Author: Danielle Larson

Diversity Awareness House hosts dinner discussion

The Diversity Awareness DA House is one of the longest-running honor houses on campus. For nearly twenty years, the DA House has attempted to introduce conversations about diversity and tolerance to the St. Olaf College community.

Located in Huggenvik House, directly across the street from President David Anderson’s house, the DA House is home to a collection of students who identify with different nationalities, religions, classes and races. That list only begins to address the ways in which the house members recognize diversity. House member Sheridan Blanford ’15 talked about the new ways house members will tackle the difficult job of evoking thought and conversation about diversity on campus and in the world.

“We are trying to shift the meaning of diversity from the color of your skin to all the things that make you unique,” Blanford said.

According to Blanford, there is a stigma on campus that the issue of diversity is “only meant for people of color,” and that stigma is the reason behind the changes in this long running program. By building the house’s mission on uniqueness, members hope to get a larger group of students and faculty involved in the diversity conversation at St. Olaf because everyone is affected by the issue of diversity.

One of the DA House presidents, GT Maskalo ’14, sees a “misunderstanding about what diversity truly means” in the St. Olaf population.

“Diversity can mean so many things to different people”, Maskalo said. Each member of the house has their own individual definition of diversity, and that works because diversity of opinion “contributes to the uniqueness of gifts we bring to the community and to the conversation [about diversity],” he said.

Conversation is the cornerstone of the DA House’s vision for St. Olaf. House members believe that open conversations about the place of diversity in our college’s community will increase tolerance and knowledge of the world, which are two qualities that St. Olaf strives to instill in its students.

The first DA House event this year was on Sunday, Nov. 3. The members hosted a Diversity Dinner and Discussion on the topic of race and class relations. Around 20 people were in attendance, including two professors. Sharon Lane-Getaz, professor of statistics, was asked to lead discussion on what could be considered a sensitive and controversial topic: diversity at St. Olaf. Professor Lane-Getaz has been facilitating workshops similar to event on Sunday night with many different groups in the area for about a year.

Those who attended the dinner were asked to answer a series of questions and identify their places in a class hierarchy. The group identified several strengths and weaknesses associated with ther classes. When everyone in attendance came together to share what they had discovered about class, there was no sense of judgment or nervousness in the group. This is the goal of the DA house; the members aim to create an atmosphere in which people are able to talk openly about experiences they have in common and experiences that are unique.

The dinner discussion put into action the mission articulated by Blanford and Maskalo. The dinner not only provoked thought about the meaning of diversity, but also successfully brought a diverse group of people together to have a conversation.

According to Blanford and Maskalo, more conversations and gatherings such as this one will bring a stronger sense of community and acceptance of differences to the St. Olaf campus. Throughout the year, the student body can expect events focused on the wide variety of passions found among DA House members.

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Cross country teams dominate MIAC

It is hard to believe that the St. Olaf cross country teams could outshine their dominant 2012 conference performances. Yet on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the MIAC Championships, they rose to a whole new level, proving once again they are among the strongest teams in the conference.

The St. Olaf men’s team completely overwhelmed their opposition on the Como Golf Course. For the second year in a row, the men brought home the first place title in both team and individual scores.

With a team score of 20, St. Olaf beat the second place Carleton College. The Carls finished with a total 81 points, followed not so closely by University of St. Thomas with 104 points. In addition to a team victory, the Oles also had six top ten finishers.

Grant Wintheiser ’15 won his second MIAC title with a finishing time of 24:48.9 in the 8K. He improved on his 2012 performance by nearly 20 seconds.

It was the Oles’ team depth, though, that led them to defeat the second place Carls by 61 points. Jake Brown ’15, Brian Saksa ’14, Jake Campbell ’16, Phillip Meyer ’15 and Dillon Davis ’14 all finished in the top-ten, with Paul Escher ’16 finishing 16th to complete the Ole score card. The averaged team time for the Ole men was nearly a minute faster than that for any other team.

The St. Olaf women finished second in the conference for the second year in a row. They were just edged out of first place by cross-town rivals Carleton College. Carleton finished with 51 points, and the Oles finished with 69.

The Ole women also had several impressive individual finishes. Noelle Olson ’17 finished in first place with a 6K time of 21:49.5. Fellow Ole Jordan Johnson ’15 followed her over the line nearly 20 seconds later. Both Olson and Johnson will receive MIAC All-Conference titles, and teammate Michaela Banz ’15 will receive a MIAC All-Conference Honorable Mention for her 16th place finish.

Both the men and women’s teams will run at home on Nov. 16 in the NCAA Division III Central Region Championships, seeking to qualify for NCAA Championships the following week.

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Tandem Bagels officially opens for business

Many of Northfield’s signature restaurants and coffee shops can be found on Division Street. The old-fashioned brick buildings and big-windowed storefronts foster nostalgia throughout the downtown area. Many of the shops and restaurants have been staples in this town for decades and are known and loved by college students and locals alike. But, venturing north on this historic street, amidst the familiar shops and street signs, a new fresh-faced bakery will catch your eye.

Tandem Bagels, owned by Tony and Anne Frentz, is the third bagel shop the couple has opened together. They were part owners of Bagel Bros. in Northfield for six years, and in 2012, they opened the original Tandem Bagels shop in Mankato, Minn.

The name, Tandem Bagels, references a tandem bicycle and all the images that tandem biking conjures.

“We [named] it because we thought it looked nice, but really because we are trying to promote bicycling, walking, running and just in general being active,” Tony Frentz said. An active community is just what they found when they arrived in Northfield, where they opened their second shop on March 5.

The popularity of their bagel shop in Mankato led them to explore other locations, and in Northfield, “the demographics seemed very good for bagels: outdoor and active, universities and a great downtown with a lot of walking [traffic],” Tony Frentz said.

In Mankato, the Tandem Bagel company is very active in local community events, and the owners have no intentions of denying Northfield that same privilege.

“In Mankato, we support and donate to pretty much every single outside, active event, and we plan to do the same in Northfield”, Tony Frentz said.

But does the Northfield community need another new bakery? After all, CakeWalk just opened up less than a block away.

Tandem Bagels is so much more than a simple bakery, according to Tony Frentz. By combining a bakery’s sweetness and a sandwich shop’s ability to provide a full meal, Tandem Bagels can appeal to a variety of tastes at all hours of the day.

The Tandem Bagels secret to delicious food is the business’ use of fresh ingredients. Local and organic ingredients are the cornerstone of each order.

“Our goal is to buy whatever we can locally and try to be conscious of our environment while making great handmade – and organic, where we can – products,” Tony Frentz said.

From the second you walk through the door, the atmosphere wraps you up in aromas of fresh coffee, muffins, scones, pastries and, of course, bagels.

To craft their bagels, Tandem uses a special process. “We use a method that I believe is the only correct way to make a genuine bagel. Once the dough is made and poofs up, we first boil it in water and then hearth-bake the bagels. This process gives them the slightly chewy outside and soft inside,” Tony Frentz said.

Tandem Bagels is open Mondays through Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturdays from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. A complete breakfast and lunch menu can be found on their website,

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New website design aims to reach larger audience

Sixty thousand pages of information make up the St. Olaf College website. This vast number made the task of transforming the college’s webpage all the more daunting.

The process of renewing the site began in April 2012 when Information Technology decided to switch the content management system used to maintain and edit the school’s webpage. The department had been operating with a Dreamweaver-based platform, but this was proving to be both overly complicated and expensive.

The licensing cost of Dreamweaver software is “projected to skyrocket in the coming years,” said Steve Blodgett, St. Olaf’s director of marketing and communications.

The necessary technical change presented an opportunity for a complete website facelift. And the software was not the only aspect of the website that was outdated.

“We’ve known for several years that the St. Olaf website was overdue for a design refresh,” Blodgett said, adding that the old setup was not “keeping up with new developments” in the college’s personality and public image.

Webpage designers faced the challenge of maintaining the robust content that the site contains, while also increasing the ease of navigation. The webpage is a source of important information for many groups of people who interact with St. Olaf College. Prospective students, current students, parents, faculty and alumni all require a variety of assistance from the school’s webpage.

According to Blodgett, the website is the “front door” to the school, and if it appears confusing or cluttered, a student could miss the intended message that the college is trying to convey. Before the content changes, the webpage was trying to be “all things to all people,” he said.

The homepage’s old format featured links to pages geared toward specific groups’ needs.

The main page now contains links to features such as interactive maps and all-over-campus webcams, as well as links for campus visits and applications. The home page also makes more of an effort to highlight the principles of a St. Olaf education, such as a high educational standard, a strong residential community and a global perspective.

Those responsible for the changes hope that current students will eventually find the new website easier to navigate than the old system. In the meantime, familiar links like Moodle, the Student Information System and the Piper Center can be found just below the search bar, in the top right-hand corner under the title “current students.”

While these changes have increased accessibility of the college for Internet users, there are always more ways to improve.

“The website will continue to evolve as both WordPress and the new design are extended,” said Blodgett, hinting that students should look for more advancement in the future.

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New street signs guide visitors

After 138 years of anonymity, the St. Olaf College roads finally have names.

The most observant students have probably taken note of the campus’ newest additions. Bright gold signs now decorate St. Olaf’s street corners.

The final result of a nearly two-year-project for campus improvement, the street signs were put into place over interim break. With names such as Norway Valley Road, Windy Lane and Founders Drive, the streets signs add a splash of color to a presently gray campus waiting for spring.

The street signs arose, in part, to address a serious problem on campus. With the absence of street signs, emergency dispatchers were having difficulties reaching students in need.

The dispatchers’ lack of familiarity with campus buildings made landmark-based directions confusing and ineffective in time-sensitive situations. The phrase “follow the street that passes behind Larson Hall” means nothing to an ambulance driver from Owatonna and can delay assistance to a student in need. The simple solution of adding names to campus streets addresses this problem and will hopefully minimize it in the future.

The college had also been concerned with the inaccurate representation of the campus on Google Maps. When Google came last spring to photograph the college, it became apparent that a lack of street names was causing confusion for the mappers who did not know how to navigate St. Olaf’s nameless streets.

If an international company with professional mappers was having difficulty navigating the streets of St. Olaf, visiting students were probably struggling as well.

In response to raised concerns, President David Anderson ’74, along with many other campus administrators including the provost and assistant vice president for facilities, formed a group called The President’s Leadership Team. The “PLT,” as Anderson likes to call it, was the small task force in charge of inventing names for the street signs. Anderson acted as point man on this small, but important, campus project.

According to Anderson, it was important to “get a small group together … and get the signs up quickly” due to the safety concerns associated with not having sufficiently marked streets. Efficiency was the main goal of the PLT, but they were also charged with the task of inventing the street names.

Anderson expressed the group’s concern that the names be “respectful of the place where we are and unlikely to create issues” in the community. The group avoided using names of important Oles to prevent hurt feelings. The street names describe the areas of St. Olaf they intersect, further familiarizing their location on campus.

Anderson said that the student body can expect more campus improvement projects such as this one in the near future. He addressed the recent speculation surrounding the concrete blocks poured outside many of the buildings throughout the fall, which will eventually become signs naming buildings in the interior of the quad.

“It is a hospitality thing,” Anderson said, adding that students take for granted the knowledge they have of their own campus.

All of these projects aim to make St. Olaf campus an increasingly user-friendly place to be.

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