Blogosphere

Why Treaties Matter Exhibit and Events

City of Northfield Calendar - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 1:07pm
Event date: October 8, 2021
Event Time: 12:00 PM - 04:00 PM
Location:
320 3rd St E
Northfield, MN 55057

NPD working with Lights On! program; District adjusts elementary science curriculum; Rotary Bike Tour set for tomorrow morning

KYMN Radio - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 12:02pm
by Rich Larson The Northfield Police Department has recently begun working with a program that gives officers another option when they pull a motorist over for a non-working light on their car.  The Lights On! Program is an initiative by a non-profit organization called Microgrants, to fund the repair of a broken headlight, taillight, or

St. Olaf marks topping out on new residence hall

Northfield News - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 11:45am
Members of the St. Olaf College campus community joined construction crews to mark the topping out of the college’s Ole Avenue Project on Sept. 8.
Categories: Local News

ArtZany: CVRO Summer Serenade with Paul Niemisto 09-24-2021

KYMN Radio - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 10:04am
Today in the ArtZany Radio studio Paula Granquist welcomes Paul Niemisto, founder and director of the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra. We will preview the upcoming concert Serenade – Farewell to Summer and share a lesson on the art of the orchestra. Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra (CVRO) Concert northfieldartsguild.org/arts/music/cvro/ SERENADE- FAREWELL TO SUMMER Thursday, September 30,

PUC’s nuclear cask decision — pause for Supplemental EIS

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 9:13am

Once again, it’s Nuclear Daze… but it’s Nuclear Daze LITE!

Yesterday was the PUC meeting where they were perhaps going to decide whether to approve Xcel Energy’s cask request, which was essentially to give them the go ahead to do whatever! The good news is that Commerce-EERA pushed for a supplemental EIS, which is in the works:

20219-177940-01_Notice Comment PeriodDownload

The Comment period is open until October 20, 2021, and there are two scoping meetings:

Now for the webcast — this might not load properly out in the woods, so I’ll link it here starts at 2:08:20:

PUC Webcast September 23, 2021

And here’s the webcast – we’re #4, but the third on the video because they pulled the first item.

Now, let’s get to work on those comments for the scope of the Supplemental EIS:

Categories: Citizens

Alice Thomas announces tours of Northfield Depot

KYMN Radio - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 9:01am
Alice Thomas discusses the history of “Save the Depot”.  The public has an opportunity to tour the inside of the Depot on Saturday and Sunday, October 2 and 3.  Tours will be given every 30 minutes.  Covid  protocols will be followed.  To schedule a tour, go to www.northfielddepot.org and click on “news” at the top

The Weekly List – The Steely Dan Show

KYMN Radio - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 6:00pm
On the 44th anniversary of their most successful album, Aja, Rich and Dan discuss Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, their meticulous attention to detail, Fagen’s not so great singing voice, and what actually constitutes a great groove.  

Best Shrubs for Fall Color

Fall is here and you know what that means- it’s time to talk about the best shrubs for fall color. We have so many favorites, but these three are absolute standouts this year!

Fall Color Shrubs We Love 

Strobe Weigela Green leaves are kissed with bronze throughout the summer and take on a deeper bronze to crimson color as the weather cools down. Tubular pink flowers adorn the plant throughout the season and are attractive to hummingbirds. Because of its smaller size and mounded habit, Strobe Weigela is an excellent choice for limited space. Pruning isn’t really necessary on this shrub, so gardeners can sit back and enjoy the color without the work!

Strobe Weigela with Candy Corn Spirea

Little Quick Fire Hydrangea This compact hydrangea is easy to find room for! The handsome rounded form is covered in  flowers earlier than other hydrangea varieties and boasts amazing fall color. As the season wears on, Little Quick Fire’s leaves turn a bronze-crimson color that is decidedly showy in the fall garden. The fall color combined with the dried flowers create long-lasting interest in the landscape.

Little Quick Fire Hydrangea and Red Lightning Heuchera

Sugar Shack Buttonbush Buttonbush is perfect for gardeners that want something different.  This native, moisture loving shrub is underused but doesn’t under deliver. Handsome, open form and unique fuzzy flowers that look like buttons make this plant a standout in summer. In fall, Sugar Shack takes on a reddish hue that fires up to bright orange. Buttonbush is an outstanding choice for fall color and even better because of it’s multi-season interest. Excellent for wet areas!

Sugar Shack Buttonbush

More stunning fall color shrubs include Kodiak Orange dwarf bush honeysuckle, many viburnums, spirea, and chokeberries. Who doesn’t like choices?

The post Best Shrubs for Fall Color appeared first on Knecht's Nurseries & Landscaping.

Categories: Businesses

Ole Archives

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:39pm

The following are excerpts and evidence of Cultural Union for Black Expression’s (CUBE) decades of service to the Black student population on St. Olaf Campus. A group often supported more for the sake of image than moral obligation, CUBE has nevertheless successfully maintained an open, safe space for the existence, expression, and upliftment of Blackness. Founded in 1969, the Black student center CUBE held cultural events, showcases of Black artistry, founded the Black newspaper Ujama, and created the African-American History course outline and syllabus, thus building the foundation of the Race and Ethnic Studies curriculum. Given the extensive list of achievements CUBE has brought to the college, it is criminally underappreciated, unsupported, and unaccredited.

 

rochaf1@stolaf.edu

 

Click to view slideshow.

Photos Courtesy of the CUBE Archives 

 

“BAC [Black Action Committee], as an organization, gives us a sense of unity, belonging, and direction, which is desperately needed at this and other predominantly white colleges. The Black Action Committee acts as a spokesman and initiator of certain programs and ideas, when appropriate, and also as an effective means of communicating amongst ourselves and keeping abreast of the other things happening in the St. Olaf community.”

 

BAC Chairperson Verna Berry, Manitou Messenger,  No.16,  Vol.088, April  11, 1975

 

St Olaf is a spacious and beautiful campus… A very good Institution for acquiring a suitable education.

St. Olaf has given me a chance to get a halfway decent education and a chance to experience the white world; a chance to know them and their attitudes and their culture. I have found that whites have a decidedly different viewpoint on much of life.

St. Olaf has not given me a full enough chance to express myself as a black person. I often get the feeling that I don’t exist, that I’m just here because of politics and integration list. Being here makes me more aware that I should get all I can from “the man” and give it to my people. I encourage many more blacks to come to St. Olaf because things are accomplished by greatness in numbers. My only wish is that many more of us could come without the obstacles of “doskie” blocking the way. This I believe is The White Man’s way of keeping the black in his place.

The competition is great here — sometime sickening — for people are out for a grade and many are not thinking of learning too much. This is the kind of society we must cope with. There is a task to perform. We want a chance to obtain status and the things we need. Only we can accomplish this — by working together. Right on brothers and sisters. 

 

Excerpt written by Denise Dorsey ’74 (pictured left) from the First brochure created by Black Students at St. Olaf to recruit other Black students to attend.

 

– Denise Dorsey ’68

 

Categories: Colleges

Increased rainfall leads to mosquito problems on campus

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:31pm

Short walks around St. Olaf’s campus have been disrupted by swarms of mosquitoes that are creating uncomfortable and itchy bites. Mosquitoes usually cause issues during mid-summer. An unusually dry season and an increase in rainfall during the past few weeks has caused mosquito populations to regenerate.

“We do spray the outside of the residence halls in late August for ‘fall invaders’ that like to live in the limestone,” said Pamela McDowell, Associate Dean of Students for Residence Life, in an email to The Olaf Messenger. “We are not spraying the grass for mosquitoes and will rely on bats and birds that prey on mosquitoes.”

Mosquitoes are usually more of an annoyance to humans than a threat. However, the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District has found the West Nile Virus is increasingly present in mosquitoes in the Twin Cities, covering Ramsey, Hennepin, Dakota, and Anoka counties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites that 1 in 5 people infected with the West Nile Virus experience mild symptoms, including a fever, while 1 in 150 people develop more severe symptoms.

Until the weather becomes cooler, mosquitoes will continue to thrive in the hot and humid weather. The CDC recommends wearing long clothing or applying bug spray to prevent mosquito bites in the meantime. 

franci3@stolaf.edu

 

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf holds in-person welcome ceremony for class of 2025

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:30pm

After a year of many virtual events, on Sept. 4, 2021, St. Olaf held an in-person Welcome Ceremony for the class of 2025 and their parents outside on the Mellby lawn.

The speakers included Katie Fick Associate College Pastor, President David Anderson ‘74, Marci Sortor Provost and Dean of the College and Rosalyn Eaton ‘87, Dean of Students. 

Michael Kyle ’85, the Vice President for Enrollment and College Relations, personalized his speech by sharing some fun facts about the class of 2025, like how they speak 46 different languages. He also included happy birthday wishes to 10 students whose birthdays fell near the weekend of move in.

The final speaker was Matthew Marohl College Pastor, who offered a prayer for closing. Families shed tears and exchanged hugs as they parted ways. At the end of the ceremony the students left to join their SOAR groups. Lucia Wyland ’23, SOAR leader, attended the event.

“It was really moving to see all of these first-year students interacting with their families and saying goodbye really brought me back to my own experience which seems so far away at this point,” Lucia Wyland ’23 said. “COVID-19 has really changed life on campus so it was good to see it go back to a little semblance of normality.”

 

miller56@stolaf.edu

 

Categories: Colleges

Bucket list program promotes sophomore involvement on campus

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:28pm

On September 10, 2021, 335 members of the class of 2024 physically gathered to kickstart their sophomore year. At the Kick-Off, the Sophomore Bucketlist was announced and explained in detail. The idea of the Sophomore Bucket was created last year by Brandon Cash ‘16 and members of the Piper Center, Dean’s Office, Resident’s life and the Center for Academic Advising and Support.

 An original program built to assist students through their sophomore year was created last year and had a different name: the Sophomore Challenge. However, it was not the right fit for St. Olaf sophomores. “We need to do better, we need to have a little more structure there, and perhaps a little bit more intentionality behind it,” said Associate Director of Student Activities Brandon Cash ’16. It was not until summer 2021 that the original idea of focusing on the sophomores’ experiences was expanded upon. 

The term “sophomore thriving” forms the basis for the Bucket List. “Sophomore thriving” refers to experiences that are thought to be particularly helpful and supported by research in high impact practices. These experiences yield a great amount of meaning for students. The Bucket List, which can be viewed on Presence, provides Sophomores with a list of experiences that they can complete that will enhance their year. 

All 30 items that are on the Bucket List were chosen for a reason, backed by research, and tied to St. Olaf. Although there are 30 items to be checked off, only 15 of them are expected to be completed. Setting the goal of 15 “Gives enough of a spread that allows you to expand just a little bit in your sophmore year,” Cash said. When a student reaches five, Cash said he is working on providing notes of encouragement and when the first 250 students reach 15 they will be awarded a bucket hat.

 The purpose of the Bucket List is to promote activities that students are already doing and make opportunities that students have not thought of more accessible. It is also recognizing that “Sophomore year this year is tricky for folks. The bucket list is a fun and cheeky way to make it a little easier and help you all feel connected to each other to St Olaf and really make the most of what I truly think can be an awesome year here at St Olaf,” Cash said. 

The future of the Bucket List is looking promising and it seems that although some items specific to the class of 2024, such as Prom, sophomores can continue to look forward to engaging in this program. “My sincere hope is that this is something we continue. It’s not just something for the class of 2024 but that this is a program that continues to grow and say that we are going to welcome back our sophomores in a meaningful way and provide them with some opportunities to get connected in new ways on this campus when they return,” Cash said.

esterl1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

The athletes breaking the silence on mental health

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:25pm

This year has been unprecedented in terms of the number of athletes speaking out about an issue that has long been stigmatized and swept under the rug in professional sports – mental health. In May of 2021, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open after being fined $15,000 for not participating in a press conference in order to protect her mental health. 

Next, right before the Olympics in July, Australian basketball player Liz Cambage withdrew from the Olympic team, citing mental health concerns and worries about playing in a bubble environment. Usually, athletes would be able to see family and friends throughout their time at

the Olympics, but this year in Tokyo, contacts were severely restricted due to the ongoing pandemic.

During the Olympics themselves, the world watched as gymnastics superstar Simone Biles had to withdraw from the team final, the individual all-around competition, and three individual apparatus finals because mental health concerns made it physically unsafe for her to perform her routines. She was eventually able to compete in the balance beam final, where she made a remarkable comeback to earn the bronze medal. Reflecting on the win, she said, “I didn’t expect to win a medal today. I just wanted to go out there and do this for me.”

Most recently, American soccer player Christen Press announced that she would not play in the U.S. Women’s National Team’s upcoming friendlies, saying in a statement on her Instagram, “I’ve made the difficult decision to take a couple months away from the game to focus on my mental health, spiritual growth, and processing grief.” The decision comes right after the announcement that Press was signed as the first player to Angel City Football Club, Los Angeles’s long-awaited professional women’s team, which will play its first season in 2022. The deal marks a homecoming for Press, who grew up in L.A., and has rarely been able to play professionally in front of her home crowd. 

While some critics attempt to characterize the prioritization of mental health as a show of weakness or being a “quitter,” ultimately, these athletes have inspired people all over the world to make the entire scope of their health a priority, not just physical. By acknowledging mental health on the global stage, these women have made it not only acceptable but admirable to speak out about mental wellness and to take time off when it is needed. 

Beyond that, they have demonstrated to us that they are only human. When athletes that we admire and view as invincible take time off for their mental health, it makes clear to all of their fans, and to the world, that taking time off and focusing on mental well-being is the right thing to do. It legitimizes mental health as a real health concern that affects day-to-day life, just as any physical injury would.

By making mental health part of the conversation in the sports landscape, these athletes are changing the way health is spoken and thought about with regards to sports and life in general, paving the way for overall happier and healthier athletes and people for generations to come.

 

lagare1@stolaf.edu

 

Categories: Colleges

Masked and mighty: St. Olaf athletics returns with boosted morale

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:23pm

On Sept. 4, the St. Olaf football team kicked off their season. 658 days prior, the Oles were licking their wounds after a tough loss to rival Gustavus-Adolphus. Defeated yet hopeful, the underclassmen looked towards the next season, a season that would never come. 

The near two years between these football games at St. Olaf have been a whirlwind. COVID-19 prevented the St. Olaf football team from participating in any official games during the 2020-2021 school year. Their only competition was a joint practice with Augsburg in the spring of 2021. The lack of game action hurt the morale of the team.

“There wasn’t an enthusiasm in regards to practice last year because it’s hard to work for something when there is no end goal,” Ben Hestorff ’24 said. Hestorff is one of 64 first year and sophomore players beginning their first true college football season.

Besides affecting the ability to play games, COVID-19 stopped the team from forming the close bonds typical of a college sports team.

“Just that fellow teammate camaraderie I think was the biggest thing we missed out on,” Lars Prestemon ’22 said. Hestorff agreed, as he found the pod system, where players only interacted with their position coach and players who played the same position, prevented him from getting to know most of the guys on the team. “I definitely knew a whole bunch of defensive players more than I knew offensive players last year,” Hestorff said. 

Across St. Olaf athletics, the absence of games and the lack of social interaction contributed to a campus-wide dip in student mental health. “The social aspect changed a bunch and I think because of that there was a drop in mental health. People were starting to focus on themselves more. Kind of over analyze and think internally a lot,” said Colton Funk, co-director of sports medicine and associate athletic trainer at St. Olaf. 

“We’ve had probably a 100 to 200 percent increase in mental health cases throughout campus and throughout the NCAA. By far I think that’s the biggest struggle we had last year,” Funk said. “Hopefully this increase in socialization from the vaccine will decrease this scope in mental health.” This season has already produced promising results in turning around student-athlete mental health.

Practices for football are no longer limited by pods, and fall sports were able to have pre-season camps where teammates could bond together. “I think this year morale has been awesome. Having that fall camp, being in a pod in Ytterboe with 10 buddies, I think that really boosted morale,” Prestemon said.

The transition back to full-team practices and socialization this semester may not be apparent to the crowd when the Oles take the field, course, or court. The appreciation for the importance of competition and teamwork that COVID-19 put into perspective dwarfs any changes to testing protocol, masking, or vaccination status. This fall, St. Olaf athletics will return after a long hiatus, and no one is more thankful than the student-athletes who will once again get to compete. 

wood10@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Men’s and Women’s tennis fired up for fall season

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:19pm

The St. Olaf Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams started practice for the fall season on Sept. 8, 2021. While their main season is in the spring the fall gives each team time to work on their skills. Tim Roback ’22, one of the four captains of the men’s team expressed how he sees the fall season.

“You need a lot of reps in tennis to be good and consistent. The fall is kind of our opportunity to get practice matches in and work out doubles pairing and stuff because it is pretty low stakes and it’s more for personal development than the spring is,” Roback said.

Along with Roback are three other captains, Tony Klagge ’22, Ethan Bruha ’22, and junior Henry Smith ’23. As COVID-19 restrictions have loosened, Roback is hoping to do some team bonding:

“We’re excited. I mean we had two years of low team unity because we couldn’t do much together, so honestly one of our main goals is just ramp up the amount that we see each other as teammates and what we do together.”

The women’s team is also looking forward to team bonding as they welcome four new players. The six returners include captains Katherine Ichinose ’22, Christiana Cholakis ’22, Teresa Fawcett ’22, and Lauren Mossman ’22. Allie Prokosch ’23, reflected on the changes to the team.

“I was kind of scared last year because we were losing most of the top of our line-up but then Coach [Nesbit] did some recruiting and so we have a really strong team. I didn’t expect us to be so strong in the first two weeks of the season,” Prokosch said.

Prokosch echoed Roback’s sentiments in regards to team bonding both off and on the courts. 

“Everyone is playing with new doubles partners, so it takes a while to get used to who you’re playing with and what their strengths are and how you can support them best and be the player that they’re destined to be.”

miller56@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Alumni race kicks off cross country season

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:16pm

On Sept. 11, runners from St. Olaf past and present participated in the annual co-ed 5K Alumni Race. This race, according to Jens “Woody” Lange ’22, is the oldest of its kind in the country. This long-honored tradition helps current Oles feel connected to the long legacy of Ole runners. 

Zoe Plechaty ’23, a runner on the women’s team, said, “it’s great to have a bunch of strong women in sport coming together in community.” Additionally, the race helps bring the two teams together at the beginning of the season. This race is the only time the men and women will compete together, as they run different distances during their official season. 

Among the alumni running was a past coach pushing one of his children in a stroller and a man lovingly nicknamed Sparky, who, according to Lange was “the oldest known runner [in the race]. he graduated in the 70s, and He’s run every single alumni race since he’s graduated.” According to Anders “Jeb” Narum ’22, there were over 40 alumni in attendance, a high turnout compared to past years. 

The current women’s team beat the women’s alumni 23-38, whereas the men’s alumni beat the current men’s team 27-30.  Narum, one of the men’s team captains, said that this race shows that “We have a team and a culture that goes past people’s four years and that they’re still excited about running and want to do well.” The current team’s performance in this race does not worry captain Jeb as he noted that “we aren’t in our best shape which is exactly where we want to be. We want to be in our best shape come Champion season.”

Woody added that according to team lore, “The last time we lost to the alumni was the first time the team went to Nationals and won Conference. People were saying it’s a good sign.” 

The women’s team noted similar hopes for their season, with Sophie Gossard ’23 saying, “We are hoping to make it to Nationals, but more importantly winning our region.” These teams will be exciting to watch as the rest of their seasons unfold. Be sure to keep an eye out for their upcoming races and go support your fellow Oles!

muelle12@stolaf.edu and rice4@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Let the people vape

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:12pm

In December of 2020, President David Anderson ’74 announced that starting on Sept. 1, 2021, the St. Olaf campus would go completely tobacco free. I believe that this new policy is harmful to all Oles because it fosters a community of policing, pushes students to smoke in unsafe settings, and disproportionately affects international students. 

Inspired by thousands of other college’s guidelines that have done the same in the last few years, St. Olaf’s policy states that all tobacco and vapes on campus will now be explicitly prohibited. In an email sent to all students, the St. Olaf Tobacco-Free Support Team stated that, “Being a tobacco-free and vape-free campus is a community responsibility. If you see someone using tobacco on campus, we encourage you to use a gentle approach in reminding the individual of this policy.” 

Asking us as students to police our peers is damaging and promotes a culture of superiority. This, paired with the fact that smoking is often a cultural practice, could further ostracize international students — a significant portion of cigarette-smoking Oles.

A tobacco-free policy does not stop students from smoking, it just prohibits them being comfortable asking for help, and promotes smoking in secret or behind closed doors. I guess the school would rather increase the risk of a fire and the effects of secondhand smoke from people smoking in their rooms or the woods instead of providing safe, clearly demarcated smoking areas for their students.

The process of quitting nicotine can take months and is a difficult process, not something that can happen with a simple policy change. By implementing this, St. Olaf is leaving smoking students in a tight spot. Not to mention how scary it might feel if you were on a scholarship. How isolating would it be to feel your position at the school is vulnerable because of a habit you are working to stop? 

This policy is reminiscent of St. Olaf’s dry campus policy. When students are afraid of the repercussions of drinking, they are more likely to do it in secret and to not ask for help when it is needed. St. Olaf needs to think critically about the ways it can actually care for its students, instead of policing them.

A policy of this kind might be able to work on a campus like Macalester or even Carleton where students have the ability to step off campus onto a public street to smoke. We are so isolated up on the hill that students would have to transport themselves off campus. Did St. Olaf not consider students who don’t have access to transportation? 

I am not saying that drinking and tobacco use should be celebrated, but the truth is that people will continue to engage in these behaviors no matter what the policy states. St. Olaf needs to show their students that they care about their well-being — not what a policy might look like to the outside world. 

 

peacor2@stolaf.edu

Caroline Peacore ’24 is from 

Pasadena. Calif. 

Her majors are English and race and ethnic studies.

 

Categories: Colleges

Letter from the Community

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 4:05pm

As students return to campus, you may notice that the town of “cows, colleges, and contentment” is also a town of contention. One current issue is a proposed residential development on a 12-acre parcel of land about a mile east of the St. Olaf campus. A group of entitled neighbors to the property are waging a campaign to stop or significantly reduce the development, and they want you students to take up their cause.

The issue is not, as some claim, about saving an endangered bee or preserving a stand of trees. Those objections are easily refuted. It is about much-needed affordable housing being built immediately across the street from a new elementary school and a dynamic, multilingual Community Education Center in which the citizens of Northfield have just invested tens of millions of dollars.  

The proposed residential project is an infill development on a truly unique piece of land. Infill development is one of the city’s top land development priorities. Increasing density in the core city is much more climate-friendly than encouraging suburban-style sprawl on the periphery of town.

Many of the opponents of the project will agree that Northfield has a desperate need for more affordable housing. Some don’t want as many units as the developers are proposing. Others want affordable housing to be built in a different part of the city, not in their neighborhood.

Before you lend your signature to a petition or your voice to an appeal to the city council, please explore these issues in depth. Even though most of you will only be part of the Northfield community for four short years, your involvement in civic affairs can have a lasting impact. Please use your influence wisely.

 

randolph.jennings@gmail.com

Randolph Jennings is from 

Northfield, Minn.

 

Categories: Colleges

Life behind the mask

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 3:56pm

The hardest thing to keep track of as I start my very first year of college isn’t how many meal swipes I have left or where I put my contacts. No, it’s the last time I washed my face masks. I brought a total of five, with every good intention of using each one twice before washing. It’s been almost two weeks now and, from attending numerous orientation sessions to having to plan out when I’ll be studying for class, I haven’t had much time for anything else. Washing face masks regularly? I don’t think so. So what’s my point? 

Face masks are a pain. I know we’ve all experienced sitting in class as our faces burned hot with limited oxygen, desperate to run outside to get some fresh air. And don’t get me started on the boogers! We’ve all got them, but face masks are not and should not be used as Kleenex. 

Upon our arrival on campus, the administration made an announcement that it would be requiring face masks in all enclosed public spaces and wherever social distancing could not be maintained for the first stage of the semester. Rumors of a coming end to that policy were flying around campus, especially when an update from administration announced that our positivity rate was only 0.28%. When I heard about the possibility of a mask-free St. Olaf, I was surprised. 

Without more information, students, faculty, and staff began pondering whether or not our mask-required policy might be lifted, especially if test-positivity rates remain low, and what was at stake if that number rose substantially.

Face masks may be a pain, but they are effective at keeping transmission trends down. 

I’ve spoken with a few students who explained that, while they would like to be mask-free, they would still feel anxious about being around other students without one, especially without knowing who they’d been exposed to or where they had been. Just like so many others around me, I crave normalcy. But I can’t help but ask myself: is having an acne-free face worth the potential risk of testing positive for COVID-19? I don’t know. I hate acne, but I also hate quarantine. On the other hand, a mask-free policy would allow teachers to get to know their students better and students to get to know each other without having to memorize a pair of eyes and a forehead. For now, the endless waiting game continues. And while we wait, please don’t forget to wash your masks. I promise to if you do too.

 

hardy4@stolaf.edu

 

Categories: Colleges

Who we give up on

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 3:53pm

Like most Americans my age, I have grown up with the War in Afghanistan. When President George Bush launched “Operation Enduring Freedom” – the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan – I was less than a year old, but U.S. involvement in that conflict lasted long enough for me to cast my vote for the President who has now withdrawn American forces. As mass human tragedy plays out in Afghanistan, and with more suffering to come for its people, it is hard to be proud of my vote, despite having had no real alternative to it.

The U.S.– and our NATO partners, whose efforts are often underappreciated – are certainly not leaving Afghanistan victorious, but it would be wrong to say we have been defeated in battle. U.S. forces proved for 20 years that they were willing and able to combat the Taliban, IS-K, and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We are leaving Afghanistan because we lack the will, not the capability, for war. We are giving up.

Despite Republicans’ current point-scoring against the Biden administration, this withdrawal is fundamentally a continuity from the Trump administration, and stands out as a point of agreement between the Right’s growing America-First isolationism and the Left’s skepticism of America’s right to global hegemony. Despite the chasm of differences between these camps, neither is willing to present a real alternative to surrender; we are really only arguing over which flavor of decline and abdication is least bitter.

What is lacking from that argument is any appreciation of the extent to which the future of tens of millions of Afghan people have been abandoned by this nation, after putting them through great violence and trauma justified by the notion that American 

involvement might actually be to others’ benefit. Yes, we lament the suffering in Afghanistan while it is on cable news and the New York Times’ frontpage, but not with any real sense of responsibility.

None of this is to say the war was particularly pure, heroic, or even a good idea to begin with, but to pretend that this ending was inevitable is indicative of a people who have entirely lost faith in their country’s ability to do good in the world. It also demonstrates a double standard in the way America treats their foreign engagements; the tens of thousands of troops in Germany or South Korea do not draw the same ire as smaller forces in the Middle East.

Our military presence in “developed” nations is institutionalized as “alliances” and “commitments,” while those in nations like Afghanistan are denigrated as neo-imperial “forever wars.” As a result, while reconsidering its engagements abroad, this country has found that the people easiest to give up on are those who will be harmed most by its absence.

 

emmons1@stolaf.edu

 

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