News recap: campus highlights from the past year

St. Olaf College has a rich history of both serious and light-hearted events, but it is impossible for any one student to recall all of the happenings that forever changed the course of Ole life as we know it. For first-year students new to life on the Hill, the Messenger is happy to get you up to speed. Here are last year’s news highlights:

The feral kitten

Last October, St. Olaf Public Safety captured a feral kitten believed to have bitten two sophomores earlier that day, but three days later, the students confirmed that officers had nabbed the wrong cat.

The two sophomores were bitten on their hands when they tried to extract a kitten from one of the dumpsters near Larson Hall. They went to the emergency room, at which point medical professionals contacted Public Safety, who began searching for the animal.

Public Safety officers spent the afternoon in an unsuccessful search for the kitten. Later that evening, two other students spotted a kitten outside Stav Hall and reported it to Public Safety. Onlookers cheered as Officer James Golden closed in on the kitten, but the animal escaped. When the kitten crawled into a drainage pipe, Golden managed to pick it up in a live trap.

In spite of the kitten’s similar appearance, the bitten students said it was not the wanted animal. In a campus-wide email, Director of Public Safety Fred Behr discouraged students from rescuing or assisting wild animals.

Take back the tap

In April 2012, St. Olaf students voted 86 percent in favor of a referendum that read, “We, as a student body, support eliminating the sale and distribution of bottled water at St. Olaf College with certain exceptions deemed necessary by the administration to accommodate special circumstances.”

Now, more than a year later, students will see the results of the referendum. According to Vice President Greg Kneser, changes include the removal of bottled water from vending machines, the Cage and the bag lunch line, the use of water stations in place of bottled water at large events like Commencement and the installation of water dispensers in bathrooms around campus. Bottled water will remain available for purchase in the St. Olaf Bookstore and will be available at some catered events.

Enough! Campaign

The emergence of the “Enough! The New Face of St. Olaf” campaign coincided with the student-led “Race Matters” initiative and ongoing campus discussions about race and diversity. The Enough! campaign, kicked off by 19 St. Olaf students, emerged in response to a “dramatic increase in visible hate crimes committed on campus,” as stated in the campaign’s open letter to the campus community. Last April, members of the Enough! campaign announced their concerns, goals and demands for action in this letter, published on Facebook and Tumblr.

The letter listed examples of hate crimes that occurred on campus last year, including a racial slur written on a poster in Rand Hall, “Death to Gaza” written on an Oles for Justice in Palestine poster, the theft of Palestinian flags and the recurring theft of GLBT pride flags.

Next, the letter addressed larger racial issues that students have observed on campus and presented a list of demands that the group believes must be met in order for St. Olaf to make lasting change.

President David Anderson ’74 and Vice President Greg Kneser addressed the St. Olaf community via email in response to the letter.

Lutefest, Zootefest, and the lack thereof

Last March, the Student Government Association SGA leadership announced that “as a result of consistently unsuccessful attempts” to “make Lutefest a fun and risk-free event,” the festival would be canceled after a nine-year run.

Lutefest was a day of campus band performances and outdoor fun with an unfortunate legacy: repeated instances of destructive behavior by intoxicated students. The event cancellation led Max Collyard ’13 to plan a festival of his own: Zootefest.

Collyard originally envisioned Zootefest as a small, off-campus get-together with live music, but after he began to advertise the event on social media, Zootefest quickly grew in scope.

Due to its increased size, Zootefest needed approval from the Northfield City Council. Plans for the event fell through after the Council told Collyard he had missed the deadline to apply for a permit.

Now when upperclassmen and professors casually mention “the feral cat” or “the Zootefest thing,” first-year students can feel included in these references to St. Olaf history.

Ashley Belisle ’15 belisle@stolaf.edu is a News Editor for the Messenger. She is from Mahtomedi, Minn.

Photo Credit: RACHEL PALERMO/MANITOU MESSENGER

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