The Northfield City ID initiative officially came to St. Olaf for the first time on Thursday, March 7. Northfield made history in summer 2018 by becoming the first city in Minnesota to issue City IDs. The ID is a form of identification that allows residents without driver’s licenses or passports to access city programs.

The Northfield Human Rights Commission (HRC) tabled in Buntrock Crossroads during community time and lunch hours. Trained personnel helped people with the applications, took photos and helped to cover the $15 cost for those who could not afford it.

The HRC says it was always part of the initial plan to have a mobile team issuing IDs to residents who may not be able to get downtown to apply in person.

“We are planning to do this every semester,” HRC Secretary Angelique Dietz said. “We also go to churches and a lot of community events so we can bring it to the people instead of having them come to us.”

HRC Chair Mar Valdecantos reflected this statement, saying they have had tremendous support from both St. Olaf and Carleton from the beginning of the initiative.

“Having them be a part of this now is still very important,” Valdecantos said.

“It’s easy on the Hill to sometimes forget about the larger Northfield Community,” SGA Vice President Abbie Haug ’19 wrote in an email. “Partnering with the Northfield Human Rights Commission to put on this event gave students a great and easy chance to learn more about issues facing Northfield residents, initiatives taken to address these issues and show support.”

The City ID is especially important for undocumented residents in Northfield. Law enforcement has been very supportive of the new form of identification, telling the Northfield HRC that crime reporting has gone up recently.

“You can imagine that if you cannot identify who you are then you are unable to report a crime against you,” Dietz said. “With increased reporting, crime rates go down.”

Both Dietz and Valdecantos hope that everyone, even those with a valid driver’s license, will consider getting the ID.

“We all have IDs, but this is the one ID that anybody can have,” Valdecantos said. “It emphasizes that we’re all treated equally.”

At the event on Thursday, the Northfield HRC had coupon books adding up to $15 in savings to offset the cost of the IDs.

Melanie Nevins ’20 applied for her Northfield City ID on Thursday at the event even though she has both a driver’s license and passport.

“I think it’s important to support this system,” Nevins said. “The more people that use the ID, the more widely accepted it will become and the people who really need it will be able to do more with it.”

The Northfield HRC plans to return to St. Olaf and Carleton every semester to encourage students to get a City ID. Anyone residing in Northfield, including students, can also go down to the city library to get the ID.

hussey2@stolaf.edu