Rice County attorney, sheriff request 4% pay hikes in 2021

Northfield News - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 1:08pm
Nothing’s settled, but two county officials are likely to see pay increases of 4% in 2021.
Categories: Local News

Rice County sees rise in Covid-19 cases; Franchise fee final vote tomorrow night; Reese on the future of the Archer House

KYMN Radio - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 11:44am
By Rich Larson, News Director Covid-19 cases continued to skyrocket across the country over the weekend. On Friday Rice County Director of public Health Deb Purfeerst said that the rate of increase here is reflective of that same surge. From October 11 to October 24, that rate of new cases was measured at 26 for

Maggie digs up more history on the Archer House

Northfield News - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 10:47am
People who have not lived in Northfield very long were taken by surprise to learn in this column earlier this month that the Archer House has at times had other names. It has had several names, but for the longest…
Categories: Local News

Northfield Hospital, Chamber, schools latest to receive federal funds for virus-related expenses

Northfield News - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 9:35am
The Northfield City Council authorized $194,000 in federal COVID-19 relief dollars, with more than a third of it going to the city’s hospital for a virtual platform providing self-guided exams
Categories: Local News

The Pathway to Tomorrow

Laura Baker Services Association - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 9:32am

Change, The Art of Possibility, Beacons of Hope – I’ve written about all of them over the years. We’re definitely in a sea of change. I am inspired by the people who are finding ways to adapt their businesses and personal lives to meet the changes. Restauranteurs who flip their business model to adapt to closures. Manufacturers who adapt their products to become PPE manufacturers.


Categories: Organizations

St. Olaf ranks No. 1 in study abroad for 12th straight year

St. Olaf College - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 9:32am
St. Olaf College sent more students to study abroad during the 2018–19 academic year than any other baccalaureate institution in the nation, according to the Open Doors 2020 Report on International Educational Exchange.
Categories: Colleges

Northfield Police investigating 'suspicious' weekend fire downtown

Northfield News - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 9:32am
Northfield police are investigating a “suspicious” fire that reportedly originated from a port-a-potty Sunday, spread and damaged the siding of a new downtown building.
Categories: Local News

Support Sustain St. Olaf

St. Olaf College - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 9:04am
On November 16-18, 2020, we’re challenging the St. Olaf community to invest in our common future as part of our Support Sustain St. Olaf drive.
Categories: Colleges

Think Ahead

Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Mon, 11/16/2020 - 8:08am

By now the benefits of preparation should be clear: being ready is a singular stress-remover. Preparation: being ready to leave on time; being ready to pay a debt; being ready to eat your meals; being ready to lead, to teach, to learn; being ready to allow life to unfold as it will. Think even of […]

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Categories: Citizens

To the Carleton administration: be more transparent—we know what happens when institutions aren’t

Carletonian - Sun, 11/15/2020 - 9:38pm

With the decision to bring students back to campus in the middle of a pandemic comes a responsibility to keep us informed about the status of our community. We’ve seen what happens when government does a poor job of reporting data and combines inconsistent messaging with wishful thinking. We expected better from the Carleton administration.

Carleton’s established channels of communication provide only a dribble, not a stream, of information. The dashboard on the website is so delayed that it often captures the state of campus more than a week ago. Weekly emails from Dean Livingston come off as restrained, clearly aimed at projecting an image of control over the situation and letting as little slip as possible. Furthermore, the two sometimes present conflicting messages, as when the most recent campus-wide email said that there were “seven additional positive cases” detected through SHAC rapid tests—additional to the six positives mentioned earlier in the email—that are not posted on the dashboard. 

In the absence of clear communication from Carleton leadership, rumors have dominated students’ awareness of the virus’s presence on campus. When rumors take the place of information, the potential for false perceptions of the danger grows. At the end of September, there was a post in the Overheard at Carleton Facebook group, which includes over 5,000 Carleton students and alumni, accusing members of the football and volleyball teams of having a party that violated the Covenant. Students were left to investigate wrongdoing on their own, or to defend themselves against allegations that administration, days later, claimed were false. 

Students should not have to take on the responsibility of being COVID-19 vigilantes. Instead, we need transparency from the administration on what events are taking place that could impact the virus’s spread on campus. The only thing they have served us with to this point is a vague sense of fear and mistrust of our peers, an endless blame game, without knowledge of what is really happening, and when, and where. 

In addition to a lack of transparency, Carleton has failed to provide students with consistent protocols. We reported in September that the vagueness of the Community Covenant makes many of its policies effectively toothless. In one section, students agree to “strive” to stay six feet away from “any other person” except roommates or housemates—but later in the document, they are simply asked to keep their close circle “as small as possible.” The onus is on students to decide how to interpret that, and RAs are left as the primary enforcers of these policies. The Covenant’s warnings to “avoid travel when possible” and “limit off-campus excursions” similarly lack the clarity needed to be enforceable—as evidenced by recent news of a batch of cases “believed to be contracted through off-campus exposure.”

That news was delivered in an email announcing that Carleton had increased its COVID-19 action level to “Level 3: High” as case rates skyrocket in the surrounding community. Carleton leadership, however, declined to institute major steps prescribed under its own Level 3 action plan, including moving classes and programs online and instructing students to “shelter-in-place” in campus housing. The justification was that Carleton has “not experienced transmission through program and classroom settings.” 

But how can the college be so certain of this—certain enough to disregard its own Level 3 guidelines? Indeed, why design these response scenarios at all if the college does not follow them when the time comes? Administrators assure us that classroom transmission is “not likely” since distancing and disinfecting protocols are in place. We can’t help but remember their naive shock when, earlier this term, two cases at LDC and Sayles sent a total of 19 close contacts from the work environment into quarantine. With distancing rules in place, close contacts within Dining Services were not supposed to exist. 

But there is a difference between intentions and reality, and that is exactly why the Level 3 guidelines prescribe an abundance of caution. With only a week left of classes and students soon set to disperse to locations worldwide, the very least Carleton could do is move in-person classes online if they do not include hands-on work. Instead, in contradiction with the college’s own Level 3 plan, Wednesday’s email felt like it was practically encouraging faculty to continue their in-person offerings. It is hardly a consolation that end-of-term COVID tests, which must be returned by mail, are not expected to arrive on campus until the last day of classes—leaving students wondering if they will even receive their results before traveling home.

We have no doubt that college administrators are trying their best to deal with this pandemic as safely, equitably, and carefully as possible. We can only imagine how difficult managing this pandemic on campus must be, and it is unfortunate that college administrators now have a job description similar to that of Anthony Fauci. COVID-19 transmission on campus has been quite low until recently and the administration deserves credit for this. But going into Winter Term, we urge the college to be more forthcoming with information and more consistent in its protocols. The more information and guidance that Carls have, the better decisions we can make. Just receiving the headlines leaves much to be desired, especially when there is so much value in the details. 

There is increasing evidence that COVID-19, even among young people, can impart long-lasting damage to one’s physical health and cognitive function. As we finish Fall Term on a fearful note, we know now, more than before, that young people are not being spared by this virus. So to the Carleton administration: please tell us what’s really happening—regardless of how it makes the school look.

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Categories: Colleges

Archer House fundraiser will support impacted tenants, employees

Northfield News - Sun, 11/15/2020 - 3:30pm
As fire crews continued to battle a devastating fire at Archer House Friday morning, community members and others with personal connections with the historic building started donating to support the tenants financially devastated from the blaze.
Categories: Local News

This Space

Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Sun, 11/15/2020 - 9:12am

To journal is to make space for thinking. Give yourself permission not to produce or curate. You do well with modest expectations. A journal is a tool, not a product. It’s what it does for you — not what you make of it. Worry not about the state of your journal. Focus on the state […]

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Categories: Citizens

Campus COVID-19 action level increased to “Level 3: High”

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 3:06pm

On Wednesday, November 11, Carleton’s COVID-19 Core Team sent an email to students, faculty and staff announcing that the college’s virus action level had been increased from “Level 2: Medium” to “Level 3: High.”

A key factor in the decision was the “significant” rise in cases in Rice County, according to the email. Preliminary county data now suggests a 14-day case rate of 77.4 cases per 10,000 residents, up from 40.3 cases for the October 18-31 period, according to the email and the county’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Testing conducted between November 1 and 7 found six positive cases on campus, while rapid tests conducted at Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) between November 7 and 11 returned seven additional positives, the email said. In contrast, the three previous weeks each saw only one confirmed positive, according to Carleton’s COVID-19 dashboard.

The seven positives from the SHAC rapid tests are not currently listed on Carleton’s dashboard. SHAC offers the Abbott ID Now test, according to a September 3 message from Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston. These tests return results in 15 minutes, but are less reliable than the PCR tests that Carleton uses to conduct 300 surveillance tests each week.

Under the Action Level 3 plan listed on Carleton’s dashboard, all classes and programs would be moved online and students instructed to shelter in place. Those changes will not be implemented at this time, the Core Team wrote in the email, “because we have not experienced transmission through program and classroom settings.”  

“Recently identified cases within our campus community were believed to be contracted through off-campus exposure,” the Core Team wrote.

“Because the classroom, studio, and laboratory settings are currently operating with six-foot or greater physical distancing and other recommended public health protocols, they are not likely contributors to disease transmission,” the email continued. Faculty may still choose to transition in-person activities online, they wrote.

About 60% of courses are entirely online this term. Only 10% are entirely in-person, with the remaining 30% consisting of both online and in-person activities.

The college did announce several new steps in light of the heightened action level. Students were told that they may not leave campus except to buy necessities, attend medical appointments and go to work, while Northfield Option students were told to limit travel to and from campus.

Students are now “strongly encouraged” to get tested before returning home, the email said. The college has ordered self-administered saliva tests for all students. Livingston had previously said in a November 5 update that Carleton would not provide testing prior to departure. At that time, she wrote that widespread testing was not warranted due to low rates of community transmission.

According to the Core Team, the tests are expected to arrive by Wednesday, November 18—the last day of classes. They are free to students and must be returned by mail. It is unclear how soon students could receive their results. The last day of finals is Monday, November 23, but students frequently make plans to travel home sooner based on their own finals schedules.

In her November 5 update, before the saliva tests were announced, Livingston wrote that any student testing positive would need to isolate on campus before traveling to avoid exposing others in transit. The Core Team stated that more information on the saliva tests is forthcoming.

On November 12, the Star Tribune reported that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is asking all Minnesotans ages 18-35 to get tested for COVID-19. Health officials believe this group is disproportionately spreading the virus, the article reports. An MDH commissioner interviewed in that piece focused specifically on students returning home from college.

Carleton has experienced delays in receiving surveillance tests results from the Mayo Clinic, according to the email. Results are supposed to be returned within 48 hours, but that window has lengthened as Minnesota’s testing burden increases. The college is moving to conduct additional targeted testing in addition to its weekly surveillance testing.

Apart from the new testing initiative, the Core Team email announced that varsity, club and intramural practices would be suspended on Friday, November 13 through the end of the term. Group 2 employees, many of whom have had a hybrid of in-person and remote work this term, are being asked to work from home if possible.

Minnesota has experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The state is currently reporting the eighth-highest case rate in the nation, according to data from the CDC.

This is an updated version of the article originally published in our Friday, November 13 print edition.

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Categories: Colleges

After Biden’s win, political divides persist on campus

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 1:38pm

After five days of anxiously waiting for definitive results of the presidential election, when the news finally broke on Saturday, November 7 that former Vice President Joe Biden had won, the majority of Carleton students were all too happy to see the start of a new era. 

“I was on a walk with my A&I group and my phone wasn’t getting any signal, but some others’ were and they all heard at the same time. We all cheered. It was exciting,” said Julia Nicholson ’24. Kennadi Hairston ’22 said that she cried out of sheer relief when she heard the news. Though campus was quiet, the mood was light as Carleton students, an overwhelmingly left-leaning group, rejoiced at the promise of a Democrat in the White House.  

“I was actually surprised that people at Carleton weren’t being more celebratory, just compared to what was going on everywhere else,” said Allie Fridkin ’23. “My parents were sending me videos from Atlanta. Everyone was going crazy.”

Celebrations on campus were subdued, and the prevailing sentiment of the day seemed to be relief followed by tempered optimism rather than joy. Even among Democrats at Carleton, Biden gained a small minority of the vote during the primary, and few students expressed genuine enthusiasm for a Biden presidency. Fridkin, who did not support Biden in the primary but ultimately voted for him in the November election, said, “I’m not incredibly excited. I’m just more relieved that it’s not another Trump presidency, I guess.” 

For Hairston, the choice not to celebrate was intentional because electing Biden “is just one piece of the puzzle. I was happy that he won and super thrilled that we are going to fight for more things and better things, but I was like, ‘there’s a long way to go still.’” She also warned against growing complacent after a small victory. “We have to keep donating to bail funds, and keep signing petitions, and keep having conversations with our peers, because there were still [more than] 70 million people who voted for Donald Trump,” she said. 

Among those millions were several Carleton students who were not celebrating a victory on Saturday. James Craig ’21, who voted for President Trump, said that while “most of his [Biden’s] policies are very wrong,” the thought of a Biden presidency doesn’t upset him too much. “It’s the politicians’ job to convince us that this is the end of civilization if you don’t vote for them, but I don’t really buy into that,” he said. “I found out that Biden was probably going to win and was like, ‘Okay, cool. Whatever. Go back to work.’ It’s subpar, it’s not ideal. I think there are some unfortunate things that could happen, but I don’t see it as an existential threat to my life, and I’m confident that in 2024 the Republicans can take back the presidency and flip the House and Senate, so I don’t have a huge emotional reaction for it.”

Though Biden paints a picture of healing and unity during his time in office, claiming to be a “President for all Americans,” the Trump years left bitter political divides at Carleton that may not go away with a new president. Hairston said that she would find it difficult to be friends with a Trump supporter, even after Trump is out of office, because of the moral choice that a vote for Trump represents for her and the effects that choice can have on her life as a woman of color. “I don’t think I can be friends with someone who would rather see me hang from a tree than thrive and live,” she said. “KKK people have walked up to my dad, who’s a Black man, and I’ve been there for that. That’s traumatizing, and I don’t want to have other little girls go through that. So why would I ever support or be friends with someone who maybe doesn’t condone it outright but is still in that group of Trump supporters with other people who are like that?”

Jonathan Singleton ’23 said he generally keeps his support for President Trump quiet because he fears backlash from the Carleton community. “I feel like some people, if they knew who I voted for, they would look at me  differently, so that kind of hurts in a way because they don’t know my viewpoints or anything like that. They just see that I voted for Trump. People may not look through that to see who I am as a person,” Singleton said. 

One thing the two sides do seem to have in common is a lack of confidence in Biden’s ability to enact change on a large scale. For Craig, that might be a good thing. He thinks that “if the Republicans still have the Senate, then he’ll be a fairly ineffectual leader. I’m not concerned that he’s going to overthrow the medical system or gun rights or my freedoms of speech or anything. I don’t think much is going to happen.” 

For Biden’s supporters, who expressed their hopes for such policy initiatives as rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, expanding public healthcare and bringing an end to the coronavirus pandemic, a roadblock in the Senate may bring disappointment. After perusing Biden’s campaign website, Fridkin concluded that “it was all very vague and not actually concrete action steps, so I feel like he’s probably not going to get as much done as he says he is,” though she added that she still feels “optimistic about it” at this point. 

Carls on both sides of the aisle said the best thing to come out of the decision on Saturday is the end of an unusually tense election season. For most, a Biden presidency is a tolerable result, neither devastating nor particularly inspiring. It represents a step toward the changes Democratic students want to see in the country, not the end goal. 

The post After Biden’s win, political divides persist on campus appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Carleton presidential search committee members announced

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 1:27pm

On Friday, November 6, Carleton’s Associate Vice President for External Relations Joe Hargis sent out an email requesting feedback to inform the work of the Presidential Search Committee.  The committee began meeting after all seventeen members were confirmed in late October.

The search for the next Carleton president began in August after President Steven Poskanzer announced his decision to step down in July 2021. The committee was created by the Board of Trustees shortly after the announcement. 

Student members of the committee—Lucas Demetriades ’22, Andrew Farias ’21 and Molly Zuckerman ’22—were selected in the following two months. Other members of the committee include five trustees, four faculty, two staff and three alumni.

Farias, the president of the Carleton Student Association (CSA), said he was “reached out to by committee chairs [to] bridge the connection between students and the administration [and] connect with varying groups on campus.” Farias’s goal as a committee member is to “uplift student voices” and “reach different parts” of the student body.

Farias and other student committee members are working toward greater engagement with the student body. A schoolwide email said community members can get involved by providing feedback on institutional priorities through a previously emailed survey that closes on November 19. 

The survey asks what traits and experiences people are looking for in the incoming president, what distinctive aspects of Carleton might attract someone to the presidency and what presidential responsibilities people see as most important. 

Farias hosted a Zoom meeting that was open to the entire student body on November 12, and will host “office hours over the next couple of weeks” to “listen to what people are saying.”

Farias said that the committee is “lacking in Black voices” which makes it important to “do outreach more than ever,” especially in “bring[ing] qualities and ideas” of underrepresented voices like first generation students and students of color. He plans to achieve this through discussions with “individual student organizations [involved in] cultural, environmental and political advocacy.” 

After these rounds of feedback, Farias said members of the committee will put together a “job description based on [desired] characteristics and qualities.” 

He revealed that one of the challenges in navigating this process is “balancing transparency [toward students] and privacy of applicants.” 

On Carleton’s presidential search website, co-chairs Cathy Paglia ’74 and Wally Weitz ’70 wrote that the committee has agreed to abide by the search process for Carleton’s twelfth president and “maintain strict confidentiality.” All members are not permitted to disclose information about individual applicants.

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Categories: Colleges

Sunrise Carleton marches for climate justice

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 1:23pm

On Saturday, November 7, around 80 students marched with Sunrise Carleton through campus and downtown Northfield. Participants were separated into six waves of marches that spanned nearly the entire day, advocating for—among other things—the passage of the Green New Deal.

Sunrise Carleton is a chapter of the national Sunrise movement, which was founded in 2017 to organize youth around climate justice. Specifically, members organize to make climate change a priority across America, create green jobs, combat the political influence of fossil fuel executives and “elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people,” according to the Sunrise website.

“What inspired me to join Sunrise was their intersectional approach to climate justice and willingness to work with other movements to achieve our collective goals,” said Liora Newman ’23. “What inspires me to keep working with Sunrise is that I continually see demonstrations of the collective power of the movement. Sunrise National as a whole is massive—there are hubs all over the country fighting for the same goals.”

Newman, along with Oren Lieber-Kotz ’21, is a lead on the Action Team that organized Saturday’s “March for a Just and Liveable Future.” Sunrise Carleton has two student hub coordinators—Rebecca McCartney ’21 and Maya Stovall ’23—and about 14 leads across various teams, which include Action, Community and Outreach, Communications, and Justice, Equity, and Anti-Oppression. The organization’s impressive leadership capacity was clear on Saturday, as multiple leaders guided each march, providing signs and matching t-shirts to participants. Sunrise Carleton has over 100 members of varying levels of activity.

Photo by Ben Lowry ’21

Each march made several stops to chant, sing, chalk and allow speeches by both organizers and participants alike. Because Biden’s victory was announced on Saturday morning, organizers attuned their messages to what current political changes will mean for the path ahead. “If young people sustain pressure, we can force the Biden administration to begin the decade of the Green New Deal,” said Jeremy Fleishhacker ’23 at the start of one wave of the march.

“Even though voting Joe Biden into office is a great step towards fighting the system that is destroying what we love and the planet we live on, it absolutely by no means is the end goal. He will eventually just become another obstacle to getting what this world needs,” said Adam Kamp ’24, during another speech.

During the march, participants chalked phrases about both what they voted for and what they imagine a just and livable future to look like. Responses included tribal sovereignty, reparations, housing for all, open borders, belief in science, healthcare for all—including mental health care, equality in education with inclusive and diverse curriculums, reproductive rights, intersectional feminism and solutions, representation, LGBTQ rights, celebration of Black queer lives, abolishment of prisons and ICE, labor rights and better wages, democratic norms, a circular economy, carbon-free institutions, renewable energy use and green jobs. In addition, many people wrote that they voted for love, kindness and compassion—and for their lives.

Photos by Ben Lowry ’21

Speeches also stressed the urgency of the need for climate policy and climate justice in the United States. Aashutosha Lele ’23 condemned the failure of people in power to address the “climate justice crisis that we’ve known about since literally the 1980s… which is why now we don’t have the option to say things like incremental change. If they wanted incremental change, they could have started four decades ago, but they didn’t.”

“The time for change is now, it’s not 20 years from now, it’s not 30 years from now, it’s this year, next year, this month, and today,” reiterated Ella Stack ’22. Several people at the march emphasized that the path to climate justice is a long, long road, but reflecting on the day,  Newman said, “I think we activated a lot of Carleton students to take action for climate justice. While we were marching in small groups because of COVID, we had so much energy that it didn’t matter.” Sunrise leaders encouraged students to continue to speak up and engage in activism because, as Fleishhacker said, “Electing Biden was a start, but it certainly is not enough.”

Sunrise Carleton has a full hub meeting on November 19 to welcome any new members and discuss post-election strategy.

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Categories: Colleges

Post donates 5,700 pounds of cereal to Northfield Community Action Center

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 1:00pm

This past October, Post Consumer Brands, Malt-O-Meal’s parent company, donated a whopping 5,700 pounds of cereal to the Northfield Community Action Center (CAC), a nonprofit serving Northfield residents in need. Because it was such a large amount, the cereal was initially stored at Bethel Church, and then was moved to the CAC, where it will be distributed. Carleton students and CAC volunteers assisted in the move.

Julia Braulick ’20, an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the CAC, said, “The mission of the CAC is to provide basic necessities to people in Northfield, although we now have some arms that go into Rice County as well.” This includes things like food, utilities and help with access to educational materials. 

Post has partnered with the CAC before, but this is the largest donation they have made so far. Braulick helped unload the cereal initially and said, “It was a lot.” It came on pallets in a semi-trailer, and volunteers from Carleton and the CAC helped unload it.

One of the students who volunteered was Sarah Allaben ’21, a program director of the Food Recovery Network. This Carleton program works to reduce food waste on campus and fight food insecurity, primarily in Northfield and Faribault. Allaben helped move the cereal from Bethel Church to the CAC, and said, “It was a very impressive amount of cereal. Just boxes stacked really high.” The cereal was loaded into cars and driven to the center. The move was done in two days—originally, it was supposed to be only one day, but there was so much cereal, it was decided that another day was needed.

The donation has been beneficial to the Food Shelf, the branch of the CAC that works to combat food insecurity, although they are still deciding how they will distribute all of it. So far, some of the cereal has been distributed at various pop-up distribution centers. These centers are set up in parking lots, and because of the pandemic, food is put directly into people’s cars. Allaben helped at one of these distributions, saying, “I saw the cereal that we had moved go into people’s cars. It was great to actually see that cereal put into the hands of people who needed it.”

Braulick was unsure why Post was able to donate this much cereal, but said, “It’s great that they can redirect it to be used somewhere else.” 

Jordan Gaal, a senior communications associate at Post, echoed this sentiment, saying when they have excess, “instead of sending that cereal to a landfill or having it turn out to be waste, [they] send that cereal to a community partner or a food bank because that cereal is still a good and edible product.”

Post frequently has excess cereal as a result of their sales process, Gaal said. Customers, which are primarily large stores like Walmart, place orders for certain amounts and if those orders are changed, Post ends up with the extra. Gaal emphasized that they always try to donate it, as “it’s a lot better than having it go to a landfill.”

Gaal said Post works hard to “create positive change for people and our communities. This includes product donations to organizations like the Northfield Community Action Center,” but is not limited to this organization. Besides the CAC, they support the Channel One Regional Food Bank, a food bank in Rochester; Second Harvest Heartland, a branch of Feed America located in Minnesota; Northfield Public Schools and other local groups. Gaal said Post tries to minimize the amount of miles the product travels so they are “impacting communities the most where we live and work.”

The post Post donates 5,700 pounds of cereal to Northfield Community Action Center appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Green in a global crisis: a look at the effects of the pandemic on waste production

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:54pm

For the past couple of decades, Carleton has worked to promote environmentally responsible practices throughout campus. However, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration chose to prioritize health and safety over sustainability by introducing more disposable and single-use products.

According to Alexandra Miller, Carleton’s sustainability program coordinator, in many cases, this increased waste is unavoidable when considering community safety. 

“Right now, it’s my opinion that we are all in emergency mode and have had to pivot significantly in the way we work to adapt to the new normal we are in. It will take some time to make tweaks and readjust as new information comes out about the virus. I also think that winter break will give us all a very needed break to reassess and start anew for Winter Term,” she said, adding that she is open to suggestions about improving sustainability.

The main increase in waste since the start of the pandemic has been due to higher usage of compostable to-go clamshells for food distribution. Last spring, with 300 students on campus, dining halls were going through 12,000 clamshells per week, according to Bon Appetit. With the introduction of Green2Go, this number decreased to nearly zero.

The Green2Go initiative, spearheaded last year by the Sustainability Office and Sustainability Assistant Andrew Farias ’21, has played an integral role in pandemic safety measures. Green2Go containers are available at all dining locations to give students the option to take their food out of the dining hall, decreasing the density of students eating inside. The containers are reusable and can be used up to 300 times, lowering dependency on disposable clamshells. 

While the Green2Go initiative was not directly inspired by the pandemic, the program’s timing was seemingly perfect as it provided more environmentally friendly options in a time when single-use containers would have been overused. The program will continue to help the campus decrease waste far into the future, though single-use containers are still used in quarantine and isolation houses to decrease risks of transmission.

While the Green2Go program is a significant change to dining hall routines, much of the food production and food waste minimization efforts in the dining halls is the same as it has been in previous years. Bon Appetit Sustainability Ambassador Ella Hein ’23 said, “Luckily the pandemic has not had a negative impact on food waste behind the line. We are still able to order food in bulk, cook meals in small batches and utilize stem-to-tail cooking, all in an effort to minimize waste as we always have.” 

As far as waste from increased building sanitation, Custodial Manager Patti Sabrowski said that “disinfectant wipes deployed around campus are really the one additional waste item. Otherwise all the other supplies are the same things that [the] department has always used. Additional disinfecting is not generating a notable amount of additional waste.”

With fewer students on campus due to this term’s remote option, Martha Larson, manager of Campus Energy and Sustainability, reported that the college is producing less waste on the whole. “We went from daily waste pick-ups at most waste sites to on-call pickups on an as-needed basis. We expect to see reductions in our fiscal year 2020 reporting data, which is coming out soon,” said Larson.

Looking into the future, Miller explained that she has two main projects planned. She hopes to streamline waste data collection in order to “quickly respond to changes in the waste stream, something we are only guessing at now without any sort of dashboard,” along with making waste collection more efficient by “exploring ways in which we can move or combine waste sites as well as how we can reduce waste altogether.” 

Miller also noted that the 2011 Climate Action Plan will undergo a review in either Winter or Spring Term by the Environmental Advisory Committee and take into account the challenges COVID presents to sustainability efforts.

Reflecting on the pandemic’s effect on sustainability, Miller said, “I can’t be critical of the changes that have been made. While I always hope we can do what is most sustainable all the time, there are other items to consider. Cost, time to implement, supply chain, staffing and labor, planning effort, safety, are all things that were part of this maze being navigated by the college’s core teams. We can’t be critical of each other in this time of emergency, but rather show grace and humility.”  

The Carleton administration, along with the Sustainability Office and Bon Appetit, continue to navigate the challenges of running a college during a pandemic and hope to work collaboratively to find a balance between safety and sustainability. 

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Categories: Colleges

Beloved LDC employee Frenchy retires after 29 years at Carleton

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:45pm
Frenchy Jacob pictured in the Winter 2011 edition of the Carleton Voice.
Photo: Kayla McGrady Berger ’05.

If you have ever eaten a meal at LDC, chances are good that Frenchy Jacob swiped you in. Arguably the face of LDC, Frenchy is retiring at the end of this term after twenty-nine years of working with Dining Services at Carleton College. 

Although Frenchy has been visible from the front of LDC for the past few years, that is not where he began at Carleton. “Twenty-nine years ago, I was out of a job,” Frenchy said. With plentiful food service experience, he received a job offer from Dining Services at Carleton, where he “did all different jobs; the salad bar, dishes and a grill cook.” Behind the salad bar, Frenchy began to form relationships with students, who made his work enjoyable. After some time at the salad bar, Frenchy moved locations within the kitchen.

Throughout all this time, Frenchy was a student favorite. He also quickly became known for his music. While cooking, Frenchy never failed to bring along a large speaker. He played music loud enough for all to hear, and began a suggestion list for students to add song requests. 

During his time at Carleton, Frenchy said that “there is not one experience or one event that is the best.” Instead, he appreciates his collective time at Carleton—from conversations in passing with new and different students every day, to bigger moments like the year he DJ-ed at Spring Concert. There is one thing for sure that Frenchy has made clear—his love for the students cannot be overstated. 

This year is actually Frenchy’s second retirement. “When I turned sixty-five and a half, I retired, and then the director offered me a job as a checker, because I loved the students,” French said. Since taking the job, “I loved it ever since,” he added.

Before working at Carleton, or even living in Minnesota, Frenchy lived in Germany, where he was born and raised. So this begs the question: why does everyone call him Frenchy?

At age fifteen, Frenchy moved to the United States and started high school. “I couldn’t speak any English when I moved over here,” Frenchy said. He was an avid language learner, so while he was learning English he also took introductory Latin and French at school. He stuck with these languages and, he said, “the next year I took second-year Latin and second-year French and Spanish.” From there, the path to his nickname was relatively straightforward. Simply because he was taking French, “some students in high school gave me the name Frenchy,” he said. It caught on, and soon his whole French class was using the name. Needless to say, Frenchy stuck; and he’s been going by the nickname ever since.

Checking at LDC is the ideal situation for Frenchy because it puts him right at the front of the dining hall where he has an opportunity to connect with students and experience the energy they bring into the dining hall every day. And although seeing so many students every day brings Frenchy joy, unfortunately, COVID-19 has had an effect on this job. There were few students on campus during Spring Term, and interactions are limited now. “Ever since COVID-19 started I can’t connect, get close to the students no more,” Frenchy said, “and that’s why I’m leaving soon.” 

Frenchy’s optimism and the joy he derives from his job is tangible. For years, when swiping into LDC, students have always known that they will be greeted kindly. Frenchy says that he does not have any specific plans for retirement, but he is excited to relax and have some more free time, especially once the end of the pandemic comes.

The print edition of this article incorrectly stated that there were no students on campus this past Spring Term. About 300 students remained on campus in the spring while classes moved online due to COVID-19.

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Categories: Colleges

Recruiting during COVID-19: a novel test for Carleton coaches

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:31pm

Recruiting student athletes to Carleton has been a major challenge for varsity athletic teams throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally, Carleton’s athletic programs host prospects from across the nation during the fall and winter months, when recruits have the opportunity to explore campus, attend classes and spend a night with their potential future teammates.

This year, however, due to campus health guidelines, such visits are rare, and when they do occur, coaches and players must refrain from meeting directly with recruits and their families on campus. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, recruits are allowed to visit campus, but they must avoid contact with others, and are encouraged to refrain from entering buildings. As the November 15 Early Decision 1 deadline rapidly approaches, teams are doing their best to fill roster spots with quality talent. 

With opportunities for in-person recruiting sapped, coaches have had to get crafty with how they navigate virtual recruiting and Carleton’s COVID-19 health guidelines. 

“To make up for the lack of in-person visits, we have done quite a bit via Zoom,” said Swim Coach Andy Clark, “including virtual tours hosted by current team members, virtual Q&A panels and a virtual ‘game night.’ We’re hoping these experiences can have a positive impact on our recruits in terms of how Carleton and our team would be a great fit for them, but as good as the virtual experiences can be, they don’t measure up to connecting with our recruits in person,” Clark added. 

Photos by Harper Brooks-Kahn

Similarly, the women’s soccer team has shifted its recruiting efforts to a virtual setting. “We touch base with our recruits on the phone and via zoom, as well as outdoors with masks on in downtown Northfield when possible,” added Women’s Soccer Coach Jessica Mueller, explaining how coaches are allowed to meet with recruits in downtown Northfield while maintaining social distance. From there, coaches can provide directions to recruits and their families for an outdoor walking tour of campus. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing faculty members who have stepped up and conducted calls and Zoom meetings with our recruits to speak more about the academic side of the college,”  added Mueller. “In my opinion, our faculty are a huge component of what makes Carleton special, and the experience in the classroom is everything. Still being able to showcase that to our recruits has been a game-changer for us.” 

Carleton’s exceptional professors are undoubtedly one of the college’s biggest recruiting draws. However, small discussion-based classes don’t translate as well to a virtual setting as large lectures do, which may put Carleton at a slight recruiting disadvantage when compared to larger universities that are less affected by the shift to online learning. Traditionally, one of Carleton’s main selling points to recruits is the accessibility and quality of its professors, and recruits almost always leave impressed after sitting in on a class or lecture during a recruiting visit. 

“I accepted my coaching position at Carleton because of the academic reputation for undergraduate teaching,” said Women’s Cross Country Coach Donna Ricks. “Our professors are among the best in the country, and for recruits to no longer have the opportunity to observe our professors directly in their element, to meet with them after a class, or to see the inside of our academic buildings and athletic facilities, has undoubtedly hurt our recruiting efforts. Not many students are going to attend a college sight unseen. They want to feel the vibe in person to get a sense of whether or not Carleton is the place they would like to spend their next four years.” 

Ricks relayed her frustration with the inability to connect with recruits in-person. “Families are cautious about flying out to Carleton, and our location in the Midwest makes it difficult to drive out for a weekend visit,” she mentioned. “And even when a recruit and their family decides to drive out, they can no longer spend the night with a student in the dorms, eat a meal in the cafeteria, study in the library for an evening vor make cookies with future teammates at the Dacie Moses House.” 

In spite of Ricks’ understanding of the necessity for strict health guidelines, she nevertheless expressed concern. “Of course I’m concerned for the future, not just for our team, but for education overall.”

Photos by Harper Brooks-Kahn

A common theme expressed by multiple coaches is that recruits have changed what they’re looking for in their college experiences. Unfortunately, some of these shifts in attitudes don’t fit well with an expensive residential liberal arts college like Carleton. Swim Coach Andy Clark addressed these changes:

“There are so many new things our recruits are now considering which weren’t necessarily there before the pandemic, like concerns over college costs in an economy where job security is less certain, questions of personal safety and wellness in and the prospect of remote learning are all things recruits have to deal with in this day and age.” Clark also expressed the increased desire among athletes to choose a school in close proximity to home should public health issues worsen again in the future.

Carleton has put in place some of the most stringent – and effective – COVID-19 safety measures in the country. While this is better for the health of its students and faculty (competitor schools such University of Wisconsin La Crosse are sporting up to 35% positivity rates), schools with laxer restrictions now enjoy a leg up in athletic recruiting. 

Strict restrictions mean that coaches are limited in their ability to hit the road and recruit. While the internet may boast player statistics and film of high school competition, a coach’s in-person eye for talent is an essential part of the recruiting process. Coaches need to watch competitions to understand how a certain player will fit into their team. Unfortunately, attending high school athletic events in person has proven to be a risky endeavor during the pandemic. 

“Within the MIAC, many schools conducted face-to-face campus visits all summer long, and their coaches are now out at high school meets recruiting,” said Men’s Cross Country Coach Dave Ricks. “I considered going to a high school sectional meet, but decided against it because I thought that I should play by the same rules that our student body is playing by.”

Thankfully, the NCAA has been nimble in its response to the pandemic by lifting restrictions so that coaches may effectively adopt new recruiting strategies. Prior to the pandemic, video conferencing was limited to independent meetings between a single player and coach. To accommodate recruiting efforts, the NCAA is allowing for video interaction between coaches and recruits to accommodate multiple prospects at a single time. 

“This has been a life-saver for us,” said Head Football Coach Tom Journell. “As you know, it’s hard to visit Carleton for most people during normal times. Now all of a sudden we’ve had over 750 virtual visitors since May, which has really allowed us to narrow our focus and recruit certain players earlier on in the recruiting process than in previous years.” 

With seven sought after football recruits already committing Early Decision I to Carleton, Journell and his staff are optimistic about the incoming recruiting class that is beginning to form before their own eyes. Ironically, the football program has enjoyed a lot of success this recruiting year with thanks to new opportunities made possible via Zoom. Throughout the summer and fall, coaches and players hosted weekly recruiting sessions on zoom with upwards of 20 recruits per session.

Thanks to aerial drone footage of campus attractions such as Willis Hall, Laird Stadium and Goodsell Observatory, the team has managed to put together an attractive virtual presentation to recruits, who only need to log on to their computer to feel like they are on campus and interact with current players.

“We’ve been getting an amazing turnout at our new virtual information sessions, which were not an option prior to COVID-19. It’s been really exciting to see our program connect with student athletes all over the country and the world,” said Assistant Football coach Brian Erickson. 

Overall, Carleton coaches remain relatively optimistic about recruiting prospects for future seasons. After all, Carleton competes with a relatively small group of schools for the small fraction of students smart enough to gain admission, athletic enough to compete at the Division III level and strange enough to want to come here at all. While Carleton’s appeal may not always shine as bright on Zoom, Carleton’s innovative coaches and the school’s academic reputation are strong enough to support a bright athletic future.

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