Author: Kailey Favaro

The force strong with improv show

Fifteen members of campus improv group Scared Scriptless took to the stage on April 12 for the org’s most recent show. The group’s performance, titled “Revenge of the Script,” was unlike their usual fare. Continue reading “The force strong with improv show”

× Featured

Oles win nine straight, claim first round bye

Pause dances create safer campus nightlife

Pause dances are a vital part of St. Olaf student life. This classic Saturday night event is St. Olaf’s safer version of a nightclub. The social outlet gives students the opportunity to let loose in a controlled environment.

Pause dances provide a slice of the college experience without as many negative consequences. If students want to drink, they will find a way to do so, even on a campus as dry as St. Olaf’s. But unlike house parties, Pause dances don’t allow drinks inside and overly intoxicated students are stopped at the door. Students who need help can get it on the Pause dance floor, as EMTs are on hand. So no, Pause dances may not be as safe as a night spent studying in the dorms, but if a student wants a night out, the Pause is a safe place to go.

Criticisms surrounding safety at Pause dances began a few years ago. Usually, instances or complaints involved intoxicated students, vomiting and unsafe behavior on the dance floor. But in the past year, the Pause co-coordinators Tanner Block ’17 and Julia Bassett ’17 have made changes to lower these instances and increase the safety of the dances. Not always well received, these changes are necessary to ensure the dances’ safety while still preserving the Pause dance’s image.

Entrance security changed from student-led to professional pat downs. This change occurred because when students led the pat-down lines, they would often let friends in no matter how intoxicated they appeared. The professional security acts as a neutral third party. They are unafraid to reject rowdy or overly intoxicated students. As annoying or embarrassing as the rejection may be, it creates a safer environment for everyone. Also, to improve visibility for Pause security at the dances, the co-coordinators reduced the number of people that can get into the Pause dance at any one time. This allows for easier access to students who are in need of help during the dance.

Furthermore, the co-coordinators created “awkward spaces” during the middle of the dance. Awkward spaces are awkward points in the dance where students stand in the Pause with no music. It is uncomfortable because it is designed to be that way for safety purposes. Lights are turned on and safety codes are checked. It prevents students from dancing for four hours straight, which can lead to dehydration and fainting. As awkward as it may seem, by turning the lights on, students can get a clearer picture of their actions and their dance partners.

Safety comes first, kids. A lot of students think that safety is the reason that Pause dances are happening less frequently. However, Pause dances are a well-loved event and are not in danger of extinction anytime soon. We all want more Pause dances, but less frequent dances are actually a good thing. Pause dances used to be held every few weeks, turning an exciting event into a mundane, regular occurrence.

With so many dances being held throughout the school year, attendance had decreased, losing profit for both the organization hosting the dance as well as the Pause Committee. Fewer dances, on the other hand, mean that each dance gains priority over other weekly events. But it also means other events can be held in the Pause. Recently, organizations have been looking at Pause dances’ high budgets and deciding to host other events like After Dark Committee’s glow in the dark volleyball. As fun as Pause dances are, other activities mean more variety for Friday and Saturday evenings.

Luckily, Pause dances aren’t being phased out. They’re necessary for any inkling of night life in a tiny town like Northfield. They provide a safe space for “play hard” after a long week of “work hard” and a moment to pause during our hectic lives.

Kailey Favaro ’20 (favaro1@stolaf.edu) is from Crystal Lake, Ill. She majors in English.

× Featured

Oles win nine straight, claim first round bye

Psychologist offers autism lecture

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, Dr. Elizabeth Reeve came to St. Olaf to speak about autism on college campuses. Reeve is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who focuses primarily on patients with developmental disabilities. Her lecture, “Autism Spectrum Disorders: Coping with ASD as a Young Adult,” was attended by student tutors, SI session leaders, future nurses, future teachers and others with an interest in the topic. However, Reeve’s message of inclusion applied beyond those present in Buntrock Commons’ Sun Ballroom.

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a group of symptoms characterized by social, communicative and behavioral dysfunction. There is no known cause for ASD. Theories suggest a genetic link, as the disorder tends to run in families. An ASD individual often is full of enthusiasm, open-mindedness and acceptance. However, the symptoms often make being a student and fitting into social environments more difficult.

Socially, a student with autism may stand out for unusual eye contact or body language. Eye contact may range from complete avoidance to overabundance and tends to add a barrier between an autistic and non-autistic person, as lack of eye contact typically translates to disrespect. In a conversation, if the listener is looking away or staring at the ground, the speaker may assume the listener is bored or not actually listening. In reality, the autistic listener may be attentive but unable to demonstrate interest. On the other side of the spectrum, too much eye contact can be perceived as staring. With body language as well, an ASD individual may stand too close, making others feel uncomfortable.

Students with ASD may also have difficulty communicating. As a group, they tend to be concrete thinkers, meaning they tend towards more literal thinking. In her lecture, Reeve spoke about an autistic student who came to class only to see the sign, “CLASS CANCELLED.” Most students would look at the sign and know the professor cancelled class for only the day, but this ASD student never went back to his class, assuming class was cancelled forever. He was thinking so concretely that he took the sign to mean class was literally cancelled. This is one example of hardships in communication.

Behaviorally, an ASD student may struggle with routine and regulating schedules. Reeve says routine can be a “blessing or a curse” for an autistic individual. Frustration may surface when routines are broken or changed, even if only by a minute. However, strict routines, if upheld, can fortify expectations. But sleeping and eating routines can be difficult to uphold. Often, unregulated sleeping and eating schedules can lead to complete lack of sleep or missing meals. Due to this, an autistic student may have more difficulty keeping up with schoolwork.

The symptoms of ASD can vary from mild to severe. They can also present themselves differently depending on the individual, as evidenced by a quote Reeve shared, originally said by Dr. Stephen Shore: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

Every ASD individual has a unique set of symptoms, a unique experience and handles the disorder uniquely. Because autism lies on a spectrum, unique is the key word. There are 3.5 million United States citizens with autism, and it would be inaccurate to put them all in one category.

About 0.7-1.8 percent of college students are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Here at St. Olaf, this means about 30 of the 3000 students have ASD. Reeve offered answers as to how to tutor, teach and otherwise help ASD students, but she also emphasized that those efforts would be most helpful if enacted by the community at large. Anxiety, depression and loneliness are among the largest challenges for autistic students. The behavioral struggles make it difficult to be a typical student, the social struggles create a barrier between ASD and non-ASD students and the communicative difficulties make it hard to ask for help.

Reeve suggested a number of ways to help ASD students. If you know someone with ASD symptoms, reach out. Invite them to lunch. Suggest to them a club to join. Be specific and direct when speaking with them to avoid any confusion – idioms, sarcasm, inferences, metaphors, allusions and puns don’t always communicate themselves. But most importantly, Reeve said to be open to these students. Often, they want to be included yet don’t know how to communicate their desires. Like all people, these individuals deserve to be loved, accepted and treated fairly.

favaro1@stolaf.edu

× Featured

Oles win nine straight, claim first round bye