Northfield residents apprehensive about students’ return to campus

Carletonian - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 10:49pm

Summer in Northfield has always been quiet. This year, it feels downright empty. Sad as the sight of Division Street without cars and people in the shops may be, some wonder whether the quiet is for the best. 

With St. Olaf bringing its full student population back in the past week and Carleton soon to follow, the residents of Northfield are bracing for a rise in COVID-19 cases that seems inevitable. Some raised concerns over how roughly 5,000 more people in town will affect their own daily lives, while others focused on the danger to the on-campus communities more than anything. 

As of September 1, there were an average of 6.6 new coronavirus cases per day in Rice County, but that was measured without a large portion of Northfield’s population present. St. Olaf has recently walked back some of its ambitious plans to return, offering more online classes than originally planned. Still, the virus has proved difficult to contain even in the first few days on campus. 17 St. Olaf students were suspended and dozens more were quarantined following a large party. 

Carleton has shown no signs of changing course, and although administrators have indicated that they will keep an eye on case numbers in the coming weeks, they have given no concrete information about the threshold at which they would deem the environment unsafe for students to return. 

“Northfield is going to be a national Petri dish,” said Doug Green, 65, a Northfield resident of more than thirty years. “We’re going to collect people from all over the country and bring them here and see what develops.” Though he said it with a chuckle, Green captured well the skeptical we’ll see mentality that several other residents expressed. 

Some raised concerns about their own lifestyle changes, like when Green said that he would take into account the increased crowds in downtown stores when he decides when to go grocery shopping. However, he and others acknowledged that they felt that the danger posed to them was much smaller than the danger to those in the immediate campus community. 

Bonnie Jean Flom, 71, a retired teacher active in town affairs, said that even though she lives with her husband, who is immunocompromised, her primary worry is for the students who will be living on densely packed campuses. “Certainly there’s some concern about people coming from all these places, but the greater concern I hear is for the students on campuses in those tight quarters and how to manage that and maintain that healthy distance that will be required in order for you to stay healthy,” she said. 

Though students can stay mostly on campus and distance themselves from those outside their close circle, Carleton does not exist in a vacuum. Anything that the college and the individuals within it do will have “ripple effects” on the town, said Teri Knight, News Director at KYMN Radio. The K-12 school reopening plan in Minnesota is contingent on county-by-county case density. If countywide case numbers increase suddenly once students return to the two college campuses, that could have an effect on how Northfield’s schools are allowed to operate. 

Carleton’s planning team met with Northfield city leaders while they made decisions about the fall, recounted college Vice President Eric Runestad. Northfield School Superintendent Matt Hillmann, who regularly attends those meetings, said in an email that they “discussed various concepts of planning, including the potential of students coming back to campus. While we did not specifically speak when the decision was being made, I trust the Carleton administration’s process and their ability to make the right decision for the College while considering the health of the community.” 

Knight said that she thinks they should have extended their communication with the wider Northfield community beyond that, “but frankly, they’re notorious for not.” She is used to reaching out to school officials for comment on her morning news program and not receiving any. “They give to the city a certain amount of money once a year and that’s kind of it. Other than that, they are entities of their own.” 

Gathering public opinion on the reopening decision could have produced conflicting results, because there is evidence that the student population thinks differently about the decision than the wider community. St. Olaf conducted a poll in late July that clearly highlighted an age divide—53% of faculty preferred to have the semester fully online, compared with only 22% of students.

The return to campus will surely bring benefits for the town, especially for small business owners. The restaurants and shops downtown that usually bustle with students are struggling, Knight said, and the allure of added business is strong. The question looming over everyone’s head is some variation of “what is worth the risk?” 

Green, a professor of English at Augsburg University, said that although he understands the various pressures on a college to open, in general “campuses should not be opening live.” He knows firsthand the difficulties of online learning as he prepares for his second semester of it. “Some students don’t learn well that way but it’s the only safe method we have and it would be better to be working with those students to help rather than endangering all lives,” he said.

Flom, who has three school-aged grandchildren, said she is “concerned about any school opening before science tells us it’s safe.” Her priority is their health, even if it comes at the cost of their academic progress. 

None of the three expressed bitterness toward the colleges or suggested that this would lead to a tense relationship between the colleges and the town community. Flom in particular said she cherishes interacting with students and looks forward to a time when she can do that again safely.

“‘No, don’t come to our town, we don’t want you here?’ There is none of that,” Green said. “I just think in the absence of clear national guidelines and scientific advice this is what you get. You get people making decisions ad hoc on their own. What the results of that will be, who knows? My prediction, not good.”

The post Northfield residents apprehensive about students’ return to campus appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Athletes cope with athletic department’s decision to cancel fall sports

Carletonian - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 10:45pm

The discussion over whether Division I athletics will exist this fall continues to ramble on, particularly with regard to football, a sport which generates key revenue for athletic departments across the nation. Meanwhile, the discussion over Division III fall athletics has been relatively straightforward; since they don’t provide substantial economic benefit, they are unlikely to continue out of fear they will facilitate the spread of COVID-19. 

In early July, athletic departments across Division III began to slowly announce decisions regarding the upcoming fall athletic season. In the wake of department-wide cancelations from institutions including Grinell, MIT, Claremont-Mckenna, Bowdoin, and Johns Hopkins, Carleton followed suit on July 10th when it became the first member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) to cancel fall sports. By late August, the Division III Administrative Committee recommended member schools not compete against one another during the fall term.

Carleton’s announcement sent shockwaves through the 12 varsity athletic programs with seasons scheduled this fall. For senior athletes, the news was particularly devastating: dreams of anticipated athletic honors, captainships, and more importantly, one last hurrah with teammates, suddenly evaporated. “For about 3 weeks after I heard that fall sports were cancelled and we wouldn’t be competing, I couldn’t look at anything related to volleyball, or sports in general, without breaking down,” mentioned Senior Abby Loe, a hitter on the women’s volleyball team.

After weeks of false hope that COVID-19 cases would dwindle and fall athletics would return, Loe realized the loss of her highly anticipated senior athletic season, a keystone of her undergraduate experience. “Selfishly, there were individual athletic goals I had coming into Carleton that I needed my senior season to accomplish. It just feels like an incredible loss to not play again. For team sports like volleyball, the loss is pertinent. You can’t just go out there and start playing competitive volleyball as an adult. You need a team, a net, and a competitive opponent to play. So this fall may have been my last legitimate chance to play the sport I love.”

Although she was completely unaware at the time, when Loe exited the arena at St. Olaf’s Skoglund Center following her team’s season finale in November, it was likely her last time wearing the maize and blue Carleton uniform.

As highlighted in a previous article published by the Carletonian, avenues remain open for athletes to regain their cherished senior season. Fall sport participants may take a leave of absence for a single trimester and graduate off-cycle in November, or, upon acceptance, they may carry forth their final year of eligibility to a post-graduate institution.

Loe, a Mathematics and Gender & Women’s Studies double-major, carefully weighed these options. Ultimately, she decided to remain on schedule with her coursework, leaving open the possibility of transferring her athletic eligibility when she attends graduate school. “For me, the risk of learning loss and potential wage loss outweighed the benefit of taking a term off.” Acknowledging the confusion over how long COVID-19 will affect athletics, she added: “Who knows when everything will return to normal? It could be years, and it doesn’t make sense to put my life on hold indefinitely.” 

Oliver Jacobs, a Junior offensive tackle on the football team, has taken a different approach. Unenthused by another term of online-learning, he will not return to campus this fall. By taking a leave of absence, he is scheduled to graduate in November of 2022, following what he hopes to be the completion of his senior football season. 

“I’m afraid that being on campus this fall may result in being stuck with online classes, and at the same rate of tuition, I don’t think that’s worthwhile. I’m also leery of a dull campus environment due to COVID restrictions” he explained. 

Jacobs, a Political Science and History double-major, plans to take advantage of the hiatus from his studies. After spending the summer as an intern on Representative Josh Harder’s congressional campaign in California’s hotly contested Tenth District, he secured a paid position on the DCCC’s coordinated campaign in Colorado. As a Field Organizer, he will recruit and train volunteers in Colorado’s rural Southeastern corner, which borders New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas.

“I’m trying to gain as much experience as possible,” explained Jacobs, who dreams of a future in politics. “Hopefully, this will serve as a springboard to other opportunities down the road. And on top of that, there’s just too much at stake in this election cycle to sit back and watch from a distance.”

By getting creative, Jacobs has carved out a win-win scenario. In addition to gaining valuable political experience, he will seize an opportunity to play all 4 seasons of his collegiate football career, which he considers “a huge privilege in this day and age.”

That said, many Carleton athletes will continue attending classes this fall, and as eager as they are to re-join their peers and professors on campus, they are preparing for an experience which will deviate substantially from the status quo. In mid-July, the College began laying forth a plan to provide its signature residential experience in the midst of a pandemic, taking measures including: modified housing accommodations, a mix of in-person and online classes, grab-and-go meals, and contact tracing protocols. Despite relatively straight-foward procedures, uncertainty lingers over whether athletic teams will be allowed to practice, and if so, to what extent.

According to the Athletic Department’s FAQ webpage, “teams will be able to practice in small groups following NCAA/MIAC/Minnesota Department of Health phasing guidelines.” However, in the circumstances of even a minor outbreak on campus, such plans could be thrown out the window. Ultimately, student-athletes may need to prepare for the possibility of a fall term without in-person practice.

Sports are a pillar of the Carleton experience for every student-athlete, most of whom, like Junior swimmer Natalie Lafferty, chose Carleton for a phenomenal academic environment coupled with the opportunity to compete in collegiate athletics. Athletic competition provides Carleton’s student-athletes with a productive outlet from the stress of a rigorous academic setting. Student-athletes like Lafferty form habits around their athletic schedules to productively manage their studies.

Lafferty, who is majoring in American Studies, acknowledged how thankful she is for the daily structure provided by her swim schedule. “During the season, I have morning practice, class, practice in the afternoon, and team dinner, followed by time to study in the library with teammates. This routine keeps me productive and happy, knowing I have built in time for socializing and exercise.”

Thankfully, Lafferty is not too concerned about the potential lack of structure this fall, but for other athletes, this is not necessarily the case. “Those work habits are going to be difficult to reproduce without volleyball,” cautioned Abby Loe, an aforementioned senior.

Even in a best-case scenario where practice will be permitted in “small groups,” it remains unclear how practice will be structured to meet the needs of specific sports. Drawing on informal communication with teammates and coaches, Lafferty believes the Swim and Dive team will practice in “pods” of 8-10 swimmers. “To my understanding, this means we will practice with the same group of people throughout the season to limit exposure and allow for effective contact tracing. But then again, we haven’t had an official team meeting to discuss the upcoming season, so I honestly do not know what practices will look like.”

Individualized sports like swimming and golf may be better suited for practice in small groups, whereas team-oriented sports like football, volleyball and soccer may have more difficulty adapting. The nature of these sports, which the NCAA considers “medium-or high risk for Coronavirus transmission” require the close proximity of participants and the sharing of a ball, meaning effective training will be limited if the whole team is restricted from practicing together.

Bella Bettner, a Junior on women’s soccer, says her team remains optimistic about a fall practice schedule. “Our coaches are planning for a spring season, so we have plans to practice and lift throughout the fall and winter. That said, I don’t want to get my hopes up for nothing.”

The MIAC is currently working to develop spring schedules for a handful of higher risk sports, including football, soccer, volleyball and cross-country. However, logistics remain complicated, particularly when it is not unheard of for competition fields throughout the state to remain snow covered in April. For football and soccer, a spring schedule would require access to indoor turf facilities, which Carleton does not own. Renting out the nearby Dundas Dome could be an option, but would require the restructuring of already-slim budgets to cover the costs. Nevertheless, for senior athletes who are desperate for one last season, a shortened spring schedule is their beacon of hope. 

Uncertainty lingers over what athletics at Carleton will look like this fall, but student-athletes will adjust accordingly. Bettner, a Biology major, is already thinking about how athletes can lead by example and help contain the spread of the virus. “I think athletes especially need to avoid parties and large gatherings for a while. If one of us gets it, the whole team gets it. Then, not only can you not practice anymore, but you’ve put the rest of campus at risk. So we really need to be careful,” she explained.

Being on campus this fall will mean making sacrifices. For athletes, this means the absence of a fall season and the likelihood of curtailed practices, if they manage to exist at all.

“It’ll still be worth it,” says Bettner.” Suddenly released from the demanding confines of their normal practice and competition schedules, athletes may enjoy more time immersed in their studies, or find new hobbies outside the realm of sports. 

The post Athletes cope with athletic department’s decision to cancel fall sports appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

The Weekly List – The Backup Singers Show

KYMN Radio - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 6:00pm
This week Rich takes a look at the role of the backup singer and plays some of their best moments.

COVID tents

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 4:32pm

As the new school year approaches for both the K-12 public schools and the private colleges here in town, tents are popping up all over town. Julia’s cross country meet was held today at one of the elementary schools, where several tents stood near the playground. Later, I drove past the girls’ old elementary school and saw two more, mixed into some trees far from the building. They create a strange end-of-the-carnival atmosphere.

The post COVID tents appeared first on Blowing & Drifting.

Categories: Citizens

Confronting friends (or others) who are not following guidelines

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 3:43pm

Article by: Mallory Lindahl

After months of preparation, the St. Olaf campus is now open, albeit with some pretty strict guidelines. In these first few weeks, there has been much discussion over how to approach a friend, or even a stranger, who is violating the campus rules. Try some of these methods when approaching someone who may not be doing their part. 

Before you begin: Analyze the situation 

Moving back to campus has emphasized the fact that we are all socially starved and desperate to see our friends. Granted, this does not mean that you should ignore blatant disregard for the guidelines, but always make sure that the person or people you are going to confront are actually doing something wrong. It is honorable that many students want to valiantly defend themselves and others from harm’s way, but if a report is inaccurate or exaggerated, it can cause another student a lot of unneeded stress and negative attention. 


Method 1: The Minnesotan Maneuver

Sometimes a passive aggressive, gentle yet firm reminder is the best way to go. Let’s say you see someone with their mask below their nose outside the caf. Maintain your distance, but embrace your inner local Minnesotan and try something along these lines: “Hey! I like your mask! It’s supposed to go over your nose though,” or a “Before you go into the caf, can you fix your mask to keep us all safe?” It’s non-confrontational, and one even throws a quick compliment in to make the person less defensive. 


Method 2: The Window-Warner

Now that we are allowed out of our rooms, many students have been taking advantage of the extra space, fresh air and the vitamin D. If you do happen to see some too-close-for-comfort contact from your window, you can use your potential Ole Choir belting voice to ask if they are with their roommates. And if they aren’t, ask if they could wear their masks to make sure we don’t have to have stricter guidelines! 

Method 3: Taking the Higher-up Highway 

Confronting a friend can be terrifying, and confronting a stranger can be even more so! If you are someone who does not want to deal with the stress of a potential argument, you can always reach out to your RA or another person of authority to (accurately) describe the situation and either ask them for advice or ask them to reach out and send a reminder. 

Method 4: The Party-Goers Dilemma 

Having gatherings on and off campus is a really fun way to connect with friends and meet new people! Weekends now look a little different for those who want to meet up, so it might not hurt to remind those that are gathering before we are allowed that they won’t be able to do so if we are sent home. You could try something like this: “Hey guys, we all want to have fun, but the more we hang out now, the less we can hang out later if restrictions get stricter.” 

Returning to campus in the middle of a global pandemic requires cooperation from everyone, and the most important thing is to take care of yourself and keep you and your roommates safe. Don’t feel like you have to save the campus on your own, and think of the best way to approach each unique situation so we can have the most successful semester possible! 

Categories: Colleges

STOreads: “Last Chance to See” is a Vital Experience With the Endangered

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 3:32pm

Only “Last Chance to See” could make a chance encounter with a lemur a spiritual rapture. 

The book follows comedy sci-fi author Douglas Adams (best known for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) on a journey with zoologist Mark Cawardine across the world to see animals on the precipice of extinction. Through surreal interactions with international travel law, lost suitcases and brushes with the exceptionally venomous, Adams employs his acerbic silliness to draw you through the book at a remarkable clip. It is often difficult to elicit actual out-loud laughter in a book, but I struggled to retain composure while reading. 

Adams’ talent for using witticism and clever metaphor expands smaller observations about life and the world into massive significance. For example, Adams takes the experience of watching a group of Komodo dragons brutally eating an entire goat as an opportunity for an amusing rumination on a capricious god creating coconuts for the sole purpose of taunting humanity with their inconvenience. More impressive than that, it works.

This skill is not used solely for comic observation. That same incident with the Komodo dragons leads Adams to ask why, for the purpose of conservation, he could not summon the courage to object to this endangered species—and an exceptional number of goats—being used as a grisly tourist attraction. 

It is impossible for me to do justice on how world-shaking these moments of clarity are. Hitting you like a flash of lightning, the rare pause in reading leaves you in stunned contemplation with your mouth wide open. 

The duo focuses on animals whose plight was mostly unknown at the time of the book’s publication in 1990. Adams and Cawardine did not visit tigers, instead finding gross lemurs and strange fruit bats; they wanted to draw an appreciation for the weird and wonderful, not just the familiar. This is the true secret to the power of the book, and the profound reverence for the strange and amazing things in this world delivers the reader a spiritual experience. “Last Chance to See” is not a simple argument for conservation; it is a personal journey that will change your relationship with nature itself.

Categories: Colleges

Applicants wanted for Northfield Charter Commission

KYMN Radio - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 3:26pm
The City of Northfield is seeking applicants to fill a volunteer position for a vacancy on the city’s Charter Commission. The vacancy is for a term that expires on December 31, 2023. Please visit the City of Northfield’s website for additional information on the Charter Commission and a link to the online application: Any registered

Music, movies, and TV for you and your roomie

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 3:19pm

As it turns out, trying to Zoom into Spanish class during your roommate’s voice lesson is not the pinnacle of roommate bonding time. Luckily, with the breadth of media and arts available to us, it doesn’t have to be. Even within the confines of your room, there are plenty of ways to spend quality time strengthening your relationship with your roommate. Sharing movies, TV, music and games are all fun and easy ways to pass the time in quarantine and learn a little something about your roommate along the way.

One of the easiest ways to get some low-pressure bonding time with your roommate is to listen to music together. Find the overlap in your music tastes (there’s bound to be some). It often comes from unexpected places — for instance, my roommate and I both have dads who are big 80s rock fans, so there’s quite a bit of Queen in my room. It can also be useful to build a collection of study music you both love. My roommate-approved favorite is “Getz/Gilberto,” an old jazz album mostly in Portuguese. Video game and movie soundtracks also work well.

Recommendations: “Dirty Computer,” Janelle Monáe; “Getz/Gilberto,” Stan Getz and João Gilberto

When you both have a few hours to kill, watching movies and TV make another fun roommate bonding activity. The same principle applies here as with music: Find things everyone likes, but be willing to expand your horizons a little. Also, keep in mind that we’re all under a lot of stress right now. If there was ever a moment for cheesy romantic comedies and mindless action movies, this is it. I, for one, have been watching absolutely ridiculous romantic comedies like The Kissing Booth.

If you’re really feeling the isolation in quarantine, gather up some mutual friends and start a Netflix party so you can both socialize outside of the room. Taking a break from being each other’s only source of human interaction will strengthen your roommate relationship too.

Recommendations: “The Old Guard”; “The Great British Bake Off”

Finally, don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself. Not everything has to be shared. Put your earbuds in and treat yourself to an old favorite. Trade media with your roommate to your hearts’ delights, but it’s alright to keep some things for yourself, too.

Categories: Colleges

Advice for first years in and out of the classroom

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 3:15pm

In Class

David Bauer ’22

“Keep in mind that there are plenty of people that you should feel encouraged to turn to for help and guidance. Early on, it is wise to talk with professors in your field of interest as well as students who are further along in their academic career than you. I promise they are almost always exceedingly friendly! This will not only aid you in crafting your four-year plan, but will hopefully help you discover your true passion, whether that is the major you were initially interested in or not.”


Anna Clements ’22

“I think the main piece of advice I wish I had gotten before I got to college was that at a liberal arts school, what you major in often doesn’t matter that much. If you’re looking at a particular graduate program, you might need specific prerequisites and that kind of thing, but in general what matters to employers is that you have a degree and the other skills you have developed in addition to academics. So study what interests you! Let go of the idea that you need a marketable major and find one that you feel strongly enough about that you can’t help but do well.”


Rhea Alley ’22

“What I wish someone could have told me during freshman year is to not undermine your own potential and to realize that your path may not be as you envisioned. In freshman year, I was a nervous, pre-med biology major hopeful who was too afraid to make new friends or even go on a plane all by myself. However, now I’m a psychology/Asian studies major on the public health track who has happily adventured abroad to Asia AND I have made friends with the same people I was intimidated by at orientation! College can seem so daunting, with newfound independence and a harder course load, but I assure you, when you actually live the college experience it’s a lot more fun!”


Rachel Ropella ’20

“Connecting with other students in your major, asking upperclassmen for advice and reaching out to have conversations with professors during my freshman year made a world of  difference. You never know what friendships and opportunities will come your way at St. Olaf if you’re willing to put yourself out there.”

Out of Class

Alexa Sorenson ’22 

“I wish someone had told me that college isn’t going to teach me everything that I need to know! I definitely came into school having been indoctrinated to think that a college degree is the end-all-be-all and that my St. Olaf education was my ticket to being the best human I can be. As I’ve spent more time in school, I’ve come to understand the importance of seeking education outside of the walls of higher education institutions. Although I value my formal education and love the community I’ve found at Olaf, one of the things that I think we all need to know is how to analyze and deconstruct harmful institutions. That’s something that St. Olaf isn’t going to teach us, because they would be putting their own institution on the line. To put it succinctly: I hope incoming students know that St. Olaf is a special place, but that they should be critical of the education they’re receiving therein.”


Morghan Park ’21

“The biggest thing I wish I knew my freshman year is that it is really normal to feel really high highs and really low lows during your first year at college. There will be moments, maybe months at a time where you feel incredibly happy and comfortable knowing you chose the right school, but there will also be many moments of feeling incredibly homesick, overwhelmed or like you don’t fit in. It may seem like you’re the only one feeling these hard feelings, but you’re truly not alone. As I got older and closer with my friends at Olaf, we all started sharing our stories from freshman year and I realized so many people felt the things I did, it’s just that none of us talked about it at the time. If you’re struggling with adapting to college life, share those feelings with your friends or roommates because more likely than not, they have felt the same way at some point.”


Asa Gold ’22

“Try to figure out what you like, how you prefer to spend your time, and what makes you feel secure, safe, at-home, etc. I think a lot of the struggle of the first weeks and months of college is feeling like you have to do [insert activity/way of socializing here] to get through college. But the fact is, eventually you will discover that you might like to spend a lot of time alone, or that you need a lot of social contact or that sometimes you really need friends and other times you prefer doing stuff on your own. And eventually you will either find others whose style matches yours, or at least find a way to honestly communicate your needs. So pay attention to that early on, and do your best to figure out those needs without feeling like you have to follow someone else’s model or copy what other people are doing. It’s up to you.”


Eugene Sandel ’22

“Don’t lock yourself into one thing if that’s not what you want. You don’t have to be known for something specific like music, or sports or sciences, just do the activities that bring you joy and your identity will show itself.”

Categories: Colleges

Advice for the new Ole: Navigating romance on the Hill

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 3:07pm

Hello my lovelies! I hope you are all out there wearing masks, distancing physically and the like. Amidst all the pandemic pandemonium happening on campus (essential as it is), it’s easy to forget the newest members of the Hill: first years and transfer students. Welcome! 

As a seasoned veteran of dating on the Hill, I wanted to reach out with some special advice for all you new hopefuls. Although college is an incredible place to potentially meet the love of your life, I would like to share some words of wisdom and caution to keep in mind when dating on the lovely St. Olaf College campus.

1 . Be wary of seniors 

As a first year, I remember watching my friends become exceedingly smitten with upperclassmen who simply glowed with maturity, intrigue and excitement. But first years, beware of such amorous connections! Although four years is short in the grand scheme of life, the college years are extremely formative. People discover what they’re really about, alight on their future goals and find new dimensions of their personalities over the course of 12 long semesters. 

It can be extremely difficult (albeit not impossible) to find a balance of power between a first year, who is still learning the ropes, and a senior who feels like they have been enlightened. Because of this, it’s easy for a first year to become overly dependent on the relationship and allow too much of the power to fall into the hands of the more experienced upperclassman.  

If you’re trying to avoid heartbreak as a first year, it’s also important to think at least a tiny bit long term when dating a senior. What happens in two semesters? What happens to your relationship when they graduate? They may seem like the best thing that’s ever happened to you now, but will that hold as you finish out a seemingly insurmountable amount of coursework in college and they move on to a very different world? Seniors, even those with good intentions, are most likely only looking for something fun and diverting while they finish off the grand ol’ diploma. If being someone’s temporary distraction is acceptable to you, go ahead. But you’ve been warned!

2 . Tiny, but mighty (awkward): The reality of dating on a small campus

What’s not to love about small campuses? More individual attention from faculty, digestible class sizes, stronger sense of community — the list goes on. However, when it comes to dating, players and Tinder-swipers beware! With only about 3,000 students and a dozen or so buildings, there’s nowhere to hide from previous flames, especially if they study in your department. So proceed with caution. 

Very few can still walk the halls of Buntrock without feeling the need to quickly change direction or hide behind a random, towering Norwegian-American in hopes of escaping the gaze of a past flame. If you’ve spent much time in a small town, these situations should already be familiar to you. The same rules apply here: If you’re going to dip your toe in and sample the many fish of the St. Olaf sea, make sure you don’t try one that will be swimming in your school later. Another option: Become really good at staying friends with people that you failed with romantically. This fine art, however, is a Heartbeat column unto itself. 

3 . What about the high school significant?

Goodness, there is no easy solution to this one. In my experience, the high school relationship rarely lasts through even the first semester of college. I remember watching the strained but hopeful distance-daters around me drop like flies as fall swept through campus my first year on the Hill. I even experienced the same heart break myself with a high school sweetheart of two years. Nevertheless, I do not regret the fact that I gave it a shot. As Wayne Gretzke said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” 

Sure, it might be a bleak cause, trying to hold on to someone from a previous stage of life. At the same time, wouldn’t it be worse to be looking back as you sit alone in bed on a Friday night in sophomore year, slurping Ben and Jerry’s as you bawl over “The Notebook” and wondering, “What if? What if we had at least tried distance?” (definitely not a personal experience there). So if you think they’re at all worth it, give it a shot! See what happens! Let things fall apart or bind together organically, instead of euthanizing the relationship solely based on a geographical change. 

Don’t be frightened my lovelies! College romance can be thrilling, hugely informative and may even impact the rest of your life (Oles marry Oles?). We must take some measured risks to continue rolling out our tapestries of life. At the end of the day, just remember to be confident, be yourself, be smart and always, always be kind!


Deepest regards, 

Dr. Lovegood ’69, Specialist in All Things Amorous

Categories: Colleges

Humans of St. Olaf

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 3:00pm

The strangest thing about being back on campus is the caf, because every other year it’s been a place where everyone is at the same time – and there are little traditions that go on in there. I guess it’s replaced by one of my favourite things which is eating in the quad. I feel like that’s an aspect that has been added – the only place where I ever see people’s faces without their masks. It just feels like a new little community that I really enjoy.

Categories: Colleges

Quarantined in Sunsets

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 2:54pm

“After almost everyone had gone home during the first uprising of the pandemic, very few students stayed behind for various reasons.  Hanane, Ruby, and Tyreis soon became accustomed to our quiet lives on campus. 

These are only a few of the shots taken during our time in quarantine. ”

-Carol Luna Morales ’23


Categories: Colleges

Stav Hall provides to-go containers amid COVID-19, students question environmental impact

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 2:39pm

The College has implemented new single use, compostable takeout containers in Stav Hall in an attempt to allow for social distancing. The containers allow students to take meals outside or back to their dorms, but students have raised concern over the sustainability of this new addition to the caf. 

“The compostable containers we are using are relatively affordable,” General Manager of Bon Appetit Traci Quinnel said, “and they are accepted by the college’s waste contractor, so they do not contribute to the landfill.”

However, other colleges across the country, including neighbor Carleton College, have developed a reusable to-go container program. This option provides students with a container to hold their cafeteria food, and once students are finished using it they can return the container and get a clean one for their next meal.

Many of the schools with this program have reported reduced waste levels and a positive impact on the overall sustainability of the school.

While this green program has become more popular across campuses, it requires a certain level of space and infrastructure. Spending time, energy and money to develop a reusable takeout program while the school is increasing their carbon footprint in several other areas may not be worth it.

“Transitioning back to reusable dishware would likely have a negligible impact on the school’s overall carbon footprint,” said Abby Becker ’19, executive leader of St Olaf’s Climate Justice Collective (CJC). “Focusing a lot of time and energy on an issue like dishes can take away from the bigger picture.” 

The CJC primarily focuses on advocating the College divest from fossil fuels.

Becker does have advice for students who seek to limit their own personal carbon footprint. She recommends packing a bag with reusable cutlery, using their own salt and pepper shakers and reusable water bottles.

Categories: Colleges

First year students face an unprecedented welcome week

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 2:33pm

Article by: Zack Holmes

St. Olaf’s class of 2024 experienced an unprecedented end to high school and start to college. First year orientation was virtual this year, creating a different experience for first year students.

The orientation allowed students to participate from the comfort of their home, for some making the transition to college easier, Aidan Coburn ’24 said.

This unprecedented orientation has changed the role of the Junior Counselor (JC), a part of residence life that is tasked with organizing events and being an overall support system for first year students. With social distancing policies, JCs struggled to help support students. When it came to move-in day, JCs felt uninvolved and unsure of what was happening, said Logan Graham ’22, a JC in Hoyme Hall.

One of the biggest struggles First Years will face this year is creating friendships and socializing. With the school’s policies of social distancing, students are currently unable to visit each other’s dorm building, must limit the amount of people in their rooms and always wear a mask. 

“[it is]that much harder to be engaged because you’re used to a classroom with other bodies in it,” Jacob Thomspon ’24 said. 

When asked how making friends has been, Thompson said that it, “hasn’t been a great experience,” and Coburn described it as, “a little rocky.”

The campus will move on to its next stage of quarantine Thursday, Aug. 3, which will allow students to visit each other and start activities. With this return to normalcy, First Years are confident things will straighten up. 

“I don’t know what to expect when things go back to normal, but I’d imagine we will figure things out,” said Thompson.

Categories: Colleges

Life in an Isolation House

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 2:23pm

By: Megan Allbrooks and Lydia Bermel

Students at St. Olaf are experiencing an unprecedented year as the school navigates the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the physical changes to campus, students are adjusting to social distancing policies, random testing and hybrid classes. In this series, The Messenger shares stories from Oles experiencing different aspects of the pandemic. 

Hermione Yim ’22 shares her experience living in an isolation house.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


Can you start by telling us your experience? What’s been going on?

I am a junior here, I am a studio art and piano performance major, and I am an international student from Hong Kong. After spending the summer on campus, I was tested before all the students came back and my test came back negative. After students returned to campus, I really didn’t leave my room, but I must have come into contact with someone because I got a positive result on my next test. That was a lot to process. I was not expecting this—I did not know what had happened. I had less than an hour to pack, and it was broad daylight so I thought, “What if people think I’m doing something wrong?” I was really self-conscious and embarrassed. Then a COVID officer picked me up and brought me to a house.


Have you shown any symptoms? Or did you just test positive? How long have you been in the house?

I got my second test on Aug. 20. I got the news on Saturday, at about 2 p.m. I moved in here at 4 p.m. So it’s been 5 days. So far I have a little bit of a headache and a sore throat, but not really [any other symptoms]. But I’ve been drinking a lot of water, so I think they’re tiny symptoms. 


What is the house like? How has it been set up?

When I moved into this house, I was the first person to get tested. 

The house is boiling hot, it has three stories and they put me in an attic room. They said we didn’t need bedding, but the bedding they have doesn’t fit the beds. And the window cannot be opened! 

If you say that you’re ready to move us into a house, the house is not ready. So there’s a lot of things that they haven’t figured out internally, which is my main concern.

And this should have been done before we moved in. Why didn’t anyone bother to check the environment before we moved in? But in the house nobody’s taking care of it, so it’s dusty, and there are bee hives so the window can’t be opened, and it’s super hot. So all of these things should have been done before coming in. 


Could you describe what the house is like, how you are getting meals, are you able to see people and logistics?

Meals are delivered to the house everyday around 2 p.m. Most deliveries just include lunch and dinner. Lunch is usually sandwiches, those tiny ones, almost like a bag lunch, and then with a bowl of salad. And then dinners are really nice, but they come in really small portions. And the breakfast—on the first day we moved in, they gave us all the breakfast food we could ever need, like some instant oats, some trail mix—like a continental breakfast. 

We’re always hungry. We called them, and like a couple days later, they have adjusted the portions a little bit. But it’s still pretty small.


Are you able to pick what you eat?

No. They ask you for dietary restrictions, like are you vegetarian, are you vegan, etc. But we don’t really get a choice.


How many other people are in the house with you?

I think there are 4 of us. 2 guys, 2 girls. 


Are you able to see each other and hang out?

We kind of do, yeah. In their email initially, they told us to just stay in our room, close the door, and don’t interact at all. But at the very beginning it was too hot, and each level up is hotter, right? So we all come down to the living room or basement so there’s enough room for us to spread out. They finally gave us AC ventilators, because like it’s not okay! You can’t expect us not to open a window! And not open doors! And like today, it’s like 33 degrees celsius today, it’s really hot. 


How is it going with mental health? Like is there support for you guys? Or are you just sort of left alone? 

There is usually one check-in email every day, and a check-in follow-up with each individual student, so that was a bit nice. So after a few days nothing was actually happening so I sort of calmed down. And I told my professors so they know what’s going on, for my part, but I know my friends who are here, sometimes we all struggle a bit and cry a bit, things like that. It’s pretty normal, I think is where we are at.


Before you found out you were positive, you’d been staying in your room and everything, what was your experience–because I’m assuming you had to talk with a contact tracer– like how was that process? What was that like?

It was actually pretty nice, like calming. Because I was literally freaking out. I waited half an hour for the contact tracer. And she was really nice to me, and she was asking me after I leave if I’m doing okay. It was nice, because I don’t feel that I’ve been judged. That really helps. So I think what happens is that you go through the day, like day by day, I think like 4 days back, like what have we done today, in the morning, looking through the phone records, phone calls, text messages to slowly recall what happened. But luckily I’d just been with my roommate, So, everyone else is okay. 


 Is your roommate in the same house as you?

No. The thing is that my roommate tested the first round, it was negative. My roommate is currently in our room, in the dorm, being in isolation. 


Did you feel any apprehensions about telling people, even your professors that you had tested positive? Or was it an okay experience? How did the professors react?

 I had reconciled with everything, telling myself that I didn’t do anything wrong, right? So I kind of got over it. And I just told them that like “I unfortunately got COVID.” And they have all been super supportive, and like “tell me if you need anything, or need any extra help” to just let them know. So it was nice.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Categories: Colleges

Is it ok to plant now? Tips for fall planting.

Is it ok to plant now? Tips for fall planting.

As the season winds down, we are often asked if it’s still ok to plant trees. We have good news! It is an excellent time to plant! The cooler weather is gentler on new plantings and makes it easier to keep up with watering. The end of the season signals to plants that it’s time to put energy into roots rather than shoots, which is great when establishing new trees and shrubs.

Tips for fall planting:


Mulch is always a great idea, but it is especially important when planting in cooler weather. Mulch protects the root zone from temperature fluctuations and helps retain the moisture that is essential for winter survival. 3-4” of wood mulch is great for trees and shrubs. Perennials planted late in the season also benefit from wood mulch or a layer of fallen leaves. Just be sure to pull the leaves back when new growth emerges in spring.


Your plants won’t use as much water as the weather cools down, but don’t neglect them! Make sure to continue watering until the ground is frozen. Good hydration is key to insulating the roots and minimizing winter burn. Follow our handy watering guide and you’ll be sure to have happy plants in spring.

Don’t cut back perennials

Many perennials do very well with late planting, but you can add some extra insurance by leaving the top growth on your new plants. Along with mulch and hydration, leaving the foliage on top helps protect the crowns and get them through winter happily. Cut back the dead foliage in spring when new growth starts showing.

The post Is it ok to plant now? Tips for fall planting. appeared first on Knecht's Nurseries & Landscaping.

Categories: Businesses

Admissions office adjusts programming during COVID-19

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 2:12pm

With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, St. Olaf’s admissions office made changes in their approach to recruiting prospective students and giving them a taste of campus. Chris George, dean of admissions and financial aid, provided insight as to what the College’s plans are for the fall semester and coming months. 

George reported during a Zoom call that, “the biggest challenge St. Olaf has faced is adapting to the rapid pace of change that came along with a global pandemic.” Face-to-face contact with prospective and current students is lost at this time, meaning admissions has to try to replicate what they used to do in-person, such as interviews, campus visits and overnight stays for prospective students.

The admissions office has created a new driving tour of campus through an app that provides pre-recorded information at each of its 11 stops. When prospective students and their families arrive on campus, they will retrieve a bag full of items that they will need on the tour, delivered with no contact. This experience allows prospective students to see the campus and learn more about it with minimal risk. 

In addition to a driving tour, the admissions office has plans to create synchronous virtual tours with student tour guides. This will allow a back-and-forth conversation between current and prospective students and is a great opportunity for those that live out-of-state or internationally. 

George emphasized that the admissions office hopes to build community connections, “through virtual campus visits that may happen over a week or two weeks so that students do not have to sit in one Zoom meeting for several hours. 

“Sessions can then focus on specific subjects, such as the music programs, conversation programs, the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, the Center for Academic Advising and Support, and more,” George said.  

In regard to the student population for the class of 2025, George informed us that, “it’s definitely possible that more students from Minnesota may opt to go to school closer to home.” However, this does not mean that out-of-state and international students will lose interest. 

“St. Olaf plans to work with these students to give them options, especially those who may experience travel bans or visa bans,” George said. 

The College also decided to become test-optional with applications. This decision was accelerated by the pandemic, but the College decided that the most important aspect of a prospective student is how they challenged themselves in classes they took in high school, rather than how they scored on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. 

The College recognizes that students cannot visit campus, so they have made a temporary non-binding early action program for students to find out if they are admitted around January. Depending on the restrictions of COVID-19, perhaps these students will be able to visit in the spring and make a concrete decision. George wrote in an email that, “The changes in place are based on our goal to be student-centered and reduce anxiety in the admissions process.” 

George also stated that any opportunity to engage prospective students with current students is important. This may mean that current students who work in admissions will conduct interviews for a more personal approach. There could also be evening or weekend programs led by students in order to expand time slots for prospective students and their families. 

George reiterated that the admissions office loves to connect with prospective students, but, “also wants to give them the opportunity to speak more with current students on campus so they can have more of a lived experience of the College.”

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiment: an Ole at home

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 1:05pm

Just as I was about to go back to school this year, all of my classes changed from in-person to online. It seemed pointless to go to campus if my classes would be purely remote, so I began to consider studying from home. The biggest thing holding me back from staying home was my spot in the Spanish House, since I didn’t want to throw away such an amazing opportunity. But in the end, I was offered a virtual residency, which took some of the pressure off of the decision-making.

I was already apprehensive about how different campus life would be this fall – I was worried that I wouldn’t even be able to enjoy everything I love about being on campus, like ice cream study breaks at the Cage. Would college life be so limited that it wouldn’t even be worth it? Besides, there was the looming possibility of us all getting sent home before the semester ended. So I decided to stay home, save money and wait it out. 

However, I’m surprised at how different studying away from campus is turning out to be. I no longer get to experience the buzz of campus life around me as I study in Buntrock or Rolvaag. I don’t get to have dinner with my friends or attend all my favorite clubs. I now have to find another way to fulfill my work award since I can’t work at the Caf this semester. 

I imagine that all of these staple St. Olaf experiences are dramatically altered for everybody this year, but I can’t even participate in a modified version of campus social life. As an introvert, this doesn’t take as much of a toll on my mental well-being, but it does make me feel isolated because I can no longer partake in the shared Ole experience of campus life. 

In some ways, I feel like an outsider to an inside joke that everyone on campus shares. I don’t know the goings-on of campus except what I learn from emails. I’m missing out on the social presence at St. Olaf, a fundamental aspect of the college experience. Although I’m still a member of the Spanish House, I’m missing out on the most integral part: living in the Spanish House. As a virtual resident, I don’t get to bond with the housemates or speak Spanish with them each day, as I otherwise would have. Technically I’m still an Ole, but it doesn’t always feel like it. I feel a bit more like a college dropout bumming it at home, regardless of how untrue that may be. 

Despite my relative isolation from campus, there are ways I can stay connected. I am still a member of the Spanish House, and though I may not live there, I will work with the other members to host the Conversation Tables and plan our events. I am also a St. Olaf Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) Peer Coach, so I get to be a guiding presence to a group of first-years. I will try to seek out clubs with virtual meetings, and I can always keep in touch with my friends through video chat. Any remote socialization is more rewarding than complete social isolation.

Even though the fear of missing out is real, it doesn’t have to be absolute. Life goes on, even in a pandemic. We can find ways to stay connected, whether it be across social distancing or the internet. This semester I will try to stay active in campus life, and hopefully next semester I’ll choose to brave the campus bubble.


Emma Reeder ’22 is from North Little Rock, AR. Her majors are Spanish and women’s and gender studies.

Categories: Colleges

A SHOW OF LOVE: City collaborates with artist on Domino's mural

Northfield News - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 12:38pm
It was a cool Thursday morning when Illinois-based artist Brett Whitacre continued spray painting the west exterior wall of the downtown Domino’s pizza building.
Categories: Local News

SGA unofficially appoints new Vice President

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 12:21pm

President Melie Ekunno ’21 appointed Imani Mosher ’21 as Vice President of St. Olaf’s Student Government Association (SGA), filling the highest-level vacancy in recent history.

SGA’s Student Senate must still formally approve Mosher as Vice President because she was appointed by Ekunno rather than elected by the student body. Senate will not convene until they can meet in person, which delays Mosher’s approval process.

In an email sent to the St. Olaf student body on Aug. 7, Leander Krawinkel ’21, who was elected Vice President of SGA for the 2020-2021 school year during the spring, announced he was stepping down from the position for personal health reasons. This action left the Vice Presidency vacant, and SGA opened a rolling application.

Mosher recalled that as soon as the announcement came out, “a lot of people I knew started texting me,” all wanting her to apply for the position. After a thorough written application and an interview with Ekunno and Krawinkel, the President appointed Mosher. 

“I got the email when I got to school that they chose me as their new VP,” Mosher said.

According to Associate Director of Student Activities Brandon Cash ’16, who advises the President and Vice President, SGA has never had to begin the school year by appointing and approving a Vice President. However, SGA bylaws have a procedure in place for such an event. 

Despite not being the official Vice President yet, Mosher has already taken on the duties of the position. She is working closely with President Ekunno, Senate, and various SGA initiatives to get the year underway. She has been drawing on past experience as co-founder of the St. Olaf Climate Justice Collective and hopes to bring a “fresh perspective” to the body, Mosher said.

As Vice President, Mosher’s primary job is to lead the Senate. However, because the Senate has yet to convene this year, Mosher has not been able to formally meet senators. 

“They haven’t really met me yet,” Mosher said. She nevertheless described SGA as a whole, and Ekunno in particular, as very supportive.

Even as Mosher begins her work with SGA, no formal announcement has been made to the student body regarding her nomination. Oleville, the SGA’s website, does not mention that the position has been filled. Mosher acknowledged that not communicating, “might be confusing for people,” but was confident the oversight would be corrected. 

Cash said the lack of an announcement is due to the unfortunate timing of the application process, which was held as students returned to campus, and the COVID-19 pandemic forcing SGA’s attention elsewhere. Once the executive team and the Senate settle into the routine of the new school year, “I imagine we’ll start to see some of that communication pick up,” Cash said.

Categories: Colleges
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