enough articles published daily that anyone can find kinship in supporting their candidate, even if that support is not grounded in evidence or fact. Once enough people believe a lie, it doesn’t matter much that it isn’t true. But in this case, it may be too late to stop publishing Trump’s lies as if they are fact. The only real solution is to continue calling out lies and hopefully the sources that uphold truth will gain a more reputable position for doing so. Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, Trump has made a clear mark on the American consciousness and the best we can do is try to harness that energy for positive change.
Conlan Campbell ’18 (campbe1@stolaf.edu) is from Burnsville, Minn. He majors in English with a concentration in media 
Categories: Colleges

Community News: Northfield ACC invites you…

KYMN Radio - 1 hour 50 min ago

The Northfield Arts and Culture Commission invite you an informal gathering at City Hall this afternoon to view a new exhibit remembering 9/11 and the 15th anniversary. This year, our nation recognizes the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. Northfield acknowledges the events of that period with an art exhibit “9/11: A Fifteen Year Anniversary […]

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Thursday morning Pre-school Storytime

City of Northfield Calendar - 1 hour 59 min ago
Event date: October 13, 2016
Event Time: 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Location:
210 Washington St
Northfield, MN 55057
Description:
Pre-school storytime is for children ages 4 and up. Come enjoy picture books, songs, fingerplays and movement. Thursdays at 10 am in the blue area of the children's room.
While we focus on pre-schoolers all children are invited.

Tuesday morning Infant Lapsit

City of Northfield Calendar - 2 hours 3 min ago
Event date: October 11, 2016
Event Time: 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Location:
210 Washington St
Northfield, Mi 55057
Description:
Infant Lapsit at 10 am on Tuesdays is designed to encourage development of language and motor skills by incorporating books with simple songs, rhymes and fingerplays. Plus you will meet other new parents! Now held in the blue area in the children's area.
For ages 6-18 months with parent or caregiver.

Wednesday morning Toddler Rhyme Time

City of Northfield Calendar - 2 hours 6 min ago
Event date: October 12, 2016
Event Time: 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Location:
210 Washington St
Northfield, Mi 55057
Description:
Toddler Rhyme Time offers a fun, interactive early literacy time with kids 18 months through age 3 with a parent or caregiver. While we focus on toddlers, other children are welcome.
Morning storytimes are held in the blue area of the children's library space.

ArtZany!-Radio for the Imagination | Studio ArTour -Brocken, Dew, Pariseau 09/30/2016

KYMN Radio - 2 hours 57 min ago

Listen Fridays at 9:00am (replayed on Saturday at 9:00am) to Paula Granquist on ArtZany! – Radio for the Imagination Today in the ArtZany! Radio studio Paula Granquist welcomes artists Bob Brocken, Patsy Dew, and Sue Pariseau from the South Central Minnesota Studio ArTour. Click here to listen to the show! ArtZany! – Radio for the […]

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City Council Meeting

City of Northfield Calendar - 4 hours 14 min ago
Event date: October 4, 2016
Event Time: 07:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Location:
801 Washington Street
Northfield, MN 55057

Community News: Woodley Street Reconstruction update

KYMN Radio - 4 hours 17 min ago

The City of Northfield Woodley Street Reconstruction Project Update Phase 1  (Woodley Street from Prairie Street to Maple Street, Evelyn Circle & Frances Circle)  & Phase 2A (Maple Street and Woodley Street Intersection) Sodding and tree planting crews were on-site this week working on putting the final touches on Phase 1 and Phase 2A this week.  […]

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Rice County public safety reports for Sept. 29

Northfield News - 4 hours 57 min ago
Below are selected incidents from the media reports for Sept. 29:
Categories: Local News

What’s doing the blooming? Autumn Revolution Bittersweet!

Autumn Revolution Bittersweet
Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Generally, when I share what’s doing the blooming each week, it’s a plant that is blooming! However this week, I’m featuring a plant that has never been known for it’s bloom.  Rather, it’s known for it’s most spectacular fall fruit! Bittersweet is a native, woody vine that grows quietly along fences, over arbors and up trellises. Its’ bright green, glossy summer foliage doesn’t attract attention. Then, fall arrives, and with it the glossy green leaves become bright yellow fall foliage and vivid orange “berries” appear. The orange outer shells pop open, revealing the swollen red fruit inside, making this inconspicuous vine a wall flower no more!

Autumn Revolution Bittersweet
Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

At Knecht’s you will find a revolutionary variety of bittersweet appropriately named, Autumn Revolution. These plants have revolutionized bittersweet with the unique ability to produce fruit without having both a male and female plant. Not only are they self-fruitful, their fruit is almost twice as big as the fruit found on our more wild, native varieties of bittersweet. Autumn Revolution Bittersweet can reach as far as 15-20′, making it a great choice for larger scale structures and for covering fences. Once established, these plants are drought tolerant. The vines and fruit are well suited to fresh cut and dried arrangements.  It is a fantastic fall favorite!

The post What’s doing the blooming? Autumn Revolution Bittersweet! appeared first on Knecht's Nurseries & Landscaping.

Categories: Businesses

Faculty in Focus: Karil Kucera

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 6:52pm
Resting on shelves are numerous collectibles ranging from items associated with the Buddha to hand-made tea cups. Make no mistake, this isn’t a museum exhibit or a stupa containing relics – this is the office of Karil Kucera, Associate Professor of Art and Art History and Asian Studies.After growing up in rural Wisconsin, Kucera took a nontraditional path and spent a few years in France after high school. She studied French literature and language before earning a second degree in Chinese history. Kucera first travelled to China while working on her senior honors thesis at the University of Wisconsin. She has since been to China every year for the past 30 years. She earned her Master’s in Art History at the University of Oregon and gained her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Kansas. Kucera was able to pay for her education without loans by using the money she earned from teaching English in China during the 1980s. She has been a visiting professor at Dartmouth College, Lewis & Clark College and the University of Washington. Kucera currently teaches art history and Asian studies here at St. Olaf. One of her most recent publications is her book “Ritual and Representation at a Chinese Buddhist Site: Visualizing Enlightenment at Baodingshan from the 12th to the 21st Centuries.” Baodingshan is a Buddhist site near Chongqing in southwest China. The site is about 1.5 miles long and contains roughly 6,000 sculptures. Kucera explains the significance of this site in her book and maintains an interactive website containing more information about Baodingshan: www.Baodingshan.org. The book and website are designed specifically for tourists to use as they visit Baodingshan. Kucera distinctly remembers a time when she was at the site and, much to her dismay, overheard the tour guides stating blatantly inaccurate information. “The tour guides were just awful,” she said. “They told people this stuff and it was all wrong.” She hopes that her book, website, and research will help promote a greater understanding of the site’s significance. Kucera is currently working on an electronic textbook for her students titled “Sacred Sites of Asia.” By creating it digitally rather than in the form of a traditional print textbook, she can incorporate more images and videos. She can also add and change content in the future, so students won’t have to spend money on purchasing a new textbook edition every year. When it comes to some projects and assignments, Kucera believes her students should be permitted to choose what works for them. Some elect to write papers, but many choose to physically create their work or utilize digital resources such as Google SketchUp. The teacups on her shelves, for instance, were created by students in her Arts of Japan course. Kucera admits that the variation in submitted work makes grading difficult. “The medium [of the work] is different,” she said. “But, structurally, they’re the same stuff.” Besides offering variety in coursework, another core component of her teaching method is ensuring that her students know where to go to discover information, rather than simply providing them with pertinent facts. Kucera lives in Northfield with her husband and her two dogs. She and her husband have been making efforts to be as sustainable as possible, going so far as to install solar panels and collect water in a 1,000 gallon tank. Autumn is generally a fairly busy time for Kucera. Nevertheless, she and her husband usually try to spend one weekend in a hotel in St. Paul and eat sushi, given that “there is no good sushi in Northfield.” Another less known aspect of Kucera’s personal life is that she enjoys playing March Madness based on team mascots. For example, in a match between an Ole Lion and a Carleton Knight, Kucera asserts that she would “take a lion over a knight any day. The lion will pull you down.”
vojcak1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Champion of the Hill captivates

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 6:52pm
Cosi Pori ’18 was crowned Champion of the Hill Saturday night at St. Olaf’s homecoming pageant event. Formerly known as King of the Hill, the Student Activities Committee (SAC) switched to the term “Champion” after Director of Student Activities and Buntrock Commons Kris Vatter informed SAC that the male-only pageant was not in accordance with the rules specified in Title IX. “In the past, King of Hill was a male pageant, and the purpose of the event was to challenge the idea of pageants,” Homecoming Co-Chair Jacob Pullen ’18 said.However, under “Other Sex-Specific Activities and Rules,” Title IX reads “unless expressly authorized by Title IX or its implementing regulations, a school may not segregate or otherwise distinguish students on the basis of their sex, including gender identity, in any school activities or the application of any school rule.” The challenge, therefore, was to adapt King of the Hill to fit within the specifications of Title IX while maintaining the tradition of the event. SAC embraced the change, making the event gender-inclusive. According to Pullen, a gender inclusive King of the Hill wasn’t a new idea. While planning the 2015 King of Hill, SAC and the Gender and Sexuality House discussed the possibility of a King of the Hill event that was less masculine and heteronormative. While in 2015 the idea remained simply that, this year the change was mandatory. The first step of adapting the event was coming up with a new name. The homecoming co-chairs wanted to maintain the spirit and tradition of the event, and therefore chose “champion” to replace “king” since it was gender-neutral. The next step was to modify parts of the structure. Though the events remained the same, modifications were made to make the events less heteronormative. For example, in years past, male competitors were accompanied by a female “escort.” This year, the competitors were able to choose any “guest(s)” to accompany them. In years past, the SAC committee would ask students to participate in King of the Hill. In this year’s Champion of the Hill, SAC tabled and allowed students to nominate peers. The nominations were gender inclusive. “The purpose of Champion of the Hill is to showcase Ole pride, spirit and talent, and to move away from making fun of pageant shows,” Pullen said.The St. Olaf community embraced the change to Champion of the Hill. On Saturday night, the Pause was packed with Oles eager to watch their peers showcase their talent and humor. Among the judges were Pastor Matthew Marohl, Peter Costanza and Student Government Association president Emma Lind ’17. Champion competitor Nicholas Swanson ’17 started off the night by dropping – or raising – some notes to Lind, while singing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Swannie Willstein ’19’s cover of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” won her second place. Willstein substituted words in the song with “spaghetti,” and each time she said the word her parents tossed spaghetti at her. Pori was crowned Champion of the Hill after his showcase of talent. His primary talent was shoveling grapes into his mouth while singing with great passion. The EMTs on hand cast each other uneasy looks, and made sudden movements when they thought Pori was in need of the Heimlich maneuver. The crowd cheered weakly when the song ended, exhausted over their concern for Pori’s airway; nobody, however, could deny Pori’s extraordinary talent and embodiment of the Ole spirit. Later, Pori established power by appealing to the cross country team, who sat in a pack in the audience. When Pori donned the cross country jersey and tattoo, the cross country team stood in unison, applauding. Champion of the Hill’s gender inclusivity and initiative to showcase Ole talent and spirit was successful. 
suite1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Signature book relates St. Olaf’s history

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 6:52pm
It is difficult for many to imagine  St. Olaf College as anything other than the modern institution it currently exists as. However, a recently donated document may help students gain new insight as to what the school was like in generations past.A signature book dating back to 1883 was donated to the college by Dennis Thompson ’68. The book belonged to Henry Gilbertson who was enrolled at St. Olaf at the time.  The book offers insight into what life was like on the St. Olaf campus 130 years ago.For some historical context, it’s important to understand the fundamental ways in which the institution has changed over the span of generations. Originally, St. Olaf was not a college at all – it was a preparatory school. Its class size paled in comparison to the size of our student body today. In 1883, the year Henry Gilbertson drafted the signature book, only 91 students were enrolled at St. Olaf’s School and only 20 were women. Today, 3,179 students roam St. Olaf’s 300-acre campus and 58 percent of the student body is female. Most students in 1883 were first or second generation Norwegian-Americans, and attended college in a town made famous for its confrontation with the James-Younger gang only seven years prior.Gilbertson himself is pictured in the book, although he did not graduate from St. Olaf. It is assumed he left early in order to return to work on his family’s farm in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha Country – or modern day South Dakota. Students weren’t the only ones who left their mark in Gilbertson’s book. Its pages are littered with the writings of faculty and administrative officials, among them Halvor T. Ytterboe and T.H. Mohn. Ytterboe joined the faculty of St. Olaf in 1882. He was respected by his students and admired by many. Mohn served in the college’s administration, and unlike President David Anderson ’74, he was addressed by a different title: Principal. Mohn was 30 years old when St. Olaf appointed him to the position of headmaster. He worked tirelessly to expand the school until his death in 1899.Among the signature book’s pages are some short remarks by Hannah Thorson, who studied at the school from 1882-1883. She wrote, “May he to whom this book belongs few sorrows meet, if any; his gloomy hours be short and few, his happy days be many.” She addressed the note to “Mr. Gilbertson,” her fellow student. The formal address is indicative of the standard etiquette between males and females at the time. During this period in the college’s history, genders sat at separate tables during meals and dating was restricted. School regulations governed other aspects of students’ lives, prohibiting tobacco use, billiards, card playing and profanity. Students were expected to spend their free time in their rooms studying, and lights were blown out at 10 p.m.Henry Gilbertson’s book provides a window into an era we can only imagine, enabling current readers to get a glimpse into the history of St. Olaf. While giving insight into the adversities these students faced, it simultaneously portrays students who are not so different from their modern colleagues. Those interested in learning more about the book can visit the College Archives in Rolvaag Memorial Library. 
favaro1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Pro-black display highlights police brutality

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 6:52pm
“Does our citizenship not hold enough value? Or does our education not speak volume?”These are the questions written on the bottom of Tia Schaffer ’20’s cardboard sign, which she wears around campus to raise awareness of Terrence Crutcher’s death in Tulsa, Okla. on Sept. 16, and its implications for black Americans. In the days following Crutcher’s death, news media fixated on the deaths of both Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was shot four times by police outside of his parked SUV in Charlotte, S.C. after they repeatedly demanded that he “drop the gun.” It is unclear whether or not Scott was holding a gun at the time of his death. Crutcher was shot and killed by policewoman Betty Shelby after the Tulsa police station received calls that Crutcher’s car was stalled in the middle of the road and blocking traffic. He was unarmed and police helicopter footage showed that his hands were in the air before Shelby fired her gun. Crutcher had been on his way home from Tulsa Community College, where he studied music.“People have this stereotypical idea of black people, like ‘Oh, they’re hoodlums,’ and ‘He was doing something suspicious,’ or ‘He probably just came from doing this or doing that,’ but this particular individual was going home from class,” Schaffer said. “He was enrolled in Tulsa Community College, so this is actually a student that we’re talking about – regardless of his age – he’s a student.” Crutcher’s identity as a black student resonated with Schaffer. She was inspired to speak out about the injustice and to call on St. Olaf students to take a photo with her as a symbol of alliance. “‘Take a picture with me as a symbol of alliance.’ I think I wrote that too small because [students are] like ‘Oh is it okay if I take a picture with you?’ I’m like ‘Yes, okay, that’s the purpose! I want you to take a picture and I want you to post it again on social media,’” Schaffer said. “This is a predominately white institution, so I expect most of the students I come in contact with to be white, and I think that union and that partnership is very crucial to making progress because we can’t do it by ourselves.”Though Schaffer is the only student participating in this particular demonstration, she hopes that social media will further her cause and she encourages students to post photos with her to spur discussion. Schaffer has been a vocal activist for much of her life. She takes pride in her race and does what she can to speak out against racial injustice. “I consider myself very pro-black. Not anti-white, not anti-anything else, I’m just for the progression of my people,” Schaffer said. “I’m also unapologetically black, and that’s how I was able to just walk around and be extremely annoying with this big board from class to class.”In high school, Schaffer launched an online business and movement called Reincarnating Black Life. She sells T-shirts on her website with the goal of empowering black Americans and inviting the community to talk about the T-shirts and what it means to be black. “On the T-shirts are different slogans that promote black life, that promote the progression of the black race,” Schaffer said. “I just have people buying them, sporting them. Every day you walk up to your place of work, you walk into restaurants, you walk into the store and people are like ‘Hey, what does that mean?’ That opens the gate for conversations.”Schaffer hopes to expand this initiative once she graduates college.“I kinda want it to be [a] movement – an actual movement where our everyday lives are literally [dedicated] to do nothing but advance ourselves and just advance in this country, period.”Schaffer has received positive yet hesitant responses from the St. Olaf community, but said that more and more students and faculty are approaching her to show solidarity or to engage in conversation about Crutcher’s death. She plans to continue wearing her sign, or some version of it, indefinitely. 
whitfo1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Behind the Scenes of a Pause Dance

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 6:52pm
At 9:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the beginning of the homecoming  Pause dance, the Pause Mane Stage was mostly vacant save for paper decorations bearing the names of various St. Olaf landmarks. James Wheeler ’18, one of the night’s DJs, bounced behind his turntable underneath a huge pair of hanging dice. Swirling, bright lights spun from the stage to the floor as Pause security assembled chain-link guards that blocked  entrance to the stage from the floor.“Oles come excited for Friday and Saturday nights, and no matter what they are always excited to dance,” Wheeler said. “It takes the pressure off planning your night.”Wheeler’s DJ group, Dangerous Volcano, was formed with his roommate Cosi Pori ’18 out of a mutual desire to share their love of dance with the St. Olaf campus. The position of Pause DJ is unpaid, and Wheeler commented on the lack of transparency in the DJ selection process. He noted that a fair number of students wanted to win the spot, “but it is not very well advertised how to get it.” He expressed a desire for more students to begin DJing.Clad in a pair of overall-shorts, Wheeler affirmed the performative aspect of his role. “I can move my hips in ways you can’t even imagine,” he said. “It’s fun to get up wearing something that is loose and dancing in front of a lot of people.”Around 10:00 p.m. a line began to form around the dance entrance, but otherwise students went about their business watching TV, playing pool or conversing over pizza. Deep End APO, a theater organization, sat at a table by the dance entrance, organizing pizza deliveries.Two members of the Student Activities Committee (SAC) sat at the table in front of the dance, turning away enthusiastic dance-goers who had arrived too early.Morgan Turk ’18, one of the SAC members, expressed her excitement to work the dance.“I always take this shift. People are really excited to see you, and so friendly,” Turk said. She enjoys working the early shift so that she can leave at 11 and go back into the dance. She and her partner for the night recalled some problems in the past, such as individuals being turned away for being belligerently drunk, but clarified that Pause security is responsible for handling such issues.Being inclusive and making attendants comfortable were clear goals of the dance. Non-St. Olaf students could enter by showing a photo ID. Turk and her partner also noted a change in the pat-down lines. Where previously there were separate lines for men and women, now there is one line where attendants can choose to be patted down by either a male or female security worker.Directly outside the dance stood a table occupied by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), on hand in case someone in the dance needed medical attention. One of the EMTs, Madeline Wagner Sherer ’18, described the funding process. “SGA contracts out our club,” she said. “They pay our club money per event that we staff as EMTs and we use that money to buy medical supplies, new radios, jackets – stuff like that.” Inside the dance, SAC member Jeremy Storvick ’18 sat behind a table with huge bowls of pretzels, goldfish and other snacks. “We just make it a little more hospitable for people who aren’t super into the dancing, or want to take a break,” he said, noting that the food was also useful for attendants who consumed alcohol before the event.Around 10:45 p.m. the dance started to fill up and Pause security stood at every exit to make sure that dancers didn’t leave through the wrong door. Sam Caspar ’18, security manager, described the role of Pause Security.“[We watch] for people who aren’t being safe in terms of too much drinking. If they need an EMT we look out for that, we look on the floors if there is a potential liability they could hurt themselves,” Caspar said. In addition to student-run Pause security, the Student Government Association (SGA) contracts security from private firms for big ticket events such as dances or concerts. According to Director of Student Activities Kris Vatter, SGA began hiring outside security for Pause dances during the 2011-2012 academic year, a practice which constitutes 0.3 percent of SGA’s annual allocation. The outside firm is used to help enforce rules that may be difficult for student security workers, Vatter noted, referencing a situation within the last three years where a member of outside security had to “restrain a student in handcuffs for a significant amount of time to get the situation resolved.” At the homecoming dance, guards from Asia Security scanned the Pause for signs of danger.Around 11:30 p.m. the dance was at peak popularity and the entry line extended well beyond the Pause doors, up the main Buntrock stairs and past the Cage. Those waiting in line excitedly chatted and Vatter stopped one student as he carried two others down the stairs on his back.She offered a warning while heading back to the Pause floor.“When we go back in there will be a distinctive smell. Are you ready for it?”Back on the dance floor the air was damp and the floor was covered in the dust of crushed pretzel pieces and scattered chunks of salt. The cups were running low and workers scrambled to find new ones. Vatter opened a side door and placed a fan in front of it, letting in a cool breeze from outside that stopped multiple transfixed dancers, fatigued from the tightly-knit floor.The dance was more brightly lit than in years past, for the sake of security.  “The light deters people from doing what they wouldn’t do in public,” Assistant Director of Student Activities Catherine Paro said. Still, many of the dancers danced very intimately and one couple shared a prolonged kiss as they swayed to a slow ballad.Outside, the Pause was mostly occupied by those who had recently left the dance and Deep End APO had relocated their pizza delivery operation to the Lair. They cited the harsh reverberations of the bass against the wall as their reason for moving.One student in the group expressed that she felt less safe delivering pizzas on the night of the Pause dance, noting that there were more raucous individuals out on campus grounds than usual.Starting around 12:40 a.m., the dance began to wind down. The previously packed floor began to show gaps, and many of those dancing started to scan the room until locking eyes with a familiar face. Some of those dancing with a partner left quietly together, while others split up to go their separate ways.At 12:56 a.m., Pori grabbed the microphone and exclaimed “everybody go home,” leaving those remaining to exit through the now propped-open Mane stage doors. There was a clear sense of relief running through Pause security as the last stragglers left. Many of them stared down at their phones as they trekked out into the Pause while others carried out containers of food not consumed during the night.“Come on, let’s get this place cleaned up,” Vatter said while workers stowed away unused cups and swept crushed animal crackers off the sweat-slick floor.
campbe1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Crack of Dawn Bakehouse and Market maintains Northfield, Faribault connection

Northfield News - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 4:04pm
The Crack of Dawn Bakehouse and Market opened its doors in Faribault nearly six months ago, but the business began as one couple’s hobby as part of the Northfield Riverwalk Market Fair six years ago.
Categories: Local News

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