Author: Kassandra DiPietro

Olympia Snowe stresses importance of bipartisanship

On Wednesday, April 29 the Political Awareness Committee invited former Republican senator Olympia Snowe to speak to the St. Olaf community. She served as one of Maine’s senators from 1995 to 2013. Snowe made history as the fourth woman in American politics to be elected to both houses of Congress and the first to serve in both houses of a state legislature. Snowe is known for her criticism of the extreme partisanship in Congress, as outlined in her 2013 book,Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress. Her speech, entitled “What’s Gone Wrong in Washington and Why it Doesn’t Have to Be This Way,”addressed these problems and challenged students to rethink the paralyzing divide of modern-day Congress.

Snowe started her speech with a summary of her personal background. Both of her Greek immigrant parents died before she was nine. After this tragedy, she moved in with her aunt and uncle but continued to commute over an hour to school every day, occasionally getting stranded in Grand Central Station overnight and sleeping on benches. She has always considered herself “a minority of a minority of a minority,” as a female Greek-American from New York who moved to Maine.

On Snowe’s first day as a senator of Maine, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole caught her looking around the chambers in awe. He said to her, “You are looking around wondering how you got here, but in six months you will be looking around wondering how everyone else got here.” She found out he was right.

“There are smart people in Congress, but there are fewer and fewer who are willing to reach across the aisle and act bipartisan,” Snowe said. She discovered that for many Congressmen, the first priority was working towards re-election instead of focusing on making productive changes during their current term. She expressed frustration that many politicians only care about the potential gain of political capital from each bill rather than the content of the bill itself and therefore sacrifice bipartisanship to please donors and constituencies.”

The 2013 and 2014 Congressional sessions were the least productive in modern history. The last time Congress was this ineffective was in 1805, when the government ran out of money after the Louisiana Purchase. This extreme gridlock is unacceptable to Snowe.

She maintained that when Congress fails to accomplish anything, the American citizens feel the lack of productivity and lose trust in the government. She cited that the recent presidential election had the lowest turnout of voters – 36 percent – since 1942 when America was at war.

“Americans feel powerless to affect the process,” Snowe said. “They don’t receive any benefit from participating in their democracy.”

In 2014, over half of the American public supported compromise across party lines. Snowe believes that now is the time to enact change.

She went on to detail many of her accomplishments during her years in Congress and how she personally tried to end partisanship and encourage compromise. Because of her work, she was named the 54th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2005 and one of the top 10 U.S. Senators by Time magazine in 2006.

In 2012, Snowe chose not to seek re-election to the Senate, but she has stayed committed to encouraging bipartisanship in Congress.

“I did not leave the United States Senate because I no longer believed in its potential, but precisely because I do. I wanted to give voice to the millions of Americans who believe as I do that the Congress has gone awry,” Snowe said.

“After having two hyper-polarizing political leaders from either side of the aisle, Newt Gingrich last spring, and Rev. Al Sharpton in the fall, it was great for PAC to have someone that stresses bipartisanship,” said Grace Kane ’15, a previous College Republicans representative on PAC.

Snowe urged the audience to speak up about the importance of bipartisanship, saying that “silence is not golden. We have to demand cooperation, and the voices that demand cooperation have to be louder than the voices that demand polarization.”


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Academic offices transition leadership

Two major faculty appointments were announced this spring, bringing changes to the Hill. The offices affected include the Registrar’s office and the Academic Support Center. Steve McKelvey, currently a professor in the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science MSCS department, will be serving as the Registrar and Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs. Kathy Glampe will be moving from Director of Student Support Services to Director of Academic Support and Advising.

McKelvey has been as St. Olaf for 30 years – in the MSCS department the entire time – but plans to commit the next six years to the registrar position. Typically, the registrar serves three-year terms, but the outgoing registrar, Mary Cisar, has resigned from the position after 12 years of service.

Cisar plans to go on sabbatical to pick up her French research, and will return to teaching in the Romance Languages department after that.

“I have enjoyed all the people I got to meet and all the experience I have now with the cirriculum, and I am looking forward to taking all this knowledge I’ve built up and incorporating it into my teaching, and bringing it back to my department,” Cisar said.

McKelvey is unsure if he will stay in the registrar’s office after his six years, or if he will return to the MSCS department after his commitment.

In addition to teaching and research, McKelvey has also served as the Honor Council Faculty Observer, the Interim Director of the Center for Experiential Learning now known as the Piper Center, the Director of the Center for Integrative Studies and four years as the Junior/Senior Class Dean in the Dean of Students Office. He is excited to join the staff in the registrar’s office next year.

“The college is lucky to have such an excellent collection of people in its registrar’s office, and I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to work closely with them in their mission of service to students,” McKelvey said. He will also miss teaching, however, as he transitions to this new position.

“I have found great pleasure and meaning in my role as teacher and mentor, and I am unsure what life will be like without close and long term contact with students,” McKelvey said. “I will miss teaching and watching my students as they slowly grow and mature during their four years at St. Olaf.”

His previous experiences, as well as his time working directly with students as a professor, will help in his new role. His goal is to be “responsible for keeping St. Olaf’s curriculum and teaching current, excellent and relevant to a changing world while remaining true to the time-tested and undeniable value of a traditional liberal arts education,” McKelvey said.

Kathy Glampe, the other new appointment for next year, will be moving from her role with the TRiO program to working in the Academic Support Center. TRiO traditionally works with high schools in the Twin Cities to encourage and assist students to pursue postsecondary education. She has directed the Student Support Services SSS for the past 18 years.

As an alumna of the college herself, she feels connected to the community of students here. In her role within SSS, she “created and implemented innovative programming to support students with the goal of improving their academic achievement, retention and graduation rates.” Glampe is hoping this change is permanent, and is looking forward to beginning her work in the Academic Support Center.

“My goal as the Director of Academic Support and Advising is to create and implement programming that will support all students to be successful at St. Olaf through the services provided by the Academic Support Center and through the relationship that students build with their faculty advisor,” Glampe said of her new role.

Both new appointments promise to bring about positive change as well as maintain the continued success of these offices in the 2015-2016 school year.

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Honoring James Reeb 50

Last week, St. Olaf hosted several events in commemoration of the death of James Reeb ’50, who fought for civil rights in the ’60s, called “A Long Walk Home: 50 Years of Climbing the Hill to Freedom.” The week of March 9 marked the 50th anniversary of what later became known as “Turnaround Tuesday,” where the killing of white clergymen on the Edmund Pettus Bridge inspired protests around the nation that ended in the passing of Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On March 12, a chapel service honoring Reeb was followed by a dedication of the James Reeb Reflection Room. During the chapel service, James Reeb’s granddaughter Leah, “recognized the importance that St. Olaf had in [her] grandfather’s life and his development and what led him to take part in his various efforts towards equality.”

Ann Reeb, James’ daughter, also spoke about the importance of continuing to speak out against what is wrong even today, to show that what Reeb sacrificed his life for will not go in vain. Ann Reeb said, “When there is something that you see that is wrong, stand up, use your voice, carry on.” The new dedication in Rolvaag details Reeb’s story of protest and his death, and invites those present to reflect on his contributions.

Throughout the week, there were film screenings of the movie Selma, which include the scene where James Reeb is attacked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and gallery talks on the opening of the art exhibit capturing the civil rights’ protests. The Flaten Art Museum will continue to have the special exhibit “Selma to Montgomery: Marching Along the Civil Rights Trail” which will remain up until April 12. The exhibit includes 45 photographs by Stephen Somerstein that capture the spirit of the protesters in Alabama at the time.


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Semester two brings dorm changes

Whether you have been abroad for fall semester or Interim or both, or have been on campus all year, there have been some recent changes on the Hill that have generated some discussion.

Perhaps the biggest change is the newly-implemented 24-hour card access to the residence halls on campus. This means that halls will be locked at all times, but residents still can get into any dorm until 11 p.m., and after that only their own dorms.

Administrators implemented the new policy with the hopes to increase campus security. Northfield is not a crime-free community, even though students can be lured into a false sense of security due to the trusting campus atmosphere. Just as students should be locking their dorm room doors, the administration wanted to lock the dorms to protect the property.

Roz Eaton-Neeb ’87, the Dean of Students and the author of the email informing students of the change, believes that this will help prevent unwanted individuals from accessing the dorms.

“Much of the crime in Northfield and most crimes on campus are crimes of opportunity. Limiting access to residences has been carefully considered and implementing 24-hour card access at the start of a new term seems most sensible,” Eaton-Neeb said.

The change comes with other problems, however. If students lose their ID or have it stolen, they will face the challenge of not having access to their meal plan or to any residential halls on campus. Even leaving an ID behind in a room could cause potential problems getting back in the building.

On the other hand, students still have the same access they have had in the past, and carrying their ID cards is relatively essential at all times on campus as it is.

According to Shane Springer, Area Coordinator for Ellingson and Larson Halls, the transition was relatively seamless.

“As a resident of Ellingson myself, I know I had to remind myself to scan my card at 3 p.m. on that first Tuesday, but by Thursday it was habit,” Springer said.

What effect will locking the doors have on the future of security on the Hill? Only time will tell if this new plan is more of a help or hindrance.

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Northfield gems

Now that you have moved in at St. Olaf College, keep in mind that you have a second home apart from the Hill: the city of Northfield. While it may seem small, do not let its size fool you. Northfield has many great restaurants, stores and activities to make these four years memorable.

From the Defeat of Jesse James Days, where the town celebrates its famous overthrow of the infamous bank robber Jesse James, to Winter Walk, where the stores on Division Street stay open late and decorate for Christmas, we are confident that Northfield will win you over. To help you navigate its many restaurant options, we have compiled a list of classic Northfield favorites and hidden gems.

Hogan Bros. Acoustic Cafe: For chili that makes your mouth water and hoagies that you will surely dream of during your summers away from Northfield, look no further than Hogan Bros.

In addition to delicious sandwiches, complete with Hogan Bros. secret special sauce, the downtown restaurant boasts a cozy small-town atmosphere. You’re sure to see friends working behind the counter or out to lunch on a Saturday afternoon.

Tandem Bagels: While Minnesota may not be known for its bagels, our great state is certainly not devoid of the delicacies. Tandem Bagels has only been in business in Northfield for two years, but the shop has already built a loyal consumer base. Why? It serves bagels that are really, really good.

Whether you are in the mood for a plain bagel with plain cream cheese or a Dagwood-style bagel sandwich, you will find something to love at Tandem Bagels.

CakeWalk: Relatively new to the area, CakeWalk offers yummy cupcakes, cakes and desserts. These aren’t your typical cupcake flavors, though. In addition to some classic flavors, CakeWalk is known for some unique ones as well. Some of the more adventurous flavors include blueberry pancake, campfire and vanilla latte.

The shop also switches up the flavors it offers, so every time you visit is a new adventure. If you plan on snagging a bite for dessert, however, make sure you check the hours beforehand; CakeWalk closes relatively early in the evening. It closes at 6 p.m. during the week and 4 p.m. on Saturday, and is closed on Sunday.

The Tavern of Northfield: The Tavern serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is a popular destination not only for students, but also for families who come to visit. Known for tasty seasoned Tavern potatoes and affordable breakfasts, the restaurant is famous among Northfield residents, college students and visitors alike. A visit to Northfield just would not be complete without a trip to the Tavern. Another hint: check out the Tavern’s spinach and artichoke dip.

El Triunfo: Don’t let this little building located away from the main street downtown deter you. Students who have eaten there swear by its authentic Mexican food.

El Triunfo offers the freshest and tastiest not to mention cheapest Mexican food in the area. Check it out; you’ll fall in love with the food.

Chapati: The best thing about Chapati is its all-you-can-eat lunch buffet which includes, most importantly, all-you-can-eat naan.

Located on Division Street, the restaurant features mainly northern Indian cuisine. It is a great spot for a birthday dinner with friends or a special outing when family members come to visit Northfield.

Carleton: We all know that Carleton is across the river, though we don’t usually think of it as a viable dinner spot. You can actually eat one meal a week at Carleton, though, with your St. Olaf meal plan. Why would you want to cross to the other side, you might ask?

Well, one reason Oles make the trek is for Carleton’s soft serve ice cream machine, a draw for many missing this sweet treat in our own Caf. While Carleton’s campus food does not boast a ranking as high as St. Olaf’s does, but a visit two one of Carleton’s two cafeterias is sure to provide you with a fun change of pace – and some good pizza to boot.

Now you know the secrets to the eateries in Northfield. Have fun exploring and tasting!

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