Author: Brooke Janusz

Sanders continues the fight for a political revolution

After seven consecutive wins in smaller states’ primary elections, Senator Bernie Sanders lost to fellow Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in her home state of New York. Clinton’s huge win – which some attribute to New York’s strict voting laws that can make it difficult for those registered as independents to vote – makes it highly unlikely that Sanders will be able to win enough delegates to reach the 2,383 required to win the Democratic nomination.

Many have been questioning whether or not it is time for Sanders to drop out of the race and throw his support behind Clinton in an effort to prevent Republican front-runner Donald Trump from winning the presidency. However, I agree with an opposing argument that believes if Sanders were to drop out of the race, the revolution he fought so hard for would die with the end of his campaign. Sanders’ campaign has centered around grassroots organization and redistributing the nation’s income from the top one percent to the lower and middle income classes. Sanders’ revolutionary beliefs and values are central to his campaign and I don’t think he should drop out, nor do I think he will.

Bernie Sanders came into this election as an underdog and has fought long and hard to reach the position he is in today. He was able to come so far due to his aggressively liberal campaign messages and upstanding moral values. Sanders’s message resonates with many Americans, and dropping out of the race in the face of adversity would erode any progress he has made so far in his political revolution.

Some argue that Sanders should drop out because it would allow Clinton, the more likely nominee, to refocus her resources on keeping Trump out of the presidency instead of continuing to fight against Sanders. Sanders’s first priority is getting his message across and inspiring change in America, not beating Trump in the general election. Other critics are concerned that if Sanders does not drop out and support Clinton, his supporters won’t bother to vote at all. This could result in the Democratic party losing to the GOP in the generals.

Another reason Sanders cannot be expected to drop out of the race is because of what happened in 2008 when Clinton was losing to Obama. Clinton fought hard until the very end, even when it was impossible for her to surpass Obama in the superdelegate count. She went on to win a few more states even after Obama had essentially been named the Democratic nominee. Sanders now finds himself in a similar situation, except with the roles reversed. It would not make sense for him to drop out of the race. He should follow Clinton’s example and not quit even though his chances of securing the Democratic nomination seem to be slim to none.

Some compare Sanders to Ralph Nader, who was considered by some to be the revolutionary, anti-establishment candidate for the presidency in 2000. He ran as a member of the Green Party. Nader never had close to the amount of support that Sanders has received and none of his events were ever as well-attended. Sanders’s message has resonated with millions of liberal Americans and he has successfully mobilized the youth, a historically difficult feat.

Sanders’ supporters are dedicated to the mission and his movement will not stop after this election, but I still think it would be sending the wrong message if he gave up. Sanders’ goal is to change the status quo of the United States political landscape, which he has already been successful in accomplishing. Sanders’ campaign isn’t overly concerned with winning anymore, but he is concerned with enacting change that will last beyond the election.

Brooke Janusz ’18 (janusz1@stolaf.edu) is from Thousand Oaks, Calif. She majors in economics.

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Sun gives life, skin cancer

At an event hosted by the St. Olaf Cancer Connection, sports psychologist David Asp and his wife Kathie, a nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic, spoke to a crowd of students on Wednesday, April 13 about the dangers of sun exposure. Fittingly, his lecture fell on one of the first warm, sunny days campus had seen in awhile.

“Most of us enjoy a beautiful sunny day like today, and there are certainly many benefits of sunshine. Our culture tends to project the image that sun is healthy and that a tan body is somehow better, healthy and more beautiful than a white body,” Asp said. “And so many people, many of us spend hours out in the sun or going to tanning booths to try to get their skin tan. But what we’ve learned however, is that the trend is dangerous.”

Asp works as a sports psychologist in Red Wing, Minn. He is a three-time IronMan triathlon finisher and a stage four melanoma cancer patient. He also works to raise awareness of the dangers of ultraviolet radiation and how to prevent the consequences of sun exposure. During his lecture, Asp stressed that you don’t have to be a frequent visitor of tanning beds or the beach to get skin cancer.

“I was never one that enjoyed laying out in the sun for long periods of time. I think I’m too hyper for that. I never used a tanning booth. But for 20 some years I was out on long bike rides, long runs training for marathons, training for IronMan competitions and a host of other epic adventures,” Asp said. “Unknowingly, I was out in the sun with no sunscreen, I had fair skin and I have a history of skin cancer in my family which I now know puts me at really high risk.”

Both Asp and his wife shared alarming statistics about melanoma. The rates of melanoma are growing rapidly and show no signs of slowing down, in part due to the popularity of tanning beds. Asp stresses that any tan at all is harmful.

“The problem is that repeated UV ray exposure is accumulating, and so the risk of skin cancer goes higher. So going to a tanning bed or going out in the sun to get a base tan is really a myth. The fact is that there really is no such thing as a safe or protected tan. Because any tan at all is a sign of skin damage. And indoor tanners, people who use tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to develop a skin cancer like melanoma than those who do not,” Asp said.

Asp also warned that even a single blistering sunburn in childhood can increase one’s risk for skin cancer.

“One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life. More than five sunburns at any age – your risk of melanoma doubles. And a survivor of melanoma is nine times more likely to develop another melanoma,” he said.

Asp also debunked a few myths about tanning, including the myth that tanning indoors in a tanning bed is safer than tanning outdoors.

“Unfortunately, the fact is that it is a controlled dose, but it’s a much higher dose, it’s a much higher lamp radiation … the exposure is equal to 12 times that of normal sun exposure,” he said.

Asp also offered some helpful advice to protect oneself from the sun, such as wearing enough sunscreen.

“The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that we use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. An SPF of 30 means that it will take 30 times longer for the UVB rays to redden your skin. It also protects you against 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. It’s also important to get broad-spectrum sunscreen because broad-spectrum provides protections against the UVA rays and the UVB rays. Basically the UVA rays are the longer rays that cause skin damage but they really cause skin aging. The UVB rays are the shorter UV rays that cause a sunburn,” Asp said. “There’s no published data that indicates that heavy use of sunscreen has a negative effect on humans, so you’re safe.”

janusz1@stolaf.edu

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Lutheran Commons moves forward

This past November, faculty and staff considered the proposal of a new co-curricular body that would foster campuswide engagement with the college’s tradition and mission. This body, provisionally called the Lutheran Commons, is still a work in progress. A formal proposal for the body developed by the working group will be reviewed by the end of the year.

The Lutheran Commons can be split into three different areas of programming. The first area of programming aims to facilitate a dialogue among students, faculty and staff of all creeds to bring the St. Olaf community closer together.

“It’s just an opportunity for maturing young adults to be around older adults who are a little further along in life. But those opportunities don’t naturally happen outside the classroom. So that’s an example of something that Lutherans are really big on as a faith tradition. We are a Lutheran institution so we want to borrow some of those things from that faith tradition and use them to enrich our community,” Vice President for Mission Jo Beld said.

A second proposed area of programming aims to create a home for interfaith conversation exploring different faiths and values that exist at St. Olaf and in the outside community.

“As a Lutheran institution, both exploration of one’s individual faith [and] values interfaith conversation is really important. But again, we don’t really have a home for that on campus. There’s not a particular structure that makes that available,” Beld said.

The third section of programming is focused on conversations about vocation and service for students, faculty and staff.

A main emphasis for all of these areas of programming would be on scholarship and production of scholarship for outside audiences as well as St. Olaf audiences.

“We’re imagining having either faculty members or students within the community who could be fellows of the Commons and be producing scholarship and writing that supports one or more of these things. We are also imagining the outside audiences, so scholarship that would serve other colleges and universities and faith communities, particularly the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America but other denominations as well. So there’s also an external engagement,” Beld said.

The Commons hopes to obtain funding from both alumni and members of the outside community of all faith traditions who are interested in the overall goal of the Commons. They will not be able to start the process of fundraising until after the proposal is approved. It is possible that some programming could be implemented as early as spring of next year, but the whole project is still in an early stage.

There has been some controversy over the name “The Lutheran Commons” and if the Commons will discourage religious diversity on campus. However, Beld believes that having this name is central to the overall mission of the body.

“I think we do need a name that signals in some way that part of why we’re doing this is because of who we are as an institution, and part of who we are as an institution is that we’re guided by these values,” Beld said.

Recently, there has been a proposal to edit St. Olaf’s mission statement and possibly express the college’s Lutheran tradition and mission in a different way. Some wonder whether this would affect the Lutheran Commons and how the mission statement and the Commons would interact if the mission statement were changed. The creators of the Commons hope to increase the extent to which the mission of the college is carried out, so the question of whether or not the mission statement should be changed directly affects the Commons.

“It’s been interesting and helpful to have the conversation about the mission statement unfolding at the same time as this planning process for the Lutheran Commons. Because in the end, the ideal thing will be if the mission informs how the Commons works and if the Commons strengthens the way we carry out our mission,” Beld said.

janusz1@stolaf.edu

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Casino Night: the inside scoop

“All bets in?” asks the croupier in charge of the roulette wheel. Everyone quickly added their bets, waging on red, black, even, odd or whatever number spoke to them. Everyone looked on as the white ball was sent spinning around the roulette. After a few tense moments, the ball finally settled.

On Saturday, Feb. 27, the ballrooms of Buntrock were transformed at the Inter-Hall Council’s annual Casino Night event. This was the first year the event was held in Buntrock instead of Tomson. This was also the first time in the history of the event that it did not have a theme. Nevertheless, Saturday night was a huge success. Oles dressed up in chic black dresses, heels, suits and ties in preparation for a night of pseudo-gambling.

The night began early, starting with live music from the St. Olaf jazz band during dinner in Stav Hall. In an elegant start to the evening, students enjoyed music while eating special casino night food.

After dinner, casino guests entered the ballrooms for the main event. They were handed small bags of chips which could later be exchanged for tickets. These tickets were later entered into a raffle for prizes, including speakers and a coffee maker.

The blackjack and poker room quickly filled up with students eager to test their luck with the simple but addictive games. Tables were full of people playing blackjack, roulette and Texas Hold ‘Em. Cheering erupted from tables where someone had just gotten blackjack, and displays of lamentation were visible at tables where people were slowly losing all of their chips.

I quickly found a table to sit at and jumped into the game. The game of blackjack is pretty straightforward: everyone is dealt two cards, including the dealer, and everyone tries to get as close to 21 with their hand by choosing to hit with a card or passing. However, it was a learning experience for most people at my table who had never played blackjack before.

I confidently placed my bet for the first round, along with everyone else at my table. The cards were dealt, and everyone was greeted with either a fantastic start or a challenge. The atmosphere was tense as everyone was deep in thought about their next move.

Overall, the night was a huge success considering all of the changes Inter-Hall Council had to make from last year, and a good excuse for everybody to dress up and act classy.

janusz1@stolaf.edu

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Faculty in Focus: Olaf Hall-Holt

Professor of Computer Science Olaf Hall-Holt is well known for being invested in his students and passionate about computer science. He grew up in Nigeria, and his family moved to the United States when he was in middle school. He completed a bachelor’s degree at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, graduate work at the University of Minnesota, a Ph.D. at Stanford and postdoctoral work at State University of New York Stony Brook.

Hall-Holt is one of three professors in the computer science department, and he teaches courses about the R and Python programs, algorithms, a senior capstone course, an advanced team project course and Mobile Web Graphics. Although the department is small, Hall-Holt believes that computer science will become more and more popular in the future due to the increasing importance of programming skills.

“I do think that it would be valuable for more students to know a little bit about computing. In this century, it seems that computing is going to continue to become more and more important. With the way that people and organizations think about the world, it would make sense to me for a much larger fraction of the St. Olaf student body to start getting a taste. Not in order to become a software developer, not to spend all their time with computers, no. To have some idea of what tools are available,” Hall-Holt said.

Even though students tend to be intimidated by computer science, Hall-Holt hopes to help students break away from that preconception and attract more students to computer science classes.

“While computer science has gotten a reputation for being inscrutable in some places, it actually isn’t – it’s like any other topic where if you take the time to investigate you can learn it,” Hall-Holt said.

Hall-Holt is involved in a number of his students’ research projects.

“This interim, the course that I taught was a research oriented course. We had six teams working on six different research questions. They will be, I hope, presenting their work at a regional conference. They just found out in the past few days that their abstracts were accepted, so I will be working with them to try to get ready for this conference.”

Along with his wife and three kids, Hall-Holt will be leading St. Olaf’s Global Semester Program during the fall and interim terms next year. He is excited to use his computer science background to create a cohesive and interesting course for the students going abroad with him.

“There are some things that are set. For each of the four main countries that we stay in for a month, there [will be] instruction by experts in the local area. But I am responsible to create a course that tries to tie it all together,” Hall-Holt said. “The course that I am teaching is called Social Change and Technology in a Globalized Context. So there are a lot of important changes happening around the world right now, and some of them claim to be related to this same topic that I was mentioning earlier of computation.”

Hall-Holt loves getting to know his students and is very interested in seeing everyone who is enrolled in his classes succeed. He loves the subject of computer science, but it’s the enthusiasm of the students that really makes teaching it worthwhile.

“My favorite part is the people, actually. When someone says that what they have learned is valuable for them, when they are excited about what they are working on, that makes me excited.”

janusz1@stolaf.edu

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