Author: Amy Lohmann

Companydances original performances dazzle audience

From Paris to the ocean, the Companydance Spring Concert whisked its audience through a myriad of moods, mindsets and movements.

Held in Kelsey Theater at 7:30 p.m. from May 1 – 3, the concert featured pieces choreographed by dance department faculty Artist in Residence Anthony Roberts, Professor of Dance Janice Roberts, students Karina Culloton ’15, Julia Moser-Hardy ’14, Ashley R.T. Yergens ’14, Ben Swenson-Klatt ’16 and guest artist Alexandra Beller.

The nine featured pieces differed greatly in tone and style. Certain pieces felt more reflective and quiet, such as “This is what I know,” choreographed by Culloton, where dancers swayed in circular motion to the soothing sounds of waves and acoustic guitar, or “Through My Mother’s Eyes,” choreographed by Janice Roberts, which featured three female dancers Culloton, Yergens and Mariah MacFarland ’14 interacting against a stark black backdrop.

Other pieces played with setting, like “Feed Your Ears with Stories to Swallow,” choreographed and danced by Swenson-Klatt. Swenson-Klatt’s piece featured a solo character, dressed in a white shirt and tie, exploring movement in contrast with motionless by-standers in Parisian dress, sitting at café tables.

The audience reacted strongly throughout the show. The patriarchy-poking “Moving Men,” featuring male dancers Sam Adams ’15, Cal Knickerbocker ’16, Adam Levonian ’14 and Stephen Sweeney ’15 clad in suits, drew laughter from the audience as the dancer crawled, leaped and sprinted while mimicking various gendered movements.

The audience also gave an enthusiastic response to the pop-culture piece “Is this more ladylike?” choreographed by Yergens. The work featured solo dancer Katherine Griffis ’15 against a backdrop of video clips featuring images of Griffis both in motion and immobile. Equally exciting was the edgy number “You can only, and enter,” choreographed by guest artist Beller. This piece showcased dancers dressed in what can only be described as Victorian-goth garb and exploded with raging intensity, frantic movement and pulsating beats.

The show ended with a tribute to Jennifer Koenig ’87, who danced at St. Olaf as an undergraduate student and served as Associate College Pastor before her death in the fall of 2013. “Celebrating Jennifer” exuded elegant joy and certainly conveyed the respect and passion felt for Koenig by the dance department.

“The pieces represent the department in their diversity,” dancer Kelsey Daly ’14 said. “I feel that all of us in the dance department have a unique voice when it comes to dance, and I think the mix of pieces really speaks to everyone’s individual experiences.”

The hours of preparation in rehearsal and tech week paid off in this concert, which Janice Roberts refers to as “a labor of love.”

“The students looked wonderful and have worked very hard to get to this place,” Roberts said.

Seeing all the technical pieces of the show come together is a highlight for performers.

“The most exciting part of putting together the performances has really been seeing these pieces that we have been working on all year come together with costumes and lights,” Daly said. “It makes all of our hard work worth it to be on the stage performing.”


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SGA Block Party celebrates end of year

As the weather hopefully begins to get warmer and sunnier, students can look forward to spending the afternoon and evening of Friday, May 9th celebrating the arrival of spring with SGA’s Block Party, held by MEC, ADC and SAC.

The event will feature a variety of events, kicking off with a concert on the Quad. Students can get a Caf packout meal and listen to campus bands play on the steps of Boe Chapel from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The featured campus musicians include Ashley, The Jericho Vibe, Air Is Air and Maria and the Coynes.

At 7 p.m., The Counterfactuals, a band made up of Assistant Professor of Philosophy Michael Fuerstein and three professors from Carleton, will take the stage until 8 p.m. In case of rain, the event will be moved into the Pause with the same set times.

“The Spring Block Party will be growing off of the success of the Fall Block Party that we held in September,” MEC Coordinator Connor Peterson ’14 said. “It was an extremely fun event and we received great positive feedback. We wanted to recapture this event and give the student body an end of the year event to look forward to.”

Following the bands, ADC will launch its first-ever Electric Run, a 3-kilometer race complete with dance music and neon lights. Though the event is labeled a run, according to ADC Coordinator Erin Hynes ’15 it’s more of a “giant walk/run, music and lights extravaganza.” The run will come to a halt between Boe Chapel and Buntrock Commons for a dance party.

“It’ll be a super high energy event where participants will follow the loop around campus. Throughout the course they’ll hear high energy tunes blasted from speakers and played by the wonderful DJs at KSTO,” Hynes said. “In addition, the Pause techs have broken up the course into sections and are playing with different lights, fog machines, and blacklights. All in all, I think it’ll look absolutely amazing!”

ADC will provide free swag for participants before they reach the dance party. The event has garnered a lot of attention on campus; four days after the online link to the race was released, 279 people had already signed up.

The evening will conclude with the SAC Highlighter Pause Dance at 10 p.m.

“The Highlighter Dance serves as a celebration of sorts,” said Brandon Cash ’16, the SAC Co-Coordinator for 2014-2015. “It is the last Pause dance of the year and SAC always tries to round off the year with a bang!”

According to Cash, the idea of the Highlighter Dance is simple: if you have something that glows, be sure to bring it to the dance.

“With finals fast approaching, it’s really the last ‘normal’ weekend of the school year and I’m thrilled that SAC gets to plan this event for the St. Olaf student body. I am most excited for the SGA Spring Block Party to get students outside to enjoy fingers crossed spring weather. Olaf comes alive again in the spring and I’m really looking forward to seeing Oles enjoying our beautiful campus!”


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Author stresses value of night

On Monday, April 21, students, faculty and community members gathered to hear what it is like to “go dark.”

Paul Bogard, author of “The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light,” spoke to a crowd in the half-filled Tomson 280 lecture hall about the cost of light pollution and the value of darkness. Bogard was invited by the English and environmental studies faculty to speak and read from his book.

Bogard began his talk with the epigraph from his book, a short poem by Wendell Berry titled “To Know the Dark,” before launching into several stories geared toward depicting the lack of natural light in our modern world.

“The problem isn’t artificial light at night,” Bogard said. “The technology is not the problem. The problem is that we overuse it. We use way more light than we need. Images of light are very beautiful, but they are also images of waste.”

Bogard went on to show examples of this overuse, including the Las Vegas strip, which he describes as the brightest pixel on a satellite photo depicting the world’s lights at night. He used a slideshow of images to give examples of different forms of light pollution including sky glow and sky glare, in which the night sky is lit by artificial lights, preventing the ability to see stars. He also explained the concept of light trespass, in which lights shine through windows into neighboring homes and buildings.

“We live in a country obsessed with property rights, but we are completely unconscious when it comes to light trespass,” Bogard said.

Other ingredients of light pollution, Bogard explained, come from common light sources like stadium lights, gas stations and billboards. These lights are often seen as safety precautions, but Bogard, using a photo example, explained that often these artificial lights make it more difficult to see the dangers that may lurk beyond a bright beam of light.

According to Bogard, artificial lights lead to a number of issues outside of light pollution, ranging from negative effects on human health to a number of environmental issues.

“All the electric light that we’re exposed to at night seems to have a negative effect on our physical health, not to mention our spiritual and mentalhealth,” Bogard said. “It’s disrupting our sleep, confusing our circadian rhythms and impeding production of the hormone melatonin in our bodies, which has been correlated with an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer.”

“If you hear anything I say tonight, at least sleep in the dark,” he continued. “Our bodies did not evolve to be exposed to artificial light at night.”

Bogard expressed his desire to illuminate various environmental issues associated with the increase of artificial light in our world. Using baby sea turtles as an example of the way this light interferes with our natural ecology, he explained that they had evolved to move upon hatching toward the brightest light source, the moon, which led them into the sea. Now, however, more and more are beginning to move toward the lights of condos and streetlights, which greatly lessens their chances of survival.

Bogard attributed his passion for night to growing up with a cabin in northern Minnesota.

“I’ve just always loved nighttime,” Bogard said. “I think it’s a magical time that’s really important to being human. We have taken what was once one of the most common human experiences, walking out your door and coming face to face with the universe, and made it into a rare experience. What is the cost of this, what does it rob us of?”

Bogard finished his lecture with a brief reading from his book before opening the remaining time up for questions from the audience. Questions ranged from the spiritual effects of losing natural darkness to what we can do to help reduce the negative effects of artificial lights.

“It’s hard; we’re working against a lack of awareness of the beauty of darkness, but I remain optimistic because we’re just hoping to make people aware,” Bogard said.

Audience members applauded Bogard after nearly ten minutes of questions and exited the auditorium, where they could purchase “The End of Night.”

“I think Bogard presented an engaging talk that was well-balanced between reading and discussion,” said introductory speaker Johnna Purchase ’14, vice president of English honor society Sigma Tau Delta. “Not only did he present a compelling case for the environmental need to seriously reduce light pollution, but Bogard also convincingly demonstrated the value in addressing these and other environmental issues through artistic mediums like creative nonfiction.”

“Paul Bogard is doing something that’s so important in our society right now,” audience member Nora Flynn ’14 said. “He is bridging the gap between scientists and nonscientists. At the same time, he is able to entertain both types of people.”


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SGA announces spring election candidates: Ballot amendments propose changes to Senate positions

As the spring semester unfolds, the annual Student Government Association SGA elections begin to take shape. On Sunday, March 2, the official list of candidates for various SGA positions was made public. Prospective candidates collected 50 of their peers’ signatures on a petition to put their names on the ballot. On Sunday, March 9, candidates will have the opportunity to share their platforms with students at 7:30 p.m. in Buntrock Crossroads. The primary and general elections will take place on Tuesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 13, respectively.

Besides electing new SGA leaders, students will have the opportunity to vote on two new amendments to the SGA constitution.

The first amendment will remove two positions from SGA’s senate: the faculty governance and faculty life senators. Those currently filling these positions serve as student representatives to faculty committees. In the past, those who have held these positions have felt that they are not an ideal use of SGA’s resources, according to SGA President John Schwirtz ’14.

“The problem is, these senators can’t really share what’s going on in these committees with students but are being marketed as a student voice,” Schwirtz said.

The new process aims to find student representatives to faculty committees through an appointment process. The amendment would have the new position appointed by the current student life committee senator and the curriculum senator.

“We are attempting to consolidate the faculty governance and faculty life senator positions as representatives under the management of the student life and curriculum committee senator,” current Student Life Senator Kyle Oberman ’14 said. “The student life and curriculum committee senators will work in close, joint cooperation to appoint these representatives and ensure that they present to Senate every semester. I’d say this amendment presents Senate and the student body the opportunity to improve Senate’s efficiency, increase cooperation between some of its members and even increase representation. It’s a significant change, but we came to a consensus on what needed to be done quickly.”

The second constitutional amendment aims to eliminate the Student Alumni Association as an executive branch of SGA. If the amendment passes, the Student Alumni Association coordinator position will be replaced with a student appointment made by the incoming president and vice president, the previous student alumni representative and a representative from the Alumni and Parent Relations office. The appointee will be confirmed by the Senate, where they will be a non-voting member.

“The Student Alumni Association has not fit within the context of SGA for several years now,” said Bailey Williams ’16, the current student alumni association coordinator. “I’m fully supportive of this amendment to the SGA Constitution because a new senator position will allow for much more flexibility within the Alumni and Parent Relations office while still remaining engaged with the student body and the Student Government Association. I believe in the potential that this new position has, and I believe that SGA will be a better-functioning organization with the reassignment of the Student Alumni Association.”

The two amendments will be included in the general election ballot. Current SGA members expect that the changes will reflect well upon the student government.

“The passage of these amendments will illustrate that SGA is able and willing to move forward with change,” Curriculum Senator and bylaws subcommittee chair Evan Davis ’15 said. “It will open up room to find new ways to establish a Senate that is representative of the student body and issues on campus.”

SGA Candidate Profiles:

President, Vice President: Stephen Nolan ’15 and Dan Lilly ’15 vs. Jared Britson ’15 and Max Wolfram ’15 vs. Rachel Palermo ’15 and Nick Stumo-Langer ’15 vs. Dan Frankenfeld ’15 and Will Seabrook ’16

Jared Britson ’15 and Max Wolfram ’15

Major: Britson: Economics and mathematics, management and statistics concentrations

Wolfram: Political science and American studies, environmental studies concentration

Reason for running: [We] plan to promote student involvement within this school in a creative way, through emphasizing school spirit in the arts, sports and extracurricular activities. School spirit, however, is not the only facet of SGA’s functions that needs reform. The power that SGA holds in the administrative quarters of St. Olaf must be addressed as well. We will dutifully serve at the pleasure of the St. Olaf student body.

Dan Frankenfeld ’15 and Will Seabrook ’16

Major: Frankenfeld: Music and exercise science Seabrook: Political science and economics

Reason for running: We want to run because we believe that St. Olaf is a place to discover, serve and grow in community with one another. Our motto is “Focus on Feedback,” which means a critical part of our platform is listening to students. We will emphasize sustainability, transparency and opportunity, and we believe those values will empower the leaders of SGA to put our best foot forward.

Stephen Nolan ’15 and Dan Lilly ’15

Major: Nolan: Political science Lilly: Chemistry and biology

Reason for running: It’s great that some students have had the opportunity to influence student government, but we don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the majority of us feel like we don’t have an opportunity to have our voices heard. But we’re ready to change this. We have ideas to create real change on campus. And we want to hear other peoples’ ideas too. We don’t want power. We want change. And we think that’s possible if we all work together to create it.

Rachel Palermo ’15 and Nick Stumo-Langer ’15

Major: Palermo: Political science and economics Stumo-Langer: History and political science, Middle Eastern studies concentration

Reason for running: Platform: 1. Use our $500,000 budget to plan events students actually want to attend. 2. Restructure the SGA budget to best benefit student organizations. 3. Restructure SGA leadership and Senate to be most effective for students. 4. Be the voice for concerns from the students to the administration and faculty. 5. Build leadership inside and outside of SGA.

Curriculum Senator: Andrew Parr ’16 vs. Olivia Slack ’15

Andrew Parr ’16

Major: Music education

Extracurriculars: member of St. Olaf Choir, radio host manager at KSTO, Spanish language enthusiast

Reason for running: As a curriculum senator, I would hope to bring student opinions directly to the faculty committee I’d be sitting on. My ultimate career goal is to be a college professor. Because of this, sitting on this committee and discussing what goes into curriculum development would be truly enjoyable for me.

Olivia Slack ’15

Major: Political science and religion, Middle Eastern studies concentration

Extracurriculars: Political outreach coordinator for PAC, member of Oles FACE AIDS, Phi Sigma Alpha and the St. Olaf Cantorei

Reason for running: One of my main goals for running for this position is to be involved in the conversation about St. Olaf’s General Education GE requirements. I have heard students talk about several problems they have with the current GE system, so I hope to bring that student perspective and those student voices to the committee.

DCC Coordinator: Nilakshi Biswas ’15 vs. Merci Ntawukulityayo ’16

Nilakshi Biswas ’15

Major: Biology, management studies and biomedical studies concentrations

Extracurriculars: Co-chair for Celebrate South Asia CSA!, treasurer for Diversity Celebrations Committee DCC, Residence Life staff member

Reason for running: As the DCC Coordinator, I hope to achieve a little more direct involvement with all of the different multicultural celebrations. More importantly, however, I would like for there to be a way to fund club events and celebrations specifically for members. Sometimes multicultural organizations become so involved in organizing events for the campus that they forget that celebrations within the multicultural organizations themselves can strengthen the team.

Roger Ntawukulityayo ’16

Major: Economics and chemistry

Extracurriculars: member of Karibu and DCC, teacher’s assistant for chemistry lab

Reason for running: While I was gathering signatures many people were confused about the position I was running for, so I want to increase the presence of DCC on campus or at least make sure students are more aware about it and involve them more in the activities we put together.

MEC Coordinator: Rose Dennis ’15 vs. Ben Ronning ’16

Rose Dennis ’15 did not submit a profile

Ben Ronning ’16

Major: Psychology, management studies concentration

Extracurriculars: Guitarist in campus band Air is Air, MEC member, Intramural sports

Reason for running: I hope to bring the best concerts to St. Olaf’s campus while considering the tastes of the entire student body. Also, I would like to further showcase the talents of campus bands by creating a thriving community featuring all types of music.

Student Life Senator: Kyle Wilmar ’17 vs. Tyler Benning ’17

Kyle Wilmar ’17

Major: Political science

Extracurriculars: Kildahl Hall president, member of Hall Council and Inter-Hall Council, rugby player, co-host of a comedy show on KSTO radio

Reason for running: My vision is to help better the life of St. Olaf students and help make SGA run more smoothly by fixing problems I find.

Tyler Benning ’17

Major: Biology

Extracurriculars: senate and bylaws committee, Hoyme Hall Council, TRiO mentoring program, pre-health club, quiz bowl, Catholic student association, Intramural soccer and broomball

Reason for running: As Student Life Senator, I would have three main goals: 1 To elicit greater student input on the SGA Budget allocation. 2 To increase collaboration between the Student Life Senator and Hall Senators. 3 To use my appointment power to increase diversity within SGA.

ADC Coordinator: Christian Dwyer ’16 vs. Ross Nevin ’17 vs. Janna Jansen ’15

Uncontested positions:

BORSC Chair: Evan Davis ’15

Environmental Senator: Will Lutterman ’15

PAC Coordinator: Emma Youngquist ’15

SAC Coordinator: Brandon Cash ’16

Pause Co-Coordinators: Nathan Hartwig ’15, Andrew O’Neill ’15

SOC Coordinator: Jocelyn Sarvady ’15

VN Coordinator: Rory Anderson ’15

Intercampus Liason: N/A

Editor’s Note: Stephen Nolan is sports editor at the Manitou Messenger. He was not involved in the writing of this article. All candidates running in contested positions were approached for comment. Candidates on the ballot by Wednesday, Feb. 26 were asked for their profiles.


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Gretchen Morgenson talks economic crisis

While recent discussions of the national debt have focused primarily on the government shutdown, St. Olaf students turned their attention to the 2008 financial crisis as presented by Gretchen Morgenson ’76 on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Students filled the seats of Viking Theater as Morgenson, currently the assistant business finance editor and a columnist for the New York Times, took the stage and began a short presentation which aimed to address the question, “Were there any lessons learned from the financial crisis?”

Morgenson, who earned a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the financial crisis, cited the lack of accountability in both the public and private sectors and significant regulatory failure as major causes of the financial crisis.

“Lies that made some people a lot of money were at the heart of the financial crisis,” Morgenson said. “Our system can be hugely beneficial to the vast majority of people who participate, but an ethical decision is necessary to make it work.”

Much of Morgenson’s talk sought to examine why unethical behavior has become commonplace in the world of business and finance. She pointed to shifting corporate practices as a partial culprit, including practices that encourage short-term performance orientation coupled with high pay. She argued that these patterns cause employees to have a sense of duty to themselves rather than responsibility to others.

“It’s time for those in positions of power to consider their duties not just to shareholders, but to other stakeholders as well,” Morgenson said. “The belief that executives should only do right to shareholders is a bit myopic. We need them to think outside themselves.”

Morgenson also expressed her concern over the recent increase in financial scandals.

“From a professional standpoint, I shouldn’t complain,” she said jokingly. “It gives me a lot of material. I’m drowning in material.”

According to Morgenson, the outsized financial sector has a lot to do with the growing number of failures and scandals, and these expansions have not ceased in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis.

“After this crisis, which was a banking panic, we now have banks that are larger than they were in the years leading up to the crisis,” Morgenson said.

Morgenson claimed that the attractive nature of a career in finances contributes to the industry’s expansion.

“The financial services industry is a vibrant business. It employs approximately 5.8 million individuals,” said Morgenson, adding that at its most constructive, the industry promotes job creation and powers economic growth. However, she pointed out, many of the innovative ideas in finance leading up to the 2008 crisis likely contributed to the problem.

“The fact is that true financial innovation should help society, not hurt society,” she said.

Morgenson discussed several examples of “sensible voices in Washington looking for a way to reign in the banks,” including a bipartisan bill that was floated in the Senate that would put a cap on bank size and bank leverage, but she was skeptical as to whether the bill would lead to anything concrete.

Morgenson concluded the presentation by acknowledging that she does not know how to stop these practices, but she believes that “those of us in the media can do our part by shining a light in the dark corners where these practices flourish.”

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