Manitou Messenger

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The student newspaper of St. Olaf College
Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

NFL Roundup

Thu, 10/01/2020 - 12:50pm

Oh, NFL how we missed you so!

With fantastic tackles and offensive show.

But besides the cool runs and

touchdowns we see,

here are a few things that stood out to me:


Russell Wilson is the TRUTH: Let it be known to the world that Wilson is officially pissed off. Yeah, I said it. All these years without a single MVP vote has finally worn on  Wilson, and he is taking his anger out on the whole league. Besides a pick six thrown against the Patriots (that wasn’t his fault by the way), his 2020 season has been basically perfect. With 14 touchdowns in three games (an NFL record), a passer rating of 139.0 and receivers that are elite whenever they don’t fumble showboating (thank DK Metcalf for that one), Wilson doesn’t look like he will be slowing down any time soon. #LetRussCook


The Atlanta Falcons are Choke Artists: Jeez Louise. I mean how many times can you be winning by double digits in the fourth quarter and lose? The Cowboys game was just sad, but now they follow up by losing to the Bears! I know for a fact that Nick Foles isn’t an elite quarterback, but he might have well been Patrick Mahomes with the way he looked against the Atlanta defense. If Atlanta is going to get out of the hole they are in right now, they are going to need to score 60+ points every game, otherwise their defense will let them down. Hey, but look at the bright side! Calvin Ridley is looking good!


Superstars Are Dropping Like Flies: Last week was a tough one for stars in the NFL – Saquon Barkley, Nick Bosa, Christian McCaffrey, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Michael Thomas just to name a few. It’s tough because you want these guys to shine and be the stars they are, but they all went down with injuries that will take them out for some time. You can only wish them the best though, and when they come back, I know they will take the league by storm. Get well soon!


The Vikings Fell Off HARD: Minnesota Vikings fans, I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but your window has officially closed. Your O-Line is complete trash. Stefon Diggs is loving it in Buffalo. Your defense has dropped to the bottom of the barrel. The only positive things on your team are a rookie wide receiver with one good game and a running back that barely has holes to run through. Hey, Vikings fans. Remember the days when you guys thought Adam Thielen was a “Top 5 Receiver?” I would laugh in your face about it right now, but that would be kind of mean with all the stress you already have. At least Kirk Cousins actually sucks now so you can blame him for everything and have solid evidence to back it up.


Nick Foles Officially Has the Reins of the Chicago Bears: Just recently I received a notification about how Nick Foles will be starting against Colts. This told me two things. The first thing is that Mitch Trubisky will be seen as one of the worst draft picks of all time. With Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson outperforming him drastically in their careers so far, drafting Trubisky at 2 will be seen as an all-time mistake. The second thing that I realized is how this Bears team might actually become good now. With Mitch not ruining the offensive side of things with worthless passes, maybe now the Bears can live up to the potential they’ve had for the last couple of years. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Categories: Colleges

Messenger changes name, denounces racist history

Thu, 10/01/2020 - 12:08pm

By Jacob Maranda & Claire Strother

Executive Editor & Features Editor

“St. Olaf’s School,” the advertisement read. “Northfield, Minnesota. Two Courses of Study. Six Teachers.”

The first edition of the Manitou Messenger in 1887 featured two advertisements: one for a host of restaurants, dry goods and stationery stores, and the other for an upstart Lutheran institution in southern Minnesota out of which the Messenger ran.

Alongside these ads were a valedictory address, a piece detailing the new school orchestra and an article explaining the name of the school’s first and oldest student news publication.

“The Indian is gone,” the final article read, “but the Great Manitou still exerts some of his power of long ago in legend and tradition, a presence not ignoble because evolved from the consciousness of a savage race.”

Made clear in this one line, the founders of St. Olaf College, then St. Olaf’s School, were not only cognizant of their complicity in colonialism, but took great pride in it. The final line of the article reasserts this.

“‘Forward, forward, soldiers of Christ, soldiers of the Cross, soldiers of the King.’ A message pointing to a service of God and one’s country, faithful unflinching, no flourish of past achievements, no flutter of past laurels, but a work on and on, a progress as relentless as the march of Time himself.”

Racist connotations permeate the nature of these justifications, which are ignorant of the histories and lives of the people that the College’s founders originally uprooted. In this sense, mere acknowledgement is not enough to grant justice to these first inhabitants. Justice requires a definite change to turn away from this publication’s problematic history.

With this in mind, the current staff is proud to rename St. Olaf’s first and only student news publication to The Olaf Messenger.

Continue reading for more Native American history at St. Olaf throughout the College’s 146 years of standing.

Manitou Hill

“Before us was spread a most beautiful panorama as far as the eye could reach,” wrote L.S. Reque, one of the two original professors at the College, in a letter to the Messenger in 1914, St. Olaf’s 40-year anniversary.  “‘How will this do for a college site?’ asked Harald. I said, I did not think he could find any better. We went home and became busy talking Manitou Hill. And there stands St. Olaf College now.”

Reque, alongside Professor Thorbjorn N. Mohn, consistently referred to this location in his letter, alternating between the names of “Manitou Hill” and “Manitou Heights.”

Both of these titles derive their names from an aboriginal spirit, the Manitou, found in Algonquin languages spoken by various Native American tribes. Native peoples use the term Manitou to refer to a “Great Spirit” that animates all living beings.

The name is part of the vocabulary of the Ojibwe tribe, whose traditional territory extended through parts of northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and into Canada. This territory bordered that of the Dakota tribe, located in what is now southern Minnesota. It is unclear whether the Dakota people used the term in their own vocabulary, although many scholars see a close connection between the Ojibwe and Dakota tribes that often traded and fought in north and central Minnesota.

It is difficult to track where the name “Manitou Hill” first originated. It may be that the Dakota people granted that name to the hill, and the Norwegian immigrants simply assimilated the term. It may be the other way around, in which Norwegian immigrants named the hill in a sort of homage to the Native inhabitants.

In a brief piece from volume 67 of the paper, which was published in 1954, the Messenger offered its own explanation.

“‘Manitou’ doesn’t mean ‘steep,’” the article reads. “And ‘Manitou Heights’ are so called, because local Indians found them mystic and strange; a possible home of the gods.”

It continues, “‘Manitou Heights’ attracted and awed the pioneers of this area and the name remains.” 

Whatever story may be true, the name stuck and is present around campus to this day. Examples include the former title of this publication; the Manitou Singers, the College’s treble voice first-year choir; and Klein Field at Manitou — often just called Manitou Field — where St. Olaf’s football team plays.

Native Americans at St. Olaf

As recorded in the fall 2020 student census, one American Indian or Alaskan Native student is currently enrolled at St. Olaf. In 2019 there were zero.

For a school that employs Native names in its buildings, organizations and practices, the disconnect between the College and Native American students is apparent. The school’s history provides further evidence of this rift.

St. Olaf became actively involved in Native American recruitment after former Professor of Sociology Ken Olsen wrote the “Proposal For a Program of Education For American Indians at St. Olaf College” in 1970. In response to this proposal, St. Olaf hired Phil Allen, a Dakota Native, as a recruiter and director for the newfound program the following year.

“For the academic year 1972-1973, as a result of Phil Allen’s recruiting efforts, 18 Indian students were enrolled at St. Olaf,” Christopher Hagen ’80 reported in the Messenger in 1979. “Prior to this time, only a few people with Indian heritage came to St. Olaf. By the fall of 1974, most of the Indians at St. Olaf had quit.” 

In 1976, Lawrence “Larry” Martin, a Native American social work scholar and activist, arrived as the coordinator of Native American affairs at St. Olaf. As part of a continued push by the College to recruit Native American students to campus, Dr. Martin hosted various seminars focused on Native American culture and taught an interim course titled “Native American and Religious Principles.”

Martin also led a new Native American Students Program on campus. St. Olaf founded the program after a group of students and non-students presented a “Preliminary Statement on Native American Concerns and Consciousness within a St. Olaf Environment” to the administration in 1975.

“It sought to prompt discussion on Native American student life and support, Native American studies and Native American sensitivity and values,” Hagen reported in the Messenger in 1979.

After three years, the College cut the program and dismissed Martin as its director. An article published in October 1979 explains the decision.

“In trying to define the reason more precisely, Larry Martin was told he had not done an ‘adequate’ job,” the article reads. “When presented with a review of projects and other facts (which included a summary of admission activities), President Rand agreed that Mr. Martin had done his work satisfactorily. St. Olaf has reassured interested people that it still has a genuine interest in Native American presence at this college. Yet, Mr. Martin still won’t have a position on this administration and the Native American program is still being dismantled.”

The foundation of the Native American Students Program came during a period in the late 1970s when St. Olaf appeared highly interested in its enrollment of minority students. Paul Svoboda ’81 covered the issue extensively in the Messenger.

In 1977, St. Olaf formed the Race Relations Committee. The group was tasked with increasing minority enrollment at the College, specifically for Black students. Part of their goal was the hiring of a full-time Black admissions counselor, who would be tasked with recruiting Black students to the College. Previous recruitment of Black students in 1973 prompted this recommendation.

“The College made a similar effort that year to increase its Native American enrollment and hired a counselor to recruit students from various Indian reservations,” Svoboda wrote in an article from 1979. “Nineteen Native Americans came to St. Olaf in 1973, though most left by the end of the year.”

St. Olaf’s efforts to increase minority enrollment proved largely unsuccessful, as reported by Svoboda in the same article.

“Five years ago, St. Olaf’s enrollment included 65 blacks and 19 Native American students,” Svoboda wrote. “Since then the College’s minority population has decreased substantially; today there are only 20 blacks and three Indians attending St. Olaf.”

Many around the College felt this drastic decline in minority enrollment was a serious cause of concern.

“There is little doubt that the minority enrollment situation has reached a crisis,” an editorial from 1979 read. “The Regents always welcome student input, and we think we speak for the vast majority of students when we say that there needs to be more action taken on minority enrollment.”

Following these efforts in the 1970s, St. Olaf has focused little administrative attention on the recruitment of Native Americans to the College. Activities involving Native Americans on campus have primarily revolved around awareness weeks or specific cultural events.

Efforts for acknowledgement

In November 2019, former Student Government Association (SGA) President Devon Nielsen ’20 introduced a land acknowledgement resolution to the student Senate. This resolution, a core part of Nielsen and former Vice President Ariel Mota Alves’s ’20 campaign for SGA executives, highlighted ongoing conversations between the executives and other parties, including Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Bruce King and Northfield city government.

At the Nov. 5 Senate meeting,  Nielsen described the land acknowledgement resolution as a “stepping stone to discuss more constructive ways in which St. Olaf can address injustices faced by Indigenous communities.” The resolution passed a Senate vote in April 2020.

Current SGA President Melie Ekunno ’21 sees the mere acknowledgement of the land’s origin as an empty gesture and calls for more reified change during her tenure.

“Unless you have spent your life in denial about racism, and in denial about historic injustice, then saying ‘I acknowledge my privilege’ is nonsense,” Ekunno said. “There’s no question of the fact that this exists and this happened. So it is not enough to say that we acknowledge that we took this land unjustly from people.”

Categories: Colleges

Campus engages in national discussion surrounding racism, police brutality

Thu, 10/01/2020 - 12:08pm

Following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and more, discussions of police brutality, white supremacy and racism have been happening across the country. The racial disparities affecting Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) populations during the pandemic have also spurred dialogue on the intersections of public health and racism.

As conversations take place nationally and globally, students, faculty and alumni of St. Olaf College have begun to speak out against the white supremacy that plagues the globe and, more specifically, the St. Olaf community. BIPOC students have called for more action from administration against racism on campus, voicing student concerns over the administration’s performative activism while not implementing actual change on campus.

Posters, artwork and emails supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and advocating for change have been visible following the “7 Feet for 7 Shots” march in September.

The Messenger has compiled statements made by student organizations, academic departments, alumni, the President’s Leadership Team and more to document this moment in history. This resource will be updated as more statements come out. Visit the Messenger’s website for more detail.

Categories: Colleges

Oregon Extension continues amid pandemic, wildfires

Thu, 10/01/2020 - 12:04pm

The Oregon Extension Program continued as planned this fall. Despite the cancellation of many study abroad opportunities by the International and Off-Campus Studies Office due to COVID-19, the program was able to move forward due to the secluded nature of the trip’s location, the program’s website explains.

Situated in the wilderness of Ashland, Oregon, Oles who participate in the program choose to unplug for a semester in order to study topics like philosophy and religion, and to climb a mountain or two.

Students participating in the program became concerned this year, however, when over 7,000 fires started lighting up the West Coast’s forests and grasslands. With limited access to the internet and unreliable cell phone service, Finn Johnson ’22 explained that he originally heard about the fires through a professor’s 12-year-old son who described three major fires all within 80 miles of the Extension Program’s home base.

Despite the West’s arid conditions year-round, the year’s dry months of January and February —  one of the driest periods on record — soon became cause for great concern. By March 22, Governor of California Gavin Newsom had already declared a state of emergency due to a mass die-off of trees throughout the state, which has increased the risk of wildfires. For the past two years, Oregon has also been suffering through drought conditions.

“All the stuff around here is a tinderbox,” Johnson said. “It’s just so dry, everywhere.”

While students on campus have been able to follow the fires’ progress through a near-constant feed of online photos and articles, the Oles in Oregon have had a much different experience

The group only realized the extent of the wildfires’ damage a few days after the fires had started.

“I opened my laptop on Saturday, and it looked like the world had fallen to pieces,” Johnson said  “We got a lot of smoke. You couldn’t even see the sky. … It was just apocalyptic.”

Members of the Oregon Extension Program were never forced to evacuate, despite being placed under a Level I Evacuation Protection Alert for several days. Fellow students and professors facing natural disasters brings the reality of climate change closer to home for students on the Hill.

Despite the fires, Oles on the trip have still been able to enjoy classes, hikes and even backpacking trips in the Oregon wilderness — especially now that the danger has passed.

Categories: Colleges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Colleges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Colleges

Student Government Association leaders talk election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Colleges