Blogosphere

Project Overview: South Suburban OMS

Northfield Construction Company - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:49am
1521 Clinton Lane: The OMS project is a new oral surgical facility built from October 2018 to July 2019. The South Suburban OMS building is complete and ready for business! This space is a beautiful 2,256 SQ ft building with three surgical rooms, one sterile room, three recovery rooms, offices, storage, staff lounge, and waiting....
Categories: Businesses

The power of the pen: My unfinished love letter to Minnesota and all Northfield has taught me

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 9:48am

Frank Sinatra believed if you could make it in New York, you could make it anywhere. Sinatra clearly never lived in Northfield, Minnesota.

My experience living in the rural midwest as a bonafide city girl has hit plenty of bumps and hurdles. However, no matter what, the one constant I keep coming back to is pen and paper. When the world feels scary and lonely and I cannot quite sort out why it feels so hard to get up in the morning, I write. When I start new relationships and am met with an overload of insecurities, I write. When I feel soul-crushingly homesick, I write. Sorting out my unintelligible emotions on paper has helped me grow and better understand myself. Needless to say, I am a strong advocate for giving writing therapy a shot and I am not the only one.

The chair of the psychology department at University of Texas, Austin, Dr. James W. Pennebaker, believes expressive writing can impact people in many positive ways. According to Pennebaker, organizing thoughts and giving meaning to trauma can potentially encourage people reach out for necessary help as well as assist in breaking negative cycles of rumination. Health psychology researcher Susan Lutgendorf, stresses the importance of using writing as a tool to grow from and overcome trauma. Journaling is not just about writing, it is about deriving meaning from your experiences. In her words, “An individual needs to find meaning in a traumatic memory as well as to feel the related emotions to reap positive benefits [of writing exercises].” Although I was no stranger to journaling, I never realized how much her words would ring true as I used writing for self-discovery in college.

On August 31, 2018, I exited Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by myself with three suitcases and $60 cash. Although I had arrived a day before first-year move-in, had no place to stay the night and knew absolutely no one in Minnesota, I was excited to explore Middle America for the first time. Having spent my whole life in a bustling neighborhood a couple blocks south of Midtown Manhattan, all I could think about was how thrilled I was to leave my metropolitan childhood behind for the quaint college town of Northfield. It was going to take some getting used to – that much I was sure of – but nothing could have prepared me for the ebb and flow of rural campus life.

My first semester was rough. There were some obvious local differences I was prepared to adapt to – scarce public transportation, limited food options and harsh winters. I very quickly realized, however, that the differences between New York City and Northfield ran deeper than just those minor adjustments. Certain accepted cultural behaviors were so foreign to me that my lack of familiarity to them made me stick out like a sore thumb.
So, I wrote about it. In my entries I described Minnesotans as masters of small talk and active listening. Ultimate frisbee was considered a sport and choir was taken extremely seriously. I could tell they were generally non-confrontational and overall surface-level friendly (not to mention the funny way they say “bag”). After drafting these caricatures of Minnesotans on paper, I was prepared to figure out where my place was in all of this. How was I going to mirror their behaviors enough to fit in, while also finding room for a little bit of home?

At the time, I had only allowed myself to marinate in my writing comfort zone. I described my cultural confusion without reaching the reflective, emotional side of writing therapy. Which is to say, I had not dug deep enough to benefit. So, every time I thought I had begun to figure out Minnesota enough to feel comfortable letting loose my obnoxiously sarcastic and direct east coast mannerisms, I would feel the rug be pulled from underneath me. My humor would not land or my word choice came off as too harsh. The reputation I was creating for myself was not kind and – unlike back home – I could not hide behind a crowd in anonymity. In my small college town, my new reputation would stick. So, in that moment, I realized I had lost control of my narrative.

Having been exhausted of any urge to write, I sifted through old entries and felt myself sink into a deep pit of loneliness. I had completely lost the urge to journal. However, as much as my hands protested, I forced myself to pick up a pen, this time embracing my melancholy. Through it, I was able to discover my subconscious wants and needs in a way that helped me better understand myself. After letting my emotions pour onto the page, for the first time in Minnesota, I felt liberated.

Although the success of expressive writing will vary from person-to-person, there is no evidence supporting any negative long term effects. Simply, a willingness to explore emotions through journaling could be incredibly advantageous for self-reflection and improvement. The British Journal of General Practice released data supporting a reduction in certain people’s anxiety, behavioral issues, blood pressure and depressive symptoms simply through writing exercises. Reasons not to try are few and far between.

Having written extensively on my experience in Minnesota, my journal bleeds with entries of me navigating around toxic friendships, suburban boys and “Minnesota nice.” I take each word I write as an opportunity to learn something new about myself. Admittedly, I often feel as though this state intentionally puts me in unpleasant situations – almost as though it is out to get me. All I can say to that is bring it on Minnesota; my pen has got a lot more ink left in it.

nizhny1@stolaf.edu
Alexia Nizhny ’22 is from New York, N.Y. Her major is English.

Categories: Colleges

Frozen Chimes

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 9:48am
Categories: Colleges

Overcoming the odds: Bryony Hawgood continues to outrun the MIAC

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:34pm

After a difficult recovery from a serious hip injury, Bryony Hawgood ’20 placed fourth (22:03.7) at the MIAC championships for the St. Olaf women’s cross country team. The team came in third as a whole.

Hawgood started out as a competitive swimmer at the age of six in Zimbabwe. When Hawgood turned 18 she transitioned to triathlon and discovered a love for running, leading her to join St. Olaf’s cross country team.
Although Hawgood’s injury is incurable without a hip replacement, her determination to run persists.

“Sophomore year running was really close to being taken away from me,” Hawgood said. “I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to run again.”
Placing fourth in the MIAC was an unexpected outcome following the scare with her hip, Hawgood said.

However, her injury has given her a new perspective and gratitude toward running. Her unorthodox training involves more cross training than running to protect her hip. Although she wishes she could run outside with her teammates during practices, she now treasures the time where she does get to run for events even more.
Hawgood attributes much of her success to her team, especially fellow runner Lisa Fisher ’20.

“I don’t know if I genuinely would still be running without her,” Hawgood said.
Hawgood described the conditions of her race at the MIAC as “extremely cold.” Hawgood also said she got out too fast at the beginning because of nerves and was second up until about 100 meters to the finish line and then was outsprinted.

Hawgood hopes to avoid these pitfalls as she advances to regionals. She will be racing a 6k at Wartburg College. Hawgood hopes the team can come together and qualify for nationals. She also hopes to qualify as an individual for nationals, which requires placing in the top 10 in the region. Hawgood placed 82nd at nationals last year and hopes to get into the top 50 this year.

brinke1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

My girls

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:33pm

“And one- two-three, one- two- three-come on people, where is that forcefulness that your mothers gave birth to you with?!”

I hear some giggles from the girls at the back. Feisty and Polo. They are the more experienced dancers on my team. They don’t take me seriously. I will not have that.

“ Is there anything funny ladies?” I shout and the whole studio falls silent. This is the fun part.
“In here we are all about movement and I don’t see those big lips of yours moving!” I hear the other dancers let out gasps. There is
tension in the room now. They all have my attention. This is when they hear me best.

“I said is there anything funny?”

Feisty and Polo look at me defiantly, trying hard not to protest. They know me well enough to decide not to.

“I didn’t think so!” I say loudly and turn to the whole group of
dancers who are looking at me like I am a monster. That is the least of my worries. “Now, in case you are not aware, we have 500 000 Maluti waiting for us. Do you hear me? For us! Because we are
winning this competition! Now laughing is not going to get that money nor is being cheeky. Lea nkutloa?!”

I see a few reluctant nods.

“I said do you hear me?”

“We hear you!” they shout in unison. I can hear it in their voices. They want it too. They want to win. That is what I like to hear.

I nod and allow the silence that follows to insist. Their eyes dart about nervously as I eye each and every one of them. These are my girls. I may not know everything about them out there. But, in here, within these walls that have witnessed us dance, I know them so well. Even better than they know themselves.

Polo dances to prove something. I have never known what that something is but I have seen that it pushes her to do the
unimaginable with her body. Feisty is unafraid. She has sharp and articulate movements almost as feisty as she is. Tsebo keeps her eyes to her feet. But she is not shy or ashamed of anything. She never looks me in the eyes when I speak but I know she listens. Her
movements are informed and well calculated like a plan to build a city. Batsamaile is a like a huge house with many unexplored rooms. I never know what she will give us because everytime she dances, you see her in a different light. Look at this one – Lebo. She is a bundle of energies; a storm when she needs to be and a breeze when she wants to be.
‘Makatleho gives me a look that none of the others do. When I show them a new choreography, she traces my every movement with her eyes, as if making a mental picture of my every muscle in action. She is a creator. Lexy is a quiet one but she dances so loud. I always have her movements resound in my mind long after she is done dancing. I swear this girl pours out herself through her body. It is something to witness. Then there is Grace. And she could not be anything but graceful. She reminds me of my mother’s tenderness when she held me and her gracefulness when she moved about
the house as if we were not there. Grace is a nurturer.

These are my eight girls. They are the forces that keep moving. They just don’t know it. Within the walls of this studio, nothing can stop them. Nothing can harm them.

Then, of course, there is me. I am just a woman who has had her voice stifled for too long. I am a voice that finally broke through and took the shape of a body. I am a dancer. That’s all these girls need to know about me. It’s a bad world out there for these girls. I will teach them to dance like their lives depend on it.

My son barges into the studio, eyes out of his sockets and his face drenched in tears.

“MAMA!” he shouts, “our house – our house – is burning!”

My girls all gasp and turn to look at me. Before I can stop it, I am on the floor.

Thud.

No strength in my bones.

All I have been doing is teaching them to dance. These walls have always witnessed me and my girls dance like nothing can harm us. In here, we are invincible. But out there. . .

I need to teach them the kind of courage that I am still looking for myself.

Categories: Colleges

Volleyball comes up short in MIAC championship

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:32pm

Last week was a rollercoaster for St. Olaf’s volleyball program. On Thursday, the team hosted third-seeded St. Benedict in a thrilling four-set win for a white-out home crowd. That victory took them to the MIAC championship against top-seeded St. Thomas, where they fell in four sets. It was a heartbreaking loss in the program’s second matchup against the Tommies this year, made less bitter only by the prospects of their admission at-large to the NCAA Tournament announced on Monday.

Throughout the season, Ole volleyball exceeded expectations in every facet of the game. A result of outstanding individual play, an impressive sense of team chemistry and intense overall preparation, their achievements did not surprise the players within the program.
“This was our underdog year,” Lauren Rewers ’20 said. “It was just about always showing up.”

Despite their trust in the program, the results of the regular season still came as a validation for the Oles.

“I don’t think our program has the respect that some other MIAC programs do … which is fine with us,” Rewers said. “All we have is this year and we’re gonna play for that.”
The team’s mentality going into the playoffs remained one of confidence and aspiration as they progressed towards harsher competition. The All-Conference roster placed four Oles on the team, more than any program except St. Thomas, which served as yet another validation of the team’s talent.

In a way, the lack of expectations going into the season was an advantage for the team. The program had a chip on its shoulder for much of the regular season and acted as a motivator throughout the season. The advantage, however, was weakened as the season progressed, especially as the talent of the competition increased. Taking the season one game at a time remained ever-important.

Because of this, preparation for post-season matches are similar to regular season.
“It’s just practice like every other day,” Rewers said. “We’re [at Skoglund] everyday from 2:30 until we leave for dinner at 6:30.”

The team works incredibly hard each day, but avoids falling into the trap of looking too far into the future. They focus on aspects of the game where they can make an impact rather than on outside factors they have no control over.

Stakes during the postseason, though, are admittedly higher. Teams that lost in the regular season return stronger and more dedicated than ever, and by nature the playoffs only admit the best teams of the regular season. Coach Emily Foster chose not to change any strategies for the postseason, though, and instead the team is sinking into the principles that led to its success throughout the fall.

In the first round of the playoffs the Oles are set to play Northwestern-St. Paul, a team they defeated in three sets during the regular season. It is likely that they would then face St. Benedict, for the third time this year, in the second round. If the program continues with the level of play seen in the regular season, their path to the final sixteen teams is realistic and, with perennial rival St. Thomas likely standing in their way, it is conceivable that they might go even farther into the tournament.

rains2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Moses’ Story

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:29pm

I wanted the train to go faster. The old man’s snot streamed down. His eyes crossed like he was itching to assassinate the tip of his nose. He ran his fingers through his hair and little
white-dandruff-flakes settled on everyone’s suits. His skin was cracked from cold and dryness. He chuckled and coughed through
mucus as he read a magazine.
He cleared his throat and his eyes left his nose. He smiled and there was no front tooth on the left. His mouth hung open for a few seconds and he hissed for a while.
“Almost there.” He summoned all his strength to shut his mouth again.
His bodyguards’ heads were bald and shiny. I felt their eyes fixed on me behind their sunglasses. I smiled at them whenever a new cloud of dandruff emerged, but they never looked at me.
The train screeched and shook and stopped. A guard picked the decrepit man up and threw him over his shoulder, and we all got off the train.
The platform was covered in snow, so the guards and I pulled our pants up to spare them. The sun greeted me every so often from behind the mountains as we walked. We descended from the platform and walked into a little brown house.

Categories: Colleges

The golden boys of the NFL

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:28pm

You know, it’s been about a month since we checked in on our favorite league of grown men in tights running into each other. The beauty of the NFL is its volatility, that it’s the only league with real parity and that every week a team has a chance to win and change his fortunes, or at least that’s what the official line is. That being said, let’s check the state of the shield before week ten, looking at the five best and brightest teams (don’t worry, you masochists out there, I’ll talk about the basement dwellers next week).

The Golden Boys of the League:
Let’s start with the teams who actually have a chance, based purely on the fact that it is infinitely more enjoyable to revel in a team’s misery than applaud their successes, and we as a football consuming public have to eat our metaphorical vegetables first. Also, please excuse my stunted analysis of each team. I could go on for hours about all of the individually, but my editors INSIST on a word limit so I must censor myself.

5. Minnesota Vikings
This team probably has the best roster in the league. A staunch defense littered with pro bowlers on all three levels. The likes of Anthony Barr, Daniel Hunter, and Eric Kendricks have proved nightmares for opposing QBs while Xavier Rhodes locks up the secondary. An explosive Vikings offense takes full advantage of its defense, with Adam Thielen, Stephon Diggs, and Dalvin Cook all having excellent years. The only thing preventing this team from being ranked higher is its QB Kirk Cousins, who has been inconsistent this season, to say the least. One Sunday he looks excellent, and then the next game he looks like a shell of his former self. The only question surrounding this team is what version of Cousins will show up, Bruce Banner or the Hulk?

4. Green Bay Packers
Once again, we have been shown that any team led by Aaron Rodgers will be able to conted, and that giving him any help at all will make it a very dangerous team indeed. Problem is, the help that we initially thought Aaron had has not materialized. No doubt the Packers defense is better than previous iterations, but it has shown a tendency to falter in big moments. The offense remains productive thanks to Aaron Jones and Devontae Adams, but a lack of depth especially at receiver could prove a big problem. The only reason really that this team is ranked so high is that Rodgers is indeed a very, very bad man.

3. New England Patriots
It is with this team that the facade of parity in the NFL begins to fall apart. This team lost a plethora of pieces over the off-season to retirement, free agency and injury. By every perceivable metric they should have declined from their Super Bowl winning form last season, but of course they got better because New England. The Patriots’ defense remains ridiculous, cemented by the McCourty Twins, Devontae Hightower, and should-have-been-superbowl-MVP Stephon Gillmore. The Patriots offense has surely regressed when compared to recent years, but is still more than competent to compete in the weak AFC, especially considering the recent acquisition of solid veteran receiver Mohammad Sanu. It is time for us as fans to accept the inevitable. This team will most likely win the Super Bowl again this year. God is dead, all hail the Bill and the GOAT.

2. San Francisco 49ers
This team is really good, I mean you can’t not be good if you’re undefeated going into week ten. With multiple first rounders on their defensive line in Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas, and staunch if past their prime veterans including future hall of famer Richard Sherman anchoring their secondary, terrifying enemy offenses are no problem. The 49ers offense has been a little more suspect. While they do have an excellent back field, anchored by Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman, and have an excellent tight-end play thanks to George Kittle, they lack a true number one receiver (yeah Emmanuel Sanders hasn’t been a number one for about five years now), which could come back to bite them. Luckily, Jimmy Garoppolo has shown an ability to carry the team even when the defense has faltered, dropping 51 on an excellent panthers defense, and outdueling the likely offensive rookie of the year Kyler Murray. Their schedule gets much more difficult the second half of the season, lets see how they hold up.

1. New Orleans Saints
The rumors of this team’s death have been greatly exaggerated. This is the same team that lost Drew Brees and proceeded to go undefeated over five weeks, something that no one outside of the organization thought they could do. With a stout defense cemented by the likes of Cam Jordan and Marshon Lattimore, moving the ball against this team is extremely difficult. And then of course there’s the offense, headlined by future hall of famer Drew Brees, running back Alvin Kamara, and wide receiver Michael Thomas. Though there are some questions with this 53 man roster, especially when it comes to receiver depth, this team is the premier powerhouse in the NFC if not the NFL. Then of course as I write this the Saints are getting blown out by the 1-7 Falcons, so what the hell do I know.

warren4@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Free expression and the real threat to our political climate

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:22pm

For social media platforms such as Facebook, getting people to read a story is more important than the story itself. Facebook claims in one of their latest policy statements that false comments by political leaders provide “valuable” topics for discussion – the company outright refuses to moderate politicians’ speech or fact-check their political ads.
The willingness of Facebook to protect political ad campaigns that spread false information reveals the superficial and capitalistic nature of social media.

Rather than clearing the air around heated political issues, Facebook creates a culture that amplifies disinformation. According to the Facebook Newsroom, 1.63 billion people in October 2019 checked their Facebook feeds daily. That is over 20 percent of the world’s population. For those who use Facebook to browse the news, the company’s refusal to delete posts from politicians with false information is devastating.

If Facebook carries so much sway over the general public, then we must hold the company responsible to present truthful information to its readers. Truth becomes a moral duty when your voice reaches billions of people.

Politicians remain unscathed after violating Facebook’s policies against misinformation and violent speech, such as with recent advertisements from the Trump campaign. Everyone must be held accountable for their actions, including the people who hold positions of power within our government. Every hateful or misinformed post on social media perpetuates the problem of fake news.

We need to be able to trust our news sources. Social media platforms such as Facebook do not advertise themselves as news organizations, yet our news feeds are filled with responses to current political happenings. In April of this year, a Stanford study on the effect of social media on mental health determined that Facebook significantly contributes to the public’s awareness of current affairs.

We need to take a stance against slander. The chief executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, uses the broad term of “free expression” to defend politicians who use underhanded advertisements on social media to boost their campaigns.

Although Facebook claims to be a champion of free speech, the company defends politicians whose ads are based on fear mongering and deception. While free expression certainly demands inclusivity, politicians should not have the power to lash out at others on social media when Facebook’s security teams would remove such postings if they were written by anyone else.

When confronted last month about his stance on intentional misinformation, Zuckerburg dodged the question by pointing his finger at creative pursuits such as satire, exaggeration, and fiction writing. While not all of the information on Facebook is strictly factual, political advertisements on Facebook spin lies to attack other political candidates. Free speech does not have room for words spoken with the intention of harming others.

We live in a world saturated with social media. The endless scroll on our phones keeps us up-to-date on current events across the world. The circulation of misinformation undermines our efforts against fake news. Trusted social media platforms should not leave their readers wondering whether or not what they read is true.

Now, Facebook serves as a politicized environment that threatens to cast credible news sources into doubt and gives special treatment to certain political parties. If social media companies want to empower their readers, maintain the integrity of their platform, then Facebook must take a stance against political leaders who spin lies across our news feeds.
The truth should not have to shout to be heard.

imdiek1@stolaf.edu
Amy Imdieke ’21 is from Northfield, Minn. Her majors are English and chemistry.

Categories: Colleges

Hinduphobia on campus has gone unacknowledged

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:19pm

Last spring, Celebrate South Asia! (CSA!) and the Wellness Center were two of the organizations that contributed to inviting a sex therapist, Sonalee Rashatwar, to St. Olaf to address issues of body image and dieting in a modern social context. Following their main presentation, they held an open question-and-answer session for students who wished to speak with them further. At this session, Rashatwar made brazen, toxic and deeply hurtful claims about Hinduism and Hindu culture, a religious minority on this campus and in this country. Their primary assertions were targeted at Holi, the Hindu festival of colors.

They have also argued, in person and online, that Hinduism as a culture is racist, colorist, misogynistic, casteist and that people who practice this reprehensible tradition are complicit in its supremacist customs. This Hinduphobia is one of their main talking points on social media and is an integral part of their brand.

There was no response. Not from CSA!, who invited them. Not from the Wellness Center, who signed off on their talk as double-wellness-swiped. Not from the Taylor Center or administration about how unfounded libel against a minority faith on campus is not in line with St. Olaf’s values.

In fact, following this event, CSA! hosted a Holi celebration that began with a discussion of the supposed “dark side” of Holi, with its purported roots in colorism, racism and sexism – a fervent endorsement of Rashatwar’s perspective that Hinduism is a backward tradition that needs to be “saved” from its awful ideologic roots.
Not only did CSA! fail to respond constructively or factually to defamation of a faith it claims to include, but it provided a platform for willfully ignorant rhetoric – exploiting the festival for its revelry while denigrating the tradition from which it derives.
From this incident, one thing is clear: as students, we have to decide how we deal with attacks on minority races, faiths and cultures on campus. And we have to be consistent in how we respond to such rhetoric.

If we decide that any attack against a particular race, religion or ethnicity is reprehensible and against the values that we espouse on campus, we need to be consistent about it. We also need to distinguish between an attack on ideology and an attack on practitioners.
If an invited speaker declares (wrongfully) that Islam is an ideology of murder or if they claimed (wrongfully) that Judaism advocates child abuse (regarding the binding of Isaac), this would be an attack on ideology.

If an invited speaker declared (wrongfully) that all Muslims are terrorists because Islam is where ISIS claims its allegiance; if they (wrongfully) claimed that Jews are all ungenerous toads because they are stereotypically wealthy; this would be an attack on individuals.
Personally, I subscribe to the idea that no speaker should be silenced because they can bring reasoned critiques to an ideology; if we think they are wrong, we can then use evidence-based arguments to refute their assertions and show them the door. That is how the marketplace of ideas works and that is frankly how the world works.
However, if a speaker slandered a minority faith and its members at a St. Olaf-sponsored event, we would justifiably exhibit our anger over their presence on this campus and we would demand that better care be taken when inviting speakers that are meant to promote social equity and welfare.

So, is it okay for a speaker to insult Hindu culture and for a student organization to provide a platform for their views? If it is not okay to bring a speaker who insults Christianity, Islam or Judaism, then the answer is no.

If we truly wish to honor the diversity of faith and culture on this campus, we need to take a long, hard look at when we choose to protest and perhaps more importantly, when we choose to remain silent.

krishn3@stolaf.edu
Neetij Krishnan ’20 is from Eden Prairie, Minn. His major is biology.

Categories: Colleges

Dear first generation students… you are not alone

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:19pm

As a first generation college student, there were a lot of difficulties I had to face and a lot more I am still learning to deal with. Figuring out how to use college resources with not a lot of guidance, getting little access to help from my parents and being first in my family to live on campus in a town away from home has posed extreme challenges. I grew up leaning on my family for help with everything but as I went into college, I had to learn that I have to do things myself and adjust with close to zero help.

College can only provide so much help towards first-generation students so I am thankful that St. Olaf has the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program that was able to help me and other first generation students by informing us on how to take advantage of resources and opportunities on campus. The Piper Center and CAAS has helped me with academic hurdles while Boe House and Boe Chapel helped me overcome mental obstacles – both are ways in which I found the support system I needed.

When I first arrived on campus as a first generation student, it felt very hard to make friends with other students on campus. Socially, I felt like an outcast. After all, I come from a unique upbringing as a person of color raised by immigrant parents in a farming community. In that sense, I felt as though no one could relate to my identity. Not to mention, as I went through the school year, I witnessed instances of racism happen on campus that frequently would go under the radar. Often times, I would be shocked how the campus refused to acknowledge racism and how rarely racism was discussed. With that piled on, talking about my identity seemed even more intimidating and the task of finding people who related to my experience seemed daunting. However, my favorite thing about this school became the relationships that I ended up finding. I managed to find people who accepted my personality and my background who were also inclusive and welcoming of others.

I overcame adversity through my strong support system. My advisor was there and continues to be there to offer me good advice and I like being guided by another person of color on campus. As for other first generation students worried about their experience at St. Olaf, I will tell you honestly that it is not easy. At the end of the day, you will feel as though you do not relate to many of the other students. However, you are here for a reason. So, the only thing you can do is to try your hardest and find people who make you feel comfortable being who you are.

yang41@stolaf.edu
Emerson Yang ’22 is from St. Paul, Minn. His major is physics.

Categories: Colleges

“Denial:” Characters, emotions compensate for muddled plot

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:17pm

Facts, to most people, are devoid of emotion. They are based on logic and information and cannot be swayed by anything beyond reason. However, in Peter Sagal’s “Denial,” directed by Ch’aska Farber ’21, facts suddenly become very emotional.

The play follows lawyer Abby Gersten, played by Meredith Enersen ’21 as she tackles a difficult case involving freedom of speech. Her client, Bernard Cooper, played by Collin Krieger ’23 is facing legal repercussions after denying the Holocaust and spreading his message to legions of followers from a wide variety of hate groups. Gersten, a Jewish woman, struggles as her client yammers on, bending every fact he hears and denying survivors’ stories to their faces. We hear from survivors, played by Kai Cook ’23 and Ben Jorenby ’20, who give us heart-wrenching testimonials of the darkest times in human history.

The emotions carried the show where the plot and budget failed it. There were points when it was very difficult to forget that the production was put on in a classroom. The overhead lights lit the entire room, including the audience, which was somewhat distracting.

The set was simple, yet effective. There were two large grey walls propped up to break the room and differentiate the stage from the audience; two desks composed the set. There were several props, including some well-drawn graphics and a dartboard, which saw several darts thrown at it throughout the course of the play. For being low-budget, the set and props offered some merits.

However, the plot was muddled. The characters and their emotions drove the story, although it was not always clear who was who and why they were there. It took time to process that the Holocaust survivors were two old men; some make-up or perhaps grey hairspray would have been a helpful clarification. The government’s lawyer, Adam Ryberg, played by Gabriel Maxwell ’22, simply appeared in scenes without much context as to who he really was. It also took quite a while to discover what exactly Cooper has done and why he needed a lawyer. Some background information from the directors at the beginning of the show would have been beneficial, as the reason the entire legal case had come to be was somewhat unclear.

Cooper’s character was simply masterful. He was smart, honest and just downright likeable from the start. However, as the play progressed, the audience became increasingly tempted to leap from their seats to strangle him. Cooper bent the truth, he twisted facts, he turned the language survivors used against them and he contorted emotions. All of the actors did a beautiful job of challenging the audience and of breaking their hearts at times and making them laugh at others.

Surprisingly, “Denial” did produce several comedic moments. The receptionist, Stephanie, played by Janae Lorick ’23 provided some comic relief while helping the lawyer work through her moral turmoils. During some of the most turbulent times of the play, when the tension was at its peak, suddenly there would be cause for the audience to break out laughing. The cast conveyed the widest range of emotions, from fear and anger to pride and humor.

The play ended in a very sudden, emotional way, much like the rest of the show. While the plot was not always clear, the play challenged our morals and our emotions.

peters70@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

MEC and Story House concert strives to “Amplify” female and non-binary voices

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:13pm

The “Amplify” concert celebrated female and non-binary voices in the Lair Friday night. The concert featured three artists, including Ingrid Streitz ’23, Bazeen – a band from St. Olaf – and the headliner K.Raydio, an artist from the Twin Cities. The event, put on as a collaboration between the Music Entertainment Committee (MEC) and The Story House aimed to provide a space for female and non-binary voices on the St. Olaf campus. The event was so popular that students were spilling out the doors of the Lair.

The first artist, Streitz, sang and played guitar to a medley of pop ballads including “Royals” by Lorde. Although none of the music she performed was original, the acoustic versions of the songs she sang were fun to listen to, especially when accompanied by Streitz’s melodious voice. Streitz seemed a little nervous, but she kept playing even through little fumbles and by the end of the set was a definite favorite as the crowd snapped and sang along with her music.

The second group, “Bazeen,” included Mason Tacke ’20 on bass, Omara Esteghal ’21 on guitar, Hesham Amin ’20 on drums and Alina Villa ’20 singing. The group played all original music, including a song they wrote “last night.” Their music was grungy, psychedelic and layered with fascinating instrumentals. The thick instrumentals were topped with relatable lyrics written by current and former members of the band and sung by Villa’s soulful voice. The lead singer added fun facts to each song – for example, the song “Heart–Shaped Hole” was inspired by a heart shaped hole in a piece of spinach they found during the tornado drill last year. Another song, “Pay For It,” the one that the band wrote the night before the concert, sang of the annoyance of school and how awful it is to go to the classes during the winter. Overall, the band performed a mostly polished set that had the audience moving to the beat.

The third and final act, K.Raydio, was the headliner of the night. The singer, songwriter and producer hails from the Twin Cities. K.Raydio is influenced by R&B but pairs her soul music with a futuristic tone. She sang most of her music with tracks, but near the end of her set performed a song a capella. The artist spoke personally about her debilitating anxiety and how performing a cappella serves as a way to battle against her anxiety. At the end of her set, K.Raydio offered free CD’s to any student who wanted one. Students lined up and the artist took a few minutes to talk to each person who loved her music, taking the time to learn their names and hand them both a CD and a few words from the artist herself.

everett2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

The Bacchae – Great Con students’ modern perspective

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:12pm

Last week, the St. Olaf Muse Project performed “The Bacchae,” an ancient Greek play written by Euripides. The play in and of itself is noteworthy: it is a fascinating tragedy based on a Greek myth about the royal family of Thebes. This performance, though, was notable for an additional reason. All of the organizers and leaders of the production – including director Thomas Bryant ’22 – are second year Great Conversation students.

In the play, the god Dionysus is the cousin of Pentheus, the King of Thebes. When the king’s mother and aunts start a rumor that Dionysus is not a god, Dionysus comes to the city-state and compels all the women to take part in a mysterious ritual in honor of the god. Dionysus then disguises himself and sends the anxious king to investigate the women’s actions dressed as a woman himself. The play ends when Pentheus is torn to pieces by his own entranced mother, who presents her own father with her son’s head.

The St. Olaf students’ production made a few changes to the traditional Greek interpretation of the play. Taylor Swift and Kesha songs were incorporated into the show; a messenger appeared in a video to report the news of the king’s death. While most of the minor characters dressed in togas, Pentheus and Dionysus wore modern clothes. The god Dionysus, notably, was played by Ariel Bodnar-Klein ’23.

Overall, the performance was entertaining and enthralling. Parts of it were unexpected: the transition from a traditional Greek chorus to “Look What You Made Me Do” is not what one expects from a Greek tragedy. However, those moments added a touch of comedy to a deeply sad and violent play without cheapening the message.

There is one aspect of the performance discussed by the director, Bryant, that bears mentioning. When Dionysus convinces Pentheus to go spy on the women of Thebes, he dresses the king in women’s clothing in order to disguise him. As Bryant points out in the play’s program, the image of a man pretending to be a woman to invade women’s privacy evokes hurtful stereotypes about transgender women. Bryant and the entire production make clear in the program and the performance that they do not want the Bacchae to be misconstrued as transphobic.

As a whole, the incorporation of modern elements worked. The directors were able to make Euripides’ work more accessible to an audience of college students without overlooking or detracting from the message of the work. The Bacchae is a difficult play to interpret – there are scholarly debates about it to this day – but the students of the St. Olaf Muse Project put together a compelling and exciting production.

klinef1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Writer Jamel Brinkley proves persistence of the short story

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:11pm

“Stories are the things that happen on the days that are different,” Jamel Brinkley, renowned short story writer and Stanford University professor, said at a Nov. 7 visiting author seminar. To a full house in Viking Theater, Brinkley read snippets of his recently-launched short story collection, “A Lucky Man.” The author’s lulling voice made the event feel like storytime with the English department and all the professors in their tweed coats and elbow patches leaned in so not to miss a word of his talk.

“A Lucky Man” is an exploration of fiction that highlights the vulnerability of the human experience. It tells nine powerful, coming-of-age stories of black men living in Brooklyn and the South Bronx. Yet the term, coming of age, does not limit itself to children and young adults, in Brinkley’s opinion.

“We’re always coming of age,” the author said. “And I think the older folks in the audience would agree with me.” The tweed coats laughed.

Brinkley read a section of “J’ouvert, 1996,” a story that narrates the nonsensical, dilly-dallying inner dialogue of a young boy in his transition to becoming a man. 17-year-old Ty is definitely coming of age, dealing with bad haircuts, bullying, his mother’s new boyfriend and the responsibility of being an older brother. Fresh off a fight with his mom, he takes his little brother on a spur-of-the-moment adventure: the J’ouvert parade. J’ouvert is a Caribbean word that means “dawn,” “daybreak” and in this case, the all-night street party in New York City.

“J’ouvert, 1996” is funny, witty and honest. Brinkley walks the fine line between poetry and stream of consciousness, occasionally inserting comments and dialogue that led audience members to laugh out loud. His prose is lyrical yet true to life. The author writes to reveal the details of day-to-day life that others may overlook. He unveils struggles with race, gender and class with an incredibly vulnerable Ty.

“J’ouvert, 1996” immerses its audience in a world that is already in motion, with characters that feel alive and events that make you wonder if they are nonfiction. Brinkley’s stories are only stories; yet, he uses real life as inspiration. The stories in “A Lucky Man” all take place in New York City, where Brinkley grew up. His poetic descriptions are colored by real experiences, such as the challenge of being an older brother like Ty and the frustrations with that added responsibility. Even his depiction of J’ouvert – the lively dancing, the explosion of paint and color and music, the “feeling of being shamelessly alive,” as quoted from the story – draws from his own attendance at the event.

But Brinkley actually advises against taking stories directly from personal events. Stories should be a piece of truth rooted in personal experience, but not an exact retelling. He finds that, as a writer, he often feels imprisoned by the facts of life. His advice to writers is to explore a place for invention as soon as possible. “Crack open space for creativity,” he said.

Assistant Professor of English Jeremy Nagamatsu sees Brinkley’s work as proof of the persistence of the short story, which has been critiqued as declining in popularity.
“The short story is not dead,” Nagamatsu said. “It is, in fact, thriving.”
There is no doubt that the author, Jamel Brinkley, brought life into an unpopular form of literature. I am even planning to read the other eight stories in “A Lucky Man.”

favaro1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

“A Rainy Day” indeed: the rationale behind Amazon’s U.S. ban of Allen’s newest film

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:05pm

In February 2019, acclaimed film director Woody Allen enjoyed success in court against Amazon Studios. Amazon, the production company of his latest movie, “A Rainy Day in New York,” had unlawfully withdrawn the film from a U.S. release and revoked the filmmaker’s right to distribute his work. Amazon Studios’ decision is largely rooted in the #MeToo movement, which gave a resurgence to the allegations of sexual assault against Allen. The director’s latest film was released in Poland in late July, is soon to open the French Deauville American Film Festival and is to be released in multiple other countries around the globe but is barred from the U.S.

Something to consider in regard to this controversy is the continual difficulty of separating two beings within one person. Artists combine in themselves two entities: the social individual and the creator. When experiencing a work of art, it is a difficult struggle to dissociate the creation from the person that produced it. The same attitude was recently expressed towards the infamous rapper XXXTentacion following his untimely death; his music was only associated with his actions as a person.

The inability to perceive an artwork separate from its creator is more than justifiable. Individuals who have endured terrifying experiences cannot be blamed for not separating a work of art from an artist who may have committed horrifying deeds. However, besides such persons, others experience no hardship in attacking such artists as Allen, while at the same time enjoying the music of John Lennon or films of Alfred Hitchcock. To reiterate, there is no fault in expressing disdain towards people accused of such terrible actions as sexual assault. However, the lack of desire to hold other people who were accused of similar crimes equally accountable is hypocritical.

Let us analyze the ethical grounds that the distributors, Amazon Studios, stand upon. Critiquing creations of an artist, who happens to be a questionable person, stands alone as a right reserved by any individual willing to delve into such issues. However, the right to allow the public to make the decision to hate or to love a work of art is bestowed upon such giants as the aforementioned production company.

It becomes an ethical question when a company that has sponsored a certain good, reneges on the contract made with the producers of the good. Unfortunately, the moral ground of large businesses, such as Amazon, is not as righteous as they would have the viewers and consumers believe. The decision-making process of such companies revolves around nothing except the hunger for wealth. A prominent example of that was the Pepsi commercial that starred Kendall Jenner and took place at a protest. This ad caused controversy, because it was clearly monetizing people’s struggles. Amazon operates similarly; it is more than obvious that a company that had previously faced ethical issues is not supporting the victims of sexual assault or other mistreatment. It is merely rushing to close a project, which with current circumstances will not be financially beneficial for Amazon.

In reality, disdain towards artists, who are questionable individuals, for merely that reason is something to have a discussion about. However, the issue with Allen is beyond that, for it does not allow the public to even make that decision. It is made for the people, by the distributors. In a contest between greed and morals, we all know which one prevails.

smirno1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

African and Caribbean Night performances full of energy, passion

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:03pm

Brilliantly colorful, powerful and empowered, African and Caribbean Night brought light, hope and power to a chilly Saturday night.

Held by Karibu, a student organization created to strengthen the African and Caribbean community on campus, the night was full of song, dance, spoken word and celebration of culture. The energy was infectious as the crowd cheered on their fellow students and friends. Personally, I nearly lost my voice, and my face hurt from smiling so much.
There is something about watching people putting their all into a song, a dance, a poem that is so beautiful. Watching people celebrate their cultural differences and be so passionate about something they love so much is inspiring.

The community aspect was clear as students from St. Thomas, Macalester, Carleton and St. Kate’s came to watch and cheer on the performers.

The Carleton College African Caribbean Association joined the show and performed a dance that was lively and created a community between the neighboring schools
The night started off strong with a performance with the St. Olaf Gospel Choir as well as an introduction to a skit that tied together each act. The skit was as engaging and entertaining as each performance. Focusing on a royal family and succession, it brought humor and emotion, engaging the audience as performers prepared for the next act.
The bacchanal dance was one of my personal favorites. Bursting with energy, each dancer brought their own flare and came together to perform a dance worth cheering for. It was one of the most memorable performances of the night.

The poetry throughout the program was beautiful and even when the poems were in a different language, the entire venue felt the emotion. Mary Maker ’23 delivered an oral narrative that was so powerful it gave me chills. The crowd hung onto every word of every song.

Nakunda Mshana ’22, Melie Ekunno ’21 and Lerato Mensah-Aborampah ’22 performed “Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo, a song about hope for the future. Their voices blended together and the crowd was in awe of the lyrics and the voices that sang them.

The night ended with a fashion show. Pairs of students strutted down the aisle, dancing and celebrating their very successful night. The crowd hollered and warmth and joy filled the Pause. Full of energy and passion, the night created a celebratory and vibrant place unlike anything else on campus.

bermel1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Heart Beat

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:00pm

I know it is only early November, but because my schedule operates wholly around the next break for school, I am, of course, already thinking of Thanksgiving. What a wonderful time! Can you name a more American holiday? A gauzy guise of gratitude wrapped around a history of colonization and contemporary commercialism. I do love America.

“Heart beat” is all about relationships. And some of the biggest relationships in our life aren’t romantic but familial. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to run into those family members we normally do not associate with. That’s right. I’m talking about The Racist Uncle (Don’t let the male-implying “uncle” confuse you, The Racist Uncle can be anyone).

So what do you do with these difficult family members? Family members who might even negate your existence, like The Racist Uncle who is a giant homophobe, or The Racist Uncle who thinks all atheists are going to hell, or The Racist Uncle who is literally a racist, Heart beat is coming through to write you a brief survival guide (Note: This is mostly for entertainment purposes. If you need further help with The Racist Uncle, I recommend you seek help from a professional at Boe House, a good friend or a trusted mentor).

The first thing you can do about The Racist Uncle is spend some time reflecting on your past interactions and how you want to act during future Thanksgivings. It sucks, but at the end of the day, you can’t really control them – you can only control your reaction to them. So how are you going to react? Do you want to get into an argument or discussion? Or would you rather avoid it? What started your poor interactions in the past? Can you avoid the situations that instigated them?

Use this time to set some healthy boundaries for yourself. Maybe decide you are not going to talk about politics or you are going to pick your battles. Because yes, Thanksgiving is a great time to start important conversations. You could try to talk to Grams about why Black Lives Matter is an important movement. If you have the energy for it, that could be really good! But you need to place yourself first. Sometimes it’s better to take care of your own needs and well-being before setting out to change the world. Chances are, you won’t change that person’s mind over one dinner, and you shouldn’t put the pressure of trying to change them on yourself. As the incredible Audre Lorde once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Choose yourself over fighting an ideological battle across a stuffing-filled table.

The next thing you can do is assemble your allies. Talk to the sibling, or partner, or cousin or parent who is going to have your back. Tell them how you’re feeling about The Racist Uncle. Maybe set up a signal for them to step in and provide an escape route if you are getting overwhelmed. If nothing else, this gives you someone to exchange bewildered glances with across the table or gossip with later on in the evening. If this person doesn’t exist at your Thanksgiving dinner, have a friend on standby to text later.

Of course, we all know that sometimes, The Racist Uncle is not just one person and texting a friend is not always enough when it is your whole family – if Thanksgiving is that bad, don’t go home. Stay on campus and take advantage of the cool opportunity of some professors opening their homes to students on the holiday, or head home with your roommate instead. If nothing else, it provides more data to inform your life-long quest for the best sweet potato recipe.

Finally, remember the literal meaning of Thanksgiving. Thanks, giving. Giving thanks. Take some time to be grateful for the amazing people and communities in your life that are not The Racist Uncle. Those relationships are our fuel and our fire, keeping us sane and moving every day. So take a moment to thank them and be grateful. You can survive the holidays!

hawtho1@stolaf.edu

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

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf’s efforts to increase retention

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 9:57pm

St. Olaf has spearheaded several efforts to retain and enroll more students.
While the College maintains high retention compared to similar institutions, the percentage of retained students has fallen in recent years, as the Messenger reported in March 2019. Due to this recent drop, the College developed a Retention Committee, comprised of twelve faculty and staff members, to explore what has been done and what needs to be done to increase student retention, said Vice President for Student Life Hassel Morrison.

The current Retention Committee began as a task force in academic year 2017-18 and does not utilize a working budget in its efforts. Rather, the Committee is in place to develop specific goals for retention, assess current programs across campus and establish pilot programs for working to retain students, Morrison said.

As an institution, St. Olaf maintains a goal of reaching 95 percent first-to-second year student retention, which sits 5 percent above the 90 percent mark observed in 2018 by the College in its Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment data.

One area of emphasis for retention efforts targets sophomore students, which Morrison identified as a group that does not get enough attention yet is critical for maintaining high retention rates.

The emphasis on sophomore students is highlighted by the lack of attention given to this group at other institutions, Morrison said. Morrison also alluded to data which has shown that a majority of students who leave their respective institutions do so around sophomore year.

To focus these efforts, the College created the Sophomore Year Experience Committee, chaired by the Joshua Lee, assistant dean of students for programming and assessment. The Committee is currently assessing the possible need for a Sophomore Year Experience, Morrison said. The Experience could include an event during Week One welcoming sophomores back to campus with a “celebration,” according to a Retention Programs and Interventions report provided to the Messenger by Morrison.

Other programs and interventions outlined in the report include alumni and staff mentoring programs for TRIO McNair Scholars and LGBTQIA+ students, and the changing of Academic Dismissal to Academic Suspension for struggling students. The suspension would allow students to take necessary time off and return to classes a semester or a year later, Morrison said.

In addition to specific institutional programs or strategies, there is a need to develop a more supportive campus culture for retaining “our friends and our family here at the College,” Morrison said.

“Retention is actually a community effort,” Morrison said. “We’re trying to continue the idea that it’s not one person’s responsibility, it’s a community responsibility.”
Looking forward, the College should assess its technological infrastructure to ensure that it is supporting student success and retention, Morrison said. The changes to the class registration and Student Information Systems are one example of new technological infrastructure.

“Retention is actually a community effort. We’re trying to continue the idea that it’s not one person’s responsibility, it’s a community responsibility.”
– Hassel Morrison

“Anything that would make it accessible and easier for students and faculty, and staff, to navigate,” Morrison said. This would not require any investment upfront, but would rather encompass a general assessment of current process and recommendations for improvements, Morrison said.

And Morrison offered that a comparative approach could be used to assess current infrastructure.

“We may find that we’re in a good place,” Morrison said. “But it’s always smart to look into how we measure up.”

Finally, Morrison said that he wants the College to hire a retention specialist that could devote more time to assess the College’s retention efforts and foster communication between relevant groups across campus. Part of this role would include emphasizing what St. Olaf currently excels at in regards to retention.

“I think that we need to do a better job of celebrating the things we do well,” Morrison said. “And also making people aware of the things that are going great, so we are able to have a multi-faceted approach to how we look at retention.”

marand1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Marc Lamont Hill lectures in Boe Chapel

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 9:56pm

The Political Awareness Committee (PAC) hosted academic, activist and author Marc Lamont Hill on Nov. 7 to deliver a lecture titled “Building Community in an Hour of Chaos: Transnational Alliances and the Politics of Affinity” and participate in two Q&As with students as the committee’s most prominent speaker of fall semester.

PAC, a branch of the Student Government Association (SGA), works all year to bring political speakers, movies and other events to campus for St. Olaf students. Every year, PAC plans for a fall speaker and a spring speaker, alongside other guests.
According to PAC Coordinator Or Pansky ’20 the purpose of these events and speakers is to discuss the “existential condition that we are a part of that’s in need of naming and critiquing.”

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is the host of BET news, a former political contributor to CNN and an award-winning journalist. He is also professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University and an author or co-author of four books.
Before the evening lecture, Hill participated in a Q&A with students from courses that align with his work and the message of his speech. At the opening of the event, Pansky introduced Hill and addressed meaningful political and social topics, such as decolonization and campus diversity.

In his lecture, Hill focused on building a sense of community during a time of political chaos, which he described as when “intellectuals are silenced” and “sections of our public are disposable.” To foster a sense of community, Hill emphasized the need to listen and to build a “united front.”

He also touched on topics such as prison reform, racism, the Middle East and political activism. After his speech, Hill responded to audience questions about subjects ranging from cancel culture to Palestine.

During the address, Hill emphasized the importance of imagination and self care. He explained how students should “dream bigger” and “act courageously,” even when activism can be difficult.

“This stuff is lonely,” Hill said, regarding activist actions. “But we don’t have to be prisoners.”

Future PAC events are currently in the works and may soon be announced. Pansky said the spring speaker is yet to be determined, but made it clear that Hill’s lecture was a success.

“He gave a really incredible talk,” Pansky said. “We work to bring speakers who focus on our position critically in the world, and for the fall speaker, that was Marc Lamont Hill.”

larion1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges
Syndicate content