Blogosphere

Autumn Breeze

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:30pm

My mind is afire
like the path in front. I see
flashes of yellow, orange and red
Thoughts turn black,
There is no going back.

My head is cluttered
like this forest floor
trashed with dead leaves.
There’s a fog inside that
reduces my mind into a throbbing mess.

Sometimes, the pain ebbs away to the edges when
I inhale this cold autumn breeze.

Categories: Colleges

Lullaby

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:30pm

From whirling winds, troubled seas
It comes as a gentle breeze
But still sweeps the mightiest kings
It stalks and it creeps,
It crawls and it leaps
It ebbs and it flows
It comes and it goes
It stings and throbs
It clears its throat and it goes..
“I am the pitch black night
Creeping in, putting out the moon’s light-
The darkness that swallows the stars.
I am the vulture circling above –
The hyena lurking about,
Stalking stealthy on my prey.
I am the eerie shrill, the stench of decay,
The crooked road leading to Hades’ gates.
I am the relentless hunter armed with a full quiver
The sleek, slender snake lying low and in the grass I slither
Swift, slow, strong or feeble;
Kings, queens and street sweepers
None escape my all-embracing sickle
It is I, the cousin to sleep,
So hush child, as I rock you to an eternal rest
In a cradle-
Six
Feet
Deep.”

Categories: Colleges

Men’s basketball places fifth in pre-season coaches’ poll

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:26pm

On Nov. 5, the MIAC released the pre-season coaches’ poll for the 2019-2020 basketball season. The Oles were picked to finish fifth behind St. John’s, St. Thomas, Augsburg and Bethel.

Coming off a 12-8 season that ended in the MIAC playoff quarterfinals on a Booker Coplin buzzer beater, this year’s team has a lot to look forward to. The Oles return key players Dominic Bledsoe ’21 and Troy Diggins ’20, who are both expected to contribute mightily on both ends of the floor. Bledsoe, a two time all MIAC defender, finished last season averaging 10.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. With the departure of Austin Korba ’19, a four-year starter and the dictionary definition of a volume shooter, Diggins will likely see his load increase on the offensive end the most of any returning players.

The best defensive guard in the conference will share the backcourt with senior Noah Beck ’20, who came into his own offensively down the stretch of last year. Beck is expected to play big minutes each game at guard, being a main contributor to the offense along with Bledsoe and Diggins, as well as a top rebounder.

Starting in the front court along with Diggins will be Nathan Hendler ’22 and Carter Uphus ’22, both sophomores who didn’t see many minutes on the floor last season. With the departure of Frank Delaney ’19, these two will have lots of rebounds to grab in a conference that features more than a few dominant big men.

Injuries have already taken a toll on the Oles’ depth this season, with Nico Polydorou ’22 suffering a torn ACL and Travis Fauchald ’20 breaking his hand in the pre-season. Both versatile forwards, the rest of the bench will have to step up in their absence, which will include a large freshman class new to the program.

Expected to make an immediate impact for the Oles in his first year at St. Olaf will be forward Jake Weber ’23. Weber scored over 1,000 points in his high school career at Pine Island and received two all-conference selections. The first-year played nineteen minutes off the bench in the team’s exhibition against Division II Southwest Minnesota State University, shooting four of six from the field, good for ten efficient points. Weber’s dynamic offensive skill set will fit right into Coach Kozmaski’s offense, which values three point shooting and perimeter pick and rolls to start the action.

Personally, I think a fifth place finish would be an underachieving year given this roster’s potential. I predict the Oles will finish second behind St. John’s and in front of St. Thomas and Augsburg, who have struggled to win in Skoglund the past two seasons. No matter what, the team will be exciting to watch come conference play, which starts on Nov. 23 against St. Mary’s on the road.

tan2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

A guide for dealing with grief: a tanking team’s lament

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:26pm

If you’re like me, your favorite season is football season. Other sports are all fine and dandy, but there’s just something magical about seeing your favorite team run out onto that gridiron every Sunday. The crack of a strong tackle and the euphoria of a touchdown are things you’ve been waiting for all season. All of those draft picks and free agent signings are sure to push your team over the edge. Without a doubt, this is your year!

However, loyal reader, we must not forget the true nature of this game we love. The football gods are malevolent and cruel, demanding constant sacrifice. No matter how good you think your team is, they will always disappoint you. Everything is awful. Why should you even care? Nothing matters anymore. Life is nothing more than a never-ending cycle of false hope, disappointment and pain.
But wait! What is that? Could it be? Light at the end of the tunnel? Bengals fans, emerge

from your striped cave! Falcons fans, rise from your red and black nests! Giants, Dolphins, Jets and all other disenfranchised fans, rise with us, for there is hope after all!
Thanks to all that losing and trading away of your best players, you’ll get a top draft pick, ensuring you a generational talent. That general manager who has destroyed your team so far is sure to choose the right player! What gives you any reason to mistrust him? Without a doubt, that pick will turn into a franchise player, not a bust! And when he becomes that franchise player, your team definitely won’t suddenly became penny-pinching pieces of s**t! They will without a doubt pay him what he deserves, and will not let him go all out for your team’s division rival! I mean who in their right mind would do that?

With your team bolstered by a new draft class and the free agent signings that your excellent and definitely not incompetent general manager is sure will secure a winning season, victory is within grasp. Why stop there? I guarantee a playoff win, followed shortly by your team hoisting the Lombardi trophy. You won’t be a perennial basement dweller in the league. Definitely not. Years of pain are not in your future, only success and happiness!

warren4@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf football falls to St. Thomas on senior day

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:25pm

This Saturday, the St. Thomas football team faced off against St. Olaf. It wasn’t a good day for the Oles – they lost 56-7, continuing the losing streak that began with their game against Bethel a few weeks ago. What makes this game significant, though, is the context: St. Thomas football is being kicked out of the conference the schools share, thanks in no small part to the work of President David Anderson ’74.

For years, St. Thomas and St. Olaf were both members of the MIAC, the conference for many small Division III schools in the state. The push to remove St. Thomas from the conference reached its tipping point in the fall of 2017 when the Tommies beat the Oles 97-0. Presidents of the various colleges in the conference – including St. Olaf, Carleton, Macalester, St. Catherine and Augsburg, among others – organized to remove St. Thomas on the basis of their overwhelming success.

The Tommies were a founding member of MIAC back in 1920. In the last few years, many of the school’s teams have come to dominate in the conference, and none more so than the football team, which has won six of the last nine MIAC championships. St. Thomas has finished their season with a winning record every year since 2007; their 97-0 defeat of the Oles is just one in a long line of victories.

St. Thomas was removed from MIAC through a secret vote, and will be forced to leave after the 2021 season. Now, the Tommies have a few options: they can join a new Division III conference, move to the murky waters of Division II, or try to make the move straight to Division I. The school has received an invitation to join the Division I Summit League, which would make them the only Division I football team in the state besides the University of Minnesota. However, the NCAA forbids teams from making the jump directly from Division III to Division I. St. Thomas can apply for a waiver to exempt them from the rule, but the future of the team nonetheless remains uncertain.

The role St. Olaf played in removing St. Thomas from MIAC made Saturday’s game an important one, but a number of other factors also contributed. St. Olaf head coach James Kilian spent three years coaching at St. Thomas immediately prior to coming to the Hill; Kilian’s time with the Tommies adds another layer to an already complex situation. On a lighter note, this game marked the first time since 2016 that the Oles have scored against the Tommies.

Neither St. Olaf nor St. Thomas supporters seemed to have this history in mind on Saturday, however. Cold but enthusiastic fans saw the Tommies win by 49 points, with an injury on the St. Thomas side within the first ten minutes and a surprise third-quarter touchdown from the Oles. Regardless of the layers of history surrounding the teams, it made for an enjoyable if chilly game.

klinef1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

StoReads: reading your way out of loneliness

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:21pm

While scrolling through my Instagram feed on a lazy summer afternoon, a sponsored advertisement stopped me in my tracks. There on my screen was a photo of a girl by her poolside flipping through a thick book. The cover of the model’s summer read was pretty – a bright blue backdrop against a unique font that read “Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky.” My eyes focused below the picture to the caption that read, “I didn’t think, the day I kissed my professor for the first time, that he would kiss me back.” I was instantly hooked.

“Very Nice” by Marcy Dermansky checked off all of the boxes my raunchy summer reading wishlist could have asked for. The characters were compelling, relatable and unique and the plot fulfilled my striking and dramatic expectations.

Rachel has just finished her sophomore year at a liberal arts college in New York City. She prepares to spend her summer working as a camp counselor in her hometown in the upper class suburbs of Connecticut, but is tasked with dog-sitting for her beautiful creative writing professor Zahid while he visits family in Pakistan.

When Zahid returns earlier than expected, he decides to go up to Connecticut to reclaim his poodle. Upon his arrival, he meets Becca, Rachel’s soon-to-be-divorced mother, and their chemistry is palpable. Purely on impulse after an unbearably lonely and stressful year, Becca invites him to stay at their house for the summer.

Thus, the drama unwinds in an awkward love triangle Zahid finds himself at the center of, battling his growing feelings for Becca and his inappropriate history with her daughter.
The novel cycles through different narrators, so each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective. You get insight to the nuances of each person’s thought process, and although the situations the characters find themselves in are sometimes unlikely and unrealistic, how they react to their far-fetched circumstances remains authentic and human.

You watch Rachel overthink every interaction with Zahid. Every glance, every word, every gesture is an excuse for her to justify constant streams of insecurities in the way people do when faced with an unrequited crush. You relate to Rachel. We have all been Rachel – methodical, insecure, wanting to be wanted.

Becca is faced with loneliness. Her husband had an affair and moved in with his mistress. When Zahid enters her life, he represents hope, but she is not blind to how her daughter looks at him. You relate to Becca. We have all been Becca – wishing to be happy but finding that happiness to be at the expense of someone else’s.

“Very Nice” is about people making bad choices for selfish reasons. I was left at the edge of my seat wanting to know how each character would interact in their uncomfortable situations. Every time someone voiced their concerns, I was able to understand and empathize because of how relatable their trains of thought were. We are all at some point selfish people making bad choices, so I finished “Very Nice” feeling a little less alone.

nizhny1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Omkara: challenging our narratives

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:19pm

Celebrate South Asia! delivers powerful, entertaining evening of culture and dance

Every year I enjoy seeing Omkara, presented by Celebrate South Asia! (CSA!). Omkara is a celebration of South Asian culture and is depicted through dance, spoken word and song. This year’s theme for the event was “challenging our narratives.”

The moment I walked into the Pause Mane Stage, I was met with the excited buzz of people awaiting the start of the event. On the main floor were long rows of tables where audience members sat to watch the show. I thought this seating arrangement provided a great opportunity for people to engage and interact with each other.

At the beginning of the event, members of CSA! said they are looking for donations to The Citizens Foundation (TCF) this year. TCF is one of Pakistan’s leading non-profit organizations in the field of education for the less privileged.

Omkara is an intricate, beautiful celebration of self-expression and diversity of various South Asian cultures. I’m always impressed by how smoothly the show runs and how well-rehearsed the students are in their choreography. This event primarily consists of various dances, which makes it very engaging to watch.

The “Classical Dance,” choreographed by Namrata Khanvilkar ’21 and Shreya Raghavan ’20 brought a story of Goddess Sita to life. The dancers were dressed in bright red and gold dresses. They flowed beautifully together, like angels, and I was truly impressed by the stunning stage pictures that this dance painted on stage.

“Attan,” a form of dance that originated in Afghanistan and was choreographed by Rida Ali ’21, was also engaging. In this one, the dancers were holding scarves and had slow, gliding movements. They danced in a circle as they spun together effortlessly.

A dance that was a clear crowd favorite was the “Dandruff Song” which was choreographed by Ghanashyam Unnikrishnan ’20. It consisted of a group of boys who danced a more modern dance in complete synchronization. They were clearly having fun on stage, and prompted loud cheers and laughs from the audience.

There was also a beautifully haunting “Spoken Word” performance that depicted a picture of the people of Kashmir.

The “Musical Medley” that included voice, piano and a classic Indian musical instrument called the tabla was also wonderful.

What was so amazing about this Omkara event was how much practice went into every performance to make it a true celebration. The comedic commentary between the MCs and the delicious Indian food provided at the end was also a great touch.

During the finale of Omkara, the musical sounds and dances of Bollywood filled the stage. Members of the event orchestrated a flash mob which engaged the audience. Personally, I found the music to be so infectious that I got up and danced too, becoming a part of this event that celebrates the diversity of South Asian culture.

kettne1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Coco Fusco highlights Cuban experience

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:18pm

Flaten Art Museum’s current exhibition of “Swimming on Dry Land” by Coco Fusco is a resistance to the romanticization of Cuba’s past and an appreciation of the struggle of contemporary Cubans.

One section of the exhibition, a video titled “Y entonces el mar te habla (And the Sea Will Talk To You),” presents a shaky vision of the Gulf of Mexico. The viewers, situated in inner-tubes on the floor, listen to a disembodied narrative of a woman escaping Cuba as images of a half-submerged camera loom above. It is a dichotomy which defines the installation – contextualizing incomplete visuals with an understanding of the struggles of the past and present.

In a lecture at Boe Chapel titled “Haunted by History,” Fusco spoke about the moral crisis of art and journalism in Cuba. A veteran interdisciplinary artist, Fusco discussed her connections to the island’s culture, history and its evolving relationship with the U.S.
Fusco said for her, like many, “Cuba began as an idea.” Outsiders arrive with preconceived expectations which are shattered upon arrival. While the nation may be defined by its past as a communist antagonist, visitors quickly realize its citizens still have unique and nuanced experiences.

The government, however, does its best to stifle these experiences. In Cuba, according to Fusco, “art is one of the few arenas where individuality is visible.” Artists who are able to take advantage of a lucrative foreign market for Cuban art can sell their pieces for relatively high prices, which means the discipline has become one of the few that offer citizens a relatively comfortable living. But this comfort is reliant upon the acceptance of government restrictions.

Much of Fusco’s talk revolved around activist measures taken in opposition to these restrictions, specifically a policy called Decree 349. The decree criminalizes independent cultural activities and empowers government authorized inspectors to confisticate works and materials from unapproved artists. It is just one more step from an authoritarian regime to control its appearance to outside observers as well as the information and opinions available to its own citizens.

The great paradox that arises from Decree 349 and the broader actions of the Cuban government is that they effectively act as both an enabler and a regressor. Fusco argued that “the system is only effective because of this duality.” Officials understand the importance of art to the local economy, but also its importance as a mechanism for propaganda and idealism, so they provide economic incentives for artists to produce works that the state approves.

Years after the end of the United States’ embargo, even as Cuba becomes more connected than ever to the modern world, Fusco claims that authoritarian practices remain prevalent. In her lecture, the artist presented concrete evidence of governmental oppression, while in her installation she provides a glimpse of humanity by displaying the results of previous incidences of that oppression. Taken as a whole, the two provide a powerful argument against the Cuban government.

Near the end of her lecture, Fusco said, “you can be upset with the issues, but if you can’t figure out how to alert others it doesn’t mean anything.” “Swimming on Dry Land” and the accompanying lecture support this sentiment by turning the artist’s fear and anger towards censorship into a constructive exhibition that shines light on significant issues and incidents of repression within Cuba.

rains1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Collaborative Deepwykend features original, experimental theatre

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:15pm

During the first weekend of November, two St. Olaf student-run theatre organizations collaborated to put on a show of original compositions.

Myswyken, led by Claire Chenoweth ’20, and Deep End, led by Cait McCkuskie ’20, collaborated on the event, Deepwykend Devising Festival. The Deepwykend theatre exhibition was a place for experimentation, thoughtful risk-taking and enthrallingly slick dialogue – which were at times rewarding and at others conflicting.

The display was built around three separate compositions. The first, “Red Moon Rising,” is the story of a heartbroken, unnamed protagonist and puppet companion Horus. They stumble into a small town where they unwittingly find themselves in the middle of the murderous attempted powergrab of Schmorg Washington.

I appreciated that the work was sprinkled with political references ranging from boomers to the opening NPR-esque allusion to dominant culture. However, I found the narrative dichotomy between the “bad” capitalist sycophant and the “good,” value-driven city-slickers who prove to be the messianic catalyst for change frustratingly simplistic given the real world framing. The witty cultural allusions and quality dialogue supported a promising but ultimately underdeveloped exercise in social reflection.

The second offering, “Common Things in Different Worlds,” was a classic tale of star-crossed lovers. Although treading familiar romcom waters, the treatment of the theme through a culturally non-English lense was refreshing. The piece felt rushed, which gave the offering an ease of viewability, but the density of the material being breached made it feel more pedantic than smooth. The abrupt ending left me no time to question implications of the characters’ choices and offered no resolution outside the usual platitudes of happy endings.

The last was the aptly named “Please Laugh” and was the standout offering in the selection. Five prisoners on death row in the Kingdom of Lordis must participate in a pre-execution ritual with the hopes of winning forgiveness from the ironically named “King Rupert, Conqueror of All.” It proved a fine consolidation of self-reflective dark humor. The performance of the entire cast was captivating. While it can be said that the selection of the characterizations bears no inherent meaning on the reasoning behind it, I wish the viewer was given more information with which to understand why those particular characters made sense in the plot’s context.

“Shock and awe” artistic expression is hit or miss. Taking humor as an example, shock lends itself to the kind of over-use that can often be read as an attempt to get a cheap laugh because the writer could not quite pull off the thread with as much wit as it took to set it up. I felt some of the performances strayed into that territory, leaning on gratuitous vulgarity to cap otherwise fascinating commentary. Within a community as highly concerned with inclusivity as St Olaf, limitations on available options to make a point can feel suffocating, but as the show itself demonstrated, those limitations should act as a motivator to invent new ways to elevate the expression.

Creation and originality are difficult to achieve, but the achievements of Deepwykend reflect the “diamond in the rough” motivational aim of the creatives. The output was good enough to warrant critical assessment to the point that I happily went twice. I encourage you all to look out for the work of St. Olaf’s pioneering student theatre organizations. The cast and crew of Deepwykend crafted a moment of exuberant expression.

mbingo1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

“Pipe Screams” concert celebrates all things spooky on Halloween

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:14pm

It was a nightmare before Christmas at the annual “Pipe Screams – All gory, loud, and horror” concert on Halloween night. Members of the St. Olaf community packed into Boe Chapel to listen to organ students play spooky tunes.

Boe Chapel embraced its dark side during this spooky concert. The front of the chapel was lit with Frankenstein-esqe vibrant purple and mottled green lighting. The organ, which took central stage, was covered in cobwebs and infested with oversized spiders. Even the audience was bathed in red lights cast from above, creating a chilling ambiance.
The musicians cleverly employed humor and eerie music throughout the 70 minute concert to keep the large audience attentive.

The night began with a spooky start as Associate Professor of Music James Bobb waltzed into the chapel dressed as Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” He played Toccata in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, a song fittingly ghoulish for Halloween night.
Next, Sarah Palmer ’22, dressed as a vampire, played the prelude from the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock horror film “Psycho.” Palmer arranged the chilling piece herself and performed it with accuracy from memory.

In between pieces, the audience joined the organ in singing “scarols.” These spooky tunes are simply Christmas carols transposed into minor keys sung with creepy lyrics. The first scarol, “Why Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” featured the chorus “Oh tidings of horror and fright, horror and fright! / Oh tidings of horror and fright.”

The second scarol maintained the name “Joy to the world,” but sang that “The night of fright has come!” and of the rise of “The Great Pumpkin” instead of Christ.
The third scarol, “Spooky Night,” sung to the altered tune of “Silent Night,” featured the clever lyrics “Spooky night, Halloween night, / goblins green, ghosts all white, / vampires craving the taste of your blood, / zombies chase you all covered in mud. / Hope you keep your head. / Hope you don’t end up dead.”

All of the scarols were written by St. Olaf organ students.

Next, the organ students brought a bit of Halloween humor to the stage as Evan Schlicht ’23 and Oliver Streissberg ’23, dressed as Shaggy and Fred, played their pieces.
Streissberg approached the organ at the front of the Chapel, arranged the bench and organ pistons and sat down. Suddenly, sound began to resonate around the chapel, but Streissburg was not touching anything. After a few seconds of confusion, the audience began to laugh as they realized Schlight was the one actually playing, using the other organ keyboard in the balcony of Boe.

The students utilized this trick once more when Michael Terry Caraher ’20 played his piece dressed as the Invisible Man. Caraher used the organ in the balcony, while another organ student stood next to the empty organ bench on the stage and pretended to turn pages. The trick worked well and had the audience laughing for half of his piece.

Other memorable performances included that of Meggie Snyder ’22, dressed as a dark ballerina. Her spooky piece, “Chant héroïque” by Jean Langlais, was perfectly suited for the evening. Full of dissonance, darkness and harsh, quickly moving chords, the song sounded almost violent. Samuel Long’s ’21 piece, “Introduction and Passacaglia in D,” was also fittingly somber. The song employed some of the lowest pipes, which made the pews vibrate with the deep, ghoulish sound. Long and his page turner, Catherine Long Rodland ’87, cleverly dressed as a lifeguard and shark.

For the final piece, Rodland and her husband Brian Carson played “The Ride of the Valkyries” by Richard Wagner. The dark, adventurous piece was a fitting end to a wild ride of Halloween music.

Although all of the pieces were well performed, some of the pieces did not seem spooky enough for the Halloween-themed concert. Overall, however, the concert was a fittingly macabre way to spend the evening. The effort organ students put into both their music and the spooky Halloween touches was admirable and served as a wonderful celebration of the organ, which is already quite an ominous instrument.

everet2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Heart Beat

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:11pm

Dear Honeys on the Hill,
I’ve been eyeing this smarty from across the classroom. Everything they say is so eloquent and well thought out. I can tell that they do the reading for every class and it’s so attractive. It doesn’t hurt that they have gorgeous hazel eyes, either! They’re even making me excited to go to my 8 a.m.! How can I take this from the stacks to the sack?
Sincerely,
Heart Eyes in Holland

Dear Heart Eyes in Holland,
What an astounding feat. Your eyes are open wide enough at 8 a.m. to see past your notebook and into your crush’s eyes? Amazing. It can be tough to know how to ask out a fellow Ole when your only connection is the classroom. Here are some options:
Not sure of their status? Ask around first.
Try and be friends first! Their in-class personality could be deceiving.
Catch up with your crush after class. Try to time your backpack pack up with theirs.
Have a test or paper coming up? Ask them if they want to study with you! Or if they need you to tutor them

Categories: Colleges

How we think about money needs to change

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:09pm

People our age do not struggle talking about salaries or wages. Our parents felt awkward discussing how much money they made, but we have a new problem. Even with Venmo and Cashapp, owing our friends money can be one of the most painfully embarrassing subjects to bring up.

I personally do not have Venmo or any money exchanging app. I am lazy and apparently love suffering – whenever I owe people money, I have to give them cash back or buy them something of equal value.

The problem with cash is that no one has a large assortment of bills on them all the time. The problem with buying something of equal value is that it never ends up being the exact same price, which can mean you still owe money or now your friend owes you money.

Recently, I went to New Buffet in Northfield with a group of friends and one person paid the entire bill. Most people in the group Venmoed her back the amount they owed, but I do not have Venmo and I did not have any cash on me, so I said I would buy her something of equal value.

I ended up buying her a movie ticket at the theater, but I was almost $4 short. She said it was okay, but I now feel weird whenever we are buying things around each other. Does she want me to buy her something to make up for the $4 or are we even?

Similarly, I took my girlfriend on a dinner date in St. Paul and she forgot her card, so I had to pay $45 for both of our meals. She said she would pay for the next dinner, but what if we eat at Noodles & Company? Not exactly a fair trade.

But what am I supposed to do? Ask my girlfriend to take me to a restaurant of slightly equal value and pay for the same dollar amount of food? No, because that would be weird and awkward.

Alas, I have to suffer the loss and move on and that is the problem with owing people money.

Somehow, people our age feel completely comfortable talking about the economy and how much they are making, but owing someone money causes immediate tension and apprehension.

So how can we as a generation solve this problem? Well, for starters, I should download Venmo. If we all had Venmo, paying someone back would be fast, easy and accurate. I am sure Venmo comes with its own awkwardness, but it is a step in the right direction.
Another solution would be to change the way we think about money. Although most of us at St. Olaf do not have a huge source of income, we should just let this stuff slide. In high school, when I had a steady job that I worked at a lot, I just covered for my friends if they ever needed it. Owing people money was not a thing for me.

If we treated these scenarios more like generous giving than debt, our friendships would be a lot less awkward. We should strive to keep friendships equal, but this constant back and forth of owing money just cannot continue. It is just too weird.

larion1@stolaf.edu
Karen Larionova ’23 is from Eden Prairie, Minn. Her major is undecided.

Categories: Colleges

Alumni Voices: Cutting the wrestling team: St. Olaf’s big mistake

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:08pm

John Irving said of wrestling, “I’ve always admired the rule that holds you responsible, if you lift your opponent off the mat, for your opponent’s safe return.”
After the recent announcement that the wrestling program at St. Olaf will be dropped following the upcoming season, I found myself wishing that the administration at St. Olaf had lived by Irving’s words.

I was a member of the St. Olaf wrestling team from 1999-2003. I was the captain of the team for two years and was a three time academic all-American. Today, I work as an actor, writer and director in New York City.

The wrestling team at St. Olaf has always been on the chopping block. When my older brother was a senior at Olaf in 1998, the program was cut and the team dramatically dropped their letter jackets at the front of the president in protest. Shortly after, it was discovered that keeping the wrestling team actually costs virtually nothing and could be supported almost completely by donations from alumni, and thus the program was restored. If it had not been, I almost certainly would not have ended up there.

But even after the program was salvaged, there was little support for wrestling from the athletic department. The wrestling room, a modest space to begin with, was never improved, the coaching staff’s hours diminished and cuts were repeatedly made to the already tiny wrestling budget, making recruiting virtually impossible. And some such cuts were made the year after the team finished second in the conference tournament. So it is difficult to argue that these decisions were based on performance.

No doubt there were reasons for the cuts. Wrestling did not bring in crowds. We did not win conference titles. Having a perennial national champion like Augsburg in the conference surely had something to do with that. But because we were not in the spotlight, there was something intrinsically pure about being a wrestler at St. Olaf. The athletes involved were doing it because they genuinely loved the craft and its pursuit.
I remember reading the biblical story of Jacob wrestling the angel in a Great Conversation class and then heading to practice immediately afterward and feeling the ancient words taking shape in my body in real time.

After St. Olaf, a post-graduate scholarship from the NCAA given for excellence on the mat and in the classroom helped pay for my first year of graduate school. And many of my former teammates have gone on to become leaders in their communities. I know each of them would tell you that the lessons learned in the wrestling room contributed greatly to their successes.

It is also worth noting that according to the The National Federation of State High School Associations, enrollment in high school sports (especially football) is on the decline, but wrestling is actually growing in popularity. And women’s wrestling programs are popping up across the country in record numbers – especially in states like Minnesota.
So why is the wrestling team being eliminated? Dwindling team numbers have been cited as the reason. But one has to ask how much that has to do with the amount of support wrestling was ever given in the first place. Perhaps there is a financial opportunity to be had by converting the wrestling room into something more lucrative. I fully appreciate the difficult realities of running a small liberal arts college in today’s world, but if we measure all things in that way, programs like wrestling will continue to die. One would hope that at a liberal arts institution, there would be a recognition that not all treasure is meant to draw a monetary profit. And a program or department can only grow when it is nurtured.

I fell in love with the sport of wrestling during my time on the Hill, and I will mourn the loss of the pure, ancient sport that taught me discipline, patience, self-reliance and honor. But mostly, I am sad that my alma mater does not value this thing I love enough to return it safely to the mat after having lifted it up in the first place. Pure things are hard to come by. And in today’s world, it is more important than ever to protect such things. I only wish St. Olaf shared that point of view. I ask the administration to please reconsider this decision.

alexmorf@hotmail.com
Alex Morf ‘03 is from Mount Vernon, Iowa. His majors were English and theater.

Categories: Colleges

The death of local newspapers and its consequences

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:04pm

Local newspapers are dying. The rise of the internet has strangled their revenue streams and they don’t know how to save themselves.

I do not know how to save them either, but I do know we are all in big trouble if they do not figure it out.

Do you know what your city council has been discussing lately? Do you know what projects they are approving? Do you know where your taxes are going?
You probably do not. Most of us do not because we have jobs to work and families to tend to. The reality is that we simply do not have the time to take up civil vigilance as a hobby, and even if we did, most of us would not.

That is why we need local newspapers that employ journalists to spend all of their time answering these questions and trying to make sure there’s no funny business going on in city hall.

“We simply do not have the time to take up civil vigilance as a hobby.”
– Iain Carlos ’20

You might be thinking somebody else could do this, like an online outlet. Or what about the local TV news my grandmother watches?

Well, many of the reliable online outlets are not exactly thriving, but even if they were, they simply do not have the bandwidth to cover your local city council with any regularity.
Granted, your local TV news has managed to preserve its revenue better than the newspapers, but they have their own problems. They do not know if anyone is going to watch once grandma passes, they do not cover local news in nearly as much depth as newspapers and most of their quality coverage is sandwiched between stories about dogs and self-help tips.

I do not know how to save local newspapers. Somebody figure it out, or else we are all in big trouble.

irwin2@stolaf.edu
Iain Carlos ‘20 is from Chicago, Ill. His major is religion.

Categories: Colleges

Your online persona matters… and here’s why

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:03pm

November is about the time of year when I peruse Indeed and Handshake for interesting summer internships. It has always been a dream of mine to work as a magazine writer, so as I browsed job postings from varying magazines and began filling out some basic questions, I stumbled upon a request that took me by surprise:

“Please provide your Instagram handle.”

Immediately, I started panicking. Although I was sure I did not have anything particularly saucy on my profile, I was forced to quickly reflect on my online persona. What did my social media account say about the kind of person I was? Was I proud of what popped up on the screen? All of a sudden, I started worrying. Did I have enough followers? Were my captions too cliche? Did the hard-working, passionate cover letter I wrote parallel the girl in the photographs?

Social media has become an interesting new element added to the job search process. The idea of that selfie I posted back in 2012 to my measly 100 followers is going to be assessed by a potential employer over half a decade later is daunting. So the question remains: how do you navigate social media in a way that properly reflects who you are in the workplace? Or – better yet – should who you are in the workplace even have to be reflected online?

I debated leaving the answer blank. They would not be able to judge my Instagram profile if I pretend as though I do not have an Instagram profile. But then I realized that social media is important to show one’s digital literacy. Especially when applying to programs in journalism, keeping up to date on social media happenings is crucial. Simply acting as though I stayed off Instagram could just as well have hurt my chances of being hired.

There was only one option left: I had to send them my handle.

Whether we like it or not, social media profiles are a growing new demand from employers. How we portray ourselves online matters. By no means should building an online persona be a priority, but making sure what you see is to some degree reflective of how you want to be perceived is important.

nizhny1@stolaf.edu
Alexia Nizhny ’22 is from New York, N.Y. Her major is English.

Categories: Colleges

Changes to GE must be carefully considered

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:01pm

My senior year of high school, I switched into a charter school. It was a good move, I enjoyed my new school a lot, I made new friends and I graduated on time. Why did I switch schools? I wanted to avoid gym class and the charter school required one fewer gym credit. I legitimately transferred schools so I could avoid physical activity. When I discovered St. Olaf has an SPM requirement, I began looking into transfer paperwork, but I recently found out that there may be hope for those of us that are not athletically inclined.

The administration at St. Olaf has been talking about lessening GE requirements by up to six courses. When I first got wind of this, I was thrilled. I am one hundred percent in favor of abolishing the SPM requirement. I would also gladly remove the religion and math requirements. Maybe science too, while we are at it. I am a Norwegian major. Religion, science, math and physical activity are not at all in my wheelhouse. I have spent many hours lamenting about student debt and a majority of them have been complaints about the fact that I am being required to pay for classes that I despise.

The Norwegian department probably would not exist if it were not for the foreign language GE, the FOL. Believe it or not, Norwegian degrees are not in high demand. Not many people want to put the time and effort into learning a language and without the FOL I doubt many of the language departments would be thriving. We are a small school and we need students to take classes across curriculums in order to justify having a wide range of academic programs. I do not want to take any courses on religion and I am not enjoying the religion course I am in right now. However, if taking religion is my trade-off for keeping the Norwegian department afloat, I guess I will take it.

I do not think any of us are excited about the number of GEs we have to fulfill. No matter how diverse your love of academia may be, there is always that one course that you are forced into against your will. As much as I want to ditch all of the courses I am dreading, changing the GE requirements will have a massive impact on St. Olaf and we need to carefully consider all of the benefits and the consequences of doing so.

peters70@stolaf.edu
Teague Peterson-McGuire ’23 is from Oconomowoc, Wis. His major is Norwegian.

Categories: Colleges

Taylor and Lutheran Centers collaborate for inclusivity events

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 6:56pm

The newly-founded Lutheran Center for Faith, Values and Community and the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion recently collaborated to sponsor several events across campus.

On Oct. 16, the two centers hosted The Leading Out event alongside Campus Ministry, which featured a panel of LGBTQIA+ identifying Clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), to discuss the history and progress of LGBTQIA+ life in the ELCA. 

In December 2019, the Lutheran Center and the Taylor Center are planning to work together on an event addressing religious and LGBTQIA+ identities. 

“The goal of this event will be to create space to discuss identities which can at times, but don’t necessarily have to be, in conflict with one another,” said Assistant Director for Gender and Sexuality in the Taylor Center Jon Mergens.

The Lutheran Center and the Taylor Center have collaborated in the past and plan to continue collaboration into the future in order to promote diversity and inclusion centered around religious acceptance.

In October 2019, the Taylor Center also hosted two events for LGBTQIA+ History Month, where they engaged with students in Buntrock Commons for National Coming Out Day and Pronouns Day.  

“The purpose behind those events were to build community and visibility for our LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff,” Mergens said.

Dr. Deanna Thompson is the founding director of the Lutheran Center, which attempts to maintain the College’s religious heritage in a modern context while promoting religious diversity and inclusion. 

“[The center] is trying to offer programming and exploration of what it means to be a Lutheran institution in the 21st century,” Thompson said. “Very often in programming and in practice, religion doesn’t get very much attention.” 

Central to the Center’s mission is utilizing core values of diversity and intersectionality in collaboration with other organizations to create a more welcoming and diverse religious atmosphere. These goals align well with efforts by the Taylor Center, which at its core is a space for student empowerment and acceptance. Ever since its establishment this academic year, the Taylor Center has played a large role in student life.  

In addition to their collaborations with the Taylor Center, the Lutheran Center plans on working with the Piper Center to assist students interested in entering ministry work. 

“The Lutheran Center has applied for a grant to focus on deepening and expanding  conversations on vocation,” Thompson said. “So if we get that grant, then obviously the Piper Center for Vocation and Career will be an important partner.” 

The newly-founded Lutheran Center has been actively involved in student life via event planning and collaboration, and will continue to be at the forefront of the College’s ongoing efforts to create a more equitable and diverse atmosphere.

kostov1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

SGA increases funding for initiatives

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 6:46pm

The Student Government Association (SGA) doubled the Senate initiatives’ budgets this year from $1,500 to $3,000 to help the organizations better fulfill their missions.

It’s On Us plans to use the extra funds to distribute more stickers, buttons and the like and potentially create a self-defense class. Greater Than hopes to distribute more magnets and educational materials, host more speakers and collaborate more with other student orgs. The SGA Taskforce Against Racism (STAR) plans to collaborate with Northfielders for Justice in Palestine and work with Rankin & Associates Consulting to conduct an equity audit, among other efforts. An equity audit assesses the state of equity and inclusion at an institution.

SGA President Devon Nielsen ’20 and Vice President Ariel Mota Alves ’20 met with several student groups on campus, including the three initiatives, during their campaign last spring. Following discussions with initiative chairs and members, Nielsen and Mota Alves decided to increase funding for the initiatives.

“The common theme through those interviews was that they’re excited to do their work on campus, but they weren’t necessarily receiving the funds or the resources that they felt could allow them to make the greatest impact on campus,” Nielsen said.

The three initiatives address different aspects of student health and well-being. It’s On Us promotes sexual assault prevention, Greater Than focuses on creating a positive atmosphere regarding mental health, and STAR seeks to combat institutional racism and destigmatize the portrayal of race at St. Olaf.

Chair of STAR Joey Dagher ’20 spoke of the relief that the budget increase provides, as STAR didn’t have enough money to host their own events before the change.
“$1,500 is nothing. It is absolutely nothing,” Dagher said. “Now that I have the $3,000 dollar cushion, I can be comfortable spending that, and we might still have money for a workshop and money for the POC gatherings.”

It’s On Us will use the heightened funding to continue their attempt to create a universal concept of consent among students on campus through advertising and distribution of buttons, stickers, tablecloths, balloons and temporary tattoos, Chair Abby Thompson ’21 said.

“We’re very thankful for the current presidents right now, because our increased budget really is going to help us,” Thompson said. “Hopefully that will influence people to come talk to us more and hear what we have to say and learn.”

Thompson also hopes to use funds for the creation of a self-defense class, which she believes is necessary for a safe campus and could be integrated as a Studies in Physical Movement (SPM) course.

It’s On Us hosted Cookies and Consent as their first formal event of the year, alongside tabling in early October. Organizers gave Pause cookies to interested students and created scenario cards about consent.

Greater Than will use its new budget to increase its merchandising resources. These could include magnets in dorms and printed resource cards for members of the Bandana Project, a program where students who have information on mental health resources around campus display a bandana on their clothes or backpacks to signify their willingness to help other students, Greater Than Chair Olivia Prescott ’20 said.

Greater Than also plans to bring in more educational speakers and increase collaboration with other organizations on campus in order to show the “multidimensional aspect of mental health,” Prescott said.

For example, panelists at the Domestic Students of Color Mental Health Panel on Nov. 13, a collaboration of Diverse Initiatives Support Committee (DISC), Wellness Center, STAR and REPRESENT, will discuss how their identities play into mental health.
Greater Than also brought author Shane Burcaw to campus on Oct. 1.

“When we expressed that one of our biggest barriers in providing awareness and helping to end the stigma is money, they were like, more than willing to give us that extra money and so I do think it was kind of needed and I think that where we’re at right now is a good place,” Prescott said.

drewes1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Northfield’s push for denser development

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 6:44pm

City hopes to aid development of local businesses

The city of Northfield is working to increase density and encourage redevelopment to make the city’s economy more accessible. The city helped fund the opening of Reunion bar and restaurant and the forthcoming Fifth Street Lofts apartment complex, among other endeavors.

The emphasis on redevelopment follows a study completed in December 2018 by Urban3, a community development consulting firm from Asheville, NC. The Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Northfield commissioned the firm to analyze Northfield’s density and locate areas suitable for redevelopment. They used a per-acreage assessment of the health and utility of each parcel of land the city owns.

“[The EDA was] able to identify some key parcels within the community, especially in the downtown, Division Street, where some of the properties were high value and low cost,” said Northfield Economic Development Coordinator Nate Carlson ’15.

While the study concluded that Northfield has developed sustainably over the years, it recommended a return to the denser development of the town’s early history. This recommendation encouraged the EDA to utilize or redevelop existing land in more efficient ways, as was done with the Fifth Street Lofts apartment complex.

The complex will be constructed on an under-utilized plot of land downtown, Carlson said. The market-rate housing development will help move the city’s tax base away from single-home residential property taxes.

“Northfield has had a majority of the burden of property taxes on the residential population,” Carlson said. “Efforts like the Fifth Street Lofts, Reunion, the hotel – these are all commercial businesses that, prior to their original use, have a much denser footprint and generate much more tax that can balance out the rest of the tax base.”
Northfield worked in partnership with these commercial businesses, offering hefty loans to incentivize development through their Northfield Revolving Loan Fund Program. In the case of Fifth Street Lofts, the city created a new tax-advantaged financing district to meet development needs, the Messenger reported in early October, alongside a $250,000 loan through the EDA.

In the case of Reunion, which occupies the former J. Grundy’s Rueb ‘N’ Stein space on Division and Fifth Street, the EDA approved a $100,000 loan on Feb. 8, 2019, to “assist with construction and renovation costs,” according to a March economic development update. Reunion used the loan to build new sidewalks surrounding the restaurant that meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, Reunion manager Chad Jenkinson said.

Alongside these larger loans, the EDA also issues micro-grants of up to $5,000 to local businesses under the Clement F. Shearer Micro-Grant Program. The program aids growing mid-range businesses that need help expanding, according to the grant application.

In December 2018 and January 2019, Groundwire Coffee Roasters, a downtown cafe that promotes equitable coffee sourcing, and Launch5 Media, a downtown digital video consulting agency, both received grants of $5,000 to bolster expansion efforts.
These micro-grants follow a development philosophy that Carlson defined as “economic gardening,” placing emphasis on the consistent growth and expansion of local, stable businesses.

“You want to take care of what you currently have,” Carlson said. “So by offering loans or grants, you’re tending to your current businesses and acknowledging them for their importance.”

Many of the EDA’s efforts reflect a growing need for diversifying the tax base due to current over-reliance on residential property taxes. The EDA also hopes to make the economy more accessible for new business ventures by offering to meet gaps in financing through grant and loan programs, Carlson said.

Reunion has seen business flourish since its opening in June 2019. The restaurant has increased foot traffic in the surrounding downtown area, Jenkinson said.
Hideaway Coffeehouse and Wine Bar has also seen its number of customers rise in recent months, primarily due to spillover business from the opening of Reunion only a couple of shops away, owner Joan Spaulding said.

While business has increased for several downtown establishments, others, such as Ragstock and Antiques of Northfield, reported negligible increases since the opening of Reunion. Owner of Antiques Carol Christenson said that property tax rates have heightened for local businesses in recent years. The store has also seen its rent increase. However, Christenson noted that tax and rent increases are natural processes and wouldn’t necessarily be caused by a shift to higher density.

Carlson said the development of Fifth Street Lofts will revamp the downtown area, assuaging fears that growing density will drive out smaller businesses.
“I think it’s been a positive belief,” Carlson said. “It’s going to be pretty monumental to have 79 units a block off of Division, and having that many people in that area to drive small town, local businesses.”

Finally, Carlson, a St. Olaf graduate, is confident that a more accessible and revamped Northfield economy will attract students to the community.
“Sure, you can stay on Olaf, you can stay on Carleton’s campus as much as you want, but ultimately what’s driving that community is what the city’s doing,” Carlson said. “When it’s vibrant and active, the colleges themselves are benefitting from that vibrancy.”

marand1@stolaf.edu

irwin2@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges
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