Climate Justice Collective adjusts mission to focus on intersections betweeen race, climate

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 11:54am

Previously known as Divest St. Olaf, the Climate Justice Collective (CJC) has undergone a rebranding as of 2018, led by Imani Mosher ’21 and Abby Becker ’21. Mosher and Becker, along with Anna Mulhern ’22, are now the  three leaders of the CJC.

A year after the climate strike, the CJC has reflected on the march’s profound impact within the St. Olaf community and the opportunities it has opened up going forward. The strike led to greater name recognition for the organization, and as a result, heightened support from the student body.

“It sent a huge message to the administration about what student leaders were capable of,” Mosher said. “It brought us a lot of attention we were looking for, and was bigger than we could ever have expected.”

This year, the CJC is undergoing a rebranding. The rebrand focuses on the intersections of environmental justice, racial inequality and class inequality.

“We were looking for something that had a huge emphasis on the justice aspect of the climate and environmental issues,” Mosher said.

The CJC originally focused on urging the College to divest from oil. Additionally, the CJC focuses on “larger systemic issues that are contributing to climate change, climate injustice and the money being invested for fossil fuels,” Mulhern said.

With its focus on intersectionality, the CJC has reframed its mission to be more inclusive.

“The issues are so complex,” Becker said, “but there can be no climate justice without racial justice. The people who feel the most negative impact of climate change tend to be those who are marginalized.”

The CJC wants to uplift marginalized voices doing environmental justice, as well as support the Black Lives Matter movement on campus.

“We’re ready to call white students to step up and start addressing race in the classroom and on campus. It’s what needs to happen,” Mosher said.

The CJC has been actively advocating against The Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project, as it is one permit away from breaking ground. The project not only poses potential risks of oil spills and environmental harm, but the line would cut through Indigenous land of the Anishinaabe tribe.

“It’s not just destruction of the environment,” Mulhern said. “It’s injustice towards Indigenous communities.”

Member Isaac Nelson ’21 was able to form direct action training programs in partnership with Northfield Against Line 3.

“Because Isaac went into the community and made a connection, we were able to open up access to St. Olaf students,” Becker said. “This is accomplished through bringing your own drive, as opposed to doing something that was prescribed to you.”

One of the direct action trainings is taking place on Oct. 3 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Way Park in Northfield, Minn.

The CJC has started “Fridays for Future” events during chapel hours every Friday outside of Buntrock Commons. The group plans to hold virtual lectures from professors in the Race and Ethnic Studies department to further educate the campus community on the intersection between the environment and race. The CJC holds meetings every Wednesday at 7 p.m. which are open to all students.

Categories: Colleges

Biology faculty host “Race Disparities in COVID-19 Outcomes”

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 11:51am

Faculty from the biology department led a virtual seminar entitled “Race Disparities in COVID-19 Outcomes” on Monday, Sept. 21. Six faculty members led the presentation with the acknowledgement that none of them were  virology or COVID-19 specialists. The speakers were Associate Professor of Biology Lisa Bowers, Assistant Professor of Biology and Education Emily Mohl, Professor of Biology Steve Freedberg, Assistant Professor of Biology Norman Lee, Associate Professor of Practice in Biology Diane Angell, and Professor of Biology Anne Walter.

This event was “the first of several events that the biology department has planned in order to be more present and action-oriented in anti-racist work on campus,” according to an email sent by the biology department to the student body on Sept. 9.

Bowers began the conversation by discussing the biology of COVID-19. Bowers noted that although neither the receptors in our cells nor the virus are evolving very quickly, there is still a wide variety of observed outcomes in those who contract the virus. 

Mohl then shared graphs and data showing the racial disparities in how COVID-19 has affected different populations. With data sets adjusted for how differently aged populations might be more at risk, Mohl presented data showing that among 30- to 44- year-olds in the U.S., the death rate is 10 times higher for Black populations than for white populations, and eight times higher for Latinx populations. 

Mohl made sure to note that “race is a socially constructed category” that does not line up with genetic differences between populations, which is to say that there is no genetic reason for Black and Latinx individuals to be dying at a higher rate than white individuals. 

To help expand upon this concept, Freedberg introduced the idea of “spurious relationships,” in which two variables appear to be correlated but in reality are not connected. His perceived relationship is in reality best explained by a hidden third variable. 

Freedberg explained that while deaths from drowning statistically increase when ice cream sales increase, the two are not explicitly related. Rather, they are tied together by a common variable: warm weather.

Similarly, Freedberg shared that social factors could explain the spurious relationship between race and COVID-19 statistics. Factors such as compliance to public health guidelines and mask mandates  alongside social factors like education level, trust in the healthcare system and income level can better explain why one population would have better compliance than the other, Freedberg said.

Freedberg noted that there may be a stigma within the Black community, and especially the Black male community, around wearing masks because they may increase police suspicions and racial profiling. He explained that factors like mask stigma are real social considerations that can affect marginalized populations more than others but are not inherently race-based. 

The talk continued as Lee noted that historically, there have been higher mortality rates and lower life expectancies overall for Black people. Stressors such as experiencing systemic racism, inequality of economic resources, food insecurity and environmental racism put Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) populations at a physical disadvantage when it comes to a public health crisis like COVID-19, Lee said.

To close out the presentation, Walter discussed the silver lining of this pandemic to which some experts have already pointed: increased awareness. Due to the massive effect of the pandemic, new accumulations of data have highlighted the existing issue of racism in health care, Walter said.

The faculty closed the event by taking student questions and recommitting to learning about and engaging with anti-racist work within scientific fields.

Categories: Colleges

Student Government Association leaders talk election

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 11:42am

Student Government Association (SGA) elections took place on Thursday, Sept. 24. SGA President Melie Ekunno ’21 and Vice President Imani Mosher ’21 gave insight on what voting in SGA elections will accomplish this year and how their experience this year has differed from past years.

“When you consider the moment that we are in, the way the world is right now, I think our SGA experience has been very unique,” Ekunno said. “We have students that are increasingly attentive to the world and the part they play in it. People are less reluctant to put themselves on the forefront of it, which is what running for an SGA senatorial position does.”

SGA addressed questions regarding the pandemic and racial injustice over the summer, and their involvement with these issues has only increased after the “7 Feet for 7 Shots” march and counter protest on Friday, Sept. 4.

“I think we are in a very unique moment on this campus where it is easy to not prioritize voting in an SGA election,” Mosher said. “When you’re asking for change now more than ever, you need to be engaged with what’s happening in student government. We need the votes now.”

Both Ekunno and Mosher want to ensure that their mission as members of the SGA executive team is to listen and uplift.

“The reason we were voted in is because we had identified what student concerns are,” Ekunno said. “People appreciated that we were willing to work to rectify those situations. I think that’s a very important role we have right now.”

In regards to student involvement, Mosher and Ekunno encourage students to be on the lookout for information that SGA posts on social media.

“I know it’s not always easy. We all have lives and school going on, and we are in the middle of a pandemic, but it could make all the difference,” Mosher said.

“Students staying engaged with everything SGA is doing is one of the biggest strengths SGA has,” Ekunno said. “SGA’s biggest power is the voice and faith of the students. When it is clear that this is what the students want, that is what gives us power.”

Categories: Colleges

Musician Talk – Wendy Smith

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 11:15am
Wendy Smith, the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and leader of the popular band “The Zillionaires” is Pauline’s guest this week.  

Vote local

Betsey Buckheit - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 11:14am
Northfield City Council elections might seem less than important when the world is on fire both literally (wildfires, protests) and figuratively (covid-19, presidential election, Black Lives Matter, Supreme Court, climate destruction, recession, unemployment…). Most people think of city government as the lowest level of government and presumably less important. Local races may not generate the …
Categories: Citizens

Jami Reister, Candidate for Northfield City Council

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 9:34am
Northfield City Council candidate Jami Reister discusses her background and experience.

Sheriff Troy Dunn provides safety driving tips for fall and more

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 9:24am
Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn provides safety tips when driving around farm equipment and during deer season, discusses a recent fatal accident and more.

Wellbrock a photography fixture at Northfield athletic events

Northfield News - Wed, 09/30/2020 - 6:37pm
Sometimes a simple hobby can snowball.
Categories: Local News

Corona Art

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Wed, 09/30/2020 - 5:19pm

I was surprised to see art on the walls of the small exhibit space in the art building! Turns out, it’s last year’s junior art students’ show – work they couldn’t exhibit last spring because the world melted down. Beyond its excellent name, the show includes lots of great drawings, among other wonderful stuff. If this is any indication of this cohort’s skill, their senior show in the spring should be great!

The post Corona Art appeared first on Blowing & Drifting.

Categories: Citizens

Rice County Jail, Annex scrutinized over high cost of inmate calls

Northfield News - Wed, 09/30/2020 - 5:15pm
Rice County jails are facing scrutiny after being named in a Federal Communications Commission report for charging inmates for phone calls in excess of recommended guidelines.
Categories: Local News

Cassling Innovation Awards honor faculty

St. Olaf College - Wed, 09/30/2020 - 4:14pm
Six faculty are recipients of new Cassling Faculty Innovation Awards — a special recognition made possible by Randy and Lori Cassling P ’12. The awards recognize and honor the ingenuity and dedication faculty exercised to realize online learning last spring.
Categories: Colleges

Nfld School Board sets levy; Dundas issues CUP, asking for $ to complete trail crossing of CR1 and Hwy3; Nfld PD teams with CAC for a covid Night to Unite; Rd closure for RR repair

KYMN Radio - Wed, 09/30/2020 - 12:02pm
By Teri Knight, News Director The Northfield School Board approved their preliminary levy this week at $20.4 million. Superintendent Dr. Matt Hillmann said that’s up from 20.19, representing a 2.25% increase. He explained, “the 2.25% increase is across the entire school district’s tax base. And in an interesting piece here, in the last year we’ve

Consultant: Delayed procedures could worsen patients' future health

Northfield News - Wed, 09/30/2020 - 9:45am
As concern over the medical impacts posed by COVID-19 continue, a nationally known health care consultant is sounding the alarm that the decision by many patients to delay surgeries could jeopardize public health in the years to come.
Categories: Local News

David Delong, Incumbent for Northfield City Council

KYMN Radio - Wed, 09/30/2020 - 9:22am
David Delong, who is running for re-election to the Northfield City Council, discusses his background and experience.

Ben Martig and Lisa Peterson on Riverwalk Market Fair

KYMN Radio - Wed, 09/30/2020 - 9:18am
Northfield City Administrator Ben Martig and Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Peterson discuss the one-day fall festival by the Riverwalk Market Fair that will be held on October 10 and will feature a variety of vendors.

Northfield resident enjoys fielding calls, wearing many hats as Dundas city administrator

Northfield News - Tue, 09/29/2020 - 5:45pm
When Jenelle Teppen arrived in Dundas as city administrator in 2019, she brought with her over two decades of experience in local government — much of it from right here in southern Minnesota.
Categories: Local News

Limited Seating

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Tue, 09/29/2020 - 5:15pm

This love seat in the art building is only for those who love themselves:

The post Limited Seating appeared first on Blowing & Drifting.

Categories: Citizens

Board pushes ahead with policy that would change school names

Northfield News - Tue, 09/29/2020 - 4:30pm
The Northfield School Board is moving to rename Sibley Elementary School as part of a broader policy change that would ban the naming district buildings after individuals.
Categories: Local News

Northfield celebrates Night to Unite covid style – PD teams with CAC

KYMN Radio - Tue, 09/29/2020 - 4:29pm
Northfield is celebrating Night to Unite on Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Northfield Police encourage you to donate to the Community Action Center Food Shelf instead of gathering. Your Night to Unite party host will have a box available for you to place items. If you don’t have a host in your neighborhood, you can donate

Minn. Senate District 58: Where do the candidates stand?

Northfield News - Tue, 09/29/2020 - 3:45pm
If elected, what is your top priority for the 2021 Legislature? Why are you running for office?
Categories: Local News
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