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The student newspaper of St. Olaf College
Updated: 28 sec ago

Ideas for hanging out with friends safely during COVID-19

2 min 49 sec ago

While we have been on campus for over a month now, many students are struggling to invent creative ways to hang out with their friends, and first-years are finding it difficult to meet new people. Being able to spend time with friends while continuing to follow St. Olaf’s Community Standards may seem difficult, but there are many opportunities to socialize safely.

Walk in the Natural Lands

St. Olaf’s campus is blessed to have the extraordinary Natural Lands and their many trails. The different trails offer a variety of distances, catering to those who would rather go on a quick walk as well as those who prefer to take a longer path. I highly recommend going on a walk with friends around sunset to experience the beautiful views! Walks in the Natural Lands are relaxing, and they provide the perfect setting for catching up with friends after a long week. For a map of the Natural Lands trails, go here.


Instead of having a group of friends hang out in your dorm room, move it outside! Plan a day where your friends can get together to eat lunch or dinner, listen to music and just hang out.

Distanced game night

Who doesn’t love some good competition and fun? Game night is a perfect opportunity for both. 

I recommend playing What Do You Meme, Cards Against Humanity, basic card games (such as BS, War or Go Fish) and, my personal favorite, Jackbox. Jackbox Party Pack games range from trivia and drawing to fill-in-the-blank statements and more, often accompanied by voting on other players’ responses. In a similar style to Kahoot, the game displays on a screen and players participate through their phone. What I love about Jackbox is that you don’t need to be in person with your friends to play. Just start up a Zoom meeting, share your screen and your friends can play along — no matter where they are! Whether you want to play with someone off campus, with your friends from home or just don’t want to leave your dorm room, Jackbox has got you covered. 

Outdoor games

The cool autumn weather is creeping up on us, but there is still time to play outdoor games. Frisbee, soccer, cornhole or just throwing a football or baseball is a great way to get fresh air while spending quality time with friends. If you prefer a more structured game, spikeball is a great option. In spikeball, players in teams of two hit a ball onto a circular net, causing the ball to bounce back up for the other team to return. Much of the gameplay is similar to volleyball, as teammates can set each other up for spikes. You earn a point when the other team fails to return the ball or it hits the rim, and whichever team earns 21 points first wins. Spikeball tournaments allow more people to participate, and they are a great way to meet new people. Most of the equipment needed for these games is available at your dorm building’s front desk. If you can’t find the necessary equipment, ask around! There is a good chance one of your friends or someone in your building has it.

Despite the restricted options to hang out with friends during the pandemic, it is important to continue to connect with others around you. Become creative with the ways you spend time with others, and recognize that you do not need to be doing anything special to form amazing memories with your friends.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf choirs return to in-person rehearsal

5 min 20 sec ago

St. Olaf College has prioritized campus choirs — part of the College’s distinctive music program — in its reopening plans for the semester. Having now begun in-person rehearsals, singers have to contend with all sorts of pandemic-related changes to normal operations. 

Directors hold in-person choir meetings in the tents near Hoyme Hall and Thorson Hall, or in large indoor spaces like the Pause or Boe Chapel. Most of the choirs are split into multiple groups, as there are too many participants to meet at once. Choirs meet for less time than normal because rotating sessions and time needed to air out indoor spaces make longer meetings impossible. Campus protocols also require singers to wear masks and stand approximately nine feet apart. 

“We’re being extremely protective and careful, because we don’t want to be that ‘thing.’ It’s a time to be very, very careful,” Visiting Associate Professor of Music Therees Hibbard, director of Manitou Singers, said. “We don’t mind putting up with a lot … it makes us realize how important [in-person choir] is.”

Students agree that the opportunity to sing together eclipses the inconveniences and difficulties of COVID-19 restrictions. 

“With the restrictions all said and done, they’re doing it very well,” Eric Heffelfinger ’23, a member of Chapel Choir, said. 

Choir members are also navigating their personal growth as musicians amid the new restrictions. 

“Part of it is just that hearing other people sing helps me sing better, but since we’re so spread out or online, I don’t really have access to hear other people sing, so I have to rely on my own skills,” Jarret Krous ’23, a Chapel Choir member, said. “Hopefully it helps me improve, but it is too early to tell.”

The inability to rely as readily on other singers and the changes to articulation and projection that come from wearing a mask and being socially distant certainly pose technical challenges for both new and experienced singers. 

In a time of social distancing and loneliness, the emotional and spiritual impact of singing together on this campus has been renewed. 

“And in one way, if you are to look at it with a silver lining, we will never take this for granted again,” Hibbard said. “Of course you can sing over Zoom and we often teach that way; but to be together here, it’s a different dynamic, a different human empathy in artistry.”

Categories: Colleges

Face-to-face with the St. Olaf Blizzard

14 min 53 sec ago

This past week, I had the pleasure of interviewing the face behind the St. Olaf Blizzard Press, a satire Instagram account created in February 2020 that has since taken the St. Olaf community by storm. Although The Blizzard’s creator originally based the account off of satire news source “The Onion,” the Blizzard delivers fresh headlines specific to St. Olaf students and their experiences — which makes the page all the more refreshing and relevant. 

When asked about the page’s sudden popularity, the creator expressed how surreal the process has been — from the first headlines, to following fans of the St. Olaf Dog Spotting page (the original target audience) and watching the page grow from there.

While much of the Blizzard’s content is produced by the creator alone, they also rely on a healthy dose of suggestions from friends and peers. When asked about the page’s many direct messages, the creator showed nothing but appreciation.

“I receive a lot of DMs,” the creator said. “It can be a lot to sift through, sometimes. But I always encourage new headline ideas; I always want the page to be really open and fun, with multiple perspectives.”

Although the Instagram account was ultimately created with the aim of making people laugh, the creator has since been tasked with figuring out how to navigate running a satire page in light of a pandemic, and more recently the anti-racist protests both on campus and beyond. 

“During the summer, I made the deliberate choice to not post much at all. While I want to make the page a platform for anti-racist work during the school year, last summer I felt it was more responsible to not misuse Instagram and take that time instead to observe and educate myself.”

After they graduate, the creator hopes to preserve The Blizzard by passing ownership down either to another student or perhaps even a student organization. While a change in leadership might change the type of content that is produced, the creator is untroubled by this fact. At the end of the day, the creator is firm in their belief that The Blizzard must remain a space where students can share their thoughts, anecdotes and opinions, regardless of their class year.


Categories: Colleges

The Burden of Beauty

19 min 3 sec ago

I sat in my room nervously scratching away at my fingernails.

Chipped black nail polish forming 

10 Rorschach tests readily available on my hands so I’m ever prompting my own wellness.

I anxiously grab a lock and twirl it around my fingers and it reminds me of how my mother started her dreads:

In times of high stress, she would compulsively twist her naps into knots until they locked or until she got her work done….

My sister was an heir to the War on Hair;

She would tug at her lashes all throughout her pregnancy.

By the time my niece was born, my sisters’ eyelids were a raw, fleshy bright pink from the incessant plucking, so she began wearing fake lashes and I haven’t seen her without them since. 

My Grandmother could not be caught dead without a bottle of lotion on her. 

Ointments and creams would rain down on the drought that was her skin

In a fruitless attempt to mend the cracks of old age.

Her once silky skin over time weathered against the the forces

Of heat

And water

And marriage

This is a woman quite literally tearing at the seams, but in her mind the solution was at the bottom of the bottle of shea butter. 

My aunt always lets her long hair flow. 

The Black Rapunzel, she would waltz into Thanksgiving dinners with weaves down to her back.

I watched her swat her hair out of her face as she ate and asked why she never wore it in a ponytail.

She said she has an irrational fear of a man yanking it from behind 

The fairytales lied when they said that’s how Rapunzel’s prince should enter a castle.

My step-mother 

Spends more money on clothes than food because

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

I call my mom in tears after a failed French quiz

And she offers to send me skin care products.

In this moment, I realize

I come from a long line of women that blend beauty standards with coping methods. 

Women with societal norms deep in them as poison

Women with a man’s requests reverberating through their bone marrow.

Women who even when the floor is lava, the world is still their runway. 

They understand

“If I cannot act the part, I will damn sure at least look the part.”

I wonder if this is where my fashion sense comes from. 

A valiant attempt at beautiful veneer.

Clothing for the sake of catharsis, not couture. 

The allure of self expression is escapism not demure.

I’ve got narcissism coursing through the branches of my family tree

The sweet sap to dilute the bitter taste of not being enough. 

I wear my sunday best 7-days a week

This is my form of prayer. 

And maybe it’s compensation.

Maybe I am doomed to be added to the tapestry of women in my family who paint their face as a painkiller

Maybe I am simply a stray drop of ink on a white campus canvas.

Maybe my anxious trembles are just heartbeats and I need to come to terms with them.

Or maybe.

Maybe I just need a haircut. 

Categories: Colleges

Don’t you wish the speed limit was 75?

20 min 18 sec ago

She tied a bright red scarf in her hair and decided it was finally time to go. The paper she held was crumpled from being folded and unfolded a thousand times over by damp hands. 

Brrring, brrring, brrring. Her phone went crashing to the pavement as it rang. 

“Hello?” she answered as she fumbled with her keys.

“You need to get here now,” the other voice said, “it’s important.” 

She trembled as she picked up speed, staying silently on the phone just for the comfort of breath on the other end. She stuffed the paper into her backpack and flung the whole thing into the backseat as she got into the car.

She shifted into first. 


Two hours later the car had barely come to a stop as she jumped out and ran towards the door, immediately enveloped in a hug. Her sister smiled as she pulled away.

“Don’t worry, it’s good news.”

Categories: Colleges

Woodward’s “Rage” is not a deal breaker for Republicans

23 min 35 sec ago

Nearly 80 percent of registered voters have heard President Donald Trump’s comments to journalist Bob Woodward, where Trump admitted to downplaying the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump repeatedly makes shocking and grotesque statements, so is this month’s revelation really any different?

Typically, when a Trump soundbite makes media rounds, it’s because he has further tarnished his character. Trump has said he would date his daughter, defended white supremacists as “very fine people,” and made ridiculous comments about women’s bodies — all of which reflect Trump’s general immorality as a human. Trump remarks to Woodward, however, represent his failure as a president. Even so, it probably will not sway any voters. 

Democrats have long felt that Trump’s character makes him unfit for office. But many Republicans have rationalized Trump’s behavior through a utilitarian lens. As long as Trump pushed Republican policy and rhetoric, he could behave however he pleased, or so the line of reasoning goes. 

Too Much and Never Enough” by Mary Trump and “The Truth about Trump” by Michael D’Antoni both raised concerns about what type of person the President is, but neither did much to sway public opinion. Bob Woodward’s “Rage” simply levels the argument that Trump is unfit for office.

Woodward’s interviews reveal that Trump knowingly mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many of the previous books about Trump’s presidency, “Rage” uses corroboration from interviews with the President himself. 

Trump told Woodward the truth about the virus, while he lied to the public. “[COVID-19] is also more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” Trump told Woodward on Feb. 7. Three weeks later, Trump told reporters at the White House, “this is a flu. This is like a flu.” 

In his blatant maladministration of the pandemic, Trump has made the U.S. the epicenter of a global catastrophe. Trump has cost Americans’ lives and damaged the economy. How can Republicans reconcile Trump’s emergency response with their utilitarian perspective? 

An article in the Atlantic examines how cognitive dissonance, the discomfort we feel when our beliefs and actions contradict, affects modern political beliefs. “The minute we make any decision—I’ll buy this car; I will vote for this candidate; I think COVID-19 is serious; no, I’m sure it is a hoax—we will begin to justify the wisdom of our choice and find reasons to dismiss the alternative,” write Social Psychologists Elliot Aronson and Carol Tavris. 

Revelations, like those in Woodward’s book, will not sway Republicans’ perspective because they have already decided Trump is a good president. The polarization of our media allows for further alleviation of cognitive dissonance, as Republicans can read, watch or listen to sources that rationalize Trump’s actions. 

The Woodward tapes might offer a terrifying glimpse behind the Presidential veil, but they are not swaying any voters.


Brennan is from Rapid City, SD. His majors are ancient studies and religion.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiments – Having family affected by the wildfires

26 min 24 sec ago

I was on the phone with my parents the other day and had just finished speaking with my mother, who handed the phone to my father. I asked him how he was doing and received an impressively vague non-answer: “Well, you know, I’m not too happy about all this crap. It’s no fun.”

There are about a dozen events in 2020 that my dad might be referencing to as “all this crap,” and all of them are indeed “no fun.” I asked him to clarify and felt out-of-touch when he replied, matter-of-factly, “The smoke. It hurts to breathe.” I had completely forgotten that my parents’ home was covered in a thick, gray haze. 

My hometown, Seattle, had managed to win a respectable silver medal for worst air quality in the world on that day. The three worst cities in the world by Air Quality Index (AQI) rankings were all West Coast cities, with Seattle at 228. On that day Sunday, September 13, our AQI here in Northfield, Minn. was a measly 9.  

AQI ratings are an amalgamation of multiple pollution measurements meant to provide a quantifiable metric by which the public can understand their local air quality. An AQI under 50 is considered ideal and anything under 100 permissible. Levels over 100 are dangerous for sensitive groups, including asthmatics. At 150 and beyond, everybody’s health is impacted, and beyond 200 the air is considered cause for a health alert. Children, the elderly and people with lung conditions should not leave their homes when the AQI surpasses 200, and everybody should avoid spending time outside. 

My dad has some complaints about the smoke beyond his own health. It can be difficult to drive; visibility in the city is down to about one block in any direction. The urban bird population of Seattle is grounded, unable to see or fly through the dense smoke. They stop singing as well, making mornings eerily silent. Across the West Coast, people are finding dead birds with no apparent injuries, flummoxing scientists as to their cause of death.

Hearing my parents explain their dilemmas reminded me immediately of a conversation I had with them six months ago when Seattle was one of the first cities shut down as COVID-19 made its way into the U.S. A few weeks later, I was on a plane to join them in a city where everything was shuttered. With the smoke, at least, everyone knew the drill on how to shut things down and stop going outside. In most cases, Seattleites had never opened back up. It seems only right that we should have a little time to recover from one crisis before the next. But these days, a breather seems to be a tall ask.


John is from Seattle, WA.

Categories: Colleges

The tragic consequences of Sept. 11

30 min 46 sec ago

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 proved that the United States of America was fallible. U.S. citizens could be threatened, attacked and stirred to fear over the reality that their government could not be trusted to protect them. But in the wake of a deadly pandemic that has killed over 200,000 Americans, we must ask ourselves why the events of Sept. 11 continue to be the tragedy that elicits such an emotional response from U.S. citizens. 

The Sept. 11 attacks and repercussions thereafter led to a loss of idealism for our country due to the politicization of the events. In addition, many people realize that these attacks have taken precedence over other global tragedies that have been directly or indirectly caused by the U.S. in its mission to achieve democracy and liberty. The attacks have been politically emphasized in a way that frames them as the worst tragedy in recent history. That is not the case.

This realization happened when people uncovered more facts, year after year, about the scope and nature of U.S. interference overseas. This led to a change in the cultural zeitgeist, where people were much more willing to pay attention and learn about international issues they had previously ignored — especially in regards to U.S retribution, interception and control over other foreign nations. 

According to a 2011 investigation at the Pew Research Center 55 percent of Muslims found it more difficult to live in a post-9/11 world. Between 185,296–208,295 Iraqi civilians died due to violence since 2003, a consequence of former President George W. Bush-led War on Terror, according to the Iraq Body Project. Iraqi citizens continue to suffer via economic sanctions and military occupation.

Yemen has suffered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world in recent years, another indirect consequence of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. These facts are made more accessible with the growth of technology, especially as news outlets focus on moving online and expanding their reach to more citizens. 

Traditional news outlets aren’t the only source for information regarding U.S. retaliation after the Sept. 11 attacks. Twitter user @ocapreina wrote on Sept. 11, 2020: “9/11 was just one day in history where the US experienced the violence and terror they inflict on other countries and ever since then that memory is misused to justify atrocities far worse than what happened that day.”

During a chapel talk on the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, President David Anderson ’74 said, “we remember feeling angry, perhaps vengeful. Perhaps some of us still feel angry, still yearn for vengeance.” While this may be true for some, there has been a contemporary realization that the U.S. often causes more harm than good in its foreign interventions.

In turn, people can no longer embrace anger without considering the consequences resulting from the U.S. response. This leads to questions as to why Western tragedy continues to take priority and to be considered the gravest calamity among the tragedies of other countries throughout this century — especially those caused by Western powers. 

Our inability to thoughtlessly grieve shows how much our knowledge has expanded. It may be challenging to embrace all the world’s difficulties, but ignorance to other tragedies, though easy, is an unacceptable and insensitive path.


Kamila is from Panama City, Panama. Her major is English. 

Categories: Colleges

SGA fall applications close, Senate candidates campaign for positions

35 min 10 sec ago

Applications for the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate positions closed on Sept. 15. SGA has nine executive branches, and there are several candidates running for positions involving student life, organizations and other aspects of campus life. 

Linh Nguyen ’22 is running for Curriculum Senator. Nguyen served as the Ytterboe Hall Senator and the Bylaws Chair last year.

“With the new GE requirement rolling out soon, it would be a great experience in learning more about the changes and be more involved with the faculty and departments at Olaf,” Nguyen said during her online campaign. 

Clovis Curl ’21 and Andy Harrison ’23 are both running for Environmental Senator. 

“I would prioritize open communication and transparency between the student government and students on campus,” Curl said. “I would actively reach out to environmental student organizations as well as the wider student body with funding opportunities, senate updates, opportunities for open dialogue and questions about how SGA can better support them.” 

Curl has officially been endorsed by the Climate Justice Collective. The Collective is a student-run organization that advocates for sustainability on campus and within the broader community and urges St. Olaf to divest from fossil fuels.

Harrison explained his own campaign. 

“The environmental crisis is the defining issue of our generation, and likely many generations to come. It is my belief that we as a community need to focus on the climate crisis, environmental justice and the carbon, water and waste footprints of our college, and adequately communicate our concerns to the administration,” Harrison said.

There are several students running for one of the three Class of 2024 Senator positions: Harry Olander ‘24, Geovani Pena ‘24, Ben Schwartz ‘24, Brent Sykes ‘24 and Chau Truong ‘24. All candidates said that they are interested in supporting their classmates despite their differences in culture, background and education. 

Goldion Nogo ’23 wishes to offer his perspective as the Class of 2023 Senator.

“As part of the international student body, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community, I wish to offer my perspective in Senate meetings; not just about issues that the majority are experiencing, but also those of the minority who are often silenced in campus-wide discussions,” Nogo said. 

Kenzie Todd ’22 is campaigning for a position as the Class of 2022 Senator. 

“I have stood as president of every dorm I’ve lived in and I was disappointed that Interhall Council has been cancelled this year due to COVID. I’m hoping to stay involved in student affairs and SGA by joining the student Senate and keeping my peers informed,” Todd said in her campaign.

Sophia Skinner ‘21 and Zoe Plewa ‘21 are both campaigning for the two class of 2021 Senator positions. Plewa is passionate about advocating for her class and engaging with the rest of the student body. She has experience as a SARN advocate and Title IX intern and her experiences have helped her think critically about issues on campus. 

Skinner transferred to St. Olaf in 2018 and has since served on the executive leadership board for Model United Nations. 

“I believe that if we take the time to meaningfully engage with each other on complex issues, we will be able to synthesize our goals as a community and translate these goals into positive action here on campus,” Skinner said in her online campaign. 

Learn more about the candidates and their goals at Voting will take place on Sept. 24.

Categories: Colleges

CUBE: Practicing vital anti-racism work for over 50 years

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 8:18pm

The Cultural Union for Black Expression (CUBE) is a deeply significant organization on the St. Olaf campus that focuses on providing outlets for Black students to express themselves. CUBE also invites students of all identities to come and learn about Black history and the experiences of Black students at St. Olaf.

CUBE has existed in one form or another since the creation of the Black Action Committee (BAC) in 1968. “The Cube” was originally a physical space in the Ytterboe annex, which eventually evolved into becoming the Cultural Union for Black Expression. 

During this period, CUBE was a place where “St. Olaf’s minority students, not exclusively Black, [congregated] for a number of reasons” — from studying to playing cards — as written in a Messenger article from 1971.

Even during this time, however, the BAC was focused on helping Black students at St. Olaf on an administrative level. The BAC advocated for purchasing “racial literature,” creating more accredited race and ethnic studies courses and sponsoring travel across the country for Black St. Olaf students to help encourage more Black applicants to the College. 

At the same time as CUBE advocated these systemic changes, race and ethnic studies programs were emerging in colleges across the country. Seen as “pacification programs,” colleges founded these initiatives on soft money to reduce tension in the short run without a real commitment. Within a few years, funding began to dry up.  

It was only through advocacy from faculty members and CUBE that the race and ethnic studies program at St. Olaf became protected and was able to grow into one of the oldest race and ethnic studies programs in the country.

The early history of CUBE set the stage for the tripartite role that CUBE has played and continues to play here at St. Olaf — providing a space for Black students to engage in self-expression, creating programs and resources to educate students of all backgrounds and advocating on behalf of BIPOC students to cause administrative change.

It is easy to see the combination of their three goals in CUBE’s recent work. By hosting events like the “Why I Love Being Black” panel and “Paint n’ Sip,” where attendees got to try their hands at recreating paintings by famous Black artists, CUBE provides opportunities for Black students to engage in self-expression and to put that expression in the context of Black history. These events provide invaluable learning opportunities for people of all identities. 

CUBE’s condemnation of administration co-opting the “7 Feet for 7 Shots” march has served as a catalyst for the St. Olaf community’s hunger for systemic change, the greatest push since the Collective for Change on the Hill led protests in 2017. It is unquestionable that CUBE has been and will continue to be one of the best resources on campus for promoting and doing the work of anti-racism. 


CUBE meets via Zoom from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. 


Categories: Colleges

“Thank you for the music,” cast of “Mamma Mia!”

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 8:16pm

The fall theater season kicked off on Saturday, Sept. 12 and Sunday, Sept. 13, with a COVID-19-adjusted outdoor performance of “Mamma Mia!” directed by Department Chair of Theater Karen Wilson. The theater department originally planned to premiere the musical on campus last April but had to postpone it due to the pandemic. 

Students filled the lawn in front of Boe Chapel — each in a physically distanced spray-painted circle on the grass — over an hour before the performance began. Attendees brought blankets and masks in order to maintain social distancing guidelines while watching the performance. Promptly at 2 p.m., ABBA music started blasting through the speakers, and the performance began. 

“Mamma Mia!” follows a young woman, Sophie, as she prepares for her wedding at her mother’s hotel in Greece. After reading her mother’s diary, Sophie invites three men to the wedding, each one of whom may be her father, and lighthearted yet heartfelt shenanigans ensue once the three potential fathers arrive. 

Tamsin Olson ’21 shined as Sophie, one of the leads. Olson’s voice complimented Sophie’s bubbly character, and she proved her prowess as a talented actor. Mary Maker ’23 played Sophie’s mother, Donna. Her energy, comedic timing and vocal range were extraordinary. Despite a few unfortunate microphone malfunctions, Olson and Maker had excellent chemistry as a mother-daughter duo. 

Tyler Krohn ’21, Andrew Decker ’23 and Aidan Sivers-Boyce ’22 played each of the three possible fathers. Krohn’s delightful British accent and perfectly awkward mannerisms made him quite lovable on stage. Decker had several wonderful vocal solos and his perfectly trimmed mustache made him look perfect for the role of Sam Carmichael. Sivers-Boyce drew several laughs from the audience with his physicality and wonderfully inappropriate interactions with Abigail St. John ’21, who played Rosie, a friend of Donna. 

St. John also had some fabulous moments with Mira Davis ’23, who took over the role of Tanya after the original actor graduated last spring. Davis’ flirtatious character and superb voice control made her the perfect match for Tanya, and her ability to jump into the role on short notice is commendable. 

“Mamma Mia!” would not be the same without the talents of the ensemble. The cast added comedy, background singing and some hilarious choreography that transformed the Boe Chapel plaza into a stage. Additionally, the show incorporated some friendly nods to the pandemic guidelines. Actors wore face shields and adjusted all of the choreography so that they never touched one another. 

Overall, “Mamma Mia!” was an excellent way for students to temporarily escape the stress of classes and take advantage of a cool Saturday to watch a performance. The sound team worked with the windy atmosphere as best as they could, and “Mamma Mia!” truly showcased the tenacity of the students and staff involved. 

The cast performs Mamma Mia! on the front steps of Boe Chapel. Madelyn Wood/The Olaf Messenger
Categories: Colleges

To Watch From a Window

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:46pm

To watch from a window,

Is to see beauty in motion.

To watch seasons come to and fro,

Is to see love and devotion.


Her bright gleam smiles upon us,

Light but shines to reveal stunning sights.

Here, her intense gaze glows most beauteous,

And with never ending grace, she fills my nights.


As she journeys, winds coerce the falling fronds;

Each guiding a new vision or ambition.

Though chills strike in times far from fond,

Her quiet comfort calms my inhibition.


While her bite is cold as ice,

She inevitably rests on my shoulder.

There, her prolonged presence does not think twice,

For her company makes her love bolder.


Now her story, though constant, is reborn.

New blossoms inspire and brighten my days.

Passion, love, and creativity adorn

The canvas of the lover who I need always.

Categories: Colleges

The End or the Beginning?

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:43pm

The sunshine gleams on the windowsill, refracting through the glass and gracing everything it touches with its presence. The soft beams begin to intensify, conquering all other colors until there is nothing left but pure, blinding white. Dazedly, as if lured by a pleasant daydream, I become ensnared in its haunting glory. “Is this my salvation?” I wonder helplessly as I feel it swallow me up from the inside.

Categories: Colleges

Boe Chapel, Old Main, Holland Hall

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:40pm
Categories: Colleges

Don’t rush the vaccine

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:25pm

Vaccines save lives, are safe and effective and are arguably the most important development of modern science.

However, we should be concerned about President Donald Trump’s administration’s political interference at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), two of the world’s preeminent public health agencies. These institutions are tasked with monitoring the development of and offering the final approval on vaccines, which includes any potential COVID-19 vaccine.

A recent memo from the CDC directed states to prepare for the mass distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1. Coincidentally, there is another major event happening just two days later: the general election.

Last March, the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the antimalarial drug Hydroxychloroquine after the Trump administration praised the drug. The authorization was reversed weeks later when large studies found the drug had no, or even negative, benefits.

In August, the FDA declined to issue an EUA for convalescent plasma treatments. However, once Peter Navarro, a White House trade advisor, told reporters that “there should absolutely be no controversy about convalescent plasma,” the FDA quickly reversed itself, issuing an EUA for the plasma therapy. The FDA commissioner then went on to spread false information that the therapy would save 35 lives for every 100 who received the treatment. 

In July, a group of former CDC officials wrote a Perspective in the Washington Post titled, “We ran the CDC. No president ever politicized its science the way Trump has.” A recent poll by Harris found that 80 percent of Americans think the development of the COVID-19 vaccine is politically motivated.

Science should not be political. Politicization of science means the public may not trust the vaccine. We need to be fighting against apprehension now by demanding that the White House not interfere with vaccine development and approval processes. The major biotech and pharmaceutical companies have already taken an important step by announcing that they would not seek approval from the FDA until they are confident in the safety and efficacy of their vaccine. 

It’s a matter of life and death that the American public trusts the vaccine. Only then can we return to pre-pandemic life. I will be the first in line when a vaccine is approved, but I will feel a lot better about it if the FDA encourages an extra month or two of safety trials. I know the public will too.

Jacob is from Plymouth, MN. His majors are biology and political science.

Categories: Colleges

Gen Z, we have to support the Green New Deal  

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:18pm

In my home state of Colorado, a fire that’s spanned over 100,000 acres has made the mountains invisible. Last week, we had three inches of snow and a record temperature drop. The sky in California is red. This increase in extreme weather and natural disasters is just a taste of what will happen in the coming decades if the problem of climate change is not dealt with. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that an average temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialized levels will lead to disaster, with millions of people becoming refugees, a complete collapse in food production and wars over water. To stop a climate fallout, greenhouse gas emissions need to be at a net zero by 2050—we have ten years to get on track for this. This is a genuinely apocalyptic situation heightened by our government’s inaction over the past ten years. So, if the Green New Deal seems like an extreme solution, it is—for an extreme problem. 

The most common argument against the Green New Deal is about how much it would cost. It’s expensive to provide jobs and get to 100 percent clean energy, but the IPCC projects that the U.S. will lose about $500 billion in annual economic output by 2100 due to climate change. The possible economic effects created by combating climate change pale in comparison to the unprecedented economic collapse that the climate crisis will create.

Also, it’s cheaper to use clean energy. For the parts of the country that already use it, it’s the most affordable option. Sometimes, industries die off. This post-industrialized world is cursed by our continuing reliance on oil. It’s an unstable commodity, much of which comes from overseas. Jobs will be lost in the transition away from oil, but more can easily be created in clean energy. Sadly, the amount of money and political power that the fossil fuel industry and our largest corporations have is obscene. This is why we need to enact strong legislation to make the switch to renewable energy happen. 

The Green New Deal is much more concerned with aiding the U.S. economy than most people realize. The deal mitigates the threat of climate change while bolstering economic output and improving the lives of workers. You could whine about the program being too socialist, but programs like President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal massively stimulated the economy while making life better for the people. We can do that again. 

Last year, I joined the Sunrise Movement, a group of youth climate activists fighting for a Green New Deal and a liveable future. It’s amazing how passionate and energetic young people are about the climate, but it is because we have to be. We’re going to be the first generation to experience the effects of the climate crisis fully, but we can also be the one to stop it. 

Great strides have already been made, such as the primary wins of climate champions like Senator Ed Markey. But we need to do more. We need to listen to science and reason, and therefore, we need to make 2021 the year of the Green New Deal. 

Check out to learn more about the Green New Deal.

Charlotte is from Boulder, CO.

Categories: Colleges

The art of performing to an empty room

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:14pm

From pro sports to Broadway, institutions have undergone massive changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is not only the athletes, musicians, actors and TV show hosts but also the millions of avid fans around the world who face these unprecedented challenges. Therefore, we must ask—how important is it that fans flood back into stadiums and theaters?

Deprived of the chance to cheer on their favorite sports team, many fans jumped at the opportunity that Major League Baseball (MLB) offered to purchase cardboard cutouts of themselves or even their dogs to have a front-row seat in stadiums. Twitter blew up with tweets about sitting next to a celebrity at a baseball game or being sent the homerun ball if it hit your cardboard self, and a new type of excitement buzzed around the world of sports.

The MLB, the National Hockey League and the National Football League began piping crowd noise into the stadiums in an attempt to bring the spirit of the game back. The topic generated conflict because the fake noise may be more distracting for the players and ruins the feel of the game. Initially, the idea was to recreate the feeling of excitement and competition within the stadium and to cover the voices of the players so the integrity of the game would not be compromised. In theory, piped-in noise is a good idea to make the best of the situation, but when I watch games, I find that the cardboard cutouts of people’s giant heads and artificial cheering make the game more of a comedy. 

In the world of entertainment, comedians have taken to performing in front of virtual audiences. Broadway is streaming previously performed musicals, and the Grand Ole Opry is a ghost town for musicians. Similar to sports, we lose the excitement of being physically present watching the best of the best perform surrounded by an atmosphere of noise and nerves. Although the chat button and fake laughter attempt to bring the joy back, the feeling of physically attending these events is unbeatable. 

St. Olaf, as well as many other institutions, faces the likelihood that performances will be live-streamed and audiences will be absent or at least socially distanced outside until 2021 at the earliest. As fans, there is a loss of connection between the teams and performers that we love, and on the other side, there is a different energy without applause and shouts. Although performing to an empty room has its challenges, the effects of opening up too soon are far greater.

Zoe is from Braddock Heights, MD.

Categories: Colleges

The problems with St. Olaf’s Policy on Student Demonstration

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:12pm

Following the 7 Feet for 7 Shots protest and counter-protest, it became clear how much more work St. Olaf needs to do to support and uplift its Black, brown and minority students. The protest illuminates many policies that the College needs to change, including the silencing of the Policy on Student Demonstration that went into effect in 2017 after school-wide protests against racism.

The Policy on Student Demonstration outlines the types of protest that are welcomed and the ones that are banned or restricted. The policy begins by emphasizing the encouragement and support of free speech and then goes on to describe St. Olaf’s restrictions on the matter. Amplified music, blocking walkways, not cleaning up after an event and generally disrupting the usual flow of business are some of the restricted behaviors, all of which were a part of the 2017 protests.

The adoption of the Policy on Student Demonstration presents a major issue. It shows that those protests were not supported by the school. St. Olaf should be proud of students for standing up for what they believe in. Instead, the response was to silence students and stop a similar protest from happening again. 

The policy is extremely restrictive. The fact that St. Olaf wants to remain orderly even when students are demanding to be recognized shows a lack of care for the voices of the unheard. 

The emphasis on free speech within the Policy presents a false sense of open discussion, when in actuality St. Olaf limits protest but not hate speech. The existence of the Olefront and Olefrontier Instagram accounts exhibits that harassment, hate speech and blatant racism are a part of our campus. There should always be disciplinary action in these circumstances. St. Olaf needs to be crystal clear about the types of discourses that are encouraged and the ones that are banned. With vague and positive language like that used in the policy, it is unclear where the administration stands in supporting minority students, who are often the ones protesting. 

I will not deny that the policy seems fairly standard in comparison with the policies of other private institutions similar to St. Olaf. This does not make it right. I want to see administration unafraid to be criticized and in full support of the voices of their students no matter what. 

Reading the current policy took me back to high school where we were asked to have a permission slip to do future walk-outs after the national walkout for gun control following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. It felt important to me not to sign that permission slip but to get suspended or sacrifice my grade in solidarity with the movement. That was the point of the walkout. The policy felt inconsistent with the merits and ethics of protest in general.

Nevertheless, the privilege of protesting securely is not ubiquitous for all students. The vagueness of the policy might leave students wondering what will happen if they don’t follow it, leading to questions about losing financial aid and other disciplinary actions. These questions are scary, especially for minority students who already feel like their place on campus is not always secure. 

As a community, we need to thwart the continued narrative that allowing free speech jeopardizes and oppresses the feelings of people who disagree. If the same amount of energy and emphasis was put into stopping white supremacy as was put into restricting demonstration, St. Olaf might be in a better, more encouraging place. 

I believe an updated policy needs to state a rejection of racism and hate speech, describe explicitly the disciplinary action that might occur if it is broken, loosen overall restrictions on protests and clarify the importance of accountability at a private institution. 

Caroline is from Pasadena, CA.

Categories: Colleges

HeartBeat: Get creative with your love  

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:07pm


Anyone who has ever gone to a supermarket with an empty stomach knows how appetite hampers our judgment and often leads to regrettable choices. This year, Oles came from quarantining with their families to campus in the same state of mind as that with which a hungry Costco cardholder sets upon a family-size box of bagel bites. That’s why the 2020-2021 school year is sure to provide a bumper crop of flings, embarrassing stories and Zoom breakout room flirting that is bound to make the third person in your discussion group really uncomfortable.

It is as much a time of risk as opportunity, however. A whole new set of questions face the Zoom student in search of love: “What’s under that mask?” “Is that a ‘Pulp Fiction’ poster in his room?” “Did I just send ‘great comment! ;)’ to the whole class instead of privately?” “Wait, that’s a first-year?”

Certain students will be thrilled to learn that your peers cannot smell you through a Zoom screen, fortunately permitting the consumption of a full loaf of garlic bread prior to a class with your imagined beau. Just as exciting is the face mask’s role in covering up an early-stage facial hair experiment. Wear it for classes and then, on your first caf date with the unfortunate student who liked your eyes, whip off the mask to reveal your caterpillar-lip and ask them to call you “Magnum.” That’ll work.

But with in-person clubs suspended, the hallway crowds thinned, Stav Hall socially distanced and the non-alcoholic gatherings that once defined Ole social life ruled out, it might be hard to get some quality time with the apple of your eye — the one who would probably fall for you if you were just pinned to their screen instead of exiled to the second page of gallery view. If slipping into their Moodle DMs is too forward for you, think creatively. Is your quarantine crush an athlete? Try stalking them on Strava or MapMyRun, and then jog the same Natural Lands routes, claiming to be a fellow passionate runner. By the time they realize you aren’t an exercise fanatic but are in fact an irrevocable creep, they’ll be too in love with you to be mad. Probably.

You could, of course, transfer to their schedule entirely for a little more quality time. Lying about who you are, what you do and the sort of things you’re interested in is one of the best ways to find a meaningful relationship. If you’re not willing to take that step, consider bribing your professor into pairing the two of you for some group work. Nothing brings about romance like a due date and something neither one of you wants to do. It works for married couples!

Ultimately, we’ll all need a dash of courage and good luck in our amorous adventures this year, no matter what stage of a relationship we’re struggling with. Flirting isn’t easy, but neither is keeping a relationship healthy with all manner of restrictions (and roommates who no longer have any reasons to leave the room, ever). So good luck, Oles, and find some closeness at a distance.

Categories: Colleges

MediaBeat: The new, live-action “Mulan” 

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 3:58pm

When I first heard that Disney would be making a live-action “Mulan” movie — one that didn’t have any musical numbers and wanted to be more faithful to the original story and culture — I was more than excited. I didn’t like the live-action remakes of other Disney Renaissance films because they tried to recreate the original shot for shot. Sure, there is some obvious enjoyment in seeing these live-action films, but they are still very much inferior to the original animated versions. I was ecstatic for “Mulan” because it sounded like it would set itself apart from the original. Now that the movie has been put on Disney+, costing subscribers an extra $30 to watch, one wonders: Is the price worth it? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. I’m glad I saw it, but I definitely have some gripes.

While I was excited for the fresh take on this film, the changes the filmmakers made didn’t feel nearly as impactful as they should have. The best example I can give is the phoenix, which replaces the character Mushu from the original film. I am glad Disney made this change in order to set a more realistic and serious tone. However, I was hoping the phoenix would have just as strong of a relationship with Mulan as Mushu had in the original. Unfortunately, other than a few moments of screen time, the phoenix does not do much aside from serve as visual eye candy. Plus, Mulan doesn’t really connect with it on a personal level. If the filmmakers wanted to justify the changes they made, they could have given it more meaningful contributions.

Another example of a disappointing change is the small role of the witch. She was my favorite part of the movie; I enjoyed seeing all of her cool powers on display while also witnessing her satisfying character arc. The story would have benefited from her being the main antagonist since her story parallels Mulan’s. Unfortunately, the witch doesn’t have much of an impact on the story aside from a small scene. Furthermore, it does not help that the main villain of the story is not exactly noteworthy. 

Simply put, not many of the new characters actually stand out. What is the point in changing these characters if they are going to serve a similar purpose as in the original? 

I would be fine with these small changes if the story itself was interesting enough to carry the film. I felt like everyone involved was going through the motions in terms of plot. Those who have seen the animated version will know exactly what happens at each stage of the story. A certain level of predictability is to be expected, but if the filmmakers really wanted to make the live-action version different from the original, changing at least part of the plot certainly would have helped. 

The filmmakers did not have trouble shaking up Mulan’s character in this film. Unlike the original, which showed her having to work her way to the top, she starts out being skilled and competent as a warrior. I honestly don’t mind this change, as it helps to color the narrative in a different way. It shows that no matter how hard she tries, Mulan can never be herself in front of the patriarchal society. Only when she proves herself through her commitment and courage do people understand and respect her. This strength then gives her the chance to be her true self. Sure, it’s not the most cohesive message, but I can at least appreciate the writers for trying to do something different. 

That being said, not only do her new powers feel like a huge deus ex machina, but they’re given so little explanation that they feel out of place. If at least one other person were seen channeling their chi in the same way as Mulan, it would make more sense. As it stands, however, it feels like the writers gave her new abilities just for the sake of her being a strong “chosen one.” Her natural superiority over everyone else gives less space for moments that truly resonate. Overall, the biggest problem of this film is that the story lacks substance and is ultimately a bland imitation of the original.

Of course, that’s not to say that this movie is a complete mess. This one definitely does a lot more to show appreciation for Chinese traditions and culture than the original ever did. Not to mention the backgrounds and cinematography are straight-up gorgeous, and the action scenes are truly spectacles to behold. I think the film is worth experiencing at least once if you’re even slightly interested. Definitely wait to watch it on Disney+ until December, though; that way, you won’t have to pay the $30.

It is clear that this remake has not brought honor to us all. Here’s to hoping that Disney can give future remakes better, more creative treatment.


Categories: Colleges