Blogosphere

Covenant of Wonder. Pt. 2

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:59am

Each time the girl would ask me to buy the pen I felt more sorry for myself. You have to understand that her pupils and her iris were one big black pool and light couldn’t escape them. I wanted to scream. I wasn’t in Delhi anymore, I was in the little girl’s belly and I don’t know how I got in there because she was so skinny.

“Please take the pen,” she said and I was small, tracing the wood grain of my dinner table with my father’s hand on my shoulder.

“Son,” a giant of a man. “Eat your food so you can be big and strong and fight the people who will call you Christ-Killer.”

But no one called me Christ-Killer. I grew up and I went to a school where they liked Martin Luther.

“Luther would have called you a Christ-Killer. The students there will call you a Christ-Killer. Or they might not say it but they’ll think it.”

But no one called me a Christ-Killer. Instead a Synagogue was shot up far away and no matter how much of my father’s food I ate I couldn’t fight the people who called us Christ-Killers.

I looked up from the bottom of the little girl’s belly. She added another pen between her thumb and
forefinger.

“Two pens.”

I was lying in bed next to my
mother and she told me about her father whose mind had been played with by poverty in San Juan and the war in Korea. One day he came home and picked up a knife and wanted to stab my grandmother. But my mother picked up the telephone and said she would call the police. My grandfather was so baffled that he put down the knife and hung up the telephone and told my mother to never again do such a thing. That was the last time my mother saw him hurt my grandmother.

Despite my grandfather’s violence, my grandmother would never leave him, and the first time my mother went to college she dropped out because she was so worried about what my grandfather would do with her away.

A third pen joined and I moved into the little girl’s intestines.

“Three pens.”

Your tragedies are your own, so who am I to tell them to you. Just know that I was listening.

“Four pens.”

I slid down her intestines and I was in complete darkness.

“I don’t have a sad story to tell you,” I said to the girl. “Let me out of here.”

“Please sir, please take the pen.”

irwin2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Ryan Bowles finds success at all levels

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:57am

Athletic director Ryan Bowles came to St. Olaf in 2015 after spending 12 years as an associate athletic director at the University of Maryland. Although St. Olaf is a Division III school compared to the University of Maryland’s Division I, Bowles had many reasons to come to St. Olaf.

Bowles was a student athlete in college. He went to McDaniel College, a Division III school, and played soccer there. He always knew he wanted to pursue sports, especially after getting involved in the athletic department at McDaniel.

Bowles still remembers trying to get a job at the weight room his first year – he was a day too late, so he was offered a job in the athletic department instead.
“Immediately, I was hooked,” Bowles said. “I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

After working as a graduate assistant, Bowles started an internship at the University of Maryland. He remembers starting out his internship decorating a hall with old photos, but by the end of his time at the University of Maryland, he was supervising 13 sports.
Bowles loved working at a Division I school in his home state, but he faced some challenges by the end of his tenure.

“It’s really great to work at your dream school since day one,” Bowles said. “But philosophically, myself and Division I were going different places. Division I is really turning into a big business and has lost the amateurism of sport.”

Returning to his Division III roots, Bowles took a job at St. Olaf on the Title IX Team. He immediately saw a difference between the University of Maryland and St. Olaf.
“Here, it’s true amateur sports, and really very pure,” he said.

In May of 2018, Bowles was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Rectal Cancer. He started treatment at Mayo Clinic, had surgery on Oct. 4 of that year and wore a temporary bag for six months following the surgery. He has been cancer-free since.
Bowles said that he was glad he went through his treatment during his time at St. Olaf.“Maryland is my home,” he said.

“But there’s no place I would rather have been than here to go through my journey with cancer because the community here is wonderfully supportive,” Bowles continued.
Bowles tells his teams about his journey with cancer. Every fall before the season starts, he sits down with each team and talks about his goals and expectations. His experiences dealing with and defeating cancer are included in this discussion.

Mainly, Bowles tells the teams about his cancer story because he believes in “the power of positivity.” Additionally, he goes over respect, inclusivity and sportsmanship as goals for the teams.

Inclusivity is Bowles’ priority for the athletic department.

“My number one dream for the athletic department is to be a place where our student athletes can show up and be their true authentic selves,” he said. “We’re not perfect, we’re not there yet, but the more we talk about it, the more our actions reflect it.”
Two more goals that Bowles has are for the school to have more “Ole pride” and “increased competitive success.” He wants students to “walk with swagger” when it comes to St. Olaf sports.

Ultimately, Bowles came to St. Olaf for the athletes. His daily goal is to make sure that every person playing sports at St. Olaf loves the game as much as he does.

“Ideally, when they come to practice, I want it to be the best two hours of their day.”

larion1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Ole Volleyball’s winning mentality

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:56am

Even as a casual observer, it’s hard to ignore St. Olaf Volleyball’s outstanding start to the season. At 19-3, the program boasts its best opening record since 2010, when they reached the regional finals of the Division III Tournament. This week, coming off a win against 11th-ranked Augsburg, the team only sees the upside in its future.

The Oles’ success comes as a surprise to outsiders. The program came into the season with middling projections, placing sixth in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll for the MIAC, but their play this fall has surpassed all expectations.
Defensive Specialist/Libero Emily Jarnigan ’20 said the team thrives with a chip on its shoulder.

“We play well with that mentality of wanting to prove something,” Jarnigan said.
She isn’t surprised by the team’s success, acknowledging that “a lot of people tend to underestimate our team.”

A closer look at their play this year reveals the unified effort and fearless attitude that allows the Oles to compete so effectively regardless of expectations. From preseason preparation to in-game communication, Ole volleyball fosters a culture of support and dedication. In a team saturated with talented players, no single individual is held accountable for the successes or failures of any given game. Instead, the team enjoys victories together and takes responsibility for losses as a whole.

Head coach Emily Foster, who holds a Master’s degree in sports psychology, emphasizes the mental aspect of the game to her players. She stresses the importance of understanding one’s own strengths, as well as those of every member of the team, which allows each player to be aware of their teammates’ needs. It’s an attitude that sets St. Olaf apart from other schools and gives the team an edge in high-pressure situations.
Foster also cultivates an environment which respects and energizes each player.
“She’s not coaching one particular type of person,” Jarnigan said. “She tailors it for whatever she believes that person needs.”

Though the Oles had a slow start within the MIAC – they began inter-conference play 0-2, losing to nationally-ranked St. Thomas in four sets and Gustavus Adolphus in three – they followed those early losses with victories against St. Catherine and Augsburg.
“We want it so badly that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to really execute in those games,” Jarnigan said regarding high-stakes scenarios, such as competition within the MIAC. “When you put that much pressure on yourselves you kind of crumble and can’t play to the best of your abilities.”

After their recovery from the early conference losses with a win against a ranked MIAC opponent, a correction of these attitudes appears to be taking place. As the season progresses it becomes more and more difficult to ignore those pressures and stay in the moment. Even as Jarnigan and the rest of the team continue to play one point at a time, they have high expectations for the year, and with the end of the season growing ever closer, competing in nationals is certainly on every player’s mind.

rains2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

MLB playoff predictions

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:55am

Disclaimer: At the time of writing this — Houston leads Tampa Bay 2-0, New York leads Minnesota 2-0, Los Angeles and Washington are tied 1-1 and Atlanta and St. Louis are tied 1-1. 

October is a busy month for sports fans. While the NBA and NFL seasons are just beginning and the NHL is in full swing, the sometimes-tedious, always fascinating MLB season is coming to an end. The eight best teams from the regular season – four from the American League and four from the National League, not including wildcards – fight it out to see who gets the luxury of facing off in the World Series. 

To get a better picture of how the postseason is lining up so far, and who seem to be the favorites for a World Series birth, here is your official team-by-team Manitou Messenger MLB Postseason Preview/Predictions. 

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are coming off of one of the most prolific offensive years in baseball history. They broke the league record for most home runs by one team in early August, notching a league-best 307 homers by the end of the season. Led by Nelson Cruz with 41, the Twins had five players with over 30 home runs for the season, a feat that no other team came close to accomplishing. Alongside their tremendous power output, the Twins also maintained a solid team batting average of .274, the second best in the Majors. How can the Twins hope to reach the World Series for the first time since 1991? Well, beat the Yankees — a task that has proven essentially impossible for Minnesota in recent years. The perennial AL powerhouse has foiled much of the Twins postseason efforts in recent years, responsible for 12 of Minnesota’s last record-setting 15 postseason losses. Taking down the Yankees isn’t going to be an easy task, as the first two games in the Bronx have proven. It will be crucial for the Twins to mark their return to Minneapolis with two wins. I think this is certainly possible — in fact, I think Minnesota will take both games at home against the Yanks. However, in the pivotal game five return to New York, I can only see a Yankee series victory. 

Houston Astros

It’s impossible to begin talking about the Astros without first mentioning their immaculate pitching rotation. Ace Justin Verlander looks set for another AL Cy Young Award, notching 21 wins on the season with a 2.58 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. That is, if Houston’s number two, Gerrit Cole, doesn’t take it from him. Cole struck out a league-leading 326 batters this season and posted a better ERA than Verlander at 2.50. And lets not forget to mention former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, who rounds out the Astros’ three-man postseason rotation. This impeccable pitching record is coupled with an offense that led the league in team batting average at .274 and features the likes of Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley, two players at the very center of the AL MVP conversation. Oh, and Yordan Alvarez, who looks set to snatch the AL Rookie of the Year award after hitting 27 home runs and 78 RBIs in only 313 plate appearances. After Cole’s near perfect pitching performance on Saturday night, Houston heads into Florida up 2-0. The Rays might be able to take one at home, but I think the Astros will ultimately finish it off at Tropicana Field. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Of the two teams that competed in last year’s World Series, only the Dodgers have returned the playoffs this year. And, unlike their counterparts in Boston, the Dodgers were able to sustain their brilliance of the past season and return to the heights of the National League. Los Angeles posted the lowest team ERA in all of baseball, behind the Cy Young caliber season of Hyun-Jin Ryu and impeccable performances of superstar Clayton Kershaw and rookie Walker Buehler. Even Kenley Janson has been all but lights-out from the bullpen. This stellar rotation is coupled with the MVP-caliber hitting and fielding of Cody Bellinger, who hit 47 home runs and 115 RBIs and slashed a .305 batting average on the season. Both Joc Pederson and Max Muncy hit over 30 home runs each, and Justin Turner filled the on-base percentage gaps. The Dodgers are simply a dominant team, up there with the best performers from the American League. I gave my prediction for their series against the Nationals above. I think they’re beatable, don’t get me wrong. I also think they have too big of a chip on their shoulder to miss out on another World Series berth.

marand1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

To Include is To Excel: Understanding Language Matters

St. Olaf College - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:46am
As part of our series highlighting the nearly 50 To Include is To Excel projects that faculty and staff have developed, Professor Rika Ito shares her work on "Understanding Language Matters to Increase Inclusivity and Equity in the Classroom."
Categories: Colleges

A&Eats: Salvadoran Night at the Northfield Public Library

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:45am

Before last Thursday I had never experienced Salvadoran food; I am happy to report that situation has been corrected. The Northfield Public Library has been hosting a series of “Cuisine and Culture” evenings for Hispanic Heritage Month. Each Thursday, a community member prepares food from a different Central or South American country, and last week featured El Salvador.

The main offering was pupusas – thick, chewy-in-the-best-way, Salvadoran flatbreads. Pupusas are made of masa (cornmeal dough), stuffed with cheese, beans, or meat, shaped into discs and then cooked on a griddle. They were prepared by Ligia Barrientos with demonstrated care and skill. The pupusas were served with the traditional accompaniment of cabbage slaw and salsa roja. The mix of tastes and textures was ideal material to construct that “one perfect bite” with all three ingredients.

There was also rice pudding and atol de elote – a sweet, creamy Salvadoran beverage made of milk, cinnamon and fresh corn. Upon first sip, it was alarmingly warm and dense, but once my tastebuds were calibrated it was delicious.

The food was followed up by a talk from Carleton Spanish professor Yansi Perez.
Her lecture, “A Cartography of Material Memory of the Central American Diaspora in Los Angeles,” discussed her research on the Salvadoran community that was established in L.A. after they were displaced by the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s.

When Perez got up to begin her speech, she asked how many of us did not speak Spanish. Only about a third of the group raised their hands, but she opted to do her presentation in English. Although I was grateful to understand the content, I felt somewhat guilty that even during a time focused on honoring Hispanic heritage, she was making accommodations for non-Spanish speakers.

Her talk focused on the role of memory in the way Salvadorans have had to balance maintaining their culture and identity while also creating a new home in L.A.

The truth within the cliché that food brings people together was on display in the library conference room – a different Carleton professor chatted with a table of St. Olaf students, several generations of Northfield residents mingled and compared reactions to the elote and everyone listened to Perez’s speech with open ears and full stomachs.

There are several more Culture and Cuisine nights at the library this month:
Oct. 10 – Puerto Rican Cuisine, Speaker Kristina Medina
Oct. 17- Mexican Cuisine and Bohemia Night
Oct. 24- Traditional Hispanic desserts, Speaker Sebastian Burset

summer1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” the awakening from the dogmatic slumber

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:45am

The latest Quentin Tarantino feature, titled “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and released in July 2019, combats the necessity for strict realism in exactly the right way. The movie takes place in the 1960s and follows the story of a fictional Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt.

Dalton is a struggling actor in Hollywood, which is the reason why Marvin Schwartz, played by Al Pacino, suggests that he move to Italy and partake in the creation of westerns. At first he is hesitant, but over the course of the movie he decides to pursue the opportunity. Dicaprio and Pitt’s characters then rewrite one of the most shocking murders of the 20th century in America by stopping Charles Manson’s family from murdering Sharon Tate.

The film combats obsession with historical accuracy in the best manner because it does not reject it. An attentive viewer will notice that the smallest details of the movies are historically accurate, such as shop signs, radio ads, clothing, etc.

Tarantino’s devotion to an authentic depiction of late 1960s Los Angeles went to such lengths as to entirely close off the city’s arterial road for multiple days to recreate its vintage appearance in 1969. However, Tarantino purposfully changed the most dramatic event that the story was building up to: the murder of Sharon Tate and her friends.

In this juxtaposition, the purpose of the film is borne. For almost three hours, the viewers enjoy both the meticulous accuracy and artistry with which Los Angeles of the 1960s is portrayed. However, they also see the fictional world, where one of the most talked-about murders of the 20th century did not take place, instead replaced with Tarantino’s characteristic fight scene.

“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” barely left anyone indifferent, whether in a good or in a bad way. This feature film is important because the topic of Manson has recently enjoyed a new wave of discussion, due to 2019 being the 50th anniversery of Tate’s murder. David Fincher’s series “Mindhunter” also did not leave Manson unmentioned.

Tarantino has given us not only a way to neglect our need for “facts,” but also a reminder of one of the main aims of cinema – to give the viewer an opportunity to experience a different world from the one they live in.

smirno1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Q & A with the Champion of the Hill

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:42am

Mary Maker ’23 was crowned this year’s Champion of the Hill during the annual homecoming week pageant. Following the event, Maker sat down for an interview with the Manitou Messenger to discuss her time competing in Champion of the Hill. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you get nominated for Champion of the Hill?

Maker: “I have no idea who nominated me … I thought it was going to be the whole school just coming and then we play games together, and that’s what Champion of the Hill meant. I didn’t know it was a competition … After the first game, I’m like ‘can I now go, please? Can I just leave?’ And they’re like no, just have fun with it. So, I decided to make it a fun moment.”

During the fashion show round it seemed you took a more serious route than other competitors, how did you decide to do that?

Maker: “The prompt was chose something that you want to wear and say what it means to you. For me, it was the dress. Any African print, we call it in Swahili kitenge, is really an important fabric. It makes me feel a sense of identity to my motherland … just wearing that gives me an impression that I have a community, I have an identity. I’m not just Mary, but I have people who care about me. I have a whole continent with different countries and different wonderful people who know that I am their person.”

How did you feel getting that opportunity to be able to share who you are throughout the competition?

Maker: “I love sharing because I feel like there are so many people from where I come from that will never get that chance to speak up. If you’ve been given that platform, why don’t you speak up for them? Because the moment you do that, you are saving a community, you are being a voice to the voiceless, and that’s what we all need to do. If you were born extroverted, use that extroversion to uplift every other person. If you’re born introverted, use your introvertedness to make people feel comfortable around you. Be a good listener and make people feel like they belong.”

stroth2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Ointment Appointment and Blue Chameleon Quartet pair up for new album “Pink Ribbon Sun”

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:38am

A diverse array of instruments crowded the stage at Ointment Appointment’s release party and performance of their newest album, “Pink Ribbon Sun.” The event, hosted by the Music Entertainment Committee (MEC), filled the Center for Art and Dance (CAD) sculpture patio on October 4.

The patio was crowded with students, but the concert felt relaxed and intimate. A fire made the outdoor venue bearable, as it was cold the night of the concert. Warm pink and purple lighting reminiscent of the “Pink Ribbon Sun” album’s rosy hue lit the band, contributing to the cozy atmosphere. Some people sat and let the music sink in, while others stood and danced.

Ointment Appointment is a favorite among Oles on campus, always drawing a crowd to their performances. The band includes Colin Kolsnay ’21, Branden Ma ’21, Maxwell Voda ’21, Devin Cuneen ’21, Kevin Yetter ’19 and Weber Anderson. Laid-back beats, smooth vocals and jazzy interludes characterize the six-piece indie rock band on its own. However, in this album, St. Olaf’s own Blue Chameleon Quartet’s strings added depth to the band’s relaxed pop sound.

Blue Chameleon Quartet is a campus string quartet that strives to combine classical and folk genres to create their unique sound. The group includes Olivia Munson ’20, Hawken Paul ’20, Emerson Clay ’20 and Mason Tacke ’20. They released their debut album “Blue Orb: A Journey Through the Water Cycle” in July 2019.

In “Pink Ribbon Sun,” Blue Chameleon’s strings add an eerie, melancholy sound that morphs the Ointment Appointment’s vibe into something darker. Crisp details, dramatic instrumental interludes and rich vocals make the album fascinating to listen to. The collaborative album is also jazzier, slower and more soulful than Ointment Appointment’s previous album, “Sconce,” which was released in 2018. The string instruments add depth and complexity that make Ointment Appointment’s characteristic sound even better. One song, “Jungle Bird,” features Amanda Stagg ’21.

Although all of the complex layers of “Pink Ribbon Sun’s” songs come through clearly on recordings, less than stellar sound equipment at the concert meant that the singers’ voices were slightly muffled. However, the dozen musicians on the stage all collaborated well, and the overall sound was good.

Ointment Appointment and Blue Chameleon’s pairing was a beneficial idea for both groups. You can check out their music on platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

everet2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Math and music add up to entertaining evening at Carleton lecture

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:30am

Music and mathematics proved to be a compelling combination at Eugenia Cheng’s Oct. 2 concert and lecture, titled “Sum of the Score: Math and Music.” Cheng earned her PhD in mathematics from the University of Cambridge and is currently the scientist-in-residence at the Art Institute of Chicago. However, she also happens to be an accomplished classical pianist.

“Well yes, there is counting in music and there is counting in math, but that’s really the most boring part of music and the most boring part of math put together,” Cheng said, assuaging any audience concerns that the concert would be a glorified theory lesson. Instead, Cheng explored ways that mathematical principles can be used to understand why a piece of music behaves and moves listeners the way it does.

For example, after Cheng played Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier Prelude in G-Minor,” she explained her difficulty grasping the piece’s polyphony (multiple lines of simultaneous, independent, intertwining melodies). Cheng showed how she “graphed” the rises and falls of each voice in order to conceptualize the relationships between the melodies.
Accompanied by Chicago Symphony baritone Peter Wesoloski, Cheng played pieces by Schumann, Wagner and Debussy. She walked the audience through the ways subtle differences in ratios, least common multiples and prime numbers underlie the distinct tone and emotion of each song.

“Mathematics cannot explain everything in music,” Cheng said. “When I try to figure out why a piece moves me, there is always something I can’t explain, just beyond everything that I can explain, but I think the most beautiful things are right at the interface between what we can explain with logic and what we cannot.”

She closed by using one last math analogy to emphasize that this mystery should not put a damper on the study of music.

“That is not to say we shouldn’t try to understand, because the more we expand the sphere of human understanding, the more surface area that sphere has, so there will be more interface between the logical and the illogical, making room for even more beautiful things.”

Cheng’s talk at Carleton’s Applebaum Recital Hall was part of St. Olaf and Carleton’s annual speaker series, “Math Across the Cannon.” She gave two more talks the next day, titled “Category Theory and Life” and “The Art of Logic.”

summer1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Limestones: thirty years, one stage

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:29am

Alumni, students and family members filled the Pause Mane Stage Saturday, Oct. 5 for the Limestones 30th anniversary concert. The show featured different generations of the male a cappella ensemble, going all the way back to its founders.
The original members said their time in Viking Chorus inspired them to create the group because they wanted to keep singing together.

“It was such a joy singing together that we just ended up formalizing it … but it really was just the fact that we loved hearing our voices together, and we loved the camaraderie, and we loved each other and from that it really grew,” Jed Anderson ’92 said.
From performing at overflowing shows in Larson Hall to singing the Star-Spangled Banner at a Minnesota Twins game, the group became something they wanted to pass on to future students.

“Being in the Limestones fundamentally changed the college experience for us,” Ben Lunstad ’92 said. “We had a brotherhood that developed from that and now we can see it progress through generations.”

“We love to see the new groups put their own stamp on it,” Geoff Pemble ’92 said when asked about later generations of Limestones.

“It’s like meeting kindred spirits,” Lunstad said when asked what it’s like meeting Limestones from different generations. “They’re all really enthusiastic, fun people. They’ve really kept the tradition going.”

Other founding Limestones members echoed these sentiments. “We see ourselves in them,” Brent Cataldo ’92 said.

The reunion served as a great way to connect the 70 or so Limestones who were present, and Anderson describes the performance as “a vacation for the soul.”
Reminiscing caused the original members to laugh and harmonize some chords, joking that it doesn’t take much for them to break into song.

Jonah Berthelsen ’20, a current Limestone member and self-described ‘townie,’ was in an a cappella group in high school that always looked up to the Limestones. As him and Silas Guelzow ’20 saw the Limestones perform at the end of a Viking Chorus practice their first year, they knew they needed to audition. Now they are beloved seniors of the Limestones
The Limestones plan to go on a midwest tour through Milwaukee, Chicago, Iowa City and Twin Cities during spring break.

“We’re already looking forward to the 35th reunion,” Guelzow said.

brinke1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Heart Beat

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:23am

At one point or another, we have all heard someone say, “you need to love yourself before you love anyone else.” As true as that may be, most of the time people don’t wait to reach confidence nirvana before starting to seek out relationships. I find myself in that boat too and I have watched plenty of my romantic pursuits fall flat because I cannot properly evaluate my self-worth. For a relationship to work (and work well), it is important to not invalidate your own feelings. Conceptually, that sentiment is obvious, but insecurity rabbit holes can be tempting and oftentimes too easy to fall into.

Recently, I was upset with my boyfriend; after all, most couples quarrel and the relationship I am in is no different. I did what some people do and turned to a friend to sort out my feelings. However, after explaining the situation and venting my frustrations about having been disappointed by my partner, my tone changed.

I took a deep breath before speaking. “I feel like I should have expected to be treated unfairly. It was dumb to think I deserved anything more than that,” I said to my friend.
My friend was taken aback over my shift in attitude. Although I had been visibly upset a second before, I showed a shocking willingness to accept defeat and, even more shocking, accept a skewed perception of myself. Bullying myself into silence was not something I was even aware that I was doing.

“So, what now?” My friend responded, “Are you just going to accept some sort of assumed inferiority to him?”

I took a second to think about it. As much as I hated admitting it, I was creating an unhealthy power dynamic in my relationship. By convincing myself that my feelings were worthless, I had not only justified his behavior, but also unwittingly perpetuated my insecurities. How could I expect my partner to treat me fairly if I was not giving myself the same level of respect and understanding? My friend was right; that mindset put my boyfriend on a pedestal. Up until that point, I had not been so directly confronted with the effects my insecurities had on the power dynamics of my relationship, but having someone there to remind me was a valuable way of keeping myself in check.

When you are in a relationship, you must remind yourself that your partner is your equal. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is not worth your time. Falling into that trap is not unique, so I encourage you to pause and really think about the person you are with or the person you wish to be with. How is your perception of yourself affecting your interactions with them? Because even recognizing that much is a small step that makes a big difference.

nizhny1@stolaf.edu

Having trouble navigating the St. Olaf dating scene? E-mail your questions to mess-ae@stolaf.edu and maybe one of our love columnists will answer them in next week’s issue. All submitted questions will remain anonymous.

Categories: Colleges

Impeachment necessary to address abuse of office

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:19am

“Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office,” Lindsey Graham said in 1999 regarding the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton. I think it remains true today.

On Sept. 24, 2019, a formal impeachment inquiry was launched in response to a whistleblower complaint. The complaint alleges that on a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump requested that Zelensky look into former Vice President Joe Biden’s dealings with a Ukranian prosecutor. At the time, Trump was withholding military aid from Ukraine and requested this inquiry by Zelensky immediately following the mention of purchasing military weapons. The reason this has led to an impeachment inquiry is because using the office of president to gather adverse information on your political rivals is an abuse of power.

The reason President Trump requested Zelensky look into Biden’s dealings is because Biden’s son, Hunter, was involved with a corrupt Ukrainian company and Biden called for a Ukranian prosecutor to be removed. However, many were calling for the prosecutor to be removed, as there was a consensus that he was not doing enough to fight corruption. Biden was not trying to prevent his son from facing corruption charges, he was trying to find a prosecutor who would be able to root out corruption, regardless of the impact on his son.

Graham also said back in 1999, “you don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role.”

When Clinton was impeached, it was not because the nation was threatened. It was because his conduct was called into question and our government found that he had not conducted himself in a manner that was consistent with his office and the nation he represented. Clinton was an excellent president, leading the nation into a period of strong economic prosperity. However, he had an extramarital affair while serving as president, and used that office to cover up that affair. While Clinton was not removed from office and while the affair likely did not alter his ability to serve his country to the best of his ability, his conduct did not remain consistent with the expectations of the office.

Parties have always gone after each other, especially in this time of extreme polarization, but both have historically respected the office of president. President Trump is accused of using that office for personal political gain, which is an abuse of office. Clinton abused his office in trying to cover up his scandal, and even though it was not a major danger to the nation, it was still an abuse of power for personal gain, and he was duly impeached because of it.

We need to examine the ways Trump has used his office with respect to this incident. Has he conducted himself with honor and integrity? Ultimately, this is not about right versus left. This is not about the president. It’s about the left and the right making sure the honor and integrity of the office is still intact, and cleansing the office if it has been violated in any way – not necessarily because of wrongful acts, but because of wrongful conduct.

The whistleblower complaint and the transcript of the phone call can be found online. I encourage you to evaluate both documents and draw your own conclusions.

peters70@stolaf.edu
Teague Peterson ’23 is from Falls Oconomowoc, Wis. His major is undecided.

Categories: Colleges

“Joker” controversy threatens artistic expression

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:16am

“I used to think my life was a tragedy, but now I realize it’s a f****** comedy.” – Arthur Fleck, better known as ‘Joker’

The new Joaquin Phoenix movie, “Joker,” has been met with mountains of controversy. The film attempts to dissect the famous Batman villain’s tragic backstory and explain the events that led him to commit to a life of crime. The film is essentially a character study of how the comedian Arthur Fleck evolves into the classic Batman villain. However, with the U.S.’ troubling recent history of mass shootings, there is concern that portraying a murderer who feels lonely and ostracized as a sympathetic character can promote troubling and violent behavior. Some are outraged that the film presents the Joker character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story. Much of the concern seems concentrated on the horrific Aurora, Col. shooting in 2012 and online fandom for the Joker character. Is the release of this film wise? Will it empower mass shooters? Should a movie be responsible for teaching its audience right from wrong? What further action should Warner Brothers take, if any?

Concerns that the release of “Joker” might trigger more mass shootings are certainly not entirely unwarranted. The Century 16 Theatre massacre in Aurora during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” movie in 2012 left 12 people dead and 70 wounded. Family members whose children were killed or traumatized by the attack asked Warner Brothers to actively lobby for gun reform.

Feeling the need to respond, Warner Brothers has issued the following statement: “Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic. At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”

After the massacre in Aurora, Warner Brothers donated $2 million to the victims and their survivors. This seems like a generous and genuine effort by Warner Brothers, especially considering it is really not their fault that this tragedy occurred. I do not think Warner Brothers needs to take any further specific action. Their released statement is quite clear that the film is a cultural medium not intended to endorse real-world violence. Besides, it’s the responsibility of law enforcement and the intelligence community to detect credible threats and prevent horrendous crimes.

A leaked military memo revealed that the military and the FBI were initially concerned that disturbing chatter on the dark web might lead to a planned attack. However, they ultimately concluded that there was no specific, credible threat of an attacker targeting the Joker movie release.

One online commenter opined that “some psychopath using a form of entertainment as an excuse for evil is not the responsibility of the artist … movies don’t cause violence, video games do not cause violence, and music does not cause violence; people cause violence.”
Those directly involved in the creation of the Joker movie certainly have their own take on the issue as well. Director Todd Phillips attempted to defend the Joker movie in interviews. He remarked, “Aurora is obviously a horrible situation, but even that is not something you blame on the movie … it’s a fictional character in a fictional world.” Phillips explained that John Wick: Chapter 3 features John Wick killing 300 people and everyone in the audience is laughing and hollering – why is Joker held to such a different standard?

The actor who plays Joker, Joaquin Phoenix, walked out of one interview when he was asked if Joker might inspire copycat behavior. In another interview, the actor said, “I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong.”

Not everyone has been deterred from seeing the film in theatres. In the U.S., Joker has grossed about $40 million in earnings at the box office as of Oct. 4.
From a legal perspective of free speech and free expression, it seems to me that the Joker movie neither presents a clear and present danger nor does it incite imminent lawless action. I sympathize with the victims of the Aurora massacre and their families and understand why some people are concerned. Nevertheless, if we allow the deplorable actions and choices made by troubled individuals to limit the possibilities for creative and artistic expression in American movie culture, then I am afraid the joke is on us.

vojcak1@stolaf.edu
Danny Vojcak ’20 is from Naperville, Ill. His majors are environmental studies and political science.

Categories: Colleges

People vs. Robots: the automation debate

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:13am

“Hi, this is Kailey,” I would say in an overly-peppy voice time and again. “How can I help you?” While my high school friends were lifeguards and babysitters, spending their vacations in the Illinois humidity and summer sun, I was in an air-conditioned office picking up phone call after phone call. For many summers, I worked as a receptionist at my dad’s law firm.

“Wow,” a prospective client would occasionally respond. “I wasn’t expecting a person on the other side of this line.” This answer, while rare at the time, was one that always caught me off guard. It was as if this client was gearing up to respond to some automated bot. Yet only a few years have passed and I now expect to hear a tinny, passionless voice whenever I call customer service.

I hear it all the time: “robots are taking over the world.” And, as someone currently working in the newspaper business, I see the validity of the computers-equal-doomsday argument. With every new invention comes widespread panic that, oh no, technology will replace people if we don’t put an end to it. This age-old debate existed through the industrial revolution and invention of the cotton gin and the assembly line and the computer.

We see this argument in media. “Her” depicts an operating system substituting the female lead in a romance drama. “I-Robot” follows Will Smith’s lifelong battle with his city’s “helper robots.” Even “Wall-e” reveals a world in shambles and humans incapable of saving the day. While I believe these films have some truth in them, I am not buying into the robot apocalypse.

Take, for instance, the experience of automated telephone assistance. We have all been there, making a “quick call” that ends up taking 45 minutes, two aspirins for a splitting headache and a hand cramp from pressing the pound button so many times. By the end of the call, we have accomplished nothing except swearing to ourselves that we will never again become frustrated with a call center employer.

As humans, we are naturally on the human side of the human-versus-robots debate. We each long for human connection, even in something as simple as a customer service call. So, will robots end up replacing people? It’s more complicated than that…
In early 2018, MIT Technology Review began keeping track of statistics from different groups about predicted job losses (and gains) at the hands of automation, robots and artificial intelligence. Their findings? Inconclusive. Although the best economic and technological minds in the world came together to track these statistics, nobody could agree on how many jobs will actually be lost or gained from technological progress.

There are some areas, specifically labor and manufacturing jobs, that will likely be replaced through the technological revolution. This replacement, due to efficiency alone, is inevitable. But with human-centered jobs, social interactions are at the base of an exchange of goods and services. Until we can program a realistic human-like grasp of emotions in robots, humans can keep their jobs. Until robots can convincingly answer the phone and solve our customer service needs without a headache and hand cramp, there will still be human receptionists. Until this point, worrying about that dark, doomsday path we might be heading down where robots will take over our jobs and the world is pointless.

favaro1@stolaf.edu
Kailey Favaro ’20 is from Crystal Lake, Ill. Her major is English.

Categories: Colleges

Rolvaag needs to change unfair recall policy

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:08am

Rolvaag’s recall policy asserts that it exists to ensure equitable access for all students – yet this is clearly not its effect. What this policy does allow is as follows: a student like me checks out a new book to read. Another student decides they want the book and places a recall request. Suddenly, instead of having seven weeks to read the book, the original student must promptly return it in four days so the other student can have the book. Yet, the second student gets the book for the full period unless someone recalls it from them.

This is not equitable access – in fact, this privileges the person who recalls a book over the person who originally checked out the book. This recall policy does not achieve its stated objective of ensuring equitable access because it disadvantages the person who originally checked out the book (and even penalizes them with a fine if they return the book late).

The library notifies students of a recall via email. The library does not offer different notification methods such as texting or calling, nor does it check to make sure that a student has in fact received notification and is aware of the recall and new due date.
St. Olaf and Carleton’s recall policy is the most stringent that I am aware of. Compare our library’s approach to that of other schools listed below:

At Arizona State University, recalls are due 14 days after the recall request. This is a big difference in time and allows more opportunity for the original patron with the requested item to become aware of the recall. Vanderbilt gives students at least seven days after a recall to return an item. Penn State gives a user 10 days after a recall to return the item, and only charges a $3 fine per day. Harvard Law School’s library gives students seven days after a recall to return the item. It also guarantees that the student has had the item for at least 14 days in total. The fine is merely $2 per day. At Yale, patrons have 10 days to return the item and are only fined $2 per day.

My recall notice was sent on Sept. 25 and I returned the book on Sept. 30 (five days later). I stopped in the middle of my homework and returned the book immediately once I saw the recall email and was aware that it had been recalled.

“St. Olaf and Carleton’s recall policy is the most stringent that I am aware of.”
– Danny Vojcak ’20

This policy and approach is unfair. Many college students work minimum wage jobs during the school year or over the summer. For a student who earns $15 per hour, this policy makes it so that they lose $5, or 20 minutes worth of work time, for returning a book five days after it was recalled.

If we must keep the recall policy, we should:
• Give patrons the option to choose the best notification method for them
• Allow patrons at least one week to return items
• Lower the late fee charged per day
• Apply the recall policy only for items necessary for a class rather than all items.

Maybe we should all just start recalling any and all items that we can just to frustrate everyone else who uses the St. Olaf library and illustrate how absurd this policy is.

vojcak1@stolaf.edu
Danny Vojcak ’20 is from Naperville, Ill. His majors are environmental studies and political science.

Categories: Colleges

Recent alum hired as new Student Activities Director

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:05am

St. Olaf hired Brandon Cash ’16 as new Student Activities Director following the summer departure of former director Kris Vatter.

Vatter announced in a July 25 email to the Student Government Association (SGA) executive team that her last day in the position would be July 31.
St. Olaf hired Cash for the position at the end of September. Originally from St. Cloud, Cash is excited to return to St. Olaf and start his new role on campus assisting SGA and other student groups.

Cash studied music and psychology during his time at St. Olaf. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in student affairs and higher education from Miami University in Ohio. Over the last year, Cash worked at Washington University as Residential College Director.
“It’s a professional dream of mine to return to the Hill,” Cash said. “I knew that’s where I wanted to land.”

Assuming the position a month into the academic year, Cash anticipates a challenge as students have started their routines. In his first year, Cash will work to improve the student experience on campus by addressing student needs.

“I think student activities can play that role,” Cash said. “I think we can connect students, faculty and staff to experience these opportunities that can really shape the Ole experience in some really powerful ways.”

Cash also plans on examining the current campus culture and how student organizations contribute to the St. Olaf experience. Part of this effort is ensuring that the skills students gain while on campus can be transferred into different avenues, such as student organization, leadership and research opportunities, Cash said.

While attending St. Olaf, Cash was Student Activities Committee (SAC) coordinator and assumed the duties of SGA President during an interim.

SGA Vice President Ariel Mota Alves ’20 said Cash’s past experience will benefit SGA. “He showed a great passion, energy and willingness to work with us on our initiatives,” Mota Alves said. “He has a lot of knowledge about SGA, and I think he’ll be a great resource.”
SGA President Devon Nielsen ’20 said Cash brings a level of passion and enthusiasm that will be a great addition for the team.

Overall, Cash is looking forward to returning to campus and working with SGA.
“I’m most excited for the people,” Cash said. “I’m excited to be back in that environment, back with a student body that is actively involved and dynamic, that I haven’t seen at other institutions. I cannot be more thrilled to be coming home – it feels like a homecoming.”

bermel1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Northfield approves downtown apartment development

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:01am

The Northfield City Council approved a plan to create a redevelopment district in downtown Northfield where a new four-story, 79-unit apartment complex will be constructed.

At an Oct. 1 Council meeting, the city identified several goals for the redevelopment of the district, paramount of which is meeting the demand for market-rate housing. The apartment complex is also part of a broader set of goals to revitalize much of the area surrounding the Cannon River and downtown Northfield.

The Fifth Street Lofts apartment complex is the primary construction project in the district, located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Fifth and Washington Streets. The four-story complex will consist of 79 apartments for rent, of which 33 will be studio, 38 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom. The complex will include fitness facilities on the first floor, along with a two-story, underground parking garage that can be accessed from Fifth Street.

The estimated costs of renting space range from $820 per month for studio apartments to $1,600 per month for a two-bedroom.

The City Council permitted a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan to subsidize development of the district, which will occupy both the southeast and northeast corners of the Fifth and Washington intersection.

The TIF plan, which allows project developers Rebound Real Estate and Stencil Group to retain property taxes accrued on the apartment complex, will generate an estimated $4.2 million over the 25-year span of the district, according to Ehlers and Associates, the private firm responsible for financing the project.

The developers had identified a $1.8 million shortfall on the project, which the TIF plan accounts for.

Premier Bank currently occupies the southwest lot of the district where the apartment complex will be constructed, alongside a home owned by Mainstreet Properties. Both buildings have been deemed “substandard” and in need of redevelopment by an outside investment group.

The continuance of TIF financing is contingent upon the completion of construction and the achievement of full occupancy for the apartment complex by spring 2021, according to Ehlers and Associates. Construction will begin later this year.

The construction of a new, modern apartment complex in downtown Northfield will increase land density, increase square footage in the downtown area and address an observed housing shortage, said City Council and Economic Development Authority member Jessica Peterson White.

“It’s an exciting project. It has been clearly identified that there is a need,” Mayor of Northfield Rhonda Powell said. “This is just a fantastic opportunity for our community.”

marand1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Smoking policy up in the air

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 7:58am

Years of complaints from St. Olaf community members about secondhand smoke drove the college to form a working group tasked with reforming the smoking policy.
The working group is considering creating designated smoking areas, moving ashtrays further from buildings and introducing resources to help students who wish to quit smoking.

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and the Safety Committee, two parties tasked with promoting the health and safety of students and workers, formed the working group in the fall of 2018. The parties reached out to students and various staff departments, including Residence Life, the Wellness Center and Human Resources (HR), for volunteers to join the working group, Vice President for HR and working group member Michael Goodson wrote in an email. The group held its first meeting of the year in late September.

Currently, St. Olaf’s smoking policy bans smoking in any building on campus, Goodson wrote. However, the policy does not address the specific distance from buildings community members need to be to smoke permissibly, and whether different buildings have different policies. Different pages on the St. Olaf website list inconsistent distance requirements. The working group will address the distance policy, Goodson wrote.

Designated smoking areas, another potential change, could alienate international students who smoke, former working group member Carlos Fernandez ’21 said.
“It will look very bad if you designate areas that all of these students that you see will be people of color, be people of different accents, and everything, are buried just in one corner of campus,” Fernandez said.

The working group is aware that new smoking policies could estrange international students, and recruited representatives from the Taylor Center and an international student who smokes in light of this consideration, Goodson wrote.

The working group has yet to determine specific spaces that could serve as designated smoking areas, working group member Bakr Al-Taie ’21 said. Al-Taie is inquiring about which spaces could serve this function, in part by speaking to students who smoke.
Fernandez thinks the college ought to move ashtrays further away from building entrances to reduce secondhand smoke exposure. While the working group has considered this remedy, moving the ashtrays further from buildings would mean more exposure to harsh weather conditions for smokers, said Dean of Students and member of the working group Rosalyn Eaton ’87.

“The ashtrays have been moved away from the doors numerous times around Buntrock and the Library but people keep moving them back,” Goodson wrote. Goodson did not indicate who has moved the ashtrays away from the doors or who keeps moving them back.

The working group is considering creating resources for community members who wish to quit smoking and will research similar measures at other colleges, Goodson wrote.
Fernandez thinks strict limitations on smoking, especially to the point of rendering St. Olaf a smoke-free campus, might be too restrictive for students.

“To some extent, students do [smoke] to de-stress,” Fernandez said. “If we cannot smoke, we cannot drink, we cannot what? Nothing, right?”

The working group has yet to consider whether St. Olaf should be a smoke-free campus, Goodson wrote. It will research institutions with smoke-free policies.

As most smokers begin smoking by young adulthood, colleges and universities’ efforts to restrict and monitor tobacco consumption “can help reduce the prevalence of tobacco product use,” according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. These efforts can also reduce secondhand smoke exposure.

Last year, the working group submitted a document containing smoking policy reform recommendations to the College. The Manitou Messenger requested access to this document, but Goodson wrote that it is not public.

Al-Taie, Mattias Kostov ’20, Eaton, Chemical Hygiene Officer Patrick Ceas, Environmental Health and Safety Director Elizabeth Haase and Goodson confirmed they serve on the working group. Goodson, Ceas and Haase did not provide the names of the other members.

St. Olaf does not have policies regarding smoking cannabidiol (CBD) or medical marijuana, Goodson wrote.

The vaping policy largely mirrors the smoking policy, Eaton said.
Goodson wrote that the working group plans to meet once a month and submit a new draft of recommendations to the President’s Leadership Team by December 2019.

irwin2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Applegate ’17 comes forward about Levi incident

Carletonian - Thu, 10/10/2019 - 11:43pm

Gillian Applegate ’17 will never forget one of the darkest points of her time at Carleton: the week Professor of Anthropology Jerome Levi groped her inner thigh during her work shift in the Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) department office.

Applegate was one of eight student complainants in a 2016-17 Title IX investigation into the professor’s conduct, which was adjudicated with an opaque set of sanctions. Applegate’s story emerges amid campus-wide confusion about the nature of the allegations against Levi and the cause for his continued employment at the college.

Two weeks ago, the Carletonian reported that Levi was suspended from teaching this term after he was found guilty of sexually inappropriate conduct, a verdict that came from a separate case brought against him in May 2019. Carleton’s Sexual Misconduct Policy defines sexually inappropriate conduct as offensive oral, written, or electronically transmitted gestures. This standard of harm is considered a notch below sexual harassment, which extends to physical conduct.

At this point in time, the Carletonian is aware of at least nine Title IX claims against the professor.

Prior to the incident, Applegate had her suspicions about Levi. “He had been creepy in other ways,” she said. “He made me feel very uncomfortable. There was another incident where he was in a dark room with me and pressed his body against me,” Applegate recounted. According to Applegate’s redacted Title IX investigation report, Levi gave her a copying task and followed her to the copy room in order to have her teach him how to use the copy machine, leaving the two of them alone together in the dark.

“I tried to avoid him but I worked in the SOAN department office four days a week,” Applegate said. “He was an anthropology professor. There wasn’t much I could do about having to see him.”

On October 26, 2016, Applegate was at work in the SOAN department office when Levi touched her. “He put his hand between my legs and started fondling my thigh three times in rapid succession and was yelling at me at the same time,” Applegate said.

According to Applegate’s Title IX report, Applegate stated that “Professor Levi touched her upper thigh three times with the inside of his fingers.” The first time, Applegate thought it was an accident, the report says, but “the next two times seemed less accidental.”

Applegate’s Title IX report indicates multiple encounters in which she felt trapped and unsafe in the SOAN department office with Levi, without others in the department in close reach.

“Once he put his hand between my legs, I was so distraught that I didn’t go to work for the first time in my life,” Applegate said.

Two days after the incident, Applegate submitted a Community Concern Form (CCF), a process which is separate from filing a formal Title IX complaint. She then spoke with Mary Dunnewold, Carleton’s Sexual Misconduct Investigator, who compiled a report detailing the incident in the SOAN office. One week later, on November 8, Dunnewold and former Associate Dean of the College George Shuffleton met with Levi and gave him a no-contact order, Applegate said. “At that point, the only thing they had was my word,” Applegate added.

But only four days after Levi was told he could not communicate with Applegate, he sat directly behind her in Sayles-Hill Campus Center, she said. One of Applegate’s friends took a photograph of Levi sitting behind her, which she brought to Associate Dean of Students Cathy Carlson, Dunnewold, and Shuffleton as evidence that Levi was ignoring the no-contact order. Shuffleton told Applegate in an email that “on a small campus like ours, accidentally crossing paths may be unavoidable,” but also said he emailed Levi to clarify that the no-contact order “includes encroaching on your space in public settings.”

Following the no-contact order violation, the college opened a formal Title IX investigation into Levi, which included Applegate’s complaint. On April 5, 2017, the college announced that Levi’s off-campus studies program to Guatemala, slated for the following winter, would not run. That same day, complainants in the 2016-17 Title IX investigation, including Applegate, were told that Levi had been sanctioned, but were not told what those sanctions were. At the time, Levi told the Carletonian that he would be taking a sabbatical in light of the program’s cancellation: “I have decided to extend the sabbatical I was already scheduled to take in the spring to also include the winter and fall,” Levi said in April 2017.

Former Chair of Sociology and Anthropology Clifford Clark likewise characterized Levi’s sabbatical as a “decision.” Moreover, Dean of the College Beverly Nagel told the Carletonian that “no Carleton faculty member has been suspended for this upcoming year.”

Clark and Nagel’s April 2017 descriptions of Levi’s sabbatical, however, do not match those in the statement issued by Carleton on September 19, 2019. According to the statement, Levi was “required to take a sabbatical during Fall 2017 and undergo college-mandated counseling and coaching.”

When asked about this inconsistency, Nagel maintained the accuracy of the College’s most recent statement and reiterated that Levi’s sabbatical was not voluntary. She did not address the inconsistency further.

Levi returns to campus

Since Levi’s return to campus in the fall of 2018, students have raised questions about his continued presence at the college.

In a recent interview, the Carletonian asked Nagel how she might respond to concerns of bias toward the professor, given her role as SOAN department chair at the time of his hiring in 1993, as well as her authority as sole adjudicator in faculty-student Title IX investigations. The adjudicator’s responsibility is to determine appropriate sanctions in cases of sexual misconduct.

Nagel said that she raised this concern with College President Steven Poskanzer, and that Poskanzer made the ultimate decision to retain Nagel as the sole adjudicator in the investigation of the May 2019 complaint.

But Poskanzer told the Carletonian that “I do not have any official role in the faculty sexual misconduct discipline process and did not have any decision-making role in any complaint involving Professor Levi or the selection of the adjudicator.”

Tenure plays a murky role

Additionally, the Carletonian asked Nagel if tenure has an impact on the severity of sanctions assigned to faculty implicated in Title IX investigations. According to Nagel, tenure would have no impact on a college’s decision to keep a professor on campus. However, she also noted that “to break tenure is a very difficult process.”

Though tenure was designed to protect professors’ academic freedom, it virtually guarantees that a professor will never be fired from their college of employment. In order for a tenured professor found guilty of sexual misconduct to be permanently removed from campus, the Faculty Judiciary Committee would have to recommend dismissal as the appropriate response, and the college president would have to approve the committee’s recommendation.

However, according to the “Faculty Appointments” section of the Faculty Handbook, the faculty in question has “the right to request a suspension of some or all of his or her teaching duties for a reasonable time in order to prepare his or her defense.” If a faculty member decides to request a suspension amid a disciplinary hearing, that suspension would include normal pay. When contacted by the Carletonian, Levi told reporters to defer to his two attorneys.

Moreover, according to the Campus Handbook, faculty members facing disciplinary action will not be suspended “unless the continued service of the faculty member poses an immediate and serious danger to the College or any member of the College community.” Even after the investigation into Applegate’s claims, as well as those of seven other students, the College has not determined Levi’s continuing presence on campus to pose a risk. Levi is slated to return this winter, when he will teach Introduction to Anthropology and Economic Anthropology.

But tenure is not always ironclad, especially in cases of sexual misconduct, according to S. Micah Salb, Principal Attorney of Lippman, Semsker & Salb in Maryland. Salb has over 25 years of experience litigating cases of higher education employment law and business law.

“It is exceptionally unusual for a professor who is found to have committed sexual impropriety to remain on faculty,” said Salb. “If any employer does not get rid of an employee that engages in improper behavior and the employee does it again, the employer’s liability is greatly magnified,” Salb continued.

Salb explained that, more often than not, colleges and universities will hurriedly dismiss faculty members accused of sexual misconduct, which can result in lawsuits from professors who feel their cases were inadequately investigated. Carleton’s approach, in Levi’s case, has been the opposite, Salb noted.

Looking forward

Levi’s absence from the SOAN department this fall has not come without challenges. Along with Assistant Professor of Sociology Wes Markofski’s sabbatical, the department is down two faculty members who would otherwise advise Comps, leaving five professors with 25 Comps advisees. Moreover, faculty who might otherwise teach elective courses on topics of interest have had to reshuffle their course offerings and teach major requirement courses.

While recounting her story, Applegate expressed appreciation for the administration’s concern for her immediate well-being. “I think one piece of advice I would have to survivors is, just ask for what you want,” Applegate said.

Her main asks—to be repaid for the time she was unable to work, to be placed in a new campus job, and for Levi not to attend her graduation—were granted. “Don’t be afraid to ask for things that you want,” she said.

The post Applegate ’17 comes forward about Levi incident appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges
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