Carleton-wide trick-or-treating and office decorating contest

Carletonian - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 9:42pm

This October, Carleton will be reviving several Halloween-inspired traditions which have fallen by the wayside over the past few years. On Thursday, October 31, offices across Carleton’s campus will collaborate to host a community-wide trick-or-treating event. All students are encouraged to participate, and costumes are not required.

Trick-or-treating will commence at 9 a.m. and will last until 3 p.m. A comprehensive list of participating offices and their locations was sent to students over email on October 9.

“I was on staff at least one previous year when trick-or-treating happened,” said Allie Lyman, Academic Records Coordinator. “You could tell there were some students hopping from office to office collecting a lot of candy, while others would drop in on their way to class just because they knew candy was here and they were welcome to take a piece. We’re an office that takes in a lot of forms from students, so it was a nice change to have students drop by for candy instead of to submit a form.”

Considering the pervasiveness of stress culture at Carleton, trick-or-treating likely comes as a much-needed reminder of the importance of wholesome play.

Academic Program Coordinator and member of the trick-or-treating special events committee Erin Arnston, who graduated from Carleton last year, says she “remembered it being really fun, because you could explore offices you’d never gone to or had any reason to go to before. It seems a little weird to just walk into random offices as a student, but this is a way to invite students in and give them a reason to visit and know what staff do at Carleton.”

According to Lyman, trick-or-treating was not purposefully discontinued. “We don’t keep a tally of how many students participate, so I would guess that we just didn’t realize how popular it was across campus. We heard from some past participating offices that they missed it, so we brought it back,” she explained.

In addition to reintroducing trick-or-treating, Carleton will also be hosting a competition among staff, faculty and administrators for the best-decorated office. Award categories include spookiest, most committed, and people’s choice, noted Arnston.

Peer Leader Eve Chesivoir is currently working on decorating Henry House, the Disability Services office. “I don’t want to give away anything, but it’s going to be very fun, cute, and spooky!” said Chesivoir. “The Peer Leaders are working hard on decorations and we really hope everyone will enjoy them!”

All Carleton students are encouraged to participate in trick-or-treating, during which they can judge the quality of various offices’ decorating skills themselves.

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Categories: Colleges

Off-campus studies office introduces two new programs in Mexico, Ethiopia

Carletonian - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 9:36pm

Carleton’s Off-Campus Studies office (OCS) is introducing two new winter break programs to its menu. “Food, Forests, and Resilience: Systems of Socio-Ecological Sustainability” will take students to Oaxaca, Mexico, and “Climate Change and Human Health: From Science to Practice” will bring students to Ethiopia. Both programs promote an interdisciplinary approach to education, weaving together practical and theoretical pedagogy from the social sciences and humanities.

Carleton’s “Climate Change and Human Health” program will explore the relationship between human health and household energy choices using Ethiopia as a case study. The program will be co-led by Environmental Studies Professor Tsegaye Nega and Chemistry Professor Deborah Gross. Nega has led several off-campus studies programs in the past, many of which included time in Ethiopia. In 2008, he spearheaded the “Energy, Health, and Environment” winter break program to Ethiopia and Tanzania, which focused on conservation biology and was run again in the winter of 2013 and 2016. The new Ethiopia program will mark Gross’ first time teaching Carleton students abroad.

While Nega and Gross’ program will feature content similar to that of past Ethiopia programs, it will introduce a new focus relevant to the professors’ current work. “This program is new in that it focuses specifically on getting students to actively participate in work related to the twin themes of the program: climate change and human health,” explained Gross. “The winter break portion of the program will involve student projects related to the health impacts of using cooking methods which produce high levels of air pollution,” she noted.

Nega is currently involved in a project to manufacture and distribute sustainable clean-air cookstoves to Ethiopian households in order to combat respiratory issues which arise from cooking with dirty fuels indoors. Carleton faculty and students have both been involved in this project. “[Nega’s] independent work directly influenced ongoing stove design studies based at Carleton. The winter break 2020 program builds directly on this work and on Gross’ previous offering of ENTS 289 (Climate Change and Human Health) in the spring of 2018,” explained Gross. Students enrolled in ENTS298 also had the option to travel to Ethiopia in August 2018 to participate in a pilot program focused on the implementation of clean-burning cookstoves within the household.

Nega and Gross are overjoyed to see that OCS will be providing students with the opportunity to study in Ethiopia again. “We were so pleased with the outcomes of the ENTS 289 class in Spring 2018, including the trip for the students who we could take in the summer, that we wanted to continue doing it, and have a chance to involve more students. Applying for it to be an official OCS program seemed the natural next step. We were thrilled when it was approved!”

OCS’ creation of the “Food, Forests, and Resilience” program marks Carleton’s first off-campus study opportunity in Mexico. The program is slated to be led by Biology professor Dan Hernández and Anthropology professor Constanza Ocampo-Raeder. Like the new Ethiopia program, “Food, Forests, and Resilience” will prioritize experiential learning, using the biologically and culturally rich community of Oaxaca as a case study for investigating the processes of agriculture, sustainable forestry and ecotourism.

The addition of these programs will bolster Carleton’s winter break portfolio to a total of four, three of which are based outside the U.S. “We would like to maintain a healthy balance between these short, course-embedded experiences and our term-long options that are more culturally immersive. This means offering somewhere between two and four such programs per year,” explained OCS Director Helena Kaufman.

OCS established the shorter format of the winter break program in the 1990s following the recommendations of Biology professor Mike McKone. “We created them to give students an opportunity to try something on a short-term basis with the hope that they’ll be inspired to do something longer in the future,” Kaufman explained. Kaufman also noted that “these programs are great for students who might not have the flexibility in their schedules to take a whole term off.”

Unlike term-long programs, winter break programs are designed to be a continuation of students’ fall term course work. Upon their return to campus, students will enroll in a second related course, during which they will wrap up their research typically through a project or paper. This “sandwich” model enables professors to both augment and contextualize classroom learning within real world experience. “Pedagogically, this is a dream situation,” Kaufman stated.

As all Carleton-run study abroad programs are implemented upon professor request, most programs will draw on the academic interests and scholarly research of the professor(s) in charge. According to Kaufman, OCS receives between three and six proposals for new programs per year.

Despite professors’ demonstrated interest in leading off-campus studies programs, the OCS budget is only capable of funding three winter break programs per year. While term-long Carleton programs are covered by student tuition, winter break programs fall outside the academic calendar and therefore pose additional costs, Kaufman explained. OCS is able to cover these costs in mediation, with the exception of providing student airfare. However, a number of grants are available to students to help offset costs not covered by the OCS office.

While the application portals for the new programs have yet to open, Kaufman is confident they will draw ample student interest. “Based on how many students showed up to the first interest meeting, it looks like these programs will be quite competitive,” she noted. Most Carleton study abroad programs are able to accommodate between 12 and 16 students.

Applications for “Food, Forests, and Resilience” and “Climate Change and Human Health” are due Monday, April 6, 2020.

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Categories: Colleges

Six a capella groups perform during family weekend

Carletonian - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 9:34pm

Six a capella groups performed at Sunday’s concert in Skinner Memorial Chapel. Many of the groups thanked the families in the audience who were visiting for parents weekend.

The Carleton Singing Knights Intertwining Melodies The Knightingales

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Categories: Colleges

Economics department seeks to hire two macro professors

Carletonian - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 9:26pm

It’s not easy to get tenure at Carleton, and it’s also not easy to recruit macroeconomists to the college.

After a failed search last spring, the Economics department is looking to hire two tenure-track macroeconomics professors. The initial search failed after the two candidates who received offers both declined, deciding instead to teach at other liberal arts colleges, according to Chair of Economics Jenny Bourne. “It wasn’t that we did anything wrong, it’s just a competitive market,” Bourne said. “Hopefully we’ll be in good shape this year.”

The department had planned to look for one macroeconomist, but when former professor Ben Keefer resigned last spring, two positions needed to be filled, Bourne said. Keefer’s departure was amicable on both sides as the tenure-track macroeconomist wanted to go in a different direction, Bourne added. Keefer declined to comment for this story.

It’s not entirely uncommon for tenure-track professors to leave the tenure track. “We’ve had a few leave because their spouse got a job somewhere else, or they wanted to move somewhere warmer,” Bourne said. “Economists have a lot of options, and I think there’s a lot more movement in the economics profession than in other departments.”

Macroeconomists in particular have plenty of opportunities beyond academia, such as the Federal Reserve, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bourne said.

Carleton’s Economics Department is specifically looking for macroeconomists who specialize in international economics and financial economics, but not necessarily because these areas are not already covered. Currently, Assistant Professor of Economics Prathi Seneviratne teaches International Finance and International Trade, and Assistant Professor of Economics Yaniv Ben-Ami teaches Investment Finance and is slated to teach Corporate Finance, Bourne said. The department has ramped up its finance offerings because of student interest, she explained.
But the department could still benefit from two additional macroeconomists to teach introductory- and intermediate-level courses in addition to electives. Professors Faress Bhuiyan and Nathan Grawe have both taught Principles of Macroeconomics, one of the department’s intro-level classes, and Grawe has also taught Intermediate Macroeconomics in the past.

When asked about the department’s balance between macroeconomics and microeconomics, Bourne said, “we’re a little short on macro right now.” The department currently has two macroeconomists, Ethan Struby and Yaniv Ben-Ami. In total, the department has nine full-time faculty and two visiting professors.

“In conversations with my peers, I have never heard complaints concerning the number of macro classes being offered,” said Economics Student Departmental Advisor Katie Rose Parsons.

“That said, it makes things harder on the faculty of any department when there isn’t a proper balance among the professors,” she continued.

“While I believe the econ department is doing their best given their resources right now, I also believe that hiring two new macro profs will allow the department and its faculty to be even more effective in providing students with a rich economics experience,” Parsons said.

Parsons also noted that her “dream is for the econ department to hire a female macro professor, but this is challenging.” Echoing Bourne, Parsons explained that “Macro profs are difficult to attract because of the more lucrative opportunities they can pursue in the private sector, and because macro is already a male-heavy field.”

The search process isn’t as simple as submitting an application online. “Economists believe in markets,” Bourne said. This means that job-seekers and employers alike go to the American Economic Association’s (AEA) Annual Meetings, which tend to bring in thousands of economists from around the world, Bourne added. Carleton’s Economics department generally gets an applicant pool of around 400, from which 25 are selected for interviews at the AEA Annual Meeting. From there, the college narrows down and flies back three candidates. “Then we hopefully have an offer out and somebody accepts it,” Bourne said.
Having tenure-track and tenured professors is “still a model that works well for a place like Carleton, because there’s more longevity and more buy-in for the department and for the college,” Bourne said.

“We prefer having tenure-track because then they can be fully involved in the department and students get to know them,” Bourne added.

In the meantime, visiting professors help fill in leave replacements, teach principles courses, or teach special topics.

“Regardless of what happens with the hiring process, I am confident in the Economics department and the education they provide for Carleton students,” said Parsons.

Applications for the tenure-track vacancies are due November 27, 2019, for an anticipated start date beginning in the fall of the 2020-21 academic year.

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Categories: Colleges

Bon Appétit contract under evaluation for renewal

Carletonian - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 9:23pm

On Wednesday, October 9, randomly selected students were invited to join focus groups evaluating Bon Appétit’s food services. These focus groups are part of a larger evaluative initiative, conducted in anticipation of Bon Appétit’s contract renewal. Bon Appétit’s contract is considered for renewal every two years.

According to Jesse Cashman, Director of Auxiliary Services and Special Projects, “Nine focus groups of students, faculty and staff were scheduled. The focus groups were selected randomly with the assistance of Institutional research and the Dean of Students office.”

Along with randomly selected participants, Cashman said that “other campus groups, such as CSA representatives, were invited to participate as availability allowed.”

Bon Appétit General Manager Katie McKenna said that “The goal for focus groups was to solicit a deeper understanding of the ‘voice of the campus.’ The structure was meant to foster an environment of open communication in a neutral setting to get another form of feedback. This type of dialog can give us a deeper understanding of and insight into students’ current wants, needs, and priority points.”

Focus group attendance was incentivized with a $5 Sayles Café coupon. Despite this incentive, student turnout was lower than desired. “While we were hoping that all of the sessions would have been filled to capacity—a goal we fell a bit short of—those who participated provided a vast wealth of information,” said McKenna.

Cashman said that “Each of the nine focus groups had 5-15 participants.” Maximum focus group capacity was set at 20 participants.

Feedback received in focus groups will be used to develop an all-campus survey, scheduled for distribution from mid November to the end of December 2019. Cashman said that “Results from this survey will be collected, plotted, analyzed, and used to create an Action Plan” for improved service.

According to McKenna, Bon Appétit regularly solicits feedback for improvement. “We have discussions with any number of department representatives on a quarterly, monthly, sometimes even weekly basis to make sure that what we’re doing continues to serve the ever-changing wants and needs of Carleton’s very diverse population,” said McKenna. Bon Appétit also “receives feedback from students, faculty, and staff via our comment card areas in the cafés, our website, the dining committees, and directly from face-to-face interactions between our staff and guests during our ‘office hours’ or just on the floor of the café,” and incorporates feedback accordingly.

“While some of our changes, like adding Halal meats, peanut-free stations, and digital signage are immediately noticeable to the population we serve, many other changes are less visible,” continued McKenna. “As mentioned before, we are constantly working to evolve our program to be more efficient, effective and to better meet the needs of the Carleton community.”

Bon Appétit regularly collaborates with Swipe Out Hunger, a nationwide, not-for-profit organization that partners with Carleton to help end food insecurity on campus. Andrew Farias ’21, a Program Director for the Swipe Out Hunger initiative on campus, said that “we are satisfied with the communication that occurs between Swipe Out Hunger and Bon Appétit. We regularly reach out to Bon Appetit staff to plan the dates that Swipe Out Hunger will occur and publicize the event in the dining halls. Most recently, we were happy to coordinate for students to donate any one meal seventh week rather than previously only being able to donate their seventh Friday lunch meal swipe.”

“However, one thing that we would like to see improved is the portion of each meal swipe that is donated by students,” continued Farias. “As of right now, only $2.20 of each meal swipe is donated when students sign-up to Swipe Out Hunger, which is a fraction of what a meal swipe is. I see this contract renewal as an opportunity for Bon Appétit to reaffirm their support of students experiencing food insecurity at Carleton by increasing the amount of each meal swipe that is donated or even better, allowing for students to donate multiple meal swipes each term.”

Naseem Dillman-Hasso ’20 agreed with Farias. “Generally speaking, I am satisfied with Bon Appétit’s service,” Dillman-Hasso said.

“I appreciate how much work they put into trying to source things locally when possible, reduce food waste, and make sure that everybody from most dietary restrictions and preferences has at least something they can eat for any meal at a dining hall or cafe.”

“That being said,” continued Dillman-Hasso, “there are a lot of frustrating things that seem pretty easy to fix. I have noticed frequently over this term that often allergens are mislabeled.

“For instance, there was recently a dish that had chicken in it at LDC that was called ‘vegan.’ While this was a pretty easy fix, and was adjusted within a few minutes, it seems like a mistake that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. And even if that one was caught, I wonder how many things have been mislabeled that aren’t obvious, and because of that, someone eats something that they are either allergic to, or are morally, culturally, or religiously opposed to eating.”

“I acknowledge how hard it is for a food service company to try to appease thousands of people at once, but some things are more unacceptable,” continued Dillman-Hasso.

Dillman-Hasso also discussed consequences of a more recent Bon Appétit initiative: labelling food with calorie counts in Sayles and the Weitz Cafe.

“Having calorie counts in Sayles and the Weitz Café seems rather counterproductive,” Dillman-Hasso said. “Calorie intakes differ for everyone, and are dependent on so many different things. Perpetuating the idea that a 2,000 daily calorie diet is ‘right’ or ‘healthy’ is flat-out wrong, and also can act as a trigger for individuals who struggle with eating-related anxieties.”

When asked about the inclusion of calorie counts in these eating venues, McKenna said that “Federal legislation now requires that items served in the same way more than 60 days in a year by a company our size must carry nutrition labeling. We have found that many of our guests welcome this information.”

“Our goal is always to grow and evolve to better meet the changing needs of the student body and overall campus population,” said McKenna. “Should the contract be renewed, which is our expectation, there may be some changes to our service model as a result of the information we have gathered during this process,” McKenna continued. “But, as always, we will make any adjustments in careful consideration of their effect on our staff, the student body, and the overall campus population.”

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Categories: Colleges

We need to talk about Synchrony II: Viewpoint

Carletonian - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 9:21pm

When I texted a friend from home a video of a Synchrony dance I’m in, she immediately wrote back, “WHY IS EVERYTHING SO SEXUAL?” I stumbled over explanations—that undulation on all fours like a crazed hypercaffeinated yoga teacher doing cat-and-cow pose is a time-honored traditional move known as the synchrony crawl! The dance style for my group is “I’ll bring the awkward, you bring the sexy!”—and ended on, “I guess it’s just the tradition?”

Which is only half-true. When this dance performance was first put on in 1973, it was a troupe of black students who called themselves Ebony II, performing as a part of Black History Month. And the fact that this tradition has morphed into one of the “whitest groups on campus,” as Kenneth Laster not unfairly termed it in a recent Carletonian cartoon, should give us pause.

If we want to dance in what used to be Ebony II in a way that doesn’t conform to an ugly tradition of mocking blackness and black sexuality, we need to confront how its evolution from a black cultural event to a predominantly white comedic one could be interpreted that way.

A brief, incomplete history: after the hit 1973 performance, Ebony II (whose name, according to founder Debra R. Hard-McCray ’76, “meant hard, heavy, dark, and durable”) expanded to include some black students from St. Olaf. The troupe continued to grow over the years and became more involved with the community, touring and performing for benefits and eventually hosting concerts to raise money for the Northfield ABC (A Better Chance) organization supporting at-risk youth.

It expanded in the next two decades to become what 1989 Ebony II director Ann Watanabe ’90 described as “one of the most diverse” groups on campus, open to “anyone regardless of race, gender, body build, experience, or ability,” and featuring dances ranging from tap to hula to a Ghanian welcoming dance. The emphasis, according to Watanabe, was on all-campus (and even all-community) inclusivity.

The charity aspect of the dance seems to have faded since then, but dances on occasion still dealt with serious subject matter, like intimate partner violence. It wasn’t until 2013 that an Ebony director observed that unlike previous years, “every dance was mildly sexual.”

And that has been transformed into the fun, weird, definitely-not-mildly sexual performance we’ll have this Friday. Steps have been taken to recognize this transformation—the group changed its name to Synchrony II in acknowledgement of the changes it’s undergone, and Synchrony directors now read a statement on the history of Ebony/Synchrony—but these changes in themselves don’t sufficiently confront this complicated history. We need more than recognition, we need conversation.

Why did Ebony II evolve into Synchrony II, and why has the profile of its participants shifted so dramatically? What does it mean that a celebration of Black history and culture, over generations of college students and efforts to maximize inclusivity, has morphed into a predominantly white, intentionally ludicrous, over-the-top exhibition? Can Synchrony make light of a rigid system of sexuality where only conventionally attractive, able-bodied heterosexuals are allowed to be sexual at all, without also making light of its origins as Ebony?

To be clear: I’ve loved my time in Synchrony. I made one of my best friends here dancing to Love Shack. I’ve become comfortable with my body in new ways performing moves I never thought I’d do in the middle of Sayles-Hill Campus Center. But that only happened because I felt comfortable in Synchrony’s space.

As a queer person, celebrating sexuality unseriously is liberating. As a white person, it’s easy for me to overlook the ways it could be hurtful and appropriative.

And while for me these dances represent a way to break down the typical gendering of roles in dance (instead of “the guy” or “the girl,” partners in my dance are “the Jade” or “the Ineke” according to which of the (female) choreographers we follow), I could also see how these dance moves could feel uncomfortable or exclusionary to others whose sexuality does not fit into conventional heterosexual norms, like some members of the disability community or the queer community.

Again: conversation. If we want to preserve the space of world-turned-upside-down, of weird absurd expressions of sexuality and shiny star stickers and goofy dance that Synchrony is for some of us, and to make that space inclusive to a wider population on campus, we need to think about what’s behind Synchrony II. We need to examine the dance group without taking any part of it for granted as “just tradition.” And we need to talk about it.

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Categories: Colleges

“Grace and a tender hand:” Violinist Gaelynn Lea delivers convocation talk, performs concert

Carletonian - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 9:19pm

I went to convocation with few expectations. My only previous experience with Gaelynn Lea’s work was through her NPR Tiny Desk Concert. Beyond that, I was ignorant. I took my place in the balcony and listened to her speak. Lea was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. Her convocation was largely concerned with the difficulties she had faced not from the condition itself, but from our society’s response to it.

Lea said that because of the support of her parents, the first major barrier she faced from her disease was nearly going untreated for respiratory failure. Her physician walked into the room, took barely a look at her and declared “She’s so small; there’s nothing I can do.” It was only through her parents that another doctor was consulted and recommended a course of action which saved her life. Lea attributes this as the time when she realized she would have to be an advocate for her own care.

Although she was educated at Macalester College and well-qualified, Lea experienced great difficulty in finding employment. She described how she learned years after an interview for a position with the Boys & Girls Club that once she had left the room one of the senior interviewers asked the others present if she might “scare the kids.”

On another occasion, she was brought in for four separate interviews for a position before eventually being offered the job. Possessing great humor given the circumstances, she quipped that she wondered if she was being vetted for the Presidency. Upon leaving, her replacement was hired after only a single interview.

Lea also described her difficulty in obtaining government support through the MA-EPD after her marriage. She called the county to be certified disabled and was told she didn’t qualify. When she asked what she was expected to do, being unable to afford necessary care without this assistance, the employee matter-of-factly suggested divorce. Lea said she became very angry and swore at the employee, who began to backtrack. It turned out the employee had been mistaken, and Lea was eligible. Lea reflected on how many people may have acted on such inaccurate unverified information and urged thoroughness in such important matters.

The last major barrier Lea talked about was lack of accessibility. She described the difficulty of often being unable to go many places or have access to basic facilities once there. Lea noted the importance of funding for accessibility.

An especially compelling point was when she polled the audience as to who had been educated in school on civil rights for disabled persons. A miniscule number of people raised their hands.

She briefly related the story of the 504 sit-in, a 28-day sit-in staged by disabled activists trying to ensure the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 passed unadulterated. Though this is the longest non-violent occupation of a government building in US history, she herself had only learned of it within the last several years. She also noted the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but felt businesses too often attempted one kind of accommodation, then declared things weren’t working out. She reminded us that the legislation was made to protect individuals and not businesses. It may take a while to find the correct solution, but most often there is one.

She ended her talk speaking about the concept of disability pride, acknowledging her disability as a vital part of herself. She noted some of the freedoms it has offered her from things like traditional beauty standards and expectations. She said she detests phrases like “confined to a wheelchair,” and, with more of her good-natured humor, noted: “Without my wheelchair, I’d be confined to the floor.” The final thought she asked us to remember was the concept of disability as diversity.

She took out her fiddle and played her song “Watch the World Unfold,” a hauntingly beautiful tune about confusion, doubt and identity, it begins and ends with a line that speaks volumes to Lea’s skills and sensibilities: “Pushing up, pushing up, through the dirt just like a seed, but you’re never quite a flower you feel more just like a weed.”

After hearing the song, I couldn’t wait for the concert that evening. I was not disappointed. The energy in the audience was high as we awaited the beginning. The music of another Duluth artist, Charlie Parr, played in the background. When Lea came onto the stage, the audience fell reverently silent. We waited while she situated herself amongst her equipment. She began the concert with “Watch the World Unfold,” and from that moment seemed to hold the attention of the audience completely. The panels in the Kracum Performance Hall lit up with cool tones evoking the inherent melancholy of the music, the deepening chill in the fall air, and the colors of the aurora, appropriate for a northern Minnesota artist.

The way Lea plays is nothing short of extraordinary. She uses a looping pedal to create deeply textured tracks for her to sing over in her remarkably ethereal voice. At times it sounded like an entire orchestra was with her, but still she sat alone onstage. She played a mixture of traditional fiddle tunes and original compositions, both beautiful. Her technical skill was impressive and really shone in some of the traditional songs, especially one called “Metsäkukkia” (Finnish for Forest Flowers). Before playing the song, Lea commented that she had no idea what sort of flowers the writers of the song could have had in mind. As she played, it became very apparent what she meant. The song was intense, chaotic, apocalyptic. A song that made one feel unsafe just by hearing it.

Though her renderings of traditional tunes were very striking, I believe it is in her own songs that Lea shines the most. Her voice is unlike any I’ve heard before, and her poetry is sincere, heartfelt, melancholy. When she stopped playing, she waited for the applause to die away and, after each song, sincerely thanked us.

As I continued to watch her play, I realized I don’t believe I have ever seen a musician more unified with her instrument. Lea cradles her fiddle against herself in the manner of a cello, seeming to embrace it. She uses her whole body to play, including turning her fiddle with her foot to change which string she bowed. At times, when operating her looping device or when ending a song, she would hold her fiddle upright by resting her chin on its shoulder like an old friend. Her technique was not restricted to mere bowing. She plucked accompaniment for the loops and frequently employed double stops, often with heart-wrenching effects. The intense emotion in her music was clearly discernible both in its sound and on her face.

I don’t know that I can do much justice to her music in further description, but I can say that among my favorite songs were those previously mentioned, “The Long Way Around,” “Grace and a Tender Hand,” (the first she ever wrote) and “I Wait,” and I would encourage anyone to listen to at least one. For her “last” song she played one of my favorite traditional Celtic tunes, “The Parting Glass.” We gave a standing ovation after which she noted that traditional encore procedure presented considerable logistical difficulties for her, but asked, nonetheless, if we wanted one more song. We did. She played the first song she ever performed in public, the classic anti-conformist anthem “Little Boxes.” She invited us to sing along.

After the concert, I met her in the lobby, shook her hand and thanked her for the performance noting how moved I had been, especially by “Watch the World Unfold.” She thanked Carleton for being so welcoming and expressed an eagerness to return someday.

I have said much in this article, so I would like to end with some of Lea’s own words. I believe Lea’s goal is made clear in the lyrics of her song “Grace and a Tender Hand:”

“If I could bring you peace today, my battle would be won.”

The post “Grace and a tender hand:” Violinist Gaelynn Lea delivers convocation talk, performs concert appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Turkey Trot

Northfield Rotary Club - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 7:44pm
Categories: Organizations

ArtZany: Little Shop of Horrors at NHS

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 6:21pm

Today in the ArtZany Radio studio Paula Granquist welcomes director Bob Gregory-Bjorklund and cast members from the Northfield High School production of Little Shop of Horrors. Little Shop of Horrors Northfield High School, 1400 Division Street S., Northfield, MN Fridays and Saturdays November 1, 2, 8 and 9 @ 7:30 p.m. and Sunday November 10 @

The post ArtZany: Little Shop of Horrors at NHS appeared first on KYMN Radio · Northfield, MN · AM 1080 & FM 95.1.

The Weekly List – Tom Petty’s Birthday

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 6:00pm

This week, Rich celebrates Tom Petty’s birthday by taking a deeper dive into the Petty catalog, and special guest Ray Coudret joins him to discuss an upcoming Tom Petty tribute show to benefit Rice County Habitat for Humanity.

The post The Weekly List – Tom Petty’s Birthday appeared first on KYMN Radio · Northfield, MN · AM 1080 & FM 95.1.

Sokup, Northfield business owner, to kick off campaign for Senate

Northfield News - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 5:15pm
Northfield carpenter and small business owner Davin Sokup will kick off his campaign to unseat Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, with a fundraiser and meet and greet at Imminent Brewing.
Categories: Local News

Sokup, Northfield business owner, to kick off campaign for Senate

Northfield News - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 5:15pm
Northfield carpenter and small business owner Davin Sokup will kick off his campaign to unseat Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, with a fundraiser and meet and greet at Imminent Brewing.
Categories: Local News

SGA approves budget, increases funding for Senate initiatives

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 2:00pm

The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate passed its budget for the current academic year on Oct. 8.

The budget doubles funds allocated for Senate initiatives, which include Greater Than, It’s On Us and the SGA Taskforce Against Racism (STAR), and increases student compensation, among other changes. Funding for SGA branches has largely remained the same from last year.

SGA has allotted $9,000 to Senate initiatives, with $3,000 going to each. This is up from the $4,500 alloted to Senate initiatives last year. The Senate initiatives’ budget increased to better meet their needs, said SGA President Devon Nielsen ’20.

The initiatives each target a certain issue on campus – Greater Than focuses on mental health, It’s On Us focuses on sexual assault prevention, and STAR focuses on combatting racism.

The fund for student compensation, the portion of SGA’s budget designated for paying SGA members, saw an increase of around $10,000 from last year. Student compensation increased to facilitate SGA’s shift from stipends to hourly wages for its members this year, said SGA Chief Financial Officer George Bongart ’20.

Funding for SGA branches is similar to last year, except for slight increases in funding for the Diversity Initiatives Support Committee (DISC) and the Student Organizations Committee (SOC), said SGA Vice President Ariel Mota Alves ’20.

SGA’s Buffer Fund, designated for usage in case of emergencies, received little money, as it was deemed sufficiently funded from last year’s rollovers. The Projects and Capital Fund, designated for students with project ideas to better St. Olaf, received no money because it was also deemed sufficiently funded from last year’s rollovers, Bongart said.

SGA decreased funding for Collegiate Readership, the portion of the budget designated for providing students access to newspapers, from around $5,000 to $0, as student usage of newspapers has declined significantly, Nielsen said. With the College’s new provision of an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal and continued online access to the New York Times, student access to media will not diminish, Nielsen said. 

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) received slightly less funding this year upon request, Nielsen and Mota Alves said.

Nielsen, Mota Alves and Bongart have been working on the SGA’s new budget since the spring, but only finalized the draft days before the Senate approved it. Budget decisions are based on conversations with members of different SGA entities, alongside the end-of-year surplus or deficit from the previous budget, Nielsen and Mota Alves said.

 “We make sure everybody’s input is taken into account,” Mota Alves said. “It’s a very collaborative effort.”

Reporting contributed by Teague Peterson (


Categories: Colleges

The meaning behind the cross country team’s tattoos

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 2:00pm

Every year before the start of the cross country season, alumni and current team members run together to see how the team has changed over time. It is, without a doubt, an inspiring moment for all who partake. Yet there’s something else that the naked eye cannot miss: their big, matching tattoos. The big “O,” as the Cross Country team calls it, has been a team tradition for almost 50 years. 

Starting in the 1970s, members of the team have proven their commitment by tattooing the big “O” on their right thighs. It is not uncommon for college cross country teams to have their own tattoos, David Stone ’20 said. Stone mentioned that in contrast to the other tattoos they encounter, the St. Olaf tattoo is quite unique for both its size and design. 

The location of the tattoo is something to talk about as well, as it has been placed strategically. It is located on the right thigh with the purpose of being spotted by the cameras and spectators as they are crossing the finish line. Most of the runners that sport the big “O” tattoo are either juniors or seniors. Benjamin Scott ’20 said the reason why it can mostly be seen on upperclassmen is that they have such a high level of commitment. 

It is all about commitment to the team. Meeting every day, the cross country team stands out among the rest of St. Olaf’s students. I believe we all have seen, or at least heard of the cafeteria table that day after day is occupied by the cross country team. After their practices, the team heads to the shower, gets dressed and has dinner together at the same table in the back, left part of Stav. With only two rules (you sit where you sit and no cellphones), having dinner together and seeing each other after practice strengthens the bonds of friendship and camaraderie among team members.

Not just a place for running, the cross country team represents a place where friends are found, where some learn what being part of a team means and where others live some of the greatest moments and most significant experiences of their college life. They push each other to be better day after day and work as a great support system. There’s no doubt why some of the members would make the decision to get that tattoo. They are not just teammates, they have become life-long friends with a passion to run (and matching tattoos).

Categories: Colleges

a little reminder of home

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 2:00pm
Categories: Colleges

General Education Task Force nears completion of new curriculum

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 2:00pm

By Sam Carlen and Jacob Maranda

The General Education (GE) Task Force is close to issuing a new GE curriculum, with the final draft facing a faculty vote Nov. 7.

The latest draft includes an ethics requirement, controversially excluded in earlier drafts, and a new “Writing in the Major” requirement. It may also include a revised Studies in Physical Movement (SPM) requirement, another item omitted from earlier drafts. The proposed “Active Body” requirement will be voted upon at the Nov. 7 faculty meeting, along with any other amendments.

Additionally, the draft includes “Power and Race,” “Creativity,” experiential learning and first-year seminar requirements and eliminates the current art and literature requirements.

The latest draft cuts the maximum number of courses needed for the GE curriculum from 26 to 16. This number is still too large for some faculty, however – a poll taken at an April faculty meeting showed that 35% of faculty present wanted 9-12 courses, while 32% wanted 13-16 courses.

Latest draft limits double-counting, other changes

Under the proposed curriculum, most courses can only fulfill a single GE requirement, a marked shift from the current system. Some courses will still be able to fulfill two GE requirements, namely those that also meet the “Power and Race,” “Writing Across the Curriculum,” “Ethics in Context,” or “The OLE Experience in Practice” requirements. Previous drafts didn’t allow double-counting at all, said Task Force member Ulises Jovel ’20.

The latest draft makes a number of additional changes to the working draft released in March. It clarifies the “Creativity” requirement, specifying that students engage in creative activities like studio art, film or dance, or study the creative process itself.

“We are hoping that the creativity requirement will boost interdisciplinary courses among departments,” Jovel wrote in an email.

The latest version also lowers the maximum number of courses for the foreign language requirement from four to three and adds a “Writing in the Major” component which provides students with major-specific writing instruction. It also adds experiential learning, such as lab work, to the science requirement, Jovel said.

However, a number of proposed requirements that prompted significant discussion among faculty and the Task Force were dropped in recent weeks. Chief among them is the proposed portfolio requirement, where students would collect academic work from their time at the College and label these items according to the academic outcomes they demonstrate, like “writing in context.”

The GE draft presented to the Board of Regents during their Oct. 10-11 meetings on campus included the portfolio requirement. Faculty have since voted it down.

Another proposed provision is the interdisciplinary “Grand Challenges” requirement, which would have students explore a major societal problem and work in teams to propose solutions. The Task Force thinks such a requirement ought to be piloted first and opted not to include it in their latest draft, Jovel said. However, the faculty could pass an amendment adding it to the curriculum at the Nov. 7 meeting.

The inclusion of an ethics requirement has been an ongoing point of contention throughout the revision process. One major division was between having an ethics requirement in the GE curriculum and having ethics instruction integrated into every major. Some faculty didn’t want an ethics requirement at all. Faculty voted in favor of a standalone ethics GE at an Oct. 10 meeting, Jovel wrote in an email.

Three years in the making

The most recent draft of the GE curriculum comes in the latter stages of the multi-year revision process, which began with the formation of the GE Task Force in fall 2016. The Task Force’s work represents the first major push for revising the GE curriculum in about 25 years.

The Task Force hopes to address a number of problems they identified with the current GE curriculum, including faculty disengagement and student apathy, according to a May 2018 Task Force report. It also sought to make the curriculum smaller and more flexible – St. Olaf’s current GE core is one of the largest among peer institutions, according to a May 2019 presentation to the Board of Regents.

The Task Force hosted numerous forums between students, faculty and administrators over the course of 2017-18 academic year to gauge the extent of these problems. The primary takeaways were that the current GE curriculum is “not as equitable or inclusive” as the mission of the College requires, and that the current curriculum is restrictive to many students because of its size, as outlined in the May report.

As a result of the forums and overarching considerations, the Task Force released a draft of the new GE curriculum in March 2019. The document excluded art, literature and SPM requirements and replaced the two current science requirements with one, among other changes. It also didn’t include an ethics requirement, prompting 58 faculty members to sign an open letter opposing the move.

SGA Senate offered conditional support for the draft at an April 2019 meeting. The Senate resolution stated that their endorsement is contingent upon the Task Force presenting their draft to the student body for further discussion.

At the end of the 2018-19 academic year, the Curriculum Committee created a six-person GE Summer Transition Team tasked with continuing the Task Force’s work. The group worked to clarify the First Year Experience requirements, develop a potential portfolio requirement and describe how the Task Force might integrate ethics and writing in the major into the curriculum in some form, among other tasks. The Summer Team also finalized the calendar of events for fall 2019. These included three faculty meetings, a presentation of the GE core to the Board of Regents and a final faculty vote on Nov. 7.

“I do believe that there is a disconnect between the St. Olaf that the Regents perceive and the St. Olaf that the students currently experience,” said Board of Regents Student Committee Coordinator Melie Ekunno ’21.

Board of Regents’ influence

If the curriculum is approved at the Nov. 7 meeting, it will then go to the Board of Regents for final approval.

The Board has consistently expressed their opinions on how they believe the GE curriculum should be altered throughout the revision process.

“I do believe that there is a disconnect between the St. Olaf that the Regents perceive and the St. Olaf that the students currently experience,” said Board of Regents Student Committee Coordinator Melie Ekunno ’21. “There were Regents who thought that having the FOL component was redundant, as many other schools no longer required learning a foreign language.”

While the Regents hold views that may differ from those of the student body, the group holds little sway over the actual provisions in the updated curriculum, Ekunno said.

“I feel like the people who have the biggest say are the faculty, more than the Regents or the students,” Ekunno said.

While some students have expressed concern over lobbying attempts by the Regents, Ekunno said the Regents do not have this power. Rather, the Regents focus on larger questions surrounding the College and its future.

“They are thinking about the college 10 years from now, 15 years from now – those are the kinds of things they’re thinking about,” Ekunno said. “They are thinking about big, multi-million dollar projects.”

Categories: Colleges

Denzel Curry delivers impassioned, genre-defying performance

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 2:00pm

With a leg swing stretching to the heavens and the energy of a rocket ready to take him there, Denzel Curry emerged from the side of the Pause Mane Stage and, without uttering a single word, issued a directive that no one in the crowd dared ignore. In response, a flurry of bodies moved in near-perfect unison towards the stage with their progress halted only by the barricades straining at the anchor-points. I myself felt a surge as I stood, waiting for the chance to see the rapper glide across the stage. 

While Curry’s bass-heavy, 808-colored Southern sound was delivered with the unique thrill one gets when watching a rising superstar, there was a familiar spirit of genre-defiance. The same spirit was present during the rap and rock fusion of opening act KILL US, a sophomore student band. The band includes Sean Clements ’22, Bekah Reason ’22, Thea Galetka, Mory Romo and Max Folina. Their set was loud, thumping, gritty and, though at times their presentational manner was out of sync with the sharp vision of their music (which is to be expected from performers just starting out), it did not disrupt the audience’s view of the target at which they were aiming. KILL US’ ability to walk the razor-thin highline between youthful catharsis seen in the punk rock of old and the performance-skill needed to justify being selected by MEC provides a lens through which one can understand the work of the main act.

It is nothing new to note how hip-hop pulls influence from a range of genres. Curry’s deliberate refusal to conform to the kind of sonic standard which makes any art form stale is especially the case with all variants of rock ‘n’ roll. The boundaries of that particular distinction were shattered in a major way as far back as 1986 with Aerosmith and RUN DMC’s “Walk This Way,” with the video showing the groups metaphorically tearing down the walls of arbitrary ideology separating them. The uniqueness of Curry’s contribution to the legacy of stepping across the lines of musical convention is arguably more apparent in live performance than anywhere else. I preface this remark with the acknowledgment that, while the impact of the Florida collective “Raider Klan” can hardly be solely attributed to Curry, he stands as the most prominent conglomeration of the varied facets of the influence. 

His latest release, “ZUU,” is an ode to his life as a native of Carol City, a neighborhood in Miami Gardens, Fla. with a gleaming hip-hop heritage. As Curry, covering Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade,” swiftly moved from a front roll to an immaculate jump spin hook kick, his body control and athleticism became the embodiment of bottled frustration seeking release from the present environment. Curry was as engrossing as the guitar riffs and as moving as the rolls of the drums. His decision to perform the cover was thematically considered and by no means incidental. As Curry floated on the lyrics, his every physical contortion and vocal inflection condemned the creators of the social conditions which have claimed the lives of many young people from his childhood. Among these victims of circumstance is fallen his friend, and another noted influence of rock ‘n’ roll, XXXtentacion, who he subsequently honored with a short rendition of “Look At Me.” Here was a rapper marrying his biting social commentary with barely-contained rage while reaching across the aisle and showing, through body and soul, what his song “RICKY” may have sounded like had KILL US written and performed it. 

On Saturday evening, St. Olaf was witness to an incredible artistic moment. One cannot deny that Saturday’s concert-goers are part of the many connecting the impact of one man’s experiences in the “ZUU” to the mainstream which houses, among others, the aesthetic of Billie Eillish for whom he spent the summer opening.

Categories: Colleges

“Joker” draws critical-acclaim and questions of morality

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 2:00pm

On Thursday, Oct. 4, “Joker” opened with the whole world watching and a firm R-rating. Few films generate as much pre-release attention as “Joker,” which, after a surprise Best Film win at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, launched an endless amount of online think-pieces and media outrage. One does not normally expect such a level of turmoil with the release of a comic book movie; however, it is unlike any movie based on a comic book before it. Despite the existence of a current DC cinematic universe (DCU), “Joker” is (for now) a standalone film. It is not the tamed edge of the DCU movies (and it certainly is not the bring-the-whole-family spectacle of the Marvel movies). Make no mistake: this is a dark psychological dive into the mind of a man driven to violence. It is also one of the gutsiest and most controversial blockbusters in recent memory.

As the misfortunes pile higher and higher on the frail Fleck, his sanity comes closer to snapping. The film seems like an endurance test to see how much misery this man can endure before he plunges into madness and becomes the most iconic comic book villain of all time.

“Joker” follows the impoverished and mentally ill clown-for-hire Arthur Fleck played by Joaquin Phoenix. On top of what appears to be severe depression and budding schizophrenia, Fleck suffers from some cruel form of the Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA), a neurological disorder that causes its victims to laugh uncontrollably at inappropriate times. Despite his afflictions, Fleck aspires to be a stand-up comedian. Unfortunately, the crumbling and poverty-stricken Gotham is endlessly cruel to Fleck. He is jumped, humiliated, deceived and beaten repeatedly, especially in the first act of the film. The pain inflicted upon Fleck is overwhelming; some scenes are so uncomfortable you almost have to watch them between your fingers. As the misfortunes pile higher and higher on the frail Fleck, his sanity comes closer to snapping. The film seems like an endurance test to see how much misery this man can endure before he plunges into madness and becomes the most iconic comic book villain of all time.

The oppressively dark “Joker” was co-written and directed by the “Hangover” trilogy’s Todd Phillips. Despite this being his first quote-unquote “serious” Hollywood project, Phillips demonstrates a real knack for direction, depicting Gotham as a claustrophobic and grimy nightmare. It is clear where Phillips has drawn his cinematic inspiration: the New York of Martin Scorsese comes constantly to mind as you become immersed within Phillip’s grimy Gotham. Furthermore, “Joker” is a film endlessly indebted plot-wise to Scorsese classics “Taxi Driver” and “King of Comedy”– something the casting of Robert De Niro (who played the Arthur Fleck equivalent in both Scorsese’s) in “Joker” solidifies. 

 Important as Phillips’ contributions are, the true MVP of “Joker” is Joaquin Phoenix, who is just terrific. In “Joker,” Phoenix is playing a character more akin to Walter White than Jack Napier. Arthur Fleck is a person who will become unrecognizable by the end of the movie and this transformation is tracked and navigated with great skill by Phoenix. In addition, Phoenix really nails the PBA that Fleck suffers from, having done extensive research on the condition before filming. The pain in Phoenix’s laugh and eyes as he depicts PBA is palpable and heartbreaking. With Fleck, Phoenix has accomplished what no other Joker has even attempted yet: to make the audience empathize with and even root for a murderous madman. 

Of course, this audience empathy that “Joker” invokes is the source for its controversy, with many suggesting that the film will inspire copy-cats or other forms of violence. This is especially the case given the Colorado “Dark Knight Rising” movie theater shooting. Some movie theaters have even employed additional security to guard screenings of the film. Despite the security scares, “Joker” has thrived, setting October box office records within its first weekend of release.

Despite a few narrative-related misfires (specifically, a feeble attempt to cram Bruce Wayne into the narrative), “Joker” remains a powerful experience for many and is almost certain to create a strong reaction in any audience member whether they use the word “masterpiece” or “dangerous” to describe it.

Categories: Colleges

NCAA’s stance on paying student-athletes does not hold up

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 2:00pm

According to a 2017 USA Today report, the highest-paid state employees in 39 states were college athletic coaches. In that same year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) generated over one billion dollars in revenue for schools across America, not to mention the billions more made by individual colleges’ sports programs. Still, the athletes themselves did not see a penny. 

The issue of paying student-athletes hovers around the public periphery every year, but in the past few months arguments have become increasingly substantial as new policies are debated and enacted. This past September, California passed the Fair Pay to Play act which gave athletes the right to collect income via endorsements. The policy does not force schools to pay students, it does not even provide a framework for paying them, it merely challenges the long-standing NCAA policy preventing financial compensation for student-athletes. However, despite its limited demands, the act was met with harsh opposition. 

In statements opposing Fair Pay to Play, the NCAA’s main reservations seem to stem from ideas that paying athletes would lead to future consequences like weakening the emphasis of education and anti-competitive practices within schools. Critics of the act argue that the erasure of amateurism at the college level would lead to a monopolization of high-level athletes by larger, deeper-pocketed colleges. Once enrolled, the argument continues, athletes would deprioritize their education and studies since their main incentive to go to the school is financial. 

The reality is that these issues already exist in college sports. Larger schools already offer incentives through facilities, scholarships and other privileges with which smaller schools cannot hope to compete. Yet there is no outcry about anti-competitiveness in these practices. Consider also the increasingly common “one-and-done” phenomenon in which players attend college for a year only to move on to professional leagues. Again, no one questions schools’ motivations in recruiting athletes who are most certainly not attending for academic purposes. 

That is because college sports are – get this – intrinsically competitive. No matter how many measures are taken to even the playing field, teams will still do everything in their ability to win, and this includes offering more financial incentives to athletes. NCAA member schools know this and they know that they will be forced to evolve their recruiting strategies if athlete payment policies become more lenient. The apprehension towards even small shifts in the status quo, such as the Fair Pay to Play act, does not arise from concern for student interests, but from the desire to retain as much financial control as possible.

Dalton Rains ’22 is from Ankeny, Iowa. His major is undecided.

Categories: Colleges

College rolls out new health insurance plan for international students

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 2:00pm

The College introduced a new type of health insurance plan for international students for the 2019-20 academic year. 

The new initiative will provide better health insurance options for international students and prevent them from acquiring questionably low-priced plans that would not guarantee reasonable coverage in the case of an emergency, Controller Nathan Engle said.

The previous insurance option the school provided for international students could be waived if it was replaced with another form of health insurance. In many cases, international students were able to opt out of the College policy for a plan charging as little as $50 per month, which failed to properly cover students’ insurance needs.

“This policy was implemented for the long-term in order to help solve health insurance issues that international students were facing in previous years,” Engle said.  

The current plan cannot be waived and will be directly charged to students’ tuition payments. The College will be the direct administering authority of this health insurance initiative, Engle said. 

As of this year, domestic and international students are enjoying the advantages of the same insurance policy. However, the price of the policy for international students will continue to be lower than the price for domestic students.

The new health insurance plan will be renewed annually for the entirety of the students’ tenure at St. Olaf. 

With this initiative, the College aims to provide a good health insurance option for international students, which they potentially might not be able to access on their own, Engle said.

Categories: Colleges
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