Blogosphere

Local businesses, individuals navigate pandemic with eye to future

Northfield News - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 5:00pm
Communication experts believe the vast majority of human interaction is nonverbal.
Categories: Local News

City Council Strategic Plan

City of Northfield Calendar - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 3:54pm
Event date: March 30, 2021
Event Time: 03:30 PM - 07:30 PM
Location:
Northfield, MN 55057

National Security This Week with author Rick Campbell 3-24-21

KYMN Radio - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 3:50pm
Host Jon Olson talks with retired Navy Commander turned author Rick Campbell.  After his naval career, Campbell has found success as a military thriller author, penning such notable novels as The Trident Deception, Empire Rising, Ice Station Nautilus, Blackmail, Treason, and his latest release, Deep Strike.

Slumberland Furniture to open in Dundas this summer

Northfield News - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 1:47pm
Slumberland Furniture announced on Thursday that it will open a new franchise store in Dundas this summer. A press release states “the premier regional furniture retailer” will occupy a 23,000 square-foot space at 404 Schilling Dr. in Dundas, the former…
Categories: Local News

Northfield housing shortage is severe; School district encourages student Covid-19 testing; Compost webinars begin next week

KYMN Radio - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:02pm
By Rich Larson, News Director Among the problems the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated across Minnesota is the state housing shortage. Melissa Hanson, the Housing Coordinator for the City of Northfield, said that the problem in Northfield has become acute.  Hanson said the City needs more housing across the entire spectrum. In fact, she said, the

The kind of staff we lose

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm
Music students reflect on departure of Ellen Ogihara

St. Olaf loves to market itself as an institution committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, but beneath the optics and empty rhetoric the College continually fails to adequately protect and support staff, faculty and students of color. The College’s response to the departure of former Research and Instruction Librarian for Music and the Fine Arts, Ellen Ogihara, exemplifies the disregard and defensiveness that make this campus an unwelcoming place for BIPOC individuals.

The loss of Ogihara in the Music Library deeply affected the students with whom she worked, and the College as whole lost a constant advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion on the Hill.

Four students who worked closely with Ogihara in the Music Library — Landry Forrest ’22, Logan Combs ’22, Maxwell Voda ’21 and Olivia Simonson ’23 — shared the importance of her work and contributions and echoed the impact of her departure on music at St. Olaf in a series of interviews with the Messenger.

“[Ellen Ogihara] is really reputable in her field, she’s really well known and she’s very talented musically and academically, so she’s definitely a big loss to not only the library but the department and the student body as a whole,” Forrest said.

“My first reaction to reading her letter I was really upset, I was really angry for her. I’m really proud of her for doing what she did and for understanding that this job is not as important as her well-being and her self-worth and her passion for library science,” Combs said. “It sucks that she had to quit so that all of us knew this was happening, but I’m proud of her for doing that big thing and taking care of herself. I’m just heartbroken for her.”

Voda has worked in the music library since Ogihara first came to the College. “She came in my sophomore year. Our old supervisor had been with the library for a really long time and had sort of built the collection that we all know, but what I think was really special was they hired someone who was close in age to us, who I felt like all the student workers could relate to and talk to,” Voda said.

Voda continued, “It was a welcome shift in tone when she took over, and even the way the library looked changed, everything got a fresh new vibe to it. It was a pretty marked difference and the library started to feel new again.”

Ogihara was committed to expanding diversity and representation in the music library collection during her time with the music library. 

“I always knew that that was one of her active goals, she was always working towards that. She was in charge of doing the music library display every month, so every month she focused on displaying and showcasing artists, musicians, composers of color, BIPOC and queer artists,” Simonson said. “I do remember her making slight comments about her frustration that we don’t have as much as she hoped — that it was hard for her to piece together certain themes, like if she wanted to focus on Native American musicians.”

In her letter of resignation, Ogihara described receiving significant pushback when working to institute principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, despite the College making this work explicit in her job description. “What I met, however, through every step of the way, was extreme reluctance and a lack of willingness towards the values of DEI,” Ogihara wrote in the letter. 

“As a whole in the music library we do a lot of talking about diversifying our repertoire and making sure that we are performing more than just music from dead white men. It’s something we’re really trying to focus on. And we’re also trying to focus on doing music with messages of social justice,” Combs said. 

The pushback Ogihara faced is just one instance of the College purporting to value DEI but failing to provide the financial and logistical support to institute actual changes. 

Students also spoke at length about Ogiahara’s thoughtfulness, support and enthusiasm. 

“One of my favorite things I remember about Ellen was that she and her partner would always make really good baked goods for all the library workers. So she made some of the best cookies I’ve ever had,” Simonson said. “She would package them up individually for us and she would write really beautiful handwritten letters for each of the workers in really nice calligraphy and I have them on my bulletin board actually.”

Simonson also described how Ogihara was the instigator of decorating the music library for seasonal events and holidays and, Simson continued, “always brought in a lot of creative ideas for activities.”

“She is absolutely an overall gem of a person,” Combs said. “She actually introduced me to the library collections and showed me where things were in the music library when I first started as a research tutor. I just remember being kind of overwhelmed about trying to memorize where all these things were, like, I don’t know, the full collection of J.S.Bach. And she acknowledged that and made it enjoyable and easy and made me end that training feeling self-assured and confident.”

Students described the effort and time Ogihara put into her relationships with student workers and library patrons. 

“When she wasn’t at Rolvaag she made it a point to come behind the desk and not just stay in her office and do her work in the stool next to you and talk to you. She obviously cared very deeply about all the student workers and also the patrons of the library” Voda said. 

Combs also spoke about Ogihara’s geniality, saying, “She was very available if you ever needed to talk to her and would move appointments around to prioritize meeting with students.” 

“Ellen is just someone that anyone could approach, someone that was always looking to help you, whether it was academics or finding a job even. She was just always someone who had any resource for you,” Forrest said. “She was someone who always initiated the mental health awareness in the library and having a break area for students and some de-stressing activities … so there’s a complete mood shift in the library having her gone.” 

Both students who work in the music library and are involved in music at large have felt Oghiara’s absence since the return to campus for the spring. 

“Ellen’s position should have been two positions — she was doing more than enough work for one person already. And they still haven’t hired any interim person to take care of any of her responsibilities, so right now we just have one person in the music library working who’s not a student,” Forrest said. “We’ve been taking on more responsibilities to help with some of the shortcomings that are going on, but I know I personally and a bunch of other people have been having issues with upper level musicology research and there’s no research librarian to help with any of those sorts of issues.”

The Music Department Student Committee, a standing group that consists of six music students, including Voda, sent a letter to students, faculty and staff expressing their support for Ogihara on March 1. The letter demanded concrete actions from the LITS team, including an investigation into Ogihara’s experiences and “a clear and public directive that LITS will be taking in the future to ensure that no other current or future employee or student will experience what Ellen had to endure.”  

In their email the committee specifically called on Roberta Lembke, the LITS Chief Information Officer, and Jason Paul, Head of Research and Instruction, to “make a public statement about their plans for creating a safe, anti-racist environment in their department.”

Lembke and Paul have yet to issue such a statement, but the College has brought in external counsel to investigate instances bias and discrimination within LITS. 

If the administration and student body does not learn to take accountability and to prioritize the lived experiences of community members of color instead of focusing on our image of activism, then we will continue to lose dedicated, innovative, passionate staff like Ellen Ogihara, and the campus, curriculum and students will suffer because of it. 

 

summer1@stolaf.edu

Hannah Summers ’22 is from Spokane, WA.

Her majors are English  and chemistry.

Categories: Colleges

The increase in Honor Council cases is no big deal

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm

Illustration by Kenzie Todd

 

Last semester, the number of Honor Council cases reported was 58, which is one and a half times the number of cases reported all of last year. So the question is this: should the college adopt new policies to reduce the number of cases in light of the pandemic? Simply put, no.

Online schooling is hard. It’s not hard because it’s more rigorous or difficult. It’s not hard in a way that inspires motivation and eustress. For many people, it’s simply boring. This is especially true for people taking classes at home in their room. Over interim — when I returned to my hometown of Portland, OR — I had to get up before seven o’clock in the morning every weekday to take a four-hour-long class in a language I barely spoke; I wasn’t the most engaged.

There is no doubt that the pandemic has added extra unsung challenges to the already demanding expectation of being a St. Olaf student. Is that the Honor Council’s problem? No.

There is not a single person on the planet that isn’t being negatively affected by the pandemic, and because of its universality, no one is expecting perfection. Professors are being told to be more lenient with grading, and many of them are struggling with their own workload along with the students.

Policies that would reduce honor council cases could only be policies that are more lenient with students cheating, and I think that’s unfair. Plus the reason for who and why someone is reported is so situational that no policy could ever reduce the amount of cheating at St. Olaf, it could only make the workload lighter for the honor council staff.

It’s important to mention that half of the 58 cases from last semester were either not heard or had no violation found as the result of an investigation. This is good news. While I don’t want to overwork anyone during a pandemic, I do not see a high amount of reports — especially when the way classes are being taught has been fundamentally changed — as a bad thing.

sivbo1@stolaf.edu

Aidan Sivers-Boyce ’22 is from

Portland, OR.

His major is English.

Categories: Colleges

Are we there yet, Joan of Arc?

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm

Illustration by Aimi Dickel

In Jan. 1922, an unnamed St. Olaf student writing for the Olaf Messenger — then the Manitou Messenger — decided that “now that the prudish conventions which previously limited women to the home have vanished as completely as the popularity of lavender and old lace, or grandmother’s hoop-skirts, and women are permitted to pour forth their energies in any field, men can no longer be compared man to man but man to woman.”  The article, titled “Co-ed Initiative No Longer Bound By Hoop Skirt Conventions,” goes on to proclaim: “True to type we find that the men favor mathematics, economics, and history, and that the women prefer the education and music courses. Twentieth century equality seems to have lessened the proverbial ‘squeamishness’ of women, for the biology classes boast a large majority of coeds, and even the philosophy and sociology courses contain a generous number of representatives.”

However much this “twentieth century equality” appeared to dissipate gender conventions, it is obvious that true equality had not been reached in 1922.

In Sept. 1975, Kathy Holmes ’76 wrote a piece titled “Not Joan of Arc, but she’ll do” featuring an interview with the newly hired women’s studies coordinator, Gretchen Kreuter, professor of history. St. Olaf did not yet have a women’s studies major, but the curriculum was beginning to include courses focusing on women’s history and literature. Holmes described challenges that St. Olaf, and academia across the country, continue to face: “The lengthiest and most tedious job will be the restructuring of courses that don’t represent women justly. Kreuter suggested a way of testing a course in its treatment of women, ‘When you’re taking a class and someone talks about humanity, ask: Am I included? A liberal arts course that leaves out half of humanity isn’t really liberal.’” Kreuter’s concern about just representation in our courses persists today — especially in programs like the Great Conversation, where white, male voices continue to dominate discussions.

It would not be until 1984 that the St. Olaf faculty would vote to add the women’s studies major to the St. Olaf curriculum. Frances Schwartzkopff ’84 offered a critical opinion in their 1984 article introducing the major,  “Women’s studies: major development?.” Schwartzkopff wrote that the addition of the major, while a positive, “is insufficient if the faculty wishes to include feminist analysis in the liberal arts education. Realistically, the major will not attract the number of students that biology or English do. And of those students who become Women’s Studies majors, most will be women. Consequently, the majority of students will never hear of, much less study, feminist analysis.” Schwartzkopff, like Kreuter, contended for St. Olaf’s need for the integration of feminist study and women’s voices into all disciplines. Both realized the need for just representation of women in all aspects of the liberal arts education — a need that has not yet been fulfilled.

Today, the women’s studies major no longer exists: instead, the women’s and gender studies major explores the intersectionality of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, nationality, ability, religion and age, across many histories and cultures. Women’s studies are inextricably tied with other vital disciplines such as race and environmental studies. Now, we fight for the just representation of  LGBTQ+ and BIPOC voices, always striving towards some kind of equality. Majors such as women’s and gender studies and race and ethnic studies are important — but the integration of LGBTQ+, BIPOC and female voices into a wider array of courses is equally vital.

In 1922, hoop skirts no longer confining female students, a student decided that we were there: we had found equality. Kreuter and Schwartzkopff recognized that the battle for equality is ongoing: from Joan of Arc to today, we keep fighting.

everet2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Spotify Playlist: au printemps

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm

By Jacob Maranda and Claire Strother

Spring has sprung. Here’s a collection of charming songs best listened to on the quad with a slight breeze, drinking a Cage iced tea. Or driving, windows down, through the rolling farmland of Rice County. Wherever spring finds you, this playlist will be there.

Categories: Colleges

Media Beat: Spring film recommendations

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm

Congratulations Oles, we’ve made it to second semester! To celebrate, I’ve compiled a list of films to jump into this spring. Whether you’re watching by yourself, with friends or with that special someone, here are some movies to keep you entertained.

Action/Thriller: “Nightcrawler” (Netflix)

“Nightcrawler” is a 2014 American neo-noir thriller film written and directed by Dan Gilroy. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis “Lou” Bloom, the film follows a Los Angeles stringer who records violent events late at night and sells the footage to local news stations. While most critics agree that the film is predominantly a thriller, it also has elements of dark comedy, drama and horror. If you’re looking for a dark, creepy film with incredible acting, an award-winning screenplay and overarching themes about the ethics of journalism and consumer demand, “Nightcrawler” is the film for you.

Drama: “Judy” (Hulu)

“Judy” is a 2019 biographical drama film based on the life of American actress and singer Judy Garland. Directed by Rupert Goold, it is an adaptation of the Olivier- and Tony-nominated West End and Broadway play “End of the Rainbow” by Peter Quilter. The film stars Renée Zellweger as Garland, with Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon in supporting roles. The film follows Garland’s career during the last year of her life, coupled with flashbacks to her teenage years during the filming of “The Wizard of Oz,” in which she played the role of Dorothy. If you need a good cry, “Judy” has got you covered.

Romance: “Safety Not Guaranteed” (Netflix)

“Safety Not Guaranteed” is a 2012 American science fiction romantic comedy film directed by Colin Trevorrow. The film follows Darius Britt (Aubrey Plaza), an intelligent but disillusioned college graduate employed as an intern at Seattle Magazine. One day, Darius investigates a mysterious newspaper ad that reads: “Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.” From there, you’ll experience a funny, heartfelt movie filled with witty dialogue, well-developed characters and most importantly, an operating time machine.

Horror: “Pet Sematary” (Hulu)

“Pet Sematary” is a 2019 American supernatural horror film directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer. It is the second film adaptation of

Stephen King’s 1983 novel of the same name. The film stars Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow, and it follows a family that discovers a mysterious graveyard in the woods behind their new home. If you’re looking for a classic horror film with a bunch of spooky, gruesome touches, give “Pet Sematary” a try.

Documentary: “Becoming” (Netflix)

“Becoming” is a 2020 American documentary film about the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. The documentary, directed by Nadia Hallgren, is partly based on Obama’s bestselling memoir of the same name, released in 2018. To film the documentary, Hallgren followed Michelle Obama through her 34-city book tour after “Becoming” was published. The documentary features footage of Obama’s travels, appearances and her work during her tenure as the First Lady. If you want to watch something as entertaining as it is inspirational, you can’t go wrong with “Becoming.”

Comedy: “The Dictator” (Hulu)

“The Dictator” is a 2012 political satire comedy film co-written by and starring Sacha Baron Cohen. Larry Charles, who previously directed Baron Cohen’s mockumentaries “Borat” and “Brüno,” directed the film. In the role of Admiral General Aladeen, Baron Cohen plays the dictator of the fictional Republic of Wadiya as he journeys across the United States for the first time. Consistent with Baron Cohen’s usual slapstick political comedy, this film will make you laugh while also taking a good look at the strange, often uncomfortable norms that govern the United States.

allbro1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

First Year Entrepreneurs: Lauren Jacobson ’24 crafts handmade, one-of-a-kind rings

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm

 

Courtesy of Lauren Jacobson ’24

Despite the challenges of a pandemic, many first-year students are using their creative talents to earn extra cash. Lauren Jacobson ’24 founded L.E. Rings, a jewelry business mainly focused on creating unique rings made of glass beads and gold wire. “It is certainly a lot of work for one person,” Jacobson said. “I stay busy, that’s for sure.”

This past winter break, Jacobson found an old box of beads and other jewelry supplies from her childhood. She attempted to make rings by using a TikTok tutorial and explored different techniques until she found her own style.

“It was a mini project I took a lot of comfort doing,” Jacobson said. “The more work I put into it, the more I felt inspired to develop and run my own small ring business.” Her boyfriend helped her with the website, and she launched her business in mid-February.

The aesthetic of L.E. Rings and its jewelry are greatly inspired by the “cottagecore” aesthetic: Jacobson’s website includes images of gold, glass, plants and flowers. “It definitely reflects myself as an art student with fashion and aesthetic,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson’s typical work day consists of buying beads in bulk, stringing them on a length of wire and twisting them strategically to make rings. They are sized by typical ring measurements but she measures them to an estimated average circumference. “If my customer needs any size adjustments, it’s a super easy fix on my end,” Jacobson said. Finally, she photographs her results and uploads them to her website and social media. “I cross my fingers in hopes that someone will find them as lovely as I do!”

“As well as the amazing support from my friends and fellow Oles, my own love for this business drives my inspiration for L.E. Rings’ growth,” Jacobson said. “It’s a project I feel very proud about!” She hopes to expand her audience while enjoying the time and effort she puts into her work.

Right now, Jacobson’s current goals include updating her website and social media platforms, crafting even more rings and other steps necessary for continuing L.E. Rings’ success. She is in the process of expanding her business  by creating other jewelry. “I am also happy to announce that I will be expanding my collection by also selling bracelets and possibly earrings as well!” Jacobson added. “So, do keep an eye out for those postings!”

Jacobson is also open to designing customs rings.

For purchases or other inquiries, Jacobson can be reached at:

Email: jacobs27@stolaf.edu

Instagram: l.e.rings

Snapchat: lauren.jacobso

Website: https://le-rings.weeblysite.com/

vue11@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Feedback to campus-wide anti-racism training shows varied levels of support

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm

St. Olaf partnered with the Washington Consulting Group to host virtual anti-racism trainings for  students, faculty and staff throughout January and February, prior to the start of the spring semester. Over a month after the training closed, preliminary feedback from those who attended shows mixed levels of support for the training’s effectiveness. 

71.1% of student respondents agreed that the training “prompted self-reflection” according to quantitative survey results compiled by St. Olaf Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment (IE&A). This number represented the largest percentage of agreement for a single statement among student respondents, while, in contrast, only 41.2% of student respondents — the smallest percentage — agreed that the training “helped me feel connected to other students at St. Olaf.”

None of the other seven metrics assessed — which included motivation to learn more, enrichment of anti-racism understanding and inspiration for anti-racist actions — fell below 50% agreement for student respondents, varying from 66.5% to 50.3% agreement.

“I wasn’t surprised at all, in general, about the results that we got,” said Interim Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Director of the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion Dr. María Pabón Gautier, who shared the quantitative feedback in an email to students on March 19.

“I was expecting mixed results,” Pabón Gautier continued. “Because when you do an anti-racism training for such a large amount of people, you know that people are going to be at different places in this work, so you’re not going to be able to address the needs of everyone.” 

St. Olaf’s Council on Equity and Inclusion (CEI) sent the feedback form to the 2,207 students who participated in the anti-racism training on March 4. 329 students completed the feedback form, which closed on March 12, constituting a 15% response rate.

“Normally when we do surveys in higher-ed we tend to always have higher response rates for faculty and staff than we have for students,” Pabón Gautier said. “It was still sad to see only 15%, because that’s a bad, a very low response rate.”

Pabón Gautier said that the low response rate could be explained by the high amount of requests for feedback students have received recently and the closeness of the feedback form to midterm exams.

“But there was a lot of good information still,” Pabón Gautier said. “15% is 329 students, so it’s not small potatoes.”

  The 316 faculty and staff members who completed their own separate feedback form expressed different responses to the training. None of the nine metrics assessed — the same between student and faculty and staff forms — fell below 55% agreeance. In addition, the faculty and staff feedback form had a response rate of 45%, 30 points higher than that of students.

“Prompted self-reflection” garnered the largest percentage of agreement for faculty and staff respondents at 80.1%, while “introduced me to a perspective or an idea that was new to me” received the smallest at 56.4%.

“One of the pieces that was very exciting for me was that people kept thinking about this work after the training,” Pabón Gautier said regarding faculty and staff feedback specifically. “It made them think about other areas that they can do. And then the piece that they were asking for more, and which informed the next steps, is ‘what does this mean for me in my role?’”

Faculty and staff also expressed more appreciation for the opportunity to connect with peers in small group settings, even though faculty and staff spent less overall time in small groups during training than did students. 

These feelings of connectedness represented the most profound split between student and faculty and staff responses; there was a 31.8 point gap between agreement levels for the connectedness metric. For students, “helped me feel connected to other students at St. Olaf” was the lowest agreement percentage and the only statement that fell below 50%. For faculty and staff, it was the third highest agreement percentage at 73%.

“Students do have more opportunities to intentionally engage with one another,” Pabón Gautier said. “How students define engagement and connecting with one another is very different than faculty and staff. We don’t have those opportunities as often.”

A 10.1% split between the average percentages for students and for faculty and staff further indicates the divide between the two groups’ perceived effectiveness of the training; the average agreement for faculty and staff respondents was 68.9%, while student respondents’ average agreement was 58.8%.

“I think the groups may have not been set up in a way that allowed for those conversations to go deeper,” Pabón Gautier said regarding the small group settings in students’ anti-racism training sessions. “They stay very superficial, and students wanted more, they wanted to say, ‘if we’re going to talk about this then let’s do it, let’s go deeper.’”

Some students have also expressed criticism toward the anti-racism training’s effectiveness outside of the CEI feedback form, claiming that the virtual training failed to engage with topics of systemic racism in a meaningful way or offer tangible examples of how to be anti-racist.

Pabón Gautier said that all types of feedback — whether it be directly through feedback forms, emails to campus leaders or articles in the newspaper — are integrated into the College’s equity and inclusion evaluation process.

“Anything that has come to us we have included in looking at the evaluation and the effectiveness and how can we do this better,” Pabón Gautier said. “Or what are the next steps, actually — so this is just the first step.” 

Pabón Gautier further emphasized the prolonged and multi-layered nature of equity and inclusion work, referencing the College’s 18-month “Co-Creating an Inclusive Community” project as another example, outside the anti-racism training, that will provide data to help shape engagement.

“I think the anti-racism data is going to be a reflective practice of ‘what are your thoughts on the training?’” Pabón Gautier said. “But the ‘Co-Creating’ sessions data is information of how can we move forward, how can we be better, do better, and what is needed to do that.”

Associate Professor of Practice in Sociology/Anthropology Ryan Sheppard is currently working with a group of students to compile and synthesize the qualitative feedback results. Pabón Gautier hopes the data will be ready to share soon, and she plans to distribute the results to the student body immediately after discussing them with the President’s Leadership Team.

marand1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Thinking about death with “I and You”

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm

“I and You” is a strange play. The earnest, sardonic, critically-ill Caroline, played by Maycee Klein ’23, and the successful, sensitive, turtleneck-wearing Anthony, played by Eugene Sandel ’22 comprised the entire cast. The Kelsey Theater, where the theater department production took place, was adorned with the single set: Caroline’s bedroom. The whole production is a prolonged conversation between the two about a school project on romantic poet Walt Whitman, who seeked to defy death and misery with acts of romantic self-expression. The thematic thru-line of the script surrounds these two high school students as they try to confront death on their own terms.

 

Maycee Klein ’23 and Eugene Sandel ’22 act out a scene during the play “I and You” in Kelsey theater. Jorie Van Nest // Olaf Messenger 

To some this may sound cheesy, or even pretentious. Not everyone can stomach live readings of Walt Whitman with backing ambient music, or listen to young people opine on their hopes and dreams in monologue form. This production of “I and You” makes it work, however. The most important element to the success of the show are the effective asides, one-liners and absurd non-sequiturs. Even as a rumination on death, the show is truly funny. The production has a strong grasp on Gen-Z comedy, and these little ironic bits immediately endear the audience to the characters who, in a less competent production, could be insufferable.

The great execution is owed to the entire cast and crew, including the fantastic director, Matthew Humason ’21, whose vision was vital to ensuring the success of the project, especially considering the intricacies of the script. Not everyone can pull of this tonal juxtaposition — pithy remarks on sexting and coming to terms with the inevitability of our death — but this cast and crew did.

The other thing keeping the philosophical musings enjoyable was the fact that both of the characters spend pretty much the entire play being mostly wrong. There is no moment in which these high school kids figure out the meaning of life, no moment where, as one may expect at the start, Caroline’s tragic life experience makes her some sage genius. As the show continues, it becomes obvious that Caroline and Anthony’s coping mechanisms harm them. There are enough pieces of astute bedside wisdom to ultimately show that the effort is fruitful, but the characters remain genuine and human, not solely outlets for the playwright, Lauren Gunderson, to give us her hot takes on the meaning of life.

The show recognizes, on a fundamental level, something that many works of this sort fail to. Young people having to worry about death is tragic. Neither of the characters end up having a perfect relationship with their mortality, because none of us do. This dynamic and the aforementioned Gen-Z comedy keeps this show full of dialectical philosophical rumination surprisingly down-to-earth, which would have been impossible without great acting.

This play is very apt for the moment. Aside from the fact that a 2-person cast is much safer from a Covid-19 standpoint, the pandemic has forced many of us to think about death in a way we maybe hadn’t before.

graham10@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

A look back: The Pause celebrates its 53rd anniversary

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm

The Lion’s Pause — which students often refer to as “The Pause” — is a central hangout location on campus. This March marks the Pause’s 53rd anniversary. The Pause’s half-century long history has seen the student-centered space undergo many changes.

The Lion’s Pause opened March 7, 1968, in the basement of Ytterboe Hall. Current students know Ytterboe as the residence hall on the west side of campus, but in 1968, the name referred to a brick building located in the center of St. Olaf’s campus.

The original intent of The Pause was to create a community space for students to connect. Much of the programming was experimental, including entertainment, church services and a place to hold discussions outside of the classroom. The Pause’s aesthetic was originally inspired by an English pub but maintained the nature of a coffeehouse. Stained glass windows and student art adorned the walls of The Pause.

In the mid-1980s, The Pause became increasingly unpopular due to rodent sightings and ventilation issues. These issues prompted a renovation to restore the original “coffeehouse feel” in order to draw students back to the social spot.

In 1997, The Pause moved to a temporary space in the St. Olaf Student Center — located where the Hall of Music and Center for Art and Dance now reside — after the old Ytterboe Hall was demolished. In a 1997 edition of The Messenger, students expressed their concerns about the small, temporary space and its inability to hold music entertainment events.

More problems arose in 1998 as the kitchen struggled to keep food options cheap.

Concerns continued as plans were drawn up for Buntrock Commons. Students were afraid that Bon Appetit would take over the kitchen and that students would not have authority in running the Pause.

Concerns eventually diminished in 1999, when The Lion’s Pause finally opened in Buntrock Commons, it’s current location. Students were impressed with the size of the new Pause facility, which spanned over multiple rooms, and the staff was impressed with the updated appliances in the kitchen.

While the Pause has been in three separate locations and has faced a series of obstacles these past 53 years, it continues to be a center of socialization for students, even during a pandemic.

franci3@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

O’Keefe Wannabe

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm
Olivia Jager ’23
Categories: Colleges

How Caribbean medical schools deceive disadvantaged students

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:00pm
Illustration by Aimi Dickel

Walking through the halls of Regents, dozens of shiny posters plastered across bulletin boards advertise medical schools situated on islands with palm trees, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. One of them screams “Migrate to a better place!” while another questions “Your dream is waiting. Why are you?” While enticing for the throngs of pre-med students that walk these halls, these St. Olaf-sanctioned posters advertise medical programs that target undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds and, through their focus on earning money off misinformed students, set many up for failure.

The island programs in question are the for-profit Caribbean medical schools, largely founded by European colonizers of the Caribbean islands. This is not a concern about reputation or institutional prestige. Instead, this is a matter of introducing more students from disadvantaged and underprivileged backgrounds into medical schools that will truly prepare, promote and promise a diverse cohort of American physicians that are equipped to serve all communities.

What are the attractions of Caribbean medical schools? Applying to medical school is an undeniably astronomical financial burden. The cost of taking the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) itself hovers around $320, and this cost excludes the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars spent on study preparation materials. The arguably best free resource, an online course and practice problems offered through Khan Academy, was discontinued this past year. That being said, most Caribbean schools do not require the MCAT for admissions — a major attraction for students with fewer financial resources. Further, the acceptance rate is significantly higher than U.S.-based schools, lowering the financial risk of applying.

In order to obtain a job as a physician, one has to complete residency training following medical school. A medical degree without residency is worthless. According to the American Medical Association, in 2019, 93.9 percent of U.S. allopathic medical students matched with a U.S. residency program. For students graduating from medical school outside of the U.S., predominantly from Caribbean institutions, the rate falls to 59 percent. For the over 40 percent of these applicants that are not accepted, it is common to fall into crushing debt and never become a physician or practice in the field for which they spent years preparing. In a recent article published in The New York Times, residency admission committees in the U.S. openly admit to filtering out graduates from Caribbean medical schools.

There is a crippling shortage of doctors of color in the United States. In the midst of racial reckoning movements, educating less privileged pre-med students on the risks of attending Caribbean medical schools is a tangible step St. Olaf can take in order to promote equal opportunity and equity in terms of guidance, diversifying the healthcare workforce.

It is the duty of St. Olaf to not only help these students be admitted, but to help them succeed.

wagner10@stolaf.edu

Lucia Wagner ’21 is from

Iowa City, IA.

Her majors are chemistry and mathematics.

Categories: Colleges

“Recall” on Charter Commission agenda?!?

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 10:06am

There’s a Charter Commission meeting next week – TUNE IN on Channel 6:

Red Wing Charter CommissionMar 31, 2021 – 06:00 PMAgenda

And look what’s on the agenda (click for larger version):

Here’s what’s at issue:

BFD? Well, not really, because there are at least three people on the Charter Commission who are championing the “Recall City Hall” effort.

So I sent this missive out as notice and request that I want to add an agenda item to the “Approve Agenda” section:

To which Shelley Pohlman, Queen of Conflict of Interest in this recall matter, replied, 7 minutes later:

“This an open meeting violation.”

It’s pretty basic — can’t have people involved in an active (though likely doomed) recall effort voting on changes to the Charter regarding recall!!

Active recall… yeah, it’s a stretch, because there’s a high bar for a recall petition, and after that, a high bar in the number of signatures required:

There’s roughly 2,500 registered voters per ward, twice that where two wards are combined, and roughly 10,000 registered voters for the “at large” Council seat…

Let’s do the math… if they want to recall all but Beise.. SNORT! How many registered voters in that councilor’s ward(s) are needed?

  • Hove – Wards 1 & 2 = 5,249, 20% = 1,049
  • Klitzke – Ward 2 = 2,575, 20% = 515
  • Norton – Ward 3 = 2,617, 20% – 523
  • Buss – Ward 4 = 2,424, 20% = 484
  • Brown – Wards 3 & 4, 20% = 5,041
  • Stinson – At Large – All Wards 9,905, 20% = 1,981

I can’t see them gathering 500, 1,000 or 2,000 voters’ signatures, but there it is, they can do it, it’s clearly allowed in the City Charter, and they’re at least being press hounds, though no evidence of a Petition yet, so get your popcorn and have a seat…

They’ve formed a “Committee to Recall City Hall” and here’s their first report:

Campaign-Financial-Report-Committee-to-Recall-City-Hall-PDFDownload

Note the large anonymous donations?

Anonymous donations – NOT OK!! The rules clearly state that:

It’s stated pretty clearly… “This itemization must include name, address, employer or occupation if self-employed, amount and date for these contributions.”

Nope, folks active in a recall effort shouldn’t be participating in discussion or voting on Charter Commission recall provision language change.

And then there’s the recall effort itself — folks not wanting to accept that they lost by an “overwhelming majority” vote of 6-1 to fire Roger Pohlman. Just no, what a waste of time, effort, and money. Lots of distractivism, pot-, and outright lies. Lies? Yes, look at this and note the misstated order of things:

Here’s a link to the Pohlman support “petition.”

Above, from Shelley Pohlman’s “Red Wing Minnesota News” page, she states, “In response, citizens presented the counsel with a petition with more than 250 names…” “In response” isn’t true. The properties in the WORD version presented to the City show that the “Petition” was begun on February 17, and last saved and given to the City on February 19, BEFORE he was fired, yet the Petition was demanding Pohlman be “reinstated immediately.” The petition was not delivered to the City “in response” as stated above. Why the misrepresentation? Ummmm… yes, really, BEFORE he was fired. What information were they acting on when they put this “Petition” together and solicited names? Who was soliciting “signers” for this “Petition” before he was fired? What information were those ~250 people who “signed” given? Were they told that Pohlman was applying to be Chief in Lakefield, MN?

Potential for Pohlman to be fired? He knew there were issues, issues that had been raised before. Here are two documents from his 2020 evaluation, retrieved with a Data Practices Act Request to City:

2020 Officer Eval-Chief_PublicDownload 2020 Police Chief Eval DRAFT_PublicDownload

And the termination letter:

Letter-to-Roger-Pohlman-February-19-2021-RedactedDownload

Looks to me like ~250 people were played. Pohlman knew this was coming. Someone(s) struck up the band, got the bandwagon rolling, folks jumped on, and they didn’t have the full story. Over and over, as above, they’re continuing to parrot lines that Pohlman wasn’t given time to speak? The potential of firing was not new to Pohlman, and he was represented by counsel, wasn’t he?

Saying that “taxpaying Red Wing citizens were shut out of the meeting” is bizarre. What does that mean, shut out? Employee matters are confidential, is that CONFIDENTIAL closed session what they wanted “open” contrary to state law? Is it that they didn’t attend the open zoom meeting where the Council acted? I’ve heard that some wanted an “OPEN UP” meeting, and IN PERSON meeting, at City Hall where the doors were open and people could attend in person, and that this was denied. Is this what they’re referring to? Let’s get this clarified!

Ya say ya wanna do a recall, and I say, “NO NO NO!” There’s no legal basis for a recall. This is a PR push, and a sham. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Categories: Citizens

Gerry Franek and Brad Ness of NAFRS

KYMN Radio - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 8:45am
Northfield Fire Chief Gerry Franek and NAFRS Board member Brad Ness talk about beginning work on a succession plan for fire chief in the event of Franek’s retirement, and more.

Senator Tina Smith discusses bill on fire sprinkler systems for public housing

KYMN Radio - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 8:37am
U.S. Senator Tina Smith talks about a bill that would require fire sprinkler systems in all public housing.

Ft. DuPont campground?

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 03/24/2021 - 8:20pm

The other day, while hanging out over pizza, REAL pizza, at the DNREC park where we used to run the doggies…

MOV00166 – At Delaware City Park

MOV00165 – At Delaware City Park

MOV00164 – At Delaware City Park

MOV00163 – At Delaware City Park

MOV00162 – At Delaware City Park – check Ken running!

MOV00161 – At Delaware City Park – Look at them go!

And now they want to wreck this park with an RV parking lot.

I realized yesterday that I’d not posted about this dreadful idea:

Here’s the powerpoint with the “preliminary plan” from August, 2019. There’s no final plan in the Delaware City Council’s Agenda or Minutes.

Blue Water’s Proposed 422-Site Del. Proj. Receives OK

Delaware City Council okays controversial RV campground near Fort DuPont State Park

Given the water table, I cannot imagine what they intend to do with the sewage from that many sites.

Despite that approval, I don’t see any sign of construction starting. There were dump trucks up and down the road, but they went to the C&D canal and then headed east!

Categories: Citizens
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