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Updated: 14 weeks 3 days ago

Black Friday contradicts Thanksgiving’s values

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 6:52am
What do you associate with Thanksgiving? Many people cannot think of Thanksgiving without thinking about friends, family, turkey and pie. Thanksgiving in the United States has traditionally been a time to relax, express gratitude and spend time with loved ones. Taking these tranquil associations into account, one cannot help but wonder how the nature of Thanksgiving suddenly devolves into the chaos of Black Friday less than 24 hours later. Incredible amounts of money are spent on Black Friday each year. The most recent Black Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, generated upwards of $1 billion dollars in mobile revenue. In case you’re curious, the five best-selling toys were Lego Creator Sets, Razor electric scooters, Nerf Guns, DJI Phantom Drones and Barbie Dreamhouses. Alternatively, the best-selling electronic products were Apple iPads, Samsung 4k TVs, the Apple MacBook Air, LG TVs and Microsoft Xbox. No one can deny that the deals on Black Friday make it possible for many Americans to buy expensive products that they may not usually be able to afford. But do these shopping sprees negate the spirit of Thanksgiving? Black Friday contradicts the community aspect of Thanksgiving through people’s obsession with hunting down the best bargains and only benefitting themselves. Millions of people wake up early on Black Friday each year in order to improve their chances of obtaining the items they want at reduced prices. Instead of giving thanks, consumers give each other headaches as they compete to get their slice of the Black Friday pie. The more recent shift to online shopping has only made participation in Black Friday easier. Rather than spending time traveling to a particular store and staking out a spot in what appears to be a never-ending line, consumers can purchase goods from the comfort of their own homes. Why brave the elements when you can snuggle up in a warm blanket, make a cup of coffee, sit down at your computer and purchase what you want online with merely a few clicks? The purpose of Black Friday seems directly opposed to the holiday of Thanksgiving. Nonetheless, many Americans love the concept of the “holiday.” It provides them with a convenient opportunity to save money just in time for Christmas and the holiday season. From a psychological perspective, Americans see the deals on Black Friday to be a reward for their  preparedness and for already knowing exactly what they “need” to buy. Missed out on the opportunity to snag a Black Friday deal? Fortunately for you, there’s still Cyber Monday. “Cyber Monday” was created by marketing companies to convince people to shop online on the Monday following Thanksgiving. This tradition began in 2005, and sales in 2016 started off with $554 million. Much like Black Friday, Cyber Monday has evolved into an annual ritual for holiday shoppers. Even as Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to encourage us to focus on accumulating material possessions, perhaps there is a better approach to welcoming the holiday season. Many national and state parks across the U.S. offer free admission to visitors on Black Friday. The Minnesota State Parks system offered free admission to all 75 state parks and recreation areas this past Black Friday. This growing initiative that encourages people to spend time in nature instead of at the malls has been dubbed “Free Park Friday.” In another attempt to refute Black Friday, many Americans now participate in Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is an international event developed in response to mass consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season. It’s a movement which encourages people to give back and donate to the charities, nonprofits and organizations they care about on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving has come and gone, the holiday season is only beginning. Whether you are frantically searching for the perfect gift, timing your shopping to take advantage of sales or contributing to the organizations you support, I hope you have discovered how to reflect your values in your activities. In this way you can continue to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive long after the food has been eaten. 
Danny Vojcak ’19 (vojcak1@stolaf.edu) is from Naperville, Ill. He majors in environmental studies and political science.
Categories: Colleges

Happy Holidays!

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 6:52am
Happy Holidays from the Manitou Messenger staff. We appreciate your readership and look forward to seeing you in the spring. Good luck on your finals, Oles!
Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiments: Unity

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 6:52am
As winter is slowly easing its way back into my life, I seem to be more nostalgic than I would typically be on a day-to-day basis on the Hill. Particularly, I have been thinking about the exact reasons why I left my perpetually sunny southern California hometown, and ended up at a college with a smaller population than my high school. It was because I found a unfound sense of warmth in the smallness of St. Olaf that I had never felt anywhere else in my life. I think the size of St. Olaf and the proximity of its buildings has a profound influence on the campus and its students. From the start of my freshman year I found enjoyment in the cyclic routine my fellow Oles and I take across campus. It captivated me and made me feel unity with everyone around me. However, this unity has slowly begun to stagnate into a double edged sword. I do not just see the beauty in the unity, I see the hurt. The hurt comes from my experiences being shackled to the very campus itself. The campus has a way of manifesting negative memories through my senses, from mundane things like tripping on ice near Skoglund, to significant moments of heartbreak. These memories are bound to the places where I experienced them, and every day I am thrust back into those moments. To the girl whose smoothie I knocked out of her hand while entering Tomson, I am sorry. To the iced tea I never got to drink because I spilt it all rushing to Great Con last year, I am sorry. To every person I have had an awkward interaction with at the doors entering Buntrock, I am sorry. The very simple act of going to the Caf can boil up such unnecessary anxiety that sometimes I wonder what captivated me about this school in the first place. But the beauty does come in waves as well. Though right now the bad may appear more often to me than the good, the good is often a stronger feeling, bringing me back up from the shadows of melencholy. The past echoes throughout this campus bringing memories of joy. Every time I look up at the stars on an especially dark night I remember stargazing during Week One with people I barely speak to anymore. But the joy is still there. Every time I walk by Holland Hall I remember Professor Taliaferro’s introduction to the philosophy major that completely entranced me. And of course, Ellingson Hall, the shining gem of my freshman year: every time I walk by it I am reminded of the friendships that I made there that continue to flourish this year. These are some of the memories that serve as the rock on which I base all my other experiences on this hill. Like waiting for spring in the winter, I know more good times will come after the bad.St. Olaf is a beautiful beast of emotion and memory. No other place has grabbed me by the heart and thrown me higher than the sky and lower than hell. It is in its walls that I feel the experiences I have had here, and as the highs get higher and the lows get lower, I will continue to battle with its complex unity. 


mattso1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

The Failure of Words

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 6:52am
When you think about it, really hard, it makes no sense.How words fail to do their purpose,Of giving meaning to feelingOf describingNo matter how hard I try, Words will always fail me when I’m describing you.You are so much more than anything, than everythingMore than cute,More than kind,You’ll even always be more than all mineIt’s not just you,But everything about.The things you doThe words you sayHow I think about you every day.It’s always you, but I have no words.I’m more than happy, more than excitedWhen you’re around.More than disappointedMore than saddened,When you have to go.Understanding doesn’t make it easier.I can’t help the way I feel,How my heart still jumps when I see you,How my face lights up.I wish I could tell you all the things you do for me,All you make me feel.But we’d be here forever,And never scratch the surface.You are the reason I break out laughing when no one’s around.Why I seem to smile for no reason.Why some days are better than the weekend. 
peters18@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Refuge

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 6:52am
Black tea
White snow
And the earthen rests of each
Make up the scale of this quiet day


Retreating from the cold blowing
Of thoughts titled “Can” and “Can-Not,”
I steeped, then poured
Then sat at the kitchen table
Watching thick flakes fall,
The laggards of the bunch


How simple, this clearing came
Swiped down like a pine
Beneath the axe of some flannel-clad viking
While I can sit here and imagine


The bright warmths are beautiful,
But it is the dark warmths that love
The blanket, the socks,
The ruddy cup of tea
Beating ceramic against my fingers 


I sit here, drinking the dark,
Watching the light fall like stars
And put myself at ease
Between them

benjam1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

White

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 1:51pm
Staring out into the crowd from coat check, all I see are white people. So. Many. White. People. White and pale like lutefisk.White so normalized, home feels different.White like the snow you’ve been begging for.White like papers strewn across my desk.  White like my skin, summer tan fading.White like passing for Norwegian.White like cotton t-shirts.White like piano keys, all natural. White like a yeti, terrifying.White like bed sheets, until I bleed on them. White like coloring pages, until I fill them. White like my empty hands, until I shake someone else’s.  White like popcorn, until I coat it with butter or caramel.White like plastic bags, until I ask for paper. White like marshmallows, until I roast them.White like whipped cream, until I stir it into hot chocolate.White like these walls, until I paint them.White like eggs, until I break them.White like the White House, until I voted a black man into it. White like erasers, until I write in pen.White like my shoes, until I beat the pavement. 

mcmanis@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Stage fright still affliction, despite experience

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 1:51pm
Now, dear reader, let’s get something straight. I am primarily an actor, and I have been acting continuously since I was 12 years old. One would think that after performing for nearly eight years, I would have grown out of the infamous feeling of stage fright. After all, I have faced that fear quite a few times. Shouldn’t I be past stage fright by now? Have I not achieved the level of adult maturity where I no longer feel any fear? In case you missed the subtext here, I still get stage fright and I’m just a little bitter about it. As I’ve gotten older it actually seems to get worse. Stage fright doesn’t just happen during shows, though, let no one mistake. It really starts about a week or two before the show opens. Worries of missed entrances, forgotten lines and embarrassing costume malfunctions start appearing and floating through my head. Next comes the inevitable dream (or three, if the production is stressful enough) in which I wake up shaking in embarrassment after watching myself try to perform my role while totally naked.Of course there then come the backstage jitters. In the few moments before entrances onto the stage, time always seems to be moving at the speed of both lighting and molasses.  Suddenly that first line seems a lot more difficult to remember. That sweat that I can feel under my costume has got to be showing somewhere.The third and most well-known stage fright comes when I finally get on stage.  I would liken the feeling of walking on stage to cresting the hill on a rollercoaster.  The pit that has been forming in my stomach before my entrance drops suddenly, and I can only think about the exact moment that I am in, nothing before or after.I suppose one of the reasons that my stage fright has gotten worse is that my fear has only been affirmed by my experience. Missed entrances happen quite frequently, to varying degrees.  I once had a fellow actor miss their entrance by a very long five minutes.  Missed lines happen even more frequently, at least two or three times a show, if not much more.Additionally, mishaps from the realms of projections, lights, sound, props and set pieces happen even more.  On stage I’ve broken set pieces, accidentally kicked a wall in, torn expensive stage fabric, etc.  Believe it or not, there is an incredibly large amount of things that can go wrong on a live stage.The possibility of failure is always present on stage, in innumerable forms.  Stage fright will never be gone, and it exists partially for good reason: to keep performers aware of their environment and constantly ready to solve problems.I do find it funny, though, that even the most seasoned theater professionals experience stage fright.  It’s an inescapable feeling.  Try it sometime.

suther1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Resurgent men’s hockey topples Augsburg

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 12:52pm
Following two consecutive seasons in which it only managed to to win 31.5 percent of its total games, the St. Olaf men’s hockey team headed into the 2016-17 season with several new faces and much to prove. After serving as head coach for 19 seasons, leading the Oles to nine MIAC playoff appearances and a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2006, Sean Goldsworthy was dismissed during the offseason and replaced by Mike Eaves, most widely known for his 14 years of Division I coaching experience with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Furthermore, only eight of the team’s 40 roster spots were occupied by seniors this year, making St. Olaf a very young team prone to change under Eaves’ new philosophical approach. It seemed like the Oles were making serious strides to right the ship back to a winning record and, with some luck, a return to the MIAC playoffs.A 0-4-0 start to the season quickly dashed that optimism as St. Olaf seemed in danger of falling apart in its first year of new leadership, on pace for its worst record since 1997. However, during the past two weeks the team has regrouped and found some chemistry, only dropping one contest since Nov. 19 thanks to a resurgent offense and vastly more impenetrable defense. The Oles’ recent success culminated in a shocking 2-1 upset victory over sixth-ranked Augsburg, handing the Auggies their first and only loss so far this season while earning Eaves his first conference win as St. Olaf’s head coach.The Oles opened the two-game series at home on Friday, Dec. 2, and immediately found themselves in a 2-0 hole following two quick goals by Augsburg’s Will Peterson at 3:28 into regulation and Corbin Chapman at 13:20. However, St. Olaf remained a tough opponent to put down, as Will Dittrich ’20 netted a goal 40 seconds later to cut the lead in half right as the Auggies were starting to pull away. The score remained gridlocked at 2-1 through the second period, but eventually the Auggies struck again, 18 seconds into the third with a goal by Nate Flynn. The Oles kept their wits about them and once again pulled within one goal of Augsburg for the second time on a power play goal by Tuukka Totra ’20. Sadly, their offense couldn’t manufacture a tying goal before the clock hit zero – in a last act of desperation, St. Olaf emptied its goal during the final minute in order to push for a tie, but once Augsburg’s Drew Anderson stole the puck he easily netted the game’s final, clinching goal. Despite a tough fight, St. Olaf’s push for an upset came up just short.The next day told a different story, proving how tenacious this Ole squad can be. This time around, playing Augsburg at its home arena in Minneapolis, St. Olaf gained the early momentum when Jonas Fredericksson ’17 struck quickly at 8:43 in the first period, giving the Oles their first lead of the series and tremendous confidence against a capable opponent. Augsburg came back just over seven minutes later when Lukas Gillett tied the contest. However, 55 seconds into the second period Totra added to his phenomenal weekend by issuing his second goal in as many days, assisted by Drew Otto ’18 and Steven Sherman ’17, the latter of whom is now third in the MIAC with 10 assists for the season. The rest of the contest, nearly two periods of play, remained scoreless thanks to an exceptional outing from goalie Jude Hull ’18, who saved 31 of Augsburg’s 32 total shots on goal. Hull’s strong performance raised his save percentage to .924, boosting him to the top five among all conference goalies. The strong team effort displayed by the Oles resulted in a 2-1 victory, their biggest upset in recent memory.St. Olaf’s victory indicates that Eaves’ coaching approach is rapidly making a positive impact on the Oles’ overall performance. Their quality of play has spiked during the last two weeks, and their record is gradually starting to show evidence of it. Since Nov. 19, St. Olaf has allowed more than three goals in a single game only once, against Augsburg last Friday. Prior to then, it had surrendered four or more goals in every contest except one. Different players are stepping up during critical moments, such as Totra against Augsburg or Otto with a two-goal performance against Lawrence last weekend, indicating a focus on teamwork that minimizes selfishness and maximizes efficiency. The overall state of the Oles’ game is much crisper than it has been in a very long time. Their 3-8-1 record can be attributed to a sluggish start, but if this recent surge is indicative of what the Oles are capable of under Eaves’ guidance, then it’s time to start getting excited about the future of the St. Olaf men’s hockey program.

seidel1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Petition shows student desire for a sanctuary campus

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 12:52pm
Over the past few weeks, students have been tabling outside of Stav Hall, petitioning to make St. Olaf a sanctuary campus. Similar to a sanctuary city, a sanctuary campus would refuse to cooperate with and/or assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents if they were to come onto campus. At press time, the print petition had close to 700 signatures and an online version of the petition was expected to have a couple hundred signatures. “We ask that St. Olaf refuse to allow ICE agents from conducting activity on St. Olaf property as allowed by a 2011 U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement memo,” the proposal read. “We ask that St. Olaf protect all individuals in the St. Olaf community, including its students, faculty, and staff … doing so will demonstrate that St. Olaf takes the safety and wellbeing of the St. Olaf community seriously,” the proposal read. Samantha Wells ’17 is the go-to student contact for the petition. The organizing students’ intent is not to demand that administration make policy changes, but rather to bring to administration a proposal that already has significant student support. Wells plans to share the proposal first with Student Senate and then with college administrators. Wells has been in contact with President David Anderson ’74, who connected her with General Counsel Carl Lehmann ’91 for assistance in understanding the legal details surrounding current college policies. Anderson said that he is supportive of protecting student privacy and would be interested in supporting students in any way that is legal and appropriate. As of Dec. 2, the petition and proposal had not yet been brought to St. Olaf administration. The definition of “sanctuary” is flexible; there is no legal definition for a sanctuary city or sanctuary campus, but most often it refers to a city or institution that refuses to cooperate with ICE officials. For a city, this could mean limiting how extensively government employees and law enforcement will work with federal immigration officials. For a campus, it often means refusal to disclose private student records and limiting the access that federal immigration officials have on campus.College campuses across the country have been pushing to become sanctuary spaces. Unlike cities, campuses have special privileges under a ICE memo that allows them to refuse to cooperate with ICE officials in some circumstances. A memo issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Oct. 24, 2011 states that ICE agents are not allowed to perform actions including “(I) arrests; (2) interviews; (3) searches; and (4) for purposes of immigration enforcement only, surveillance” on “sensitive locations.” The memo defines a college campus as a sensitive location. That being said, immigration agents are still able to do some things, including “obtaining records, documents and similar materials from officials or employees, providing notice to officials or employees, serving subpoenas, engaging in Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) compliance and certification visits or participating in official functions or community meetings.”St. Olaf already has student privacy policies in place that protect student information from being handed over to federal agents. “Under our current policies, we do not disclose information about students – except in very limited circumstances – and that would include a student’s immigrant status,” Lehmann said. “So if a government agency came to campus and said ‘we want to know the names of students who are not legally authorized to be in the United States,’ that’s not information that we would voluntarily provide without a subpoena or a court order, or if there was some emergency.”One of the biggest bargaining pieces in the sanctuary city debate is President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities. Because St. Olaf isn’t a public institution, it doesn’t necessarily have a horse in this race. Whether or not federal aid for St. Olaf students would be included in this threat is unclear. “Our students certainly receive a lot of federal aid, and our ability to participate in Title IV programs, grants and student aid, is something that all our students should be concerned about,” Lehmann said. “We would want to continue to participate in federal financial aid programs.”Lehmann is still waiting to see the final proposal but is encouraged to determine how administration might be able to work with students to soothe some of their immediate concerns. “If students want assurances that their right to privacy are going to be respected, we can certainly provide those assurances,” he said. “If the initiatives are aimed at defying federal law or a court order or something like that, I think that would be something that the college wouldn’t be interested in being a party to because we have to abide by court orders and the law. In the proposals that I’ve seen with other colleges, that’s pretty consistent with the positions that other institutions are taking, too.”The sanctuary campus petition comes after the Northfield city council decided to further discuss making Northfield a sanctuary city. At the Nov. 16 city council meeting, members agreed to further research sanctuary cities and the council will likely begin discussions on the topic at its Dec. 13 meeting.
whitfo1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Philosopher extols beauty

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 12:52pm
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the philosophy department hosted Dr. Douglas Hedley of Cambridge University as a guest speaker on ethics and beauty. Hedley has interests in contemporary and early modern philosophy of religion and the history of Platonism and Neoplatonism. He is the author of over six books, most recently “The Iconic Imagination,” and was a member of the Cambridge Platonists, a group of philosophers that coined terms such as “theism,” “consciousness” and “philosophy of religion.” As Dr. Hedley comes from the United Kingdom, he was welcomed with a British parade.Prior to the lecture, audience members enjoyed cider, cucumber sandwiches and desserts. When 4 p.m. hit, Professor of Philosophy Charles Taliaferro played “Rule Britannia” and sprinkled holy water over attendees while they sang along. Most of the students in the audience were current philosophy students. Drawing from Plato, Aristotle, Meister Eckhart and Immanuel Kant, Hedley proposed that beauty is an innate realization rather than an aesthetically pleasing vision. In other words, beauty is an internal truth. Hedley, as a philosopher, seeks to explore this beauty. He also proposed that a person is layered, and in order to find the inner beauty, or internal truth, one must peel back the layers. “One is not transparent to oneself,” he said. In other words, one cannot just look inside and simply find one’s inner truth. Discovering this beauty is complicated. “Self-knowledge is a difficult task,” he said. Ethics, on the other hand, is the quest for this inner beauty.During the lecture, Hedley spoke of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” comparing the life of the philosopher to that of the man in the cave. The philosopher, like the man in the cave, turns toward the sun of knowledge and realizes the shadows have only been an illusion. In this way, when a person finds the inner beauty, he or she determines that the material aspects of the world become unimportant. Hedley emphasized that by turning outwards, even toward external virtues, the true self becomes completely hidden.This was the third time Hedley lectured at St. Olaf. In the past, students have greatly enjoyed his discussions, and this lecture was no different. “I only wish it could have been longer,” said Jessica Whittenburg ’19, who attended the lecture. If, like Jessica, you enjoy a good talk on beauty and ethics, this lecture just might have been your cup of tea.


favaro1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Sex trafficking survivor shares story, talks prostitution laws

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 12:52pm
When Jennifer Gaines ran away from home at the age of 14, she did not expect to become involved in prostitution. Neither did she expect to eventually become an officer for Breaking Free, an organization that advocates for sex-trafficking survivors, after nearly 30 years of work as a prostitute. The St. Olaf community had the opportunity to hear her sad yet educational story on Nov. 16 in the Black Ballroom in Buntrock Commons. The event was sponsored by St. Olaf Leaders Abolishing Slavery (SOLAS).According to Gaines, prostitution includes three stages: recruitment, initiation and enslavement. “There are many ways women get recruited into prostitution,” Gaines said. “Some get in by force, drugs and alcohol, torture, or generational prostitution.” Generational prostitution, she explained, is when girls are born into families where all women are involved in prostitution.Child runaways are especially at risk of recruitment into prostitution. According to Gaines, within 48 hours of leaving home, one third of children who run away are lured to prostitution. “I ran away from home when I was 14,” Gaines said. “Literally within 48 hours I was approached by a trafficker.”Gaines also discussed sex traffickers, and how they don’t always conform to society’s understanding or perception of them. Her trafficker, she said, contradicted typical depictions.“Everybody liked him, he had wonderful social skills,” Gaines said. “He would take over the room when he came in. Very charming. If you had not known what he was doing, you would have liked him too.” During her recruitment, Gaines was taken to bars and praised as a princess. Often, her recruiters attempted to depict prostitution as a path toward a life of luxury and ease, and a life that could enable women to take care of their families. “There is a reason traffickers go after children,” Gaines explained. “It is because they can be programmed. They can be brainwashed.”After a few unsuccessful months of attempting to recruit Gaines into prostitution, the trafficker made up a dramatic event in an effort to manipulate her. “He told me that his gang members were after him, and he needed $400 by nine o’clock at night. If he did not have this money, they would kill him,” Gaines said. That is when she was sold into prostitution. Gaines, who now works for Breaking Free, provided thoughtful reflections on various aspects of prostitution. First, she broke the myth that legalizing prostitution would make it safer for women. “I worked in regions where prostitution is legalized and I was still raped and I was still beaten,” Gaines said. “What happened is that traffickers, whenever they found out that prostitution in a region is legal, they fled the law by bringing their girls with fake IDs. It is safer for the men but not for the women. So that’s a myth.”Second, she offered useful information regarding prostitution in Minnesota. According to Gaines, the FBI identified Minneapolis as one of 13 cities where a significant number of children are recruited into prostitution. She believes part of the reason behind the growth of prostitution in Minnesota is because people come to the state for its “great welfare system” in order to escape poverty, and poverty is a source of not only women in prostitution but also traffickers. “I often heard my trafficker and his friends amongst each other and they would say things like, ‘You know, I got into pimping because that was my only option. Because in my neighborhood, the only options were prostituting, pimping, being a rapper or selling drugs.’ So depending on your skill set, maybe you should pick pimping,” Gaines said.On the other hand, Gaines expounded on the advances Minnesota has made regarding legal counters to prostitution, including the advanced law that sufficiently covers the kaleidoscopic forms of prostitution, and the Safe Harbor Act, which states that women under 18 years old engaged in prostitution will not be criminalized, but instead provided with shelter and services.According to Sophie Rossiter ’19, co-leader of SOLAS, this is Gaines’ second visit to St. Olaf. This time, the talk was more focused on the issue of sex trafficking within Minnesota and the underlying causal mechanism rather than a general view. The organization is also planning to bring in other speakers to connect different perspectives on sex trafficking in the Twin Cities.The discussion received positive responses. “I have been to Gaines’ presentations before and they are always fascinating,” Katie Bickley ’18 said. “I learn something new every time and I am really glad she is back on campus.” 

nguyen7@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Mellby Lecture explores gender, religion

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 12:52pm
On Thursday, Nov. 17, Associate Professor of Religion David Booth gave the 2016 Fall Mellby Lecture. Booth teaches classes at St. Olaf on Christian theology, feminist theory, religion and culture in a variety of contexts. During her introduction of Booth, Professor of Religion Mara Benjamin spoke about Booth’s role and contributions at St. Olaf, as well as in her own career and life. “[Through David I found that] theology was an enterprise that not only included, but necessitated difference and diversity. It was not the property of any one interest group or set of institutions,” Benjamin said. “It was a process of reflection on how we make our way in the world and through which we forge a just society.” As Booth began his lecture, he introduced his topic of the North Carolina bathroom wars in the context of theology. The controversy is rooted in the debate over whether individuals who do not conform to the customary male and female gender binary should be able to use public facilities that do not match their biological sex. He initially addressed the importance of this particular subject in the wake of the election. “The nation has elected a president, and in particular a vice president, who defends a supposed religious freedom of citizens to ignore certain civil rights of some of their neighbors,” Booth said. “Against my wishes, my remarks tonight may be too relevant.”He argued that whether an individual is religious, atheistic or agnostic, theology can help both individuals and communities better understand the present and work toward a future where all people have equal access to what Booth called the blessings of life. He then presented his claim that the gender binary must be regarded critically, and that the stigmatization of gender non-conformers in the name of religion must stop. “I plan to plead for your sympathy for the simple notion that every person ought to be empowered to live out a gendered identity that speaks to the truth of their own self understanding, without regard for whether that identity is comfortable to a customary strict binary of women and men,” Booth said. Booth explained that politicians and citizens believe that public facilities should be organized based on biological sex because they find it the most logical way to order society. This system is also based on the belief that keeping biological males out of female bathrooms is an attempt to protect women from sexual assault in the context of their inferior position in the gender binary. “In any case, one can hardly find a case of trans women menacing others in women’s restrooms, while reports are common of harassing trans bathroom users simply because they make them uncomfortable,” Booth said. He emphasized that such an aggressive attack against gender non-conformers is the effect of this very hierarchy being defied. “Men can be president. Whether women can be president we don’t know yet,” Booth said. “There are stakes and stakeholders in defending a binary gender order. The existence of gender non-conformers threatens the stakeholders in a gender binary order.”He then continued to tie the everlasting debate over the gender binary, and public efforts to alter its ubiquity, to St. Olaf. He described how through the general education requirements, and the theology requirement in particular, St. Olaf aims to prepare students to clearly articulate and understand their own beliefs. Booth was also sure to emphasize that what is more pressing in the present are students’ abilities to converse with those who have differing ideologies, and that the BTS-T requirement is St. Olaf’s defense against religious ignorance and animosity. Booth introduced his belief that while some parts of the General Education (GE) requirements are beneficial to St. Olaf students, others need to be reevaluated. “I hope that a new infusion of energy in our GE will respond to the remarkable transformations of the world our students will navigate,” he said. “In particular, the rich diversity of peoples and cultures, the increasing demand to recognize the real dignity and rights of previously marginalized people, and the enormous challenge, never more pressing than it is right now of sorting … the legitimacy of ideologically tainted knowledge claims.”  One of Booth’s consistent goals as a professor is to communicate some of the ways in which theology is an effective way to analyze and navigate the world, employing the public usefulness of theology. “Theology is reasoning about meaning and truth. It seeks to clarify what the claims of a religious community mean. How do these claims fit together and constitute a total way of living? It proposes ways of thinking about what is true, in respect to the truths of history… [and] scientific inquiry,” Booth said. His lecture informed the audience about the importance of the coherence of truths, whether they are religious, scientific, literary or historical, in order that religious claims and communities don’t mindlessly refute important knowledge about the reality of the world. 


ellfel1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Radical group brings hate speech to campus

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 11:51am
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, a table of representatives from the Rolling Meadows Mennonite Church sat on the second floor of Buntrock Commons at the base of the stairs to the cafeteria, passing out pamphlets. The materials varied widely in subject matter, with some as harmless as “The Gospel According to John.” Many of the rest, however, echoed hateful sentiments, most obviously one brightly colored card which read in large print, “AIDS: The Real Problem Behind the Scourge.”This piece of writing, among several other pamphlets disseminated by the group, claimed that HIV and AIDS are divine punishments for an immoral lifestyle. Their writing claimed “The Real Problem is not HIV. It is one even more deadly. The Real Problem is often the sin of immorality,” continuing that “Many times AIDS is God’s judgement on immorality.” Another piece, titled “What do you want from life,” showed an image of an arrow pointing from a cradle to a grave, and further explored the group’s definition of sin. “Sin leaves us unhappy and disappointed. Our sinful lives lack purpose and peace. And sin condemns us to death.” It then went on to assert that the only way to escape the punishment for sin was to accept their god.A pamphlet titled “The New Morality or the old immorality,” featured a drawing of a young man with tattoos and a loose-fitting gold chain around his neck, looking around a deserted city street with “No Fear” etched into the wall behind him. The pamphlet claimed, “God speaks through AIDS. And people are paying attention...finally.” The pamphlet went on to provide what it claimed to be a direct message from God, which read “the new morality is nothing other than the old immorality that I have always abhorred. It is sin, and it results in death.”The same packet also deemed various practices sinful and reflections of modern immorality, including adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, lust, bestiality and youthful lusts. Each section offered one or more Bible verses that the packet purported to prove the immorality of the practices. When addressing homosexuality, the packet claimed that “God condemns this sin. Because of this sin and others, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire.” This comparison was echoed in the piece regarding lust, which equated modern cities to Sodom and Gomorrah and claimed that byproducts of modern city life “stimulate lust, and a person who lusts in his mind soon sins in his deeds. The person who sins (whether in thought or in deed), will die.”The group was quickly met with resistance from the campus, including several students confronting it for spreading hate speech. Cosi Pori ’18 was one of those who directly addressed the radical religious group, expressing anger at the impact the group may have had on students struggling with HIV or AIDS.“I went back and gave a speech at them, and said ‘hey, the real problem is you guys [who are] perpetuating the stigma against AIDS and HIV, [making] people more afraid to live with it and come out having it. I took one of each [pamphlet] and the rest I took and threw in one of those recycling bins,” Pori said.Another pamphlet, titled “True love...knows how to wait” featured two roses on the front and vilified premarital sex, specifically in regards to women. Offering purported testimonials from young women, the pamphlet claimed that men who engage in premarital sex with women are “guilty of destroying her longings and dreams.” Later on, it shifted the blame to women, claiming that “the man is not always the one at fault. Of course not! There are young ‘ladies’ who do not deserve any respect. They dress provocatively; they flirt; they are easy to have; everybody can hug them, pet them, or kiss them, and they do not resist. Young lady if this describes you, you are partly at fault for the consequences of your appearance and behavior.”Pori also expressed their anger with the “True love” pamphlet and its equating of women’s value to sex and the blame it placed on women for dressing “provocatively.”“On this campus, which already has so many problems with sexual assault, someone might have picked this up and read it, and that’s just ridiculous,” Pori said.Pori also suggested a political motivation to the tabling, stating that when another student asked if the group’s presence had to do with the recent election of Donald Trump, they affirmed that it was related.After a relatively substantial student response, the Mennonite group was asked to leave campus and President David Anderson ’74 sent out a message condemning the group and affirming that they would not return, despite having apparently been on campus before.“...they have apparently been on campus before without us being aware of their message. This tells me that we need immediately to undertake a review our of policies relating to permitting outside groups on campus towards the goal of having a more rigorous and robust screening process so that an incident like this does not occur again,” Anderson wrote. “I apologize on behalf of the College to everyone who was hurt or who, like me, was offended by this group’s words and acts. They do not represent who we are, and I am grateful to the students who called them out.”Many received the message well, but expressed frustration at Anderson’s apparent lack of knowledge of the hate-group’s previous presence.“I was very impressed with how fast it all got handled, but what was weird to me was that in PDA’s email he said he had no idea about it and that it has happened before. I was told by other students and alumni that they remembered this group,” Pori said, expressing concern with the possibility that the administration could remain unaware of such a situation.Greg Kneser, Vice President for Student Life, offered some explanation for the group’s repeat appearances.“About five percent of the groups simply ask for a table and are charged a small fee, as this group did,” Kneser said. “We do not ask to see materials for pre-approval or interview them to see what they intend on discussing, in the same way we do not do this with student groups. If there are complaints, we deal with them immediately. The Mennonite group will not be welcomed back to campus, which has happened to other groups in the past.”He also offered an explanation as to how St. Olaf’s screening process for outside groups might be reformed.“Our goal in all of this is to keep the campus an environment where there is a free exchange of ideas and that students and others will have access to services, commerce, ideas and opportunities for engagement outside of the ‘bubble’ that lots of folks talk about,” Kneser said. “In order to achieve that balance, we will have a policy in place so that any groups who wish to interact with our community agree to abide by the values of St. Olaf College, in much the same way that student organizations are expected to act. They will have to actively sign off that they understand our expectations before being rented or granted a space. We are drafting that language now and will share it with the community when we are done.”
campbe1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

“Doctor Strange” rings oddly familiar

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 1:52pm
This fall, Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” was easily one of the most buzzed about films of the season. Not only was it produced by Marvel Studios – which creates instant hype for any film – it also raised intrigue in audiences with a dazzling trailer featuring surreal visuals in the ilk of “Inception.”Another allure of the film, and to me the most important, was its potential to be something outside of the typical Marvel fare. The trailer indicated that “Doctor Strange” could finally break free from the formulaic approach that the studio has adopted over the years. Marvel Studios is in a position where anything that they make is a guaranteed financial success, and the fact that they haven’t used that advantage to introduce more interesting films into the mainstream has always confounded me.However, unfortunately, it seems that was not to change with “Doctor Strange.” I will admit that sitting in that theater did alter my sense of time, but certainly in the way the film intended: rather than challenge my temporal perception with interesting filmmaking, I felt time move at a painfully slow rate as I watched a movie I’ve essentially seen a million times.Though a fun, albeit flitting film featuring enjoyable performances from Tilda Swinton and Benedict Cumberbatch, “Doctor Strange” is not any more substantive than your average Marvel movie. The plot is still just a collection of scenes that alternate between expository dialogue and elaborate fight sequences (although now with kaleidoscopic visual effects!).The screenwriting leaves a lot to be desired as well. None of the characters are ever really developed beyond the surface level. Even more disappointingly, the script fell prey to the exact kind of lazy melding of multi-dimensional and physics and Eastern philosophy that the film tries to make fun of in an early scene.I think that one of the big problems at play in this movie was its complete lack of thoughtful exploration. “Doctor Strange” taps into a variety of different philosophical and scientifoc concepts, but avoids fleshing out the implications of any of them.This is particular notable in what is supposed to be a climactic plot twist in the film, when one of the protagonist’s allies is revealed to have been using magic to make themselves immortal – the exact thing the bad guys are trying to do. To be clear this is not presented really as a betrayal; they are still helping to fight the bad guys. And I guess the other good guys are somewhat upset, but it plays bizarrely inconsistent, as if the actors themselves weren’t really sure what to make of it. And why should they? By all accounts, it seems like the script gave them little to work from.The film did, however, have one impressive and interesting scene, during the “bargain” between the protagonist and a large cloud-like demon toward the end of the film. Though it was well-played and the clear highlight of the film, it came a little late to make up for the disappointments of the other 90 percent of the movie. Rather, it served as a sort of cruel ghost of what the entire film could have been.Don’t get me wrong, “Doctor Strange” was still an enjoyable romp. If you are seeking another fun super hero movie to watch, go ahead and see it. But if anyone was hoping to experience something new or unfamiliar to the genre, they would do best to either seek elsewhere or brace for disappointment.
mayo1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Student film festival features single movie

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 1:52pm
Who would have thought a film festival could happen within the span of six minutes? The 24 Hour Film Festival, featuring a single film titled, “Reach,” proved this possible. The 24 Hour Film Festival is an event hosted by the St. Olaf Film Production Society that gives student filmmakers the chance to team up, conceptualize, shoot, edit and produce a film together. Though the film premiere may have been brief, the production process was not. Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, filmmakers had the entire day to produce their films. The final product was screened in Viking Theater on Sunday, Nov. 20. The festival pulled a decent crowd, though significantly fewer viewers than the Production Society’s Halloworst Film Festival in October. The festival didn’t quite deserve its festival title, however. The group of ten students produced only one, nearly-three-minute film.The film, “Reach,” totaled two minutes and 57 seconds and struck me as a creative combination of the Slenderman online game and the viral mannequin challenge. It was produced by Adam Kaiser ’19, Austin Krentz ’19, Zeos Greene ’18, Paige Dahlke ’18, Grace Fogland ’19, Kalpit Modi ’17, Chen Zhenghui ’19, Jack Schoephoerster ’19, Cookie Imperial ’19 and John Beckman ’17. Though I couldn’t quite understand the film’s purpose, it was definitely creepy. It seemed to portray a student’s dream while they slept soundly on a couch in Regents. For the duration of the dream, characters were standing still and facing away from the camera, while a hand would occasionally reach out from the audience and attempt to grab the frozen characters. The music and camera perspective made it appear as if the audience was moving with the dreamer. “We had no idea what it would become, but as each shot was taken, new ideas and concepts were discovered and implemented. In our last scene, we finally found some sense of resolution – at least as much resolution one can get when sending their viewers into a trippy dream world,” Dahlke said.In the future, I’d hope that the production team might split into two or three groups to give the festival a bit more length. The St. Olaf Film Production society is a student-run organization that encourages student film making and pursuit of the film studies concentration. “We facilitate networking among students in all aspects of the movie making process, including acting, composing, screen writing, editing, producing, directing and filming,” their website reads. “We do our best to provide means for student filmmakers to gain experience through competition, workshops and group projects.”If you’re interested in filmmaking, participating in next year’s 24 Hour Film Festival, or another of the Production Society’s film festivals, feel free to chat with the student organization’s co-presidents, Dahlke and Schoephoerster.
whitfo1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

“Creatures of Habit” to showcase senior dance majors

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 1:52pm
As the end of the semester looms, various departments here at St. Olaf are working hard on end-of-semester showcases. The dance department is no different, preparing for “Creatures of Habit,” the senior dance concert. There will be three performances:  Dec. 8, 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Kelsey Theater, with doors opening at 7:00 p.m. (no ticket required). In addition, the Thursday performance will be streamed live and archived.The annual concert is part of the senior dance major capstone. Students submit written proposals for their projects during their junior year, work closely with faculty members, and have the opportunity to share their specialties with the St. Olaf community. Students have the freedom to focus on any area of dance they choose, from performance to choreography, to blending dance with other disciplines, such as visual art or music. Therefore, the senior dance concert is not always performance-based or choreography-based, as one might think, but varies in style from year to year.Four of the five senior dance majors are performing in the concert. (The fifth, Gabby Dominique ’17, choreographed this fall’s productions of “Die Fledermaus” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for her project.) Jacob Borg ’17 and Chloe Chambers ’17 are performing solos choreographed by guest artists. Borg’s piece explores the journey of his life and the concept of home, utilizing expressive dance and text spoken in his native language of Maltese. It is choreographed by Gustavus Adolphus College dance professor Jill Patterson. Chambers will perform a dance called “The Architect,” choreographed by Mathew Janczewski, artistic director of the Minneapolis dance company ARENA Dances. Meanwhile, Julia Bassett ’17 and Shaina Andres ’17 have choreographed their own pieces, which will be performed by two groups of people. Bassett’s piece is entitled “The Edge of Somewhere,” and Andres has created a “movement-based, highly kinetic choreography project,” according to dance professor Heather Klopchin.By participating in the senior dance concert, dancers will gain solid performing or choreography experience, a cornerstone of any dance program. In addition, their projects are shown on a formal stage with costumes and stage lighting.  As for the audience, they will have the pleasure of watching a good show. But there is even more value for attendees than the show itself, according to Borg.“The purpose of the senior dance concert is to share our artistic work with the rest of the community with the goal that the art created speaks to the attending audience,” Borg said. “The audience can find this art presented very easy to understand, whilst others leave the concert with more questions about the dances presented than they had before they watched them. Above all, we hope that the audience enjoys themselves whilst we proudly present our works.”Members of the St. Olaf dance faculty echoed these sentiments. “The senior dance concert provides an opportunity to share the talents and hard work of our senior dance majors,” professor of dance Janice Roberts said. “I think the audience will find the 2016 senior dance concert an exciting, rich concert that fully highlights our wonderful students.”“This year’s Senior Concert ‘Creatures of Habit’ promises to be an exciting, moving, thought provoking culmination of these senior dance majors’ journeys over the last three and a half years,” said Klopchin.Even though the senior dance concert will be streamed and archived, you should definitely be sure to catch “Creatures of Habit” if you can. Dance is a physical art that should be seen in person to be appreciated. The beauty and presentation of the artistic works of the four students will arm you with warmth on a cold winter’s night. Don’t miss out.walker1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Lip Sync Battle brings cringeworthy slapstick to Pause Stage

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 1:52pm
Oles crowded the Pause on Nov. 19 in anticipation of the “Not Your Voice Lip Sync Battle,” put on by the InterHall Council. The hosts, Maddy Reichel ’19 and Joey Dagher ’20, had no trouble getting the audience amped for the event, especially after introducing the judges and prizes. Campus celebrities Pastor Katie Fick, SGA President Emma Lind ’17 and “professional lurker” Cosi Pori ’18 judged the event. Responsible for awarding coveted prizes such as two tickets to the Lumineers, a year’s subscription to Spotify and a large Pause pizza, the judges had a lot of pressure on them.This pressure only intensified after the first round of performers showed their stuff. Colin Alexander ’19 and Whitner Schellingerhoudt ’19 opened the event with the Flight of the Conchords song “If You’re Into It.” Referencing Swannie Wilson ’19’s talent portion from Champion of the Hill by throwing spaghetti at a hapless girl was a particularly smart and hilarious move on the part of the duo.This humor-filled beginning foreshadowed all the laughter to come. Jon Hollister ’19 threw layers and layers of tie-dye t-shirts into the audience to Kesha’s “Take It Off,” prompting much punnery from the judges: Pastor Katie declared the performance “tie-dye for” and Pori commented that it was “multilayered.”Other standout performers included Hannah Read ’20 and Emily Kaliski ’20 lip syncing to Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us.” Harkening back to the artist’s “Thrift Shop” roots, they danced in fake fur coats and threw Monopoly money into the audience.Alyssa Mettler ’17 conquered a childhood fear when she performed the choreography to Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” that she failed to do in fifth grade. “I wish fifth grade Alyssa could see her now,” Lind  commented.Thomas Pfingsten ’20 and Austin Charging ’19 stunned audiences with their incredible choreography to Kesha’s “Blow.” Their glitter, acrobatics and silly string filled out their exciting performance. Their elaborate makeup and outfits added even more pizazz and flair.Michaela Blakeslee ’20 and William Randolph ’20 reminded the audience that love comes in all forms with their touching routine to “Eenie Meenie.”“Heterosexuality is so beautiful. You should never be ashamed of who you love just because you’re straight. I love straight people,” Pori said.Despite the insane amount of talent onstage, there could only be three top groups. After much deliberation, the judges eventually decided that Hollister, Read and Kaliski, and Pfingsten and Charging would move on.But the event didn’t stop there! The remaining contestants had a new challenge to face: impromptu lip syncing. The groups got to choose from hits like “Come on Eileen” and “Proud to be an American” by luck of the draw. Read and Kaliski chose first and went for Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby.” Quickly dividing parts, the two shone with their quick wits and athletics. The worm was, as always, a brilliant addition to their repertoire.Next were Pfingsten and Charging with the middle school classic, “Low.” The two weren’t afraid to “give that big booty a slap” to remain authentic to Flo Rida’s original message, nor did they let the constraints of the stage limit their movements. All of this, plus their athletic dance moves, made for an amazing performance.Hollister finished the show with Fergie’s “My Humps.” Like Pfingsten and Charging before him, Hollister did his best to stay true to the song. Stuffed shirts by his chest and butt mirrored Fergie’s “lovely lady lumps” and were quickly cast aside, as he drew back from his previous performance that evening. The judges had a tough decision ahead of them, but while they deliberated, the audience enjoyed an improvised performance to High School Musical’s hit “Bop to the Top,” by the IHC.After the audience enjoyed that blast from the past, the judges announced their decision.Pori informed the audience that their criteria were “liberal arts innovation, art, bravado, versatility and lack of cringe-ability.”Ultimately, Read and Kaliski got first place (and the Lumineers tickets), followed by Hollister with the Spotify subscription and Pfingsten and Charging with the large pizza.“I’m surprised that Austin and Thomas didn’t win,” Holly Ness ’19 said after leaving the event. “Their dancing was just so amazing!”I would have to agree with Ness. After all, what says “liberal arts innovation” more than Silly String? What is “bravado” if not pantomiming booty slaps onstage? Clearly, the judges need to re-examine their ideas of what true art looks like.

stooke1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

New task force aims to combat racism on campus

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 12:51pm
Following several acts of racially motivated vandalism, the Student Senate voted unanimously in favor of creating a Task Force for Analysis and Action on Race. According to an email addressed to the student body from the Student Government Association (SGA) President and Vice President Emma Lind ’17 and Sarah Bresnahan ’17, the task force will “work with existing groups and efforts to create a more racially aware and inclusive campus that strives to respect the dignity of all marginalized identities.”The task force seeks to be a “proactive, instead of reactive, body,” according to an email from its co-chairs, Nouf Al-Masrafi ’19, Eden Fauré ’17 and Marni Kaldjian ’17. Though still in its early stages, students are encouraged to email the task force (tfaar@stolaf.edu) if they are interested in getting involved or are simply seeking more information.While some students might view the recent acts of vandalism and hate speech as the product of only a handful of students, those on the task force feel differently. “We felt compelled to start the task force because of rhetoric and practices we were seeing on campus,” Al-Masrafi said. “Oftentimes, when acts of racism happen on campus, these incidents are treated as isolated and the fault of [a] few. However, we believe that acts such as these are the result of larger climates and racism on an institutional level.”When discussing the task force’s goals and preliminary work, Al-Masrafi emphasized how new the group is. “We are in the very early stages of this task force and are still in the process of forming our goals and objectives,” she explained. “Before the action part can take place, we need to do a lot of thoughtful and active listening to those around us.”

judgebec@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Donors make global semester accessible

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 12:51pm
St. Olaf’s study abroad program is considered one of the best in the nation. According to the International and Off-Campus Studies (IOS) web page, 76.3 percent of the class of 2016 participated in at least one off-campus study program. The options for study abroad vary in length and scope, usually sending students to one particular region. However, St. Olaf’s Global Semester is notably different from other programs. It is ambitious; students get the chance to travel the globe in one semester. It is St. Olaf’s longest-standing faculty-led study abroad program and aims to give students insight to a variety of cultures around the world. The program takes roughly 20 students and one professor on a journey through six countries across several continents during the fall and interim terms. The program has existed for nearly five decades and over that time developed an immense financial barrier that prevented many students from applying. On average, Global Semester costs $10,000 to $13,000 in addition to regular tuition costs. Beginning in the fall of 2017, however, the cost is set to go down. Thanks to a generous donation from Lynn and Lawrence Stranghoener ’76, students will be able to participate in the program for the same price as a semester spent on campus. Financial aid and scholarships will also be taken into account, extending the opportunity to enroll in the program to more of the St. Olaf student body.The Stranghoeners’ donation was included as part of the $200 million For the Hill and Beyond campaign, which was launched in part to aid the advancement of key programs and opportunities that the administration feels will directly benefit students. These programs include faculty-mentored research, off-campus study opportunities, financial aid and interdisciplinary learning communities. Since 1968, St. Olaf’s Global Semester has taken students across Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Despite the breadth of territory it covers, enrollments have declined throughout the past few years due to the financial strain the program puts on many students. Director of International and Off-Campus Studies Jodi Malmgren said that the declining enrollments were due in large part to the rising costs associated with the program.“The costs of the program grew faster than the contribution of tuition dollars to the program costs, so fees were raised to cover those costs,” Malmgren said. Ironically, the decline in enrollment raised an even greater financial barrier. The donation from the Stranghoeners could help reverse the downward trend in enrollments and will continue to offset the program costs indefinitely. Vice President for Advancement Enoch Blazis worked closely with the Stranghoeners through the process of arranging the donation. Blazis explained that the gift will go into an investment in order to generate support for the program for years to come.  “The gift is for an endowed fund,” Blazis said. “Endowed funds are managed and invested so that they generate annual investment income. We spend only a portion of the annual investment income that these funds generate, generally about 4.7 percent of the value of the fund, leaving the principal untouched so that it continues to generate this investment revenue in perpetuity. The Stranghoener gift of $1.5 million for this endowment was matched by the college with an existing endowment of $1.5 million under the Strategic Initiative Match program. So, the Global Semester endowment combined value is $3 million, which will generate approximately $140,000 annually for support of the program.”Now that Global Semester is accessible to more students at St. Olaf, the study abroad office is expecting to see an increase in applications for the program. “As with all opportunities, we cannot guarantee that every student who wishes to participate will be able to do so,” Malmgren said. “We encourage students to put their best effort into the application and interview to be the strongest possible candidate.”
hussey2@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Students swing into social dance

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 12:51pm
 Until 1961, dancing was banned at St. Olaf College. Today, campus embraces this form of art and socialization through a variety of departments, events and organizations. Among student groups celebrating dance are the Lindy Hoppers, the St. Olaf Swing Club.St. Olaf started hosting Lindy lessons with a small group of students in 2003, shortly after the re-emergence of swing dance in American culture. Since then, the club has become quite popular on campus. At this year’s first meeting, close to 100 students showed up to try out their moves. Instruction usually centers around the Lindy Hop, but other forms of swing dance are also explored from time to time. The club is open to anyone interested, although students may have difficulty joining late in the semester as the lessons tend to build progressively as the year goes on. “Attendance usually drops later in the semester, as people get busier and think they can’t come back if they’ve missed a meeting or two, which isn’t true,” Swing Club “Emperor” Elaine Grafelman ’18 said.The Swing Club officers typically teach a lesson every Tuesday from 9 to 10 p.m., followed by an hour of free form swing dancing, during which students get to have fun and dance with a variety of partners. In addition to the weekly meetings, the club offers additional opportunities to learn and practice. Carleton College’s Swing Club welcomes St. Olaf students to its Monday dance nights and often attends events hosted at St. Olaf. This year, the St. Olaf Swing Club is hosting open dances on the last day of classes each semester and will collaborate with the jazz bands for a swing fest in March, similar to the recent Halloween event. Group members often venture off campus to dance with other swing enthusiasts. Over interim, the group plans to send students to Minneapolis to take lessons from professional swing dancers who studied under the famous Lindy Hop instructor Frankie Manning. St. Olaf swing dancers attend swing festivals around the Midwest, from St. Paul to Iowa.Most students who join the Swing Club do not have a background in the activity but are interested in learning something new and meeting a variety of new people along the way. For many, the club is a place to get away from the usual routine and enjoy some good old-fashioned socializing. “I really, really love that it’s social,” Grafelman said. “It’s a new way to relate to people. I can get dinner with my friends, and that’s one way to relate to people, but I like that there’s this physical way of relating to people through the dance. And it’s not such a strenuous way of dancing that you can’t talk to people while you dance, and it’s not so strict that you feel uncomfortable. It’s a very laid back and comfortable way of dancing that really lends itself to being social.”In true liberal arts fashion, Swing Club offers an opportunity for students to go beyond their usual studies in the classroom and build intentional community with their peers. However, the unique group also expands beyond Northfield and college years, as the skills learned are globally relevant and useful. Some members have connected with other swing dance groups while studying abroad or have gotten involved with community dance groups post-graduation. The Jitterbug, West Coast Swing, Jive and aerials serve as the building blocks for lifelong activity and relationships. Swing Club meetings are held every Tuesday from 9 to 11 p.m. in Dittman Studio One. Contact President Serena May Calcagno at calcagno@stolaf.edu with any inquiries.
meeder@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

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