Going underground: What’s become of Carleton’s tunnels

Carletonian - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 12:01am

For most Carleton students, mentions of the infamous tunnels conjure up stories from alums and years past. Although they were closed in 1988, the lore surrounding their existence and closure is still abound on campus, as students trudge across the Bald Spot on snowy November days, cursing the lack of underground passages.

So what happened? Why are we walking through snow instead of using the many tunnels that run below campus, between buildings? After storing my bike in the Watson-Evans tunnel one summer, and finally seeing one of these tunnels in the flesh, I had the same questions on my mind. And I decided to do some digging.

“The first tunnels were constructed in 1910 when the original steam plant was being constructed and are mostly serving the west side of campus,” said Steven Spehn, Director of Facilities. “These original tunnels are smaller and were not designed or ever used as pedestrian tunnels. Their purpose was for the placement of steam lines that branched out from the central steam plant to the various buildings. Additional tunnels were added over time and the campus expanded and buildings added.”

According to a Carletonian article from 1990, the tunnels were originally closed in October 1988 after one Northfield teenager broke into the tunnels and knifed a swimmer in Cowling. What seemed like a temporary closure of the tunnels was met with student outcry, which only worsened when the closures became indefinite, as the administration cited further safety and security concerns. The tunnels also grew increasingly hazardous as the college expanded central cooling and used the tunnels as pipeways.

Another Carletonian article published shortly after the closing of the tunnels expressed regret at the College’s decision to do so. “The tunnels are an integral part of the Carleton campus and as such merit more consideration than has seemingly been afforded to them,” the columnist wrote.

A campus organization by the name of “Initiative” formed in the fall of 1989 in an effort to pressure the administration to re-open the tunnels. Initiative went on to sponsor “Tunnel Awareness Days” to publicize their campaign to re-open the tunnels through creating buttons and a “mock tunnel.” The organization was mostly sponsored by upperclassmen who had experienced the tunnels during their underclassmen years at Carleton, and who hoped to garner support from underclassmen, who arrived at Carleton after the tunnels had been shut off.

A Carletonian columnist who went by the name of “Tunnel Tina” and snuck into the tunnels in 1999 and documented her experience. To supplement her own writings, Tina interviewed a number of alums from the 80s who lamented the loss of the tunnels as a loss of important communal and social spaces as well as a loss of beloved tradition with historical continuity.

Steve Young, an alum from the mid 80s stated, “It was a way in which we could read what someone had painted there, had scrawled there, in 1965… of being in touch with the past. You really had the feeling of belonging to something.”

The tunnels seem to be particularly notable for their graffiti and for their role as a space for Carleton subculture to exist literally below ground. In speaking with alums about the tunnels, they often share and reminisce on irreverent and famed elements of tunnel “art,” particularly in the pedestrian passageways on the East side of campus. There’s the twister board painted onto the ground, the Yellow Brick Road, and a tunnel painted to look like a train terminal. But alongside these famed works of art, there are also political statements, notes to friends, poems, and odes to various floors (3rd Musser, 4th Watson), and groups on campus.

Today, although the graffiti and art still exist on the walls, the tunnels are used “mostly for utility routes for heating, cooling, electricity, phone, and data networking,” said Spehn, and are also not likely to reopen any time soon.

“At this point it is highly unlikely it would be these same tunnels. If there was interest [in reinstating the tunnels], it would likely have to be new tunnels,” Spehn added. A number of Carletonian articles over the years have examined the costs it would take to reopen or rebuild new tunnels, and despite their compelling arguments on the importance of the tunnels, construction is expensive and unlikely to commence any time soon.

Based on my brief foray into the tunnels, I too, like many alumni and students, emerged from the underground wanting more. Like “Tunnel Tina” said in 1999, “I left the tunnel feeling more a part of Carleton, more in tune with what it is to be a student here.”

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Categories: Colleges

Guest Lecturer Mariana Hernández Burg delivers talk on indigenous activism in Mexico

Carletonian - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:57pm

On Thursday, November 7, the Gould Library Athenaeum was filled with students, faculty and community members eager to hear guest lecturer Mariana Hernández Burg present a talk entitled “Resistance to Counter-Insurgency in Southern Mexico.”

Hernández Burg is a community organizer and public educator with a degree in anthropology who has taught about language, culture and bilingual education in Mexico City. She is currently the head professor at the Autonomous University of Social Movements (AUSM) in Chiapas, Mexico, where she teaches students from the United States how to work towards social change.

Caro Carty ’20, a Sociology/Anthropology major, met Hernández Burg when they studied abroad with AUSM in Chiapas during their junior year. “I have learned so much from Mariana about what it means to be a community member and activist,” said Carty.

With this in mind, Carty worked with the Center for Community and Civic Engagement’s Peace and Conflict Cohort, the Department of Political Science and the Carleton Student Association Senate to bring Hernández Burg to campus.

Hernández Burg began her talk by commemorating the 25th anniversary of the War Against Oblivion, in which the Zapatista movement rose up in Chiapas against the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Mexican government responded by bombing the city; at 14 years old, Hernández Burg was already involved with a liberation theology group which responded to the massacre. She then detailed the ongoing struggles of the Zapatistas and other indigenous movements to resist the government’s systematic removal of their autonomy by forming their own collectivist societies. Throughout the talk, she highlighted indigenous women who have emerged as leaders in these movements.

If I took anything away from my evening in the Athenaeum, it was the importance of organizing in support of the social movements in southern Mexico. At the end of her talk, Hernández Burg delivered a clinching line: “the only thing [the Zapatistas] have going for them is national and international solidarity… the only thing they want is that you organize here against capitalism and systems of oppression.”

Her passion for activism came through here; however, it was sometimes obscured by an overload of information. By the time she finished flipping through her extensive slideshow, the talk had run long. Many students had to leave before the question and answer section. I admire Hernández Burg’s commitment to teaching about Mexican history, a subject that isn’t covered often enough in school curriculums. However, the level of detail she went into seemed too deep for an hour long presentation.

I was more interested in the relevance of Hernández Burg’s research to activism in practice, so I caught up with her after the talk to hear what the social movements she has studied can teach us about community organizing. After all, she has been working on the ground with the Zapatistas since that first action when she was 14, mostly by setting up autonomous education.

The most important skill she has acquired in that time, she told me, is “learning how to learn and learning how to listen.” Only then, she said, can we “build bridges and networks between people who are doing this already and focus on what unites us.” This is critical to all kinds of activism.

But to accomplish any of this, Hernández Burg said, you have to set up “spaces where all are welcome.” She has worked to do just this between students, faculty and staff at the AUSM, and according to Carty, she has succeeded. I stopped to pick up a brochure for the program on my way out, telling them that I was excited to learn about a new study abroad opportunity. Carty smiled. “This is a good one,” they told me.

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Categories: Colleges

Men’s and Women’s Basketball look sharp, open season with W’s

Carletonian - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:50pm

The 2018-2019 season was not a kind one to Carleton Basketball. Both Men’s and Women’s Basketball were put through trials and tribulations perhaps unprecedented in both programs’ respective histories. After winning three of their first four, Carleton Women’s Basketball dropped a whopping 21 straight contests, finishing with no wins and 18 losses in conference play, including a 62 point blowout to St. Thomas. At the season’s conclusion, Head Coach Cassie Kosiba resigned.

Men’s Basketball had its own share of institutional issues. Following a disappointing 7-18 season (5-15 in MIAC play), eight of the returning 10 players had decided to step away from the program, seven of whom followed through. Six former Knights actually left Carleton, leaving Men’s Basketball with Seniors Kent Hanson and Henry Bensen, sophomore Alex Battist, and a lot of question marks.

Though each squad has a season’s worth of basketball left to play, this week’s victories seemed to be an indicator that things are moving in a positive direction for both programs. The victories themselves are not necessarily suggestive of a systematic turnaround, but the manner with which both teams competed could be. This past Friday, the Carleton Women defeated visiting Martin Luther by a score of 69 to 46, recording 22 steals, third most by the Knights in a single game in program history. The following Tuesday, the men dropped 82 points on North Central, three points more than their highest single game offensive output of the 2018-2019 season, en route to an 82 to 67 win.

In just one game, both groups of Knights appear to have significantly improved the weaknesses that plagued the previous year’s squads. Last season’s men’s team, as with nearly all of defensive wizard, and Head Coach, Guy Kalland’s teams, played excellent defense, holding opponents to 68.6 points per game, good for second amongst MIAC schools. Offensively, however, they ranked dead last, scoring three points per game less than the closest competitor. The women fared even worse, ranking last in both points per game scored and points per game allowed, plagued by turning the ball over 20 times per game, and only forcing 13 turnovers on defense.

Though Martin Luther is not a particularly strong basketball program, Friday’s result, along with statements from point guard Jill Yanai ’22, shows that defensive mindset for the women’s has changed. Yanai referenced systematic changes to the Knights approach to defense. When asked about their defensive philosophy after the victory, “Coach is always talking to us about using high hands, to make them throw high passes that we can intercept,” said Yanai. “We kind of use this cat and mouse type of thing with the high post, which allows us to be in control on defense. Our philosophy is really just systematically thinking a step ahead for the next pass, and I feel like it’s been working.”

The coach Yanai is referring to is Tammy Metcalf-Filzen, who returned to the Bench for the Knights in place of Kosiba. Perhaps none are more qualified to coach the Knights than Metcalf-Filzen. A Carleton ‘C’ Club Hall of Famer, Metcalf-Filzen coached Women’s Basketball at Carleton for thirteen years before retiring in 2010, winning three MIAC championships along the way, and finishing with the best winning percentage for a coach in program history. Interestingly, Metcalf-Filzen actually coached Kosiba during her playing days as a Knight.

Metcalf-Filzen is renowned among coaching circles as imposing a disciplined style of play on her teams, one that has obviously led to success. She institutes a systematic approach on both ends of the floor, preaching to the Knights the importance of patient, intelligent team basketball. Between the 22 steals and skyhigh 45 percent shooting percentage, Metcalf-Filzen already has the Knights playing more efficiently than last season. Though MIAC championship contention is not imminent, there is no doubt that Metcalf-Filzen has Carleton Women’s Basketball moving in a positive direction.

Unlike the Women’s program, Men’s Basketball hasn’t had a coaching change for three and a half decades. Kalland is in his thirty-fifth season at the helm for Carleton, but perhaps has never had to face such a roster transformation as he did this past offseason. In addition to having to completely fill out his roster with first-years, Kalland had to deal with the departure of his second leading scorer, and the only other Knight to average at least double figures besides Hanson, Matthew Stritzel ’21. Considering the Knights appalling lack of offense in 2018-2019, losing a scorer like Stritzel very easily could spell doom for the 2019-2020 Knights.

Though one game can never be a completely accurate barometer of a team’s future success, the Knights’ offensive performance against North Central gives reason for optimism. First years Ike Tessier and Jeremy Beckler lit up the scoreboard, combining for 50 of Carleton’s 82 points in their debuts. Tessier finished with 27, scoring the majority of his points on acrobatic finishes over multiple defenders. Beckler added 10 rebounds in addition to 23 points of his own, shooting 63 percent from the field, while knocking down three of six from beyond the three point stripe.

Neither team captain Henry Bensen nor Kalland were surprised by the outpouring of offense from their first years, however. “They’ve been doing it all camp,” Bensen remarked. “Those guys play hard, they get after it. It’s really a testament to the work they’ve put in this preseason, getting ready for this first game. They haven’t seen any college action and picked right up from where they were in high school.” “I’m not stunned…maybe only forty-eight,” joked Coach Kalland when asked if he expected fifty from Beckler and Tessier.

The MIAC is chock full of very strong programs. The Knights young squad will have to face the gauntlet early, as later this month they’ll travel to play St. John’s and St. Thomas, ranked 12th and 15th nationally, respectively. Like the women, Men’s Basketball might not be ready to compete for a championship quite yet, but they too are trending upwards. With a talented young core of Tessier, Beckler and Battist, the future is bright.

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Categories: Colleges

Knights Football aims to finish on a high note on Senior Day

Carletonian - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:42pm

For seniors Emanual Williams, Mack Journell, Jay Na, Peter Hagstrom, Christian Cavan, Aaron Prentice, Carlos Lua Pineda, Joe Lewis, Eric Stadelman, and Fletcher Metz, Saturday’s home game against Concordia College marks the final football game of their careers. This season has been, without a doubt, the most successful one in which the class of 2020 has participated. In 2017, the Carleton football team won zero games and sustained losses of 63-0, 49-0, 35-0 and 52-0. Since then, thanks to this senior class, the team has trended in an upward direction and looks to continue for seasons to come.

The Knights started fast this year, demolishing Macalester at home in the “Book of Knowledge” game 41-0. Quarterback Beau Nelson ’22passed for 301 yards and Mack Journell, a receiver, had one of the best games of his career, reeling in 14 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns. The next week the Knights traveled to Appleton, Wisconsin for a contest against Lawrence University, where they won again by a score of 20-10 in a phenomenal defensive effort, totaling five sacks and holding Lawrence to less than 200 yards of total offense. The Knights moved to 2-0, their best start since the 2013 season.

The next stretch of games opened up MIAC play (Macalester football is not part of the conference). The Knights dropped three in a row, including losses to #4 Saint John’s and #7 Bethel, to bring their record to 2-3. However, they were able to bounce back with two consecutive MIAC wins against Hamline and Augsburg. Sean Goodman ’21 ran for a go-ahead 30 yard touchdown to defeat Hamline on the road, and the defense did its job once again. Travis Brown ’21 tallied a game-high 14 tackles. They defeated Augsburg on Homecoming, starting off fast on offense with a 70 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jonathan Singleton ’23 to Williams. Both were fantastic; Singleton threw for a career-high 417 yards and six touchdowns, while Williams had 14 catches for 226 yards. He scored three times on catches of 71, 30 and 17 yards. Singleton’s performance tied him for the most touchdown passes in a single game in Carleton history. Williams had the second-most receiving yards in a single game in Carleton history, the most for a Knights receiver since 1990. In every sense, the Homecoming victory was an offensive explosion destined to happen for quite some time.

Though the next game brought a 63-15 loss at home to #18 St. Thomas, it was by far the best performance this Knights team has had against the Tommies. The Knights led most of the first quarter 6-0 and was only down 14-9 at halftime after kicker Trent Ramirez ’23 drilled the longest field goal in Carleton history, a 48 yard kick with one second left in the half. Singleton threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns against a vaunted Tommie defense. The Knights couldn’t keep up in the second half, but their performance in the first half against the nationally-ranked program is something to applaud. In spite of a four-touchdown performance from Singleton at Gustavus Adolphus the next week, the Knights lost again. With one game left in the season, their overall record is 4-5 (2-5 in the MIAC).

This Saturday at Laird Stadium is sure to be an emotional one for the football program. Senior Day marks the departure of multiple Knights who have contributed to the program for four years, including the standout receiver duo of Journell and Williams. Although the seniors will surely be sad to finish their football careers, they have to be happy with the state they’re leaving the program in. With an influx of young talent and quality games against good teams, the Knights football program looks to be rising from the ashes of a dismal past couple of years. This season was their best start since 2013, when the Knights finished at a .500 win percentage. With a win at home on Saturday, the Knights will return to .500 once more.

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Categories: Colleges

Prof. Barbara Allen receives Richard E. Neustadt Book Prize for latest book, Truth in Advertising

Carletonian - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:41pm

On Friday, November 8, Barbara Allen, Carleton’s James Woodward Strong Professor of Political Science and the Liberal Arts, accepted the American Politics Group 2019 Richard E. Neustadt Book Prize. The prize was awarded to her latest book: Truth in Advertising? Lies in Political Advertising and How They Affect the Electorate, co-authored with Daniel Stevens, Professor of Politics at the University of Exeter.

Allen traveled to London to receive the award at a ceremony that she said was “very, very nice.” The prize was presented by Baroness Shirley Williams, a member of both houses of the British Parliament and Richard Neustadt’s widow. Allen was thrilled that she had read the book, and said that “she gave a passionate and empowering speech at the presentation. It is spectacular to have models of service such as she is.”

Allen began researching political advertising with the Carleton College Election Study in 2008. She had originally put together the study in 2000 to examine election news coverage. With John Sullivan, that year’s Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor, and Stevens, then a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Allen led her students from all of her classes in a comprehensive content analysis of four local news stations. In 2004, Professor Greg Marfleet joined in, enlisting students from his Political Research Methods class, but the study otherwise remained the same.

Then, Allen said, “in 2008, we totally lost our minds.” Not only did the group start studying national and cable news channels along with the local ones, but they began an entirely new analysis of more than 700 political advertisements. This was groundbreaking work. Never before had a study analyzed both the sound and imagery of campaign ads, fact-checking them along with looking for misleading video editing that distorted the narrative.

Allen credited a number of student research assistants in her book, including Jeff Berg ’14, who co-wrote a chapter after spending three summers on the project. “I joined the project the summer after my first year, primarily to translate Spanish language political ads,” said Berg. Although I wasn’t considering a major in Political Science (or even doing research at all) at that point, I really enjoyed working on the project, and Barbara graciously allowed me to continue doing so following that summer. My responsibilities grew from there—by the time I graduated, I had content analyzed hundreds of ads, conducted statistical analysis, and presented our results at various conferences. I’m deeply proud to have been a part of it.” Berg ended up majoring in Political Science and Cognitive Science, and is now pursuing a PhD at New York University.

Allen said that many more of the students who worked on the project went into “really cool political jobs,” including Tommy Walker ’08, who now works for Amy Klobuchar.

Carleton academic technologist Paula Lackie and her student group “the DataSquad” also helped with the research process. Lackie trained these students and guided Allen with data directly. According to Lackie, it was “exceptionally labor-intensive work of qualitative analysis,” but it was well worth it. “Without this kind of research,” she said, “we are at the whim of opinion. You can see where that’s gotten us so far.”

From Allen’s previous research on election coverage, she had expected to find some lies in the 700 advertisements, but “mainly ‘not the whole story’ mistruths.” Instead, she said, “there were some things that were so outrageously false that it was just shocking.” On average, every advertisement had two deviations from the truth, with more in negative advertisements that targeted a candidate’s opponent, and in ads for candidates who trailed in the polls. Allen and her team found that the lies in any ad had the potential to seriously mislead voters, even those who were well-informed. The danger, according to Allen, is that “you can’t dislodge the lie” once it’s entered your mind.

Allen has published her findings in political science journals, but “in a journal article,” she said, “you don’t get to say a lot about the more fundamental problem.” Lies in political advertisements are dangerous enough, she thinks, that the courts should be “protecting political speech that is truthful.” Her book communicates this to an audience “beyond academics with an interest in political communications.”

Allen hopes that receiving the award will direct attention to the topic. “It will get the book into libraries,” she said. “I hope it will help spur conversations about ways we can have an effect.” Lackie agrees. “In an era of anti-intellectualism and anti-science,” she said, “it’s reassuring that someone is paying attention to evidence-based political writing. Ideally, they’ll apply what they’ve learned and spread the word to enlighten the more casual consumers of political messages.”

Meanwhile, Allen continues to analyze political news, this time from the 2016 election cycle. She is also currently working with students on a study to see if change in ownership of local broadcast stations, including stations that have been bought by right-wing media outlet Sinclair Broadcast Group, “have changed election news coverage in any significant way.”

Note: This article was was updated from the print version to fix the end of the last paragraph being truncated.

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Categories: Colleges

November 7-12

Carletonian - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:32pm

Thursday, November 7
Early morning: An ill student was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

Morning: Security and the Northfield police responded to a college-owned house because of a reported break-in.

Friday, November 8
Evening: Burnt food set off a fire alarm. Security was able to silence and reset the system. No fire.

Saturday, November 9
Early morning: Security called for an ambulance to check on an intoxicated student. This person was cleared by paramedics to remain on campus.

Early morning: Security called for an ambulance to check on an intoxicated student. This student was left in the care of a friend for the remainder of the night.

Sunday, November 10
Early morning: Security and the Northfield police responded to a 911 hang-up inside of a residence hall. Everything was all right. Two words: butt dial.

Monday, November 11
Early morning: Security responded to the report of an indecent exposure incident.

Morning: Security responded to a wellness check on a student.

Morning: A faulty boiler caused the carbon monoxide detector to go into alarm in a campus house. Facilities responded and fixed the issue.

Tuesday, November 12
Early morning: Security transported an ill student to the hospital.

Evening: Security responded to the report of a malfunctioning smoke detector.

Evening: Security responded to a complaint of a marijuana smell in a residence hall.

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Categories: Colleges

Gender pronoun option to be added to campus directory by winter term

Carletonian - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:29pm

On Monday, October 21, Carleton Student Association (CSA) Senate passed a resolution giving students the option to display their preferred gender pronouns on the campus directory. This resolution reflects efforts among students and administration to increase visibility of gender diversity on campus.

The resolution to add gender pronouns to the Carleton campus directory was brought to CSA by Evie Kortanek ’22, Ozzy Cota ’22 and Molly Zuckerman ’22. According to Kortanek, the resolution was inspired by a petition, entitled “Let Carleton Students Display their Gender Pronouns on the Campus Directory,” created by Naomi Brim ’21 last June. In the petition, Brim writes that “It is essential that students learn and respect each others’ gender pronouns to foster a safe and inclusive campus environment.” By including gender pronouns on the campus directory, Brim continues, the Carleton community “could make a step towards demonstrating that we are a campus that respects and acknowledges people’s gender identities—especially for non-binary and trans folks who might be tired of being misgendered or reminding people of their pronouns time and time again.”

Similarly, Kortanek sees the inclusion of gender pronouns on the campus directory as a way to “both increase visibility of gender diversity on campus and provide an infrastructure for holding each other accountable in avoiding the inequality that can occur when individuals are misgendered.”

“Transgender/genderqueer/non-binary students still experience some extent of invisibility and inequality on campus,” Kortanek continued. “We hope that making student pronouns visible helps in raising awareness of the inherent difference between biological sex and gender identity—and, thus, the harm in assuming one’s gender identity—and leads to a decrease in the instances of misgendering so that trans students can be recognized and affirmed as much as their cis counterparts.”

Students can choose to have their gender pronouns displayed on the campus directory, or they can opt out of the process. Kortanek said “We proposed that pronoun inclusion on the campus directory be optional to acknowledge and support those who are not comfortable sharing their preferred pronouns on the directory for whatever reason or who are still determining which pronouns they prefer.” Cota agrees, saying “It’s optional because by doing so it avoids forcing people to conform to gender pronouns and come out as being trans or gender nonconforming.”

“Everyone will have the choice to submit their preferred pronouns or not,” said Director of Web Services Julie Anderson. “If not submitted, nothing will show on the directory.” When asked what steps will be taken to ensure the privacy of students, Anderson said that “Student information is only shown to Carleton community members who have logged in.” According to Cota, “parents would require a student login in order to see the pronouns.”

This CSA resolution was passed on the heels of a college initiative to include gender pronouns on faculty rosters. On August 27, Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston sent an all-student email introducing this new initiative. “We now have a process by which you may communicate your personal pronouns electronically to your adviser and the professors of the courses in which you’re enrolled each term,” wrote Livingston. Personal pronouns would be reported on a Personal Pronoun Form, and communicated to advisors and professors through the Registrar’s Office.

In the email, Livingston emphasized that “This is an optional process for students who wish to share this information and is intended to provide a more discreet mode of communication offering an alternative to in-class sharing of pronoun preferences. Your submission will appear on your adviser’s and professors’ electronic rosters.”

Cota is hopeful that the new CSA resolution, “in conjunction with the college initiative where faculty were provided with a student’s pronouns beforehand” will “help mitigate the numerous cases in misgendering that I myself have experienced, as a non-binary and they/them pronoun user, and that fellow trans folx have experienced.”

According to Anderson, “The plan is to have pronouns in the directory by end of spring break.” Adding gender pronouns to the campus directory will be a multistep process. “The data needs to be made available to the directory, and the directory needs to receive it for display,” said Anderson. “The first step will take some time, partially because there is other work in progress that need to be completed first.”

However, Cota said that since Monday, November 11, the project “timeline has shifted.” According to Cota, CSA President Anesu Masakura ’20 announced that ITS will be working on the project over winter break, and that it should be implemented by Winter Term.

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Categories: Colleges

GSC Director Mathews makes public statement, Cota ‘22 pushes for change in attitudes toward GSC

Carletonian - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:26pm

On Thursday, November 14, Carleton Student Association (CSA) President Anesu Masakura ’20 sent a campus-wide email entitled “GSC Statement.” “I invite folx to share their feelings about their experiences with the GSC and its changes,” reads the statement from Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) Director Danny Mathews. A URL included at the end of the email links to an anonymous feedback form with one question: “What are your feelings about the GSC and your experiences with the office?”

Last Spring, the Carletonian reported that of the ten students employed as Gender and Sexuality Associates (GSCAs) in Fall 2018, only two had retained the position by the end of Spring term. Mathews was hired during December 2018, and all eight departures occurred after the change in leadership.

Four former GSCAs interviewed in the Spring 2019 Carletonian article raised concerns about “the development of an unsupportive work environment where student opinions were disregarded, a loss of community in the GSC and a significant decrease in campus engagement with the GSC.”

“Over the last several months, the GSC has experienced some changes,” reads Mathews’ statement. “The professional staff in our office are available to meet one on one for conversations about these topics.”

“We care about supporting LGBTQIA+ people and communities at Carleton and maintaining a space that is welcoming and inclusive,” Mathews continues.

The statement came about largely because of the efforts of Ozzy Cota ’22, who met with Mathews individually on Tuesday, November 5. “I met with Danny to voice my concerns, as a queer and nonbinary student, about what the GSC was doing,” said Cota.

“I suggested he send me a statement about what the GSC was doing,” said Cota.

“I suggested that he send me a statement about what the GSC will be doing as a next step forward, considering all the harm and chaos that has been happening,” said Cota. “I also suggested he acknowledge any residual and rightful anger that some of these students may have by attaching an anonymous Google form for feedback.”

Cota, who serves as a Class of 2022 Representative on CSA Senate, reported on their conversation with Mathews to Senate on Monday, November 11.

In their Senate address, Cota said “I have been working on fixing the relations of the GSC. During my conversation with Danny, he made a series of acknowledgements and apologized for the way that space has been characterized and more importantly has acted. We shifted the conversation to talk about what would rebuilding trust look like.”

Cota believed Mathews’ statement should be released by the students in Senate, as opposed to the GSC or the Dean of Students Office. “CSA Senate represents the student body,” noted Cota. “Sending the statement to students via Senate shows that this message has been deliberated on by straight, cisgender, and queer students on Senate. I didn’t want it to be a clinical thing presented by Danny, whose credibility is underground, or the Dean’s office, because then it might appear like the administration had been doing this work. The reality is that students worked on this. It was a student-led initiative—it shows that students have the power to get things done through conversations.”

Cota met with Vice President and Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston on October 16 to discuss the GSC. “She said that if students did have concerns about Danny, they’d have the liberty to file a Human Resources complaint,” said Cota. “It’s interesting because I didn’t know we had Human Resources.”

“Students should complete community concern forms if they have concerns, observations, or questions regarding faculty, staff, visitor, or student behavior,” said Livingston. “Faculty concerns are addressed by the Dean of the College, student concerns by the Dean of Students. Human Resources is involved if there is a concern relating to students employment and each division is made aware of the concern and will work with HR to resolve the student employment issue.”

“One of the things Senate is working on, and that I will be working on, is trying to understand the Human Resources process and streamline that information,” said Cota. “So if in the future a situation comes where another staff member is being problematic to the community and action needs to be taken, there will be an accessible and easy way of doing it without having to go through all this work.”

GSC office staff

Of the two GSCAs employed at the end of Spring 2019, one is currently studying abroad, and the other is now working for another Division of Student Life office.

Currently, three students are employed as GSCAs, all of whom are new to the position: Anna Bridgeman ’22, LouLou Ferrer ’20 and Veronica Alvarez-Zavala ’22.

This Fall, the GSC hired eight office assistants, a new GSC position. The position was not assigned as a summer employment assignment to first-years, but rather advertised and filled early fall term. While GSCAs are considered peer leaders, office assistants are not, and their tasks are more administrative than programmatic, said Bridgeman. Six of the eight office assistants are first-years, Bridgeman said. Mathews declined to confirm this number.

“Our GSC Office Assistants have been a great addition to the team,” said Mathews. “Students are an important part of the work happening in the GSC, and we will continue to offer opportunities for students to get involved at whatever level they are comfortable.”

Bridgeman applied to be a GSCA during the peer leader application period in Spring 2019.

As a prospective student, Bridgeman attended a GSC event. “I loved it, and had a great time. I thought: ‘This is the job I want to have when I come to Carleton.’ Last year, things were going on with the GSC, but I just said to myself: ‘I’m going to make prospie Anna happy, and apply for the job anyway.’”

“Some days after I applied for the job, the Carletonian article came out, and that was stressful, definitely. I thought: ‘What have I done?’ But I talked to one of the GSCAs who stayed, which was a reassuring conversation,” Bridgeman continued.

“I’ve had a good experience working at the GSC,” said Bridgeman. “It’s been nothing where I’ve thought I needed to leave. I don’t want to invalidate people who had those feelings, because I’m sure there were reasons. But for me, it hasn’t been bad; it’s a nice job. My experience with Danny has just been in staff meetings, when he’s mostly just checking in on what everyone is working on.”

“My experiences with Danny’s leadership are very different than the GSCAs from last year,” said Ferrer. “The past and the present are very different things. He’s trying to adapt more to the Carleton system. He has good intentions, entirely. I personally don’t have tension with him—not to invalidate anyone else’s experience.”

Of the two GSCAs employed at the end of Spring 2019, one is currently studying abroad, and the other is now working for another Division of Student Life office.

Currently, three students are employed as GSCAs, all of whom are new to the position: Anna Bridgeman ’22, LouLou Ferrer ’20 and Veronica Alvarez-Zavala ’22.

This Fall, the GSC hired eight office assistants, a new GSC position. The position was not assigned as a summer employment assignment to first-years, but rather advertised and filled early fall term. While GSCAs are considered peer leaders, office assistants are not, and their tasks are more administrative than programmatic, said Bridgeman. Six of the eight office assistants are first-years, Bridgeman said. Mathews declined to confirm this number.

“Our GSC Office Assistants have been a great addition to the team,” said Mathews. “Students are an important part of the work happening in the GSC, and we will continue to offer opportunities for students to get involved at whatever level they are comfortable.”

Bridgeman applied to be a GSCA during the peer leader application period in Spring 2019.

As a prospective student, Bridgeman attended a GSC event. “I loved it, and had a great time. I thought: ‘This is the job I want to have when I come to Carleton.’ Last year, things were going on with the GSC, but I just said to myself: ‘I’m going to make prospie Anna happy, and apply for the job anyway.’”

“Some days after I applied for the job, the Carletonian article came out, and that was stressful, definitely. I thought: ‘What have I done?’ But I talked to one of the GSCAs who stayed, which was a reassuring conversation,” Bridgeman continued.

“I’ve had a good experience working at the GSC,” said Bridgeman. “It’s been nothing where I’ve thought I needed to leave. I don’t want to invalidate people who had those feelings, because I’m sure there were reasons. But for me, it hasn’t been bad; it’s a nice job. My experience with Danny has just been in staff meetings, when he’s mostly just checking in on what everyone is working on.”

“My experiences with Danny’s leadership are very different than the GSCAs from last year,” said Ferrer. “The past and the present are very different things. He’s trying to adapt more to the Carleton system. He has good intentions, entirely. I personally don’t have tension with him—not to invalidate anyone else’s experience.”

Current GSC efforts

Tea Time, a weekly social event hosted by the GSC, has seen low attendance this term, according to Bridgeman.

“Attendance has been pretty low, and it’s about half people who work at the GSC,” said Bridgeman. “So it’s kind of disappointing.”

“In terms of who comes to the GSC, the demographics are different this year,” said Ferrer. “We have a significant amount of first-years. My first year at Carleton it was more of a balance between first-years and upperclassmen.”

A November 5 GSC e-newsletter included a link to a “Tea Time Experience Survey,” which included questions regarding students’ attendance at and preferences about the event.

“We’re trying to get student feedback to try to revamp it and bring it back to life,” Bridgeman continued. “We’re trying to figure out ways to make it more interactive, to keep things exciting.”

“In looking at survey responses, a lot of the reason people enjoy Tea Time is for community-building,” said Bridgeman. “And it’s kind of hard to build a community when there’s no one there.”


On August 30, an Instagram account by the handle @c.a.r.l.s2019 posted an image of a rainbow-striped raised fist, with text reading: “What else do we need to prove? Fire Danny Mathews now! Protest Danny Mathews, save the GSC; LGBTQ+ Carl Communities deserve better.”

The post was uploaded by a new coalition called Carls Advocating for the Rights of LGBTQIA and Sexual Identities (CARLS), founded by Cota and two former GSCAs.

The Instagram account currently has 81 followers, and the post advocating for Mathews’ firing received 35 likes.

“We made the post because we were upset over the things that had transpired during Danny’s leadership,” said Cota. “We decided to make the first agenda item the firing of Danny Mathews and the restoration of the GSC as a safe space. That was our position coming into fall term.”

CARLS no longer advocates for firing Mathews. Neither does Cota personally.

“I changed my mind the moment I left Danny’s office,” said Cota. “I thought: it actually seems like we can do something now. All the effort and resources we would’ve put into firing him can be put into creating new, diverse initiatives.”

“I think that Danny has proven himself to care about making a positive change on our campus,” said one of the former GSCAs who founded CARLS with Cota. “He is simply learning to familiarize himself with our campus and its infrastructure.”

“There was a lot of anger and hurt that was very much palpable and evident in the queer communities at Carleton,” said Cota. “But we are no longer advocating for firing Danny Mathews.”

Cota pointed to other dynamics that caused CARLS to reconsider its stance on Mathews. “The problems that arose with advocating for his firing were connected to the conflation of anti-Danny rhetoric with general animosity for the GSC,” said Cota.

“Since the Carletonian article came out, there has not been any visible effort toward trying to fix the GSC situation. Cisgender and heterosexual folk are capitalizing on this ‘woke’ activism, where now it’s the ‘right’ thing to be against the GSC, without any genuine concern for what that means for queer communities.”

“I think the route I took was very difficult, personally and emotionally,” said Cota of his activism this term. “Change can happen on campus, but if you’re going to have such a strong initiative, make sure you’re taking care of yourself first. And make sure you do most of the work when you’re on break—that made this a lot easier for me. I’d done a lot of the researching, reaching out, and brainstorming over the summer.”

“This all goes to show how important dialogue is, continued Cota. “In a perfect world, I would’ve liked to have been my radical self. But for the sake of bettering the queer community as it stands, there was that ideological sacrifice I had to make. And it seems to be working for the better. So, here’s to change.”

Looking forward

“Right now, we’re in a stage of trying to figure out what role the GSC can serve for students, and trying to figure out how to re-engage students who’ve stopped coming,” said Bridgeman. “We’ve had pretty good engagement with the first-year class, which has been really exciting. We’re just trying to make sure people know that the GSC is a space that’s open and available for them.”

“We knew going in that there was this tension around the GSC,” said Ferrer. “That was part of why I wanted to work there: to help ease that tension. We need positivity.”

“The GSC is going through a process of healing,” Ferrer continued. “We’re trying to connect with other offices, and we’re trying to expand more around campus. We’re trying to heal. We want people to come to the GSC, we want people to show up, and relax.”

“I have full confidence in the leadership of GSC, the GSCAs, and the student assistants who are conducting meaningful and thoughtful work with and for the GSC,” said Livingston.

“Ultimately, it is my goal to communicate that the GSC still cares and that we’re here for every student,” reads Mathews’ statement in the all-campus email. “I hope each of you will join us as the Gender and Sexuality Center turns the page and begins a new chapter.”

The post GSC Director Mathews makes public statement, Cota ‘22 pushes for change in attitudes toward GSC appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

CSA Senate proposes pay for top three executives

Carletonian - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:13pm

This year, the Carleton Student Association (CSA) has reintroduced a motion that would give pay to their executive leaders. This idea has been proposed before, but its benefits and drawbacks have proven difficult to balance, according to Student Body President Anesu Masakura ’20. Former Student Body President Walter Paul ’18 proposed this idea during Masakura’s freshman year, but due to complications, the motion was stalled.

Masakura charged a working group of CSA senators to do research on this issue and find out what other liberal arts colleges pay their student government executives. Whether the current proposal will ultimately pass remains undecided. “The Exec team does a lot of work, and it’s good that CSA is having this discussion,” said Hanah Diebold, Assistant Director of the Student Activities Office (SAO).

The CSA Secretary position has been a paid position for some time, constituting a maximum of 8 paid hours of work/week. If the executive positions were to become paid, they would follow a similar structure, said Masakura. “You are paying them the hourly wage at Carleton, which is $10.75” he said. Because CSA is a student governing organization that is independent of the college’s administration, it is unclear how the supervision and “employer-employee” dynamic will be implemented. Masakura said, “For CSA, who’s your supervisor? That gets tricky … SAO is there to help us, not to supervise us.” St. Olaf has paid their student body executives yearly stipends while other colleges have classified these positions as the equivalent of an on-campus job. Masakura said that Carleton has made clear that they do not want to pay their executives through stipends. “I don’t think that’s an option,” says Masakura.

If the motion passes, Masakura does not know what stance Carleton will take, but has stated that as of now he and his colleagues are wanting more information on this topic so they can raise a thoughtful discussion.

Masakura also expressed his concern over who will be eligible to attain the position of a CSA executive. At Carleton, many students do not qualify for campus jobs, whether that be for financial aid reasons or the Gates Scholarship. The Gates Scholarship is a financial award offered to help fund the collegiate education of students from minority demographics. Walter Paul, Masakura’s predecessor, was, in fact, a Gates Scholar. If CSA executives were to become paid, Masakura said that a discussion would need to be had regarding exceptions to this. “The money to pay the executives would come from the CSA budget,” said Masakura.

According to research being done by Carleton’s CSA, student government executive pay exists at select liberal arts colleges nationwide. For example, St. Olaf, Whitman, and Colorado College all offer select members of their student government a monthly, annual, or semester-based stipend. Many colleges argue that this is not only beneficial for the students occupying these executive positions, but also the leadership of the colleges. Masakura argued that by not paying CSA executives, many students at Carleton who might require financial assistance may not see any of these positions as attainable. He says that Carleton’s student government may be “losing talent.” Masakura explained that for the unpredictable and unregulated hours that he works as student body president on a weekly basis, it is like working two jobs, both as a peer leader and CSA Executive.

Considering the responsibilities that being a CSA Executive has, Diebold thinks “compensation for these positions could be justified and could allow students to focus on their CSA responsibilities, possibly without the worry of having to find additional employment on- or off-campus. As someone who has only recently started their work at Carleton, it has been very rewarding to see the current Exec team members in their roles. They take on and do so much, and if compensation for those in the role in the future helps take one worry off their shoulders, I think it is an option that should be considered.”

CSA Executive roles have been unpaid for the last 108 years, and participation has always been voluntary. Weighing this against pay, President Masakura said that “I think getting paid changes the meaning of the position.”

“It is good to pay your executives, but there are always other considerations,” Masakura continued. On this note, Masakura noted that deciding who to pay could be more challenging than simply drawing a line between the executive roles and the rest of CSA. “Another senator could say ‘I’m putting in 20 hours a week, why am I not getting paid for that?’”

“Getting paid definitely narrows the pool of people who can be executive leaders,” said Masakura. This speculation is founded upon challenges that arise for those receiving a Gates Scholarship, a highly-selective scholarship for exceptional minority students which affects their opportunity to attain campus jobs, as well as other students in similar situations. Given a student in this situation was to obtain an executive CSA role, Masakura said that making an exception could be problematic: “It’s tricky. If you are making exceptions, you might as well make them for everyone.”

As was previously mentioned, executive pay also entails strengthening the connection between campus administration and the CSA. Masakura explains that “I think pay changes the dynamics of our relationship with the administration.” While Masakura praises the administration, he further suggests that this increased connectivity may make CSA “an extension of the administration, of which we are not.”

When asked about the fairness of CSA executives receiving pay while other executives of student organizations do not, Masakura said, “I do think it’s fair to say that CSA is different from other organizations on campus; we actually charter (officially recogniz) and fund other student organizations on campus. Our focus is not confined to one activity; rather, we’re a representative student government that deals with all aspects of student life. Given the time Execs commit to making these things happen, some might see that as a justification for executive pay. I’m not using that as a justification for executive pay; I’m just saying we’re still in the talking stages and we haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet. But if someone were to bring up that concern, that’s how I’d respond to it.”

“CSA is a thoughtful student government,” said Masakura. Masakura himself would not benefit from this policy, as it would go into effect this coming fall at the earliest. Over the next few months, the CSA intends to continue researching and debating this topic: “The fact that we are doing research on other liberal arts institutions doing the same thing shows that we do try, and we want to do this right,’’ Masakura explains. Ultimately, Masakura believes that “If the cost, not limited to financial costs, of having a paid executive position is greater than the benefits, then we might as well stick with our current system.” Masakura intends to reach out to the student body for input on the matter, and Diebold agrees: “Once more details have been decided, I think it would be good to hear from the student body.”

The post CSA Senate proposes pay for top three executives appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Overcoming the odds: Bryony Hawgood continues to outrun the MIAC

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:34pm

After a difficult recovery from a serious hip injury, Bryony Hawgood ’20 placed fourth (22:03.7) at the MIAC championships for the St. Olaf women’s cross country team. The team came in third as a whole.

Hawgood started out as a competitive swimmer at the age of six in Zimbabwe. When Hawgood turned 18 she transitioned to triathlon and discovered a love for running, leading her to join St. Olaf’s cross country team.
Although Hawgood’s injury is incurable without a hip replacement, her determination to run persists.

“Sophomore year running was really close to being taken away from me,” Hawgood said. “I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to run again.”
Placing fourth in the MIAC was an unexpected outcome following the scare with her hip, Hawgood said.

However, her injury has given her a new perspective and gratitude toward running. Her unorthodox training involves more cross training than running to protect her hip. Although she wishes she could run outside with her teammates during practices, she now treasures the time where she does get to run for events even more.
Hawgood attributes much of her success to her team, especially fellow runner Lisa Fisher ’20.

“I don’t know if I genuinely would still be running without her,” Hawgood said.
Hawgood described the conditions of her race at the MIAC as “extremely cold.” Hawgood also said she got out too fast at the beginning because of nerves and was second up until about 100 meters to the finish line and then was outsprinted.

Hawgood hopes to avoid these pitfalls as she advances to regionals. She will be racing a 6k at Wartburg College. Hawgood hopes the team can come together and qualify for nationals. She also hopes to qualify as an individual for nationals, which requires placing in the top 10 in the region. Hawgood placed 82nd at nationals last year and hopes to get into the top 50 this year.

Categories: Colleges

My girls

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:33pm

“And one- two-three, one- two- three-come on people, where is that forcefulness that your mothers gave birth to you with?!”

I hear some giggles from the girls at the back. Feisty and Polo. They are the more experienced dancers on my team. They don’t take me seriously. I will not have that.

“ Is there anything funny ladies?” I shout and the whole studio falls silent. This is the fun part.
“In here we are all about movement and I don’t see those big lips of yours moving!” I hear the other dancers let out gasps. There is
tension in the room now. They all have my attention. This is when they hear me best.

“I said is there anything funny?”

Feisty and Polo look at me defiantly, trying hard not to protest. They know me well enough to decide not to.

“I didn’t think so!” I say loudly and turn to the whole group of
dancers who are looking at me like I am a monster. That is the least of my worries. “Now, in case you are not aware, we have 500 000 Maluti waiting for us. Do you hear me? For us! Because we are
winning this competition! Now laughing is not going to get that money nor is being cheeky. Lea nkutloa?!”

I see a few reluctant nods.

“I said do you hear me?”

“We hear you!” they shout in unison. I can hear it in their voices. They want it too. They want to win. That is what I like to hear.

I nod and allow the silence that follows to insist. Their eyes dart about nervously as I eye each and every one of them. These are my girls. I may not know everything about them out there. But, in here, within these walls that have witnessed us dance, I know them so well. Even better than they know themselves.

Polo dances to prove something. I have never known what that something is but I have seen that it pushes her to do the
unimaginable with her body. Feisty is unafraid. She has sharp and articulate movements almost as feisty as she is. Tsebo keeps her eyes to her feet. But she is not shy or ashamed of anything. She never looks me in the eyes when I speak but I know she listens. Her
movements are informed and well calculated like a plan to build a city. Batsamaile is a like a huge house with many unexplored rooms. I never know what she will give us because everytime she dances, you see her in a different light. Look at this one – Lebo. She is a bundle of energies; a storm when she needs to be and a breeze when she wants to be.
‘Makatleho gives me a look that none of the others do. When I show them a new choreography, she traces my every movement with her eyes, as if making a mental picture of my every muscle in action. She is a creator. Lexy is a quiet one but she dances so loud. I always have her movements resound in my mind long after she is done dancing. I swear this girl pours out herself through her body. It is something to witness. Then there is Grace. And she could not be anything but graceful. She reminds me of my mother’s tenderness when she held me and her gracefulness when she moved about
the house as if we were not there. Grace is a nurturer.

These are my eight girls. They are the forces that keep moving. They just don’t know it. Within the walls of this studio, nothing can stop them. Nothing can harm them.

Then, of course, there is me. I am just a woman who has had her voice stifled for too long. I am a voice that finally broke through and took the shape of a body. I am a dancer. That’s all these girls need to know about me. It’s a bad world out there for these girls. I will teach them to dance like their lives depend on it.

My son barges into the studio, eyes out of his sockets and his face drenched in tears.

“MAMA!” he shouts, “our house – our house – is burning!”

My girls all gasp and turn to look at me. Before I can stop it, I am on the floor.


No strength in my bones.

All I have been doing is teaching them to dance. These walls have always witnessed me and my girls dance like nothing can harm us. In here, we are invincible. But out there. . .

I need to teach them the kind of courage that I am still looking for myself.

Categories: Colleges

Volleyball comes up short in MIAC championship

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:32pm

Last week was a rollercoaster for St. Olaf’s volleyball program. On Thursday, the team hosted third-seeded St. Benedict in a thrilling four-set win for a white-out home crowd. That victory took them to the MIAC championship against top-seeded St. Thomas, where they fell in four sets. It was a heartbreaking loss in the program’s second matchup against the Tommies this year, made less bitter only by the prospects of their admission at-large to the NCAA Tournament announced on Monday.

Throughout the season, Ole volleyball exceeded expectations in every facet of the game. A result of outstanding individual play, an impressive sense of team chemistry and intense overall preparation, their achievements did not surprise the players within the program.
“This was our underdog year,” Lauren Rewers ’20 said. “It was just about always showing up.”

Despite their trust in the program, the results of the regular season still came as a validation for the Oles.

“I don’t think our program has the respect that some other MIAC programs do … which is fine with us,” Rewers said. “All we have is this year and we’re gonna play for that.”
The team’s mentality going into the playoffs remained one of confidence and aspiration as they progressed towards harsher competition. The All-Conference roster placed four Oles on the team, more than any program except St. Thomas, which served as yet another validation of the team’s talent.

In a way, the lack of expectations going into the season was an advantage for the team. The program had a chip on its shoulder for much of the regular season and acted as a motivator throughout the season. The advantage, however, was weakened as the season progressed, especially as the talent of the competition increased. Taking the season one game at a time remained ever-important.

Because of this, preparation for post-season matches are similar to regular season.
“It’s just practice like every other day,” Rewers said. “We’re [at Skoglund] everyday from 2:30 until we leave for dinner at 6:30.”

The team works incredibly hard each day, but avoids falling into the trap of looking too far into the future. They focus on aspects of the game where they can make an impact rather than on outside factors they have no control over.

Stakes during the postseason, though, are admittedly higher. Teams that lost in the regular season return stronger and more dedicated than ever, and by nature the playoffs only admit the best teams of the regular season. Coach Emily Foster chose not to change any strategies for the postseason, though, and instead the team is sinking into the principles that led to its success throughout the fall.

In the first round of the playoffs the Oles are set to play Northwestern-St. Paul, a team they defeated in three sets during the regular season. It is likely that they would then face St. Benedict, for the third time this year, in the second round. If the program continues with the level of play seen in the regular season, their path to the final sixteen teams is realistic and, with perennial rival St. Thomas likely standing in their way, it is conceivable that they might go even farther into the tournament.

Categories: Colleges

Moses’ Story

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:29pm

I wanted the train to go faster. The old man’s snot streamed down. His eyes crossed like he was itching to assassinate the tip of his nose. He ran his fingers through his hair and little
white-dandruff-flakes settled on everyone’s suits. His skin was cracked from cold and dryness. He chuckled and coughed through
mucus as he read a magazine.
He cleared his throat and his eyes left his nose. He smiled and there was no front tooth on the left. His mouth hung open for a few seconds and he hissed for a while.
“Almost there.” He summoned all his strength to shut his mouth again.
His bodyguards’ heads were bald and shiny. I felt their eyes fixed on me behind their sunglasses. I smiled at them whenever a new cloud of dandruff emerged, but they never looked at me.
The train screeched and shook and stopped. A guard picked the decrepit man up and threw him over his shoulder, and we all got off the train.
The platform was covered in snow, so the guards and I pulled our pants up to spare them. The sun greeted me every so often from behind the mountains as we walked. We descended from the platform and walked into a little brown house.

Categories: Colleges

The golden boys of the NFL

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:28pm

You know, it’s been about a month since we checked in on our favorite league of grown men in tights running into each other. The beauty of the NFL is its volatility, that it’s the only league with real parity and that every week a team has a chance to win and change his fortunes, or at least that’s what the official line is. That being said, let’s check the state of the shield before week ten, looking at the five best and brightest teams (don’t worry, you masochists out there, I’ll talk about the basement dwellers next week).

The Golden Boys of the League:
Let’s start with the teams who actually have a chance, based purely on the fact that it is infinitely more enjoyable to revel in a team’s misery than applaud their successes, and we as a football consuming public have to eat our metaphorical vegetables first. Also, please excuse my stunted analysis of each team. I could go on for hours about all of the individually, but my editors INSIST on a word limit so I must censor myself.

5. Minnesota Vikings
This team probably has the best roster in the league. A staunch defense littered with pro bowlers on all three levels. The likes of Anthony Barr, Daniel Hunter, and Eric Kendricks have proved nightmares for opposing QBs while Xavier Rhodes locks up the secondary. An explosive Vikings offense takes full advantage of its defense, with Adam Thielen, Stephon Diggs, and Dalvin Cook all having excellent years. The only thing preventing this team from being ranked higher is its QB Kirk Cousins, who has been inconsistent this season, to say the least. One Sunday he looks excellent, and then the next game he looks like a shell of his former self. The only question surrounding this team is what version of Cousins will show up, Bruce Banner or the Hulk?

4. Green Bay Packers
Once again, we have been shown that any team led by Aaron Rodgers will be able to conted, and that giving him any help at all will make it a very dangerous team indeed. Problem is, the help that we initially thought Aaron had has not materialized. No doubt the Packers defense is better than previous iterations, but it has shown a tendency to falter in big moments. The offense remains productive thanks to Aaron Jones and Devontae Adams, but a lack of depth especially at receiver could prove a big problem. The only reason really that this team is ranked so high is that Rodgers is indeed a very, very bad man.

3. New England Patriots
It is with this team that the facade of parity in the NFL begins to fall apart. This team lost a plethora of pieces over the off-season to retirement, free agency and injury. By every perceivable metric they should have declined from their Super Bowl winning form last season, but of course they got better because New England. The Patriots’ defense remains ridiculous, cemented by the McCourty Twins, Devontae Hightower, and should-have-been-superbowl-MVP Stephon Gillmore. The Patriots offense has surely regressed when compared to recent years, but is still more than competent to compete in the weak AFC, especially considering the recent acquisition of solid veteran receiver Mohammad Sanu. It is time for us as fans to accept the inevitable. This team will most likely win the Super Bowl again this year. God is dead, all hail the Bill and the GOAT.

2. San Francisco 49ers
This team is really good, I mean you can’t not be good if you’re undefeated going into week ten. With multiple first rounders on their defensive line in Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas, and staunch if past their prime veterans including future hall of famer Richard Sherman anchoring their secondary, terrifying enemy offenses are no problem. The 49ers offense has been a little more suspect. While they do have an excellent back field, anchored by Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman, and have an excellent tight-end play thanks to George Kittle, they lack a true number one receiver (yeah Emmanuel Sanders hasn’t been a number one for about five years now), which could come back to bite them. Luckily, Jimmy Garoppolo has shown an ability to carry the team even when the defense has faltered, dropping 51 on an excellent panthers defense, and outdueling the likely offensive rookie of the year Kyler Murray. Their schedule gets much more difficult the second half of the season, lets see how they hold up.

1. New Orleans Saints
The rumors of this team’s death have been greatly exaggerated. This is the same team that lost Drew Brees and proceeded to go undefeated over five weeks, something that no one outside of the organization thought they could do. With a stout defense cemented by the likes of Cam Jordan and Marshon Lattimore, moving the ball against this team is extremely difficult. And then of course there’s the offense, headlined by future hall of famer Drew Brees, running back Alvin Kamara, and wide receiver Michael Thomas. Though there are some questions with this 53 man roster, especially when it comes to receiver depth, this team is the premier powerhouse in the NFC if not the NFL. Then of course as I write this the Saints are getting blown out by the 1-7 Falcons, so what the hell do I know.

Categories: Colleges

Free expression and the real threat to our political climate

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:22pm

For social media platforms such as Facebook, getting people to read a story is more important than the story itself. Facebook claims in one of their latest policy statements that false comments by political leaders provide “valuable” topics for discussion – the company outright refuses to moderate politicians’ speech or fact-check their political ads.
The willingness of Facebook to protect political ad campaigns that spread false information reveals the superficial and capitalistic nature of social media.

Rather than clearing the air around heated political issues, Facebook creates a culture that amplifies disinformation. According to the Facebook Newsroom, 1.63 billion people in October 2019 checked their Facebook feeds daily. That is over 20 percent of the world’s population. For those who use Facebook to browse the news, the company’s refusal to delete posts from politicians with false information is devastating.

If Facebook carries so much sway over the general public, then we must hold the company responsible to present truthful information to its readers. Truth becomes a moral duty when your voice reaches billions of people.

Politicians remain unscathed after violating Facebook’s policies against misinformation and violent speech, such as with recent advertisements from the Trump campaign. Everyone must be held accountable for their actions, including the people who hold positions of power within our government. Every hateful or misinformed post on social media perpetuates the problem of fake news.

We need to be able to trust our news sources. Social media platforms such as Facebook do not advertise themselves as news organizations, yet our news feeds are filled with responses to current political happenings. In April of this year, a Stanford study on the effect of social media on mental health determined that Facebook significantly contributes to the public’s awareness of current affairs.

We need to take a stance against slander. The chief executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, uses the broad term of “free expression” to defend politicians who use underhanded advertisements on social media to boost their campaigns.

Although Facebook claims to be a champion of free speech, the company defends politicians whose ads are based on fear mongering and deception. While free expression certainly demands inclusivity, politicians should not have the power to lash out at others on social media when Facebook’s security teams would remove such postings if they were written by anyone else.

When confronted last month about his stance on intentional misinformation, Zuckerburg dodged the question by pointing his finger at creative pursuits such as satire, exaggeration, and fiction writing. While not all of the information on Facebook is strictly factual, political advertisements on Facebook spin lies to attack other political candidates. Free speech does not have room for words spoken with the intention of harming others.

We live in a world saturated with social media. The endless scroll on our phones keeps us up-to-date on current events across the world. The circulation of misinformation undermines our efforts against fake news. Trusted social media platforms should not leave their readers wondering whether or not what they read is true.

Now, Facebook serves as a politicized environment that threatens to cast credible news sources into doubt and gives special treatment to certain political parties. If social media companies want to empower their readers, maintain the integrity of their platform, then Facebook must take a stance against political leaders who spin lies across our news feeds.
The truth should not have to shout to be heard.
Amy Imdieke ’21 is from Northfield, Minn. Her majors are English and chemistry.

Categories: Colleges

Hinduphobia on campus has gone unacknowledged

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:19pm

Last spring, Celebrate South Asia! (CSA!) and the Wellness Center were two of the organizations that contributed to inviting a sex therapist, Sonalee Rashatwar, to St. Olaf to address issues of body image and dieting in a modern social context. Following their main presentation, they held an open question-and-answer session for students who wished to speak with them further. At this session, Rashatwar made brazen, toxic and deeply hurtful claims about Hinduism and Hindu culture, a religious minority on this campus and in this country. Their primary assertions were targeted at Holi, the Hindu festival of colors.

They have also argued, in person and online, that Hinduism as a culture is racist, colorist, misogynistic, casteist and that people who practice this reprehensible tradition are complicit in its supremacist customs. This Hinduphobia is one of their main talking points on social media and is an integral part of their brand.

There was no response. Not from CSA!, who invited them. Not from the Wellness Center, who signed off on their talk as double-wellness-swiped. Not from the Taylor Center or administration about how unfounded libel against a minority faith on campus is not in line with St. Olaf’s values.

In fact, following this event, CSA! hosted a Holi celebration that began with a discussion of the supposed “dark side” of Holi, with its purported roots in colorism, racism and sexism – a fervent endorsement of Rashatwar’s perspective that Hinduism is a backward tradition that needs to be “saved” from its awful ideologic roots.
Not only did CSA! fail to respond constructively or factually to defamation of a faith it claims to include, but it provided a platform for willfully ignorant rhetoric – exploiting the festival for its revelry while denigrating the tradition from which it derives.
From this incident, one thing is clear: as students, we have to decide how we deal with attacks on minority races, faiths and cultures on campus. And we have to be consistent in how we respond to such rhetoric.

If we decide that any attack against a particular race, religion or ethnicity is reprehensible and against the values that we espouse on campus, we need to be consistent about it. We also need to distinguish between an attack on ideology and an attack on practitioners.
If an invited speaker declares (wrongfully) that Islam is an ideology of murder or if they claimed (wrongfully) that Judaism advocates child abuse (regarding the binding of Isaac), this would be an attack on ideology.

If an invited speaker declared (wrongfully) that all Muslims are terrorists because Islam is where ISIS claims its allegiance; if they (wrongfully) claimed that Jews are all ungenerous toads because they are stereotypically wealthy; this would be an attack on individuals.
Personally, I subscribe to the idea that no speaker should be silenced because they can bring reasoned critiques to an ideology; if we think they are wrong, we can then use evidence-based arguments to refute their assertions and show them the door. That is how the marketplace of ideas works and that is frankly how the world works.
However, if a speaker slandered a minority faith and its members at a St. Olaf-sponsored event, we would justifiably exhibit our anger over their presence on this campus and we would demand that better care be taken when inviting speakers that are meant to promote social equity and welfare.

So, is it okay for a speaker to insult Hindu culture and for a student organization to provide a platform for their views? If it is not okay to bring a speaker who insults Christianity, Islam or Judaism, then the answer is no.

If we truly wish to honor the diversity of faith and culture on this campus, we need to take a long, hard look at when we choose to protest and perhaps more importantly, when we choose to remain silent.
Neetij Krishnan ’20 is from Eden Prairie, Minn. His major is biology.

Categories: Colleges

Dear first generation students… you are not alone

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:19pm

As a first generation college student, there were a lot of difficulties I had to face and a lot more I am still learning to deal with. Figuring out how to use college resources with not a lot of guidance, getting little access to help from my parents and being first in my family to live on campus in a town away from home has posed extreme challenges. I grew up leaning on my family for help with everything but as I went into college, I had to learn that I have to do things myself and adjust with close to zero help.

College can only provide so much help towards first-generation students so I am thankful that St. Olaf has the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program that was able to help me and other first generation students by informing us on how to take advantage of resources and opportunities on campus. The Piper Center and CAAS has helped me with academic hurdles while Boe House and Boe Chapel helped me overcome mental obstacles – both are ways in which I found the support system I needed.

When I first arrived on campus as a first generation student, it felt very hard to make friends with other students on campus. Socially, I felt like an outcast. After all, I come from a unique upbringing as a person of color raised by immigrant parents in a farming community. In that sense, I felt as though no one could relate to my identity. Not to mention, as I went through the school year, I witnessed instances of racism happen on campus that frequently would go under the radar. Often times, I would be shocked how the campus refused to acknowledge racism and how rarely racism was discussed. With that piled on, talking about my identity seemed even more intimidating and the task of finding people who related to my experience seemed daunting. However, my favorite thing about this school became the relationships that I ended up finding. I managed to find people who accepted my personality and my background who were also inclusive and welcoming of others.

I overcame adversity through my strong support system. My advisor was there and continues to be there to offer me good advice and I like being guided by another person of color on campus. As for other first generation students worried about their experience at St. Olaf, I will tell you honestly that it is not easy. At the end of the day, you will feel as though you do not relate to many of the other students. However, you are here for a reason. So, the only thing you can do is to try your hardest and find people who make you feel comfortable being who you are.
Emerson Yang ’22 is from St. Paul, Minn. His major is physics.

Categories: Colleges

“Denial:” Characters, emotions compensate for muddled plot

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:17pm

Facts, to most people, are devoid of emotion. They are based on logic and information and cannot be swayed by anything beyond reason. However, in Peter Sagal’s “Denial,” directed by Ch’aska Farber ’21, facts suddenly become very emotional.

The play follows lawyer Abby Gersten, played by Meredith Enersen ’21 as she tackles a difficult case involving freedom of speech. Her client, Bernard Cooper, played by Collin Krieger ’23 is facing legal repercussions after denying the Holocaust and spreading his message to legions of followers from a wide variety of hate groups. Gersten, a Jewish woman, struggles as her client yammers on, bending every fact he hears and denying survivors’ stories to their faces. We hear from survivors, played by Kai Cook ’23 and Ben Jorenby ’20, who give us heart-wrenching testimonials of the darkest times in human history.

The emotions carried the show where the plot and budget failed it. There were points when it was very difficult to forget that the production was put on in a classroom. The overhead lights lit the entire room, including the audience, which was somewhat distracting.

The set was simple, yet effective. There were two large grey walls propped up to break the room and differentiate the stage from the audience; two desks composed the set. There were several props, including some well-drawn graphics and a dartboard, which saw several darts thrown at it throughout the course of the play. For being low-budget, the set and props offered some merits.

However, the plot was muddled. The characters and their emotions drove the story, although it was not always clear who was who and why they were there. It took time to process that the Holocaust survivors were two old men; some make-up or perhaps grey hairspray would have been a helpful clarification. The government’s lawyer, Adam Ryberg, played by Gabriel Maxwell ’22, simply appeared in scenes without much context as to who he really was. It also took quite a while to discover what exactly Cooper has done and why he needed a lawyer. Some background information from the directors at the beginning of the show would have been beneficial, as the reason the entire legal case had come to be was somewhat unclear.

Cooper’s character was simply masterful. He was smart, honest and just downright likeable from the start. However, as the play progressed, the audience became increasingly tempted to leap from their seats to strangle him. Cooper bent the truth, he twisted facts, he turned the language survivors used against them and he contorted emotions. All of the actors did a beautiful job of challenging the audience and of breaking their hearts at times and making them laugh at others.

Surprisingly, “Denial” did produce several comedic moments. The receptionist, Stephanie, played by Janae Lorick ’23 provided some comic relief while helping the lawyer work through her moral turmoils. During some of the most turbulent times of the play, when the tension was at its peak, suddenly there would be cause for the audience to break out laughing. The cast conveyed the widest range of emotions, from fear and anger to pride and humor.

The play ended in a very sudden, emotional way, much like the rest of the show. While the plot was not always clear, the play challenged our morals and our emotions.

Categories: Colleges

MEC and Story House concert strives to “Amplify” female and non-binary voices

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:13pm

The “Amplify” concert celebrated female and non-binary voices in the Lair Friday night. The concert featured three artists, including Ingrid Streitz ’23, Bazeen – a band from St. Olaf – and the headliner K.Raydio, an artist from the Twin Cities. The event, put on as a collaboration between the Music Entertainment Committee (MEC) and The Story House aimed to provide a space for female and non-binary voices on the St. Olaf campus. The event was so popular that students were spilling out the doors of the Lair.

The first artist, Streitz, sang and played guitar to a medley of pop ballads including “Royals” by Lorde. Although none of the music she performed was original, the acoustic versions of the songs she sang were fun to listen to, especially when accompanied by Streitz’s melodious voice. Streitz seemed a little nervous, but she kept playing even through little fumbles and by the end of the set was a definite favorite as the crowd snapped and sang along with her music.

The second group, “Bazeen,” included Mason Tacke ’20 on bass, Omara Esteghal ’21 on guitar, Hesham Amin ’20 on drums and Alina Villa ’20 singing. The group played all original music, including a song they wrote “last night.” Their music was grungy, psychedelic and layered with fascinating instrumentals. The thick instrumentals were topped with relatable lyrics written by current and former members of the band and sung by Villa’s soulful voice. The lead singer added fun facts to each song – for example, the song “Heart–Shaped Hole” was inspired by a heart shaped hole in a piece of spinach they found during the tornado drill last year. Another song, “Pay For It,” the one that the band wrote the night before the concert, sang of the annoyance of school and how awful it is to go to the classes during the winter. Overall, the band performed a mostly polished set that had the audience moving to the beat.

The third and final act, K.Raydio, was the headliner of the night. The singer, songwriter and producer hails from the Twin Cities. K.Raydio is influenced by R&B but pairs her soul music with a futuristic tone. She sang most of her music with tracks, but near the end of her set performed a song a capella. The artist spoke personally about her debilitating anxiety and how performing a cappella serves as a way to battle against her anxiety. At the end of her set, K.Raydio offered free CD’s to any student who wanted one. Students lined up and the artist took a few minutes to talk to each person who loved her music, taking the time to learn their names and hand them both a CD and a few words from the artist herself.

Categories: Colleges

The Bacchae – Great Con students’ modern perspective

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:12pm

Last week, the St. Olaf Muse Project performed “The Bacchae,” an ancient Greek play written by Euripides. The play in and of itself is noteworthy: it is a fascinating tragedy based on a Greek myth about the royal family of Thebes. This performance, though, was notable for an additional reason. All of the organizers and leaders of the production – including director Thomas Bryant ’22 – are second year Great Conversation students.

In the play, the god Dionysus is the cousin of Pentheus, the King of Thebes. When the king’s mother and aunts start a rumor that Dionysus is not a god, Dionysus comes to the city-state and compels all the women to take part in a mysterious ritual in honor of the god. Dionysus then disguises himself and sends the anxious king to investigate the women’s actions dressed as a woman himself. The play ends when Pentheus is torn to pieces by his own entranced mother, who presents her own father with her son’s head.

The St. Olaf students’ production made a few changes to the traditional Greek interpretation of the play. Taylor Swift and Kesha songs were incorporated into the show; a messenger appeared in a video to report the news of the king’s death. While most of the minor characters dressed in togas, Pentheus and Dionysus wore modern clothes. The god Dionysus, notably, was played by Ariel Bodnar-Klein ’23.

Overall, the performance was entertaining and enthralling. Parts of it were unexpected: the transition from a traditional Greek chorus to “Look What You Made Me Do” is not what one expects from a Greek tragedy. However, those moments added a touch of comedy to a deeply sad and violent play without cheapening the message.

There is one aspect of the performance discussed by the director, Bryant, that bears mentioning. When Dionysus convinces Pentheus to go spy on the women of Thebes, he dresses the king in women’s clothing in order to disguise him. As Bryant points out in the play’s program, the image of a man pretending to be a woman to invade women’s privacy evokes hurtful stereotypes about transgender women. Bryant and the entire production make clear in the program and the performance that they do not want the Bacchae to be misconstrued as transphobic.

As a whole, the incorporation of modern elements worked. The directors were able to make Euripides’ work more accessible to an audience of college students without overlooking or detracting from the message of the work. The Bacchae is a difficult play to interpret – there are scholarly debates about it to this day – but the students of the St. Olaf Muse Project put together a compelling and exciting production.

Categories: Colleges
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