Author: Ashley Belisle

St. Olaf Sentiments: March 6, 2015

In eighth grade, I was in the spring play. I had the role of Lady Beatrice, no doubt a crucial part of a middle school production of Once Upon a Mattress. My friends and I were both intoxicated by the we-run-the-school power trip that is the last couple months of middle school and alarmed by the prospect of the imminent unknown: high school. So when somebody – I can’t remember who it was – proclaimed, “Last show; nothing matters!” we all latched on. Those four words became our mantra for the rest of the weekend.

Worried about messing up your lines? Last show; nothing matters! Feeling nervous because that boy you like is in the audience? Last show; nothing matters! Don’t feel like being quiet backstage? Last show; nothing matters! We felt pretty empowered, and definitely cooler than all of those seventh graders.

Something about senior year of college must evoke those same guttural feelings of exhilaration and anxiety that the end of middle school did, because sometime last September, I blurted out, “Senior year; nothing matters!” – probably as reasoning for why we really should order Pause pizza at 11:00 on a Monday night, and the mantra has stuck.

Among friends, the refrain is used to justify not only ordering Pause pizza more than one time a week, but also staying at lunch an extra half an hour instead of getting a start on homework, or dancing the night away at yet another Pause dance because who cares. I went to the Minnesota Timberwolves game Monday night on Kevin Garnett’s dime – thanks, Kev! instead of spending the night studying. Senior year; nothing matters!

The mantra has an element of humor, of course. We know that a lot of things matter during senior year and always – on campus and everywhere else. Oles are currently confronting issues of race, racism, privilege, social responsibility, sexual assault and awareness, mental health, depression, religion and religious tolerance, climate change, environmental stewardship, gender, sexuality, sexism, sexual health, ignorance, apathy and so many more.

We are surrounded by a lot that matters. But often all of those important things get lost in the daily struggle of finishing the Spanish reading for tomorrow and studying for the bio test on Friday. It is so easy to lose sight of what really and truly matters when so many things do – and deciding not to study for Friday’s bio test at all is probably not a great idea either.

So, what am I even talking about? First, I said that it’s senior year and nothing matters, and then I provided a litany of a lot of things that really matter and typically do not get the attention that they deserve and that they need.

I think the “senior year; nothing matters” mantra is really an exercise in being intentional, which is something that Oles of all ages can probably adopt. It is about reminding oneself – and one another – what does matter, especially when time is precious, like during the last semester of the last year at St. Olaf College.

So, how can we translate “senior year; nothing matters” from the overly-tired and increasingly-nostalgic ramblings of a histrionic college senior into a day-to-day practice at St. Olaf? Great question. Let me know if you find an answer!

I’m kidding. Here are a few ideas:

– Eat dinner with your friends, even if you have a busy night. When you laugh with friends, your body releases endorphins, which makes you healthier and happier. Also, your friends probably have a lot they can teach you. Listen to what they have to say.

– Go to a play or a dance concert or somebody’s senior recital. Spend an hour or two taking a study break and immersing yourself in art on campus. It’s like Netflix live!

– Buy a cup of rainbow sherbet in the Cage. That’s right, the Cage has had sherbet for the past week or so! I think maybe it’s left over from a Valentine’s Day shake special, so it will probably run out soon. Adult life is coming and the consumption of multicolored frozen desserts becomes less and less socially acceptable with age. Take advantage of your youth!

– Go sledding. There’s a beautiful blanket of snow out there right now, and spring is right around the corner. Maybe But actually probably not, so no rush on that one.

– Have important conversations about things you care about. Stay up a little later than you should once in a while. Don’t forget to laugh. Channel your inner out-of-control eighth-grader.

Whether you’re a prospective student who has picked up this paper on a whim during your campus visit, an alumnus preparing for your fiftieth class reunion, a parent who has never set foot on campus, or a real live college senior, remember: senior year; nothing matters!

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Ole basketball dominates Cardinals: St. Olaf records important MIAC victory with a 68-40 win

On Monday, Feb. 9, the St. Olaf men’s basketball team faced St. Mary’s University on Bob Gelle Court. The Cardinals proved to be no match for the Oles, as St. Olaf prevailed by a score of 68-40. Following a midweek loss to University of St. Thomas and a victory over Concordia College, St. Olaf finishes the regular season with a 21-5 record and 16-4 within the MIAC.

The tip went to the Cardinals, who led the Oles 10-6 early on in the encounter. Ben Figini ’16 led the way for St. Olaf, making the first basket of the game two minutes into the first half. St. Mary’s took an early lead, but Evan O’Dorisio ’18 made a layup with 11:46 left in the first half to give St. Olaf an 11-10 advantage. Mason Braden ’15 furthered the lead after grabbing an offensive rebound and tipping it into the basket.

Although the game got off to a slow start and fewer fans than usual filled the stands to cheer the Oles on, the pace began to pick up near the end of the first half. St. Olaf quickly built momentum and gained energy that turned into points on the scoreboard. The teams returned to their locker rooms at the half with the Oles leading 36-21.

After the halftime break, in which members of the St. Olaf Dance Team performed, St. Olaf kept its energy and furthered its lead over the Cardinals. After Sam Daly ’15 banged a three home early in the second half, and the Oles were up 41-23 with 15 minutes left to play. With 10 minutes left in the game, the Oles led the Cardinals 54-34 and the final buzzer brought a 28-point victory for the Oles, with a score of 68-40.

Sterling Nielson ’15 scored 13 points throughout the game and Figini had nine points, all during the first half. Austin Majeskie ’17 scored eight points and Evan O’Dorisio ’18 scored six.

The Oles followed last Monday’s win

with a victory over Augsburg College on Wednesday, Feb. 11. The final score was 67-58. On Saturday, Feb. 14 the Oles added another win to their record when they beat Hamline University after two overtimes with a final score of 100-88. On Monday, Feb. 16, the Oles played at St. Thomas University and lost 49-66. To complete its regular season, the Oles toppled Concordia College on Feb. 18 with a score of 65-60.

St. Olaf is ranked number 15 in division three men’s basketball in the nation and holds the second seed going into the MIAC conference playoffs.


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A Note from the Editors

Winter has settled in comfortably on the Hill once again. Snow is sparkling on the bare tree branches, bikes are stored safely in the Ytterboe basement and the tile of Buntrock is perpetually covered in sand and salt tracked in from outside. Winter is certainly ready for us, but not every Ole on the Hill is ready for winter yet. It can be a tough adjustment, especially for those experiencing their first-ever subzero temperatures and 4:30 p.m. sunsets. I traveled south to come to St. Olaf, and it still isn’t easy. So here are my suggestions for a smoother, happier, warmer welcome to winter.

Take care of yourself. Wear a coat, a hat and mittens. Your clenched fists stuffed up your sweatshirt sleeves do not count. Wear mittens. You are never too cool for mittens or too warm-blooded for mittens or too anything for mittens during a St. Olaf winter. If you do not have mittens, invest in a pair. They will serve you well, and you will be happier and healthier and so much warmer. It’s pretty shocking to see how many people are still running around without mittens – why? There’s no reason for this madness. Gloves are good too, if that’s what you’re into.

In addition to your mittens, invest in sleep. Your health and wellness are more important than finishing every last word of the assigned reading for tomorrow. Part of the college experience is being busy as you explore everything you can in a vibrant learning community, but another part of the experience is learning when to take a break. You are a human being, not a human doing.

Take care of each other. In a campus climate where sexual assault is a daily topic of concern and conversation, and where depression and anxiety are commonplace, it’s easy to feel isolated. But you’re not alone. Oles, reach out to one another. If a friend has been down lately, ask her if she wants to talk about it. If somebody has had too much to drink, don’t leave him alone in a room or behind at a party. If your roommate from California hasn’t invested in mittens yet, lend her your extra pair.

Most importantly, if you witness a situation in which somebody might get hurt, step in. Do not be a bystander. We’re all in this together, and it’s up to us to remind each other of that whenever we forget.

Do not freak out. Just because your friends begin to panic about final exams or 15-page papers does not mean that you have to. That may sound like a no-brainer, but it is truly so easy to get caught up. Freaking out about registration and finals are certainly a normal part of the college experience, but trust me: your time will come. Don’t work yourself into a frenzy because it seems like everyone else is, and that you must be doing something wrong if you are not. Instead, do the opposite. Take a nap. Spend time with a friend. Go to bed when you are tired. Remember that you are in college, and that a B is a good grade. Curl up with a copy of your favorite college newspaper and take a study break. Shop online for a new pair of mittens.

Take time to enjoy this bright, beautiful cozy new season. Spring is only six months away!

Ashley Belisle ’15 is from Mahtomedi, Minn. She majors in English and Spanish.

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St. Olaf Sentiments: November 14, 2014

Again with the Caf mugs. We started the school year with 650 mugs available for use in the Caf, and by the time November rolled around we were left with just 50. Bon Appétit ordered some new mugs and brought out the fancy teacups reserved for catering and special occasions in the meantime. This always happens.

I am an active proponent for better understanding of and appreciation for Bon Appétit at St. Olaf, so during my three and a half years at St. Olaf how did that even happen, I’ve done quite a bit of thinking about the yearly disappearance of mugs from the Caf. This is what I have deduced.

There are a few reasons for the case of the missing mugs. First, people are lazy. They snag a mug full of coffee or hot chocolate to drink during class and then never get around to returning it once said class is over. Second, people do not have their own mugs so they appropriate Caf mugs for their personal use in dorms or houses. Third, people break mugs. They slip in a puddle of spilled milk while trying to balance a stack of empty dishes on their way out of the Caf – can you blame them?

We’ll forgive people for the third transgression, but the first two, though they might seem like minor concerns at first glimpse, are actually reflective of more pervasive attitude on campus. This attitude is one I hear every day in all sorts of varied iterations, but it essentially comes down to this: “I am paying $50,000 per year to be here, so don’t I at least deserve to keep a mug?” In the midst of the drama surrounding Interim and spring semester registration, I’ve heard several versions of this same question: I am paying $50,000 per year to be here, so shouldn’t I be able to take whatever classes I want? Just last week I overheard somebody complaining of a mouse in her dorm room say, “If my family is paying more than $50,000 for me to go here, I should not have to deal with a mouse in my room!”

All of these complaints have some total validity. We’ve all experienced the frustration of landing in seat 19 in an 18-person course that we really wanted to take. I am the first to admit that I would probably react very poorly to meeting a mouse in Rand. But this attitude of “I’m paying a whole lot of money, and that means I should get what I want” worries me. It is not sustainable, it is not cooperative, and, perhaps most importantly, it is not reflective of what it means to be an Ole.

Students, why are you here? Parents, why did you send your children here? Alumni, what made you decide to become – and stay – Oles? These are questions we need to ask ourselves every single day, but most often we get lost in the minutiae of day-to-day drama and forget to remind ourselves where that minutiae fits in and why it matters.

I came to St. Olaf to learn, to get a degree, to discern a vocational path, to be challenged, to make lifelong friends, to experience the liberal arts and to launch myself into an important and impactful career. Those are my reasons. While no two students have chosen a St. Olaf education for the exact same reasons, I think many Oles would echo these if asked how they picked a college.

Many people argue that college is the time to be selfish. To a certain extent, that is true. It is a time for self-discovery and personal growth. But it is also a time for young adults to invest in themselves so that they can become active, contributing members to the world in which they were born. Millenials have been deemed the first generation to be principally interested in picking careers that “give back” or help to “make the world a better place.” For this reason, I have always thought that labeling members of this generation “entitled” is unfair and not usually accurate. In reality, millenials – in this instance, current Oles – sometimes just get caught up in the commotion of their everyday lives and forget about what they are truly aiming for. Nobody is here to hoard Caf mugs or to make sure they get into History 199 instead of History 191. St. Olaf is not here merely to fulfill its students’ desires, but to help students invest in their own futures so that they can use those futures to give back.

I am not advocating that students not worry about the money a St. Olaf education costs. In fact, I am arguing the opposite. Oles should remind themselves every single day that it costs a lot to be here, and ask themselves if they are making the most of that day. I would love to start to overhear comments like these:

“I’m paying a lot to be here, so I’m really excited to learn all I can from this class.”

“I know that being here is a huge privilege, so it’s part of my responsibility to make the most of it.”

“College is expensive, so instead of sitting around and complaining, I am working toward changing the parts of St. Olaf that need changing.”

“I’ll return my Caf mugs so that future students don’t have to pay even more for room and board than I do.”

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Bon Appétit awards grant to local farm

On Tuesday, Sept. 23, Bon Appétit hosted Eat Local Challenge Day, not only in Stav Hall but also all around the country. Eat Local Challenge Day stemmed Bon Appétit’s Farm to Fork initiative, which aims to “purchase seasonal ingredients from small, owner-operated farms and ranches within a 150-mile radius.”

At St. Olaf, more than 20 percent of the food served falls within the Farm to Fork category. The chefs at St. Olaf work directly with local farmers to purchase meat and produce to achieve these partnerships. According to the Bon Appétit Web site, “by buying directly from farmers, we have much more control over what types of agribusiness we are supporting. We support true family farms where the owners live on or nearby the land, work it themselves, and therefore are conscientious stewards.”

While the once-a-semester Eat Local Day is always an opportunity for St. Olaf students to eat only food grown within about 150 miles of the school on owner-operated farms, this year’s challenge was different. In addition to its Farm to Fork initiative, which was launched in 1999, Bon Appétit unveiled its Fork to Farm program, through which Bon Appétit gave grants to businesses with which it works.

“The Fork to Farm program was designed to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Farm to Fork program as a way to give money back to some of our farmers,” said Randy Clay, Board Manager of Bon Appétit at St. Olaf College.

According to the Web site, “on Eat Local Challenge Day, more than 26,000 students, corporate employees, museum goers and workers at Bon Appétit cafés around the country cast their votes to determine which 10 Farm to Fork vendors will receive a Bon Appétit Fork to Farm Grant of $5,000 for a specific project to grow their business.”

Stav Hall, one of the single biggest sites served by Bon Appétit anywhere in the nation, was certainly no exception. During lunch on Sept. 23, each student, employee orguest who entered Stav received a ticket. After finishing their lunch, these Bon Appétit customers then used their tickets to vote for a Farm to Fork farm to win a grant.

“I think we had about 100 of our staff members vote, so the majority of our staff voted,” Clay said. “And for students, it was somewhere around 10 percent. It was more than 300 votes, which was good.”

After all of the votes were tallied – at St. Olaf and around the United States – two farms in each of five geographical regions were awarded grants. In each region, one winner was a “guest pick” and the other a “staff pick.”

In the Midwest, a region that included Bon Appétit customers in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and, of course, Minnesota, Northfield’s own Open Hands Farm won the “guest pick” grant. According to its grant application, Open Hands Farm is a “Certified Organic 10-acre fruit and vegetable farm, growing over 40 types and 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables, committed to creating a thriving farm ecosystem and habitat.”

To apply for the $5,000 grant, each farm had to have a plan in place for a specific project it would execute with the help of the Fork to Farm money. Open Hands Farm, which focuses largely on root vegetables in addition to other produce, is in the process of building a root crop storage facility so that the farm can grow more root vegetables in the summer and continue to store and sell them throughout the winter. As of now, the farm grows and sells about 15,000 pounds of roots each year and runs out of these vegetables by January. Open Hands Farm said it would use the Fork to Farm grant to help purchase the washing and packing equipment needed for this growing root crop business.

According to its grant application, Open Hands Farm has already been providing root vegetables for Bon Appétit at St. Olaf and Carleton, and hopes “to begin serving other Bon Appétit accounts with the roots we’ll be growing and storing.”

Clay emphasized the importance of both the Farm to Fork program and the Fork to Farm initiative in helping consumers start to understand from where their food comes. Clay said that he and Bon Appétit staff are eager to give students behind-the-scenes tours of Stav Hall.

“The more often we can give students a behind-the-scenes tour of how we operate, the more it sinks in to the student body what actually a Farm to Fork program, for example, means,” Clay said. “On paper, it’s one thing. ‘Oh, that sounds cool.’ But to actually get to see it is when people start to make the connections as to what Bon Appétit is really about.”

Class groups, student organizations, residence hall corridors and anyone else who is interested can schedule a tour. In fact, Clay urges students who have not already done so to get a closer look at the way their food makes its way from a farm to their forks, and to begin to understand that “it’s not just magic that all of sudden there is food on our plate.”

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