Author: Madeleine Tibaldi

Oles are healthy enough

St. Olaf is undeniably an extremely fit and healthy college. It is rare to see a student who is not in shape, and sometimes it seems like everyone is involved in sports in some way or another. The Caf is not only unparalleled in providing delectable food choices, but healthy choices as well. Just because we may have the best campus food in America doesn’t mean we all have to gain the Freshman 15.

Staying and becoming more fit is surprisingly easy at St. Olaf. We have access to state-of-the-art athletic facilities and nutrition counseling, burn hundreds of calories a day walking across campus in sub-freezing temperatures and have a larger assortment of vegetables than fried food in the Caf.

As proud Oles, none of us are shy to proclaim that Stav Hall is the best college cafeteria in the nation. Our school is continuously ranked in the top 10 “best college food” countdowns by respectable sources such as the Princeton Review and the Daily Beast.

The transition to college can bring about a lot of fears in new students, but perhaps none bigger than gaining the Freshman 15. The buffet-style portions and huge selection of food choices are daunting, but also leave a lot of room for us as students to exhibit self-control and make our own decisions about personal health.

Even though Oles are spoiled by mouth-watering meals three times a day, we are not necessarily more likely to gain weight in college than students at other schools. In fact, even if we go back to the Grains station twice to refill our plates, we are probably still consuming fewer calories than an unlucky U of M student who is stuck eating chicken fingers and tater tots at every meal.

That is not to say that unhealthy temptations do not exist. Once the Caf and the Cage close on weekends, milkshakes, pizza and chicken strips are the only substantial food options available on campus to sate your midnight munchies, and staying healthy may mean sacrificing your satiation. Not to mention the dessert bar, overflowing with cakes, cookies and pies, that seems to haunt us at every meal. Once you open those refrigerator doors, it becomes difficult not to go back for seconds and thirds.

But at a campus that is blessed with food choices that could rival gourmet restaurants, we should ask ourselves why we feel the need to obsessively restrict our food intake. I am not advocating that students fill up their trays multiple times at each meal, but at the same time, if you are only eating yogurt and canned peaches, you are failing to take advantage of one of St. Olaf’s greatest assets: its food.

Throughout our childhoods, we have been constantly bombarded with images in the media supporting obsessive thinness as the standard of beauty. One of the positives of the “St. Olaf Bubble” is that, for the most part, we are exposed to fewer magazine ads and television commercials piling on the pressure to be thin.

Maintaining our health and personal fitness is an important goal that we can all strive for as Oles. But in doing this, we should remember the golden rule of moderation and take advantage of everything St. Olaf has to offer – including our dessert bar.

Madeleine Tibaldi ’16 tibaldi@stolaf.edu is from New York, N.Y. She majors in political science.

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Upcoming election fuels registration frenzy

Students face dilemma of where and how to cast votes

All of the political babble on campus may be making some students’ heads spin as they wonder where to vote, when to vote and how to do it. On Thursday, Sept. 20, St. Olaf’s Political Awareness Committee PAC hosted a voter registration workshop to address some of these concerns.

The most commonly raised concern at the workshop was whether to vote on campus or by absentee ballot. Many students felt strongly about voting in their home states because of contentious local elections and legislation. However, other students will opt to vote in Northfield, in large part due to the two proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot on Nov. 6.

Perhaps the greatest advantage to voting on campus is students’ ability to cast their votes on the Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, which would make same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and the Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment, which would require all voters to show photo identification. Both may act as incentives for some students to vote on campus rather than by absentee ballots.

New Oles may not want to vote in Northfield because they feel more at home in their own communities. However, Kevin Dahle, the incumbent Minnesota senator, spoke at the event to encourage students to vote locally in Northfield.

“You have just as much right to vote in Northfield as anyone,” Dahle said. “You are vital parts of our community . . . Your vote really matters.”

David Bly, a candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives, also spoke at the event.

“We, as a community, need to hear from you,” Bly said. He also stressed the importance of voting against the Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment. “Keeping same-day voter registration may make the difference between someone voting and not voting,” Bly said.

Since our country does not have direct voting representation, the candidate who wins the popular vote in each state will take home all of the electoral delegates for that state. While Minnesota is currently projected as a moderate Democratic hold for President Obama, students from states such as New York and California whose voters are projected to vote overwhelmingly for Obama or Utah and Wyoming which are projected to be swept by presidential challenger Mitt Romney may choose to vote in Northfield since their votes will bear more weight in moderate Minnesota. So, while Minnesota is not a “swing state,” it may make sense for students to vote in Minnesota if their home state is projected to vote overwhelmingly in favor of either Obama or Romney.

If that was not enough to convince students, speakers stressed that voting on campus could not be easier. Most students except those living in honor houses and off-campus will vote right here in Buntrock. And for students who are first-time voters, pulling the lever down in the vestibule is an exciting rite of passage.

In some cases, it makes strategic sense for students to vote by absentee ballot. For example, if a student is from Pennsylvania, Ohio or Florida which are considered the three most influential swing states it may make sense for them to vote in their home states, where neither Obama nor Romney has an insurmountable lead in the polls.

If a student chooses to vote by absentee ballot, the process is very simple. The presenters of the workshop suggested that students log on to absenteeballot.com, select their home state and follow the instructions listed on the page. Absentee procedures vary state by state, and some require that voters request a ballot during a specific window of time, while others require voters to request a ballot directly through their home counties.

Regardless of a state’s policies, a voter must be registered in his or her home state before requesting an absentee ballot. Students who are planning to vote absentee are encouraged to be proactive and begin doing their research as soon as possible.

The only requirement for voting on campus is being a Minnesota state resident for 20 days, and most Oles fall into that category. While it is not necessary to provide photo identification, voters should know the last four digits of their social security numbers. Students are eligible to register the day of the election, but are highly advised to pre-register in the weeks leading up to Nov. 6.

As Sen. Dahle informed attendees of the workshop, Minnesota has the highest voter turnout in the nation. Regardless of where St. Olaf students vote, Minnesota’s high level of political involvement is a model of good citizenship they can all strive for.

tibaldi@stolaf.edu

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National conventions reveal parties’ true colors

November 6 is just around the corner, and it’s almost time for Oles and Americans around the country to make a very important and personally empowering decision. As temperatures dip into the 30s and the days of shorts and tank tops dwindle, we are forced to abandon the carefree days of summer’s political mind block. Whether we count down the days until the first presidential debate or plug our ears whenever we hear political babble, we all feel the pressure to pick a side and stick to it.

The Democratic and Republican National Conventions offer undecided voters a chance to hear out both sides of the election, and, theoretically, should give each party a chance to re-energize their candidates. While this year’s DNC effectively reaffirmed the party’s faith in President Obama, the RNC highlighted its party’s disjointedness and detracted from what should have been the main focus of the convention: Mitt Romney.

Don’t get me wrong; I am by no means saying that the RNC made individual members of its party look bad. On the contrary, the inspiring and heartfelt speeches made by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie re-instilled some of my fears that the Republican Party could actually produce a groundbreaking, charismatic candidate who could captivate and identify with Americans as Obama did in 2008.

But the RNC did not heighten my fears about Romney’s presidential appeal. As expected, Romney delivered a relatively dry, humorless and uninspiring speech. The biggest blow to Romney’s campaign, however, was dealt by Rubio, Christie and Santorum’s speeches, all of which emphasized their own personal feats and presidential appeal rather than Romney’s.

My eyes were glued to the screen throughout Rubio’s accounts of his blue-collar immigrant roots and his parents’ faith in the American Dream. But Rubio’s pledge of support for Romney was a tagged-on after-thought to his own proclamation of presidential potential. It almost seemed like payback for his VP snub.

And while I did sympathize with Santorum’s struggle to raise his critically ill daughter, his speech had more to do with himself than Mitt Romney’s presidency. He only begrudgingly claimed his support for Romney at the tail end of his tear-jerking speech. Then again, after all of the slander they exchanged during the primary, I can’t imagine Santorum’s proclamation of support was driven by anything more than conventional obligations.

Despite widespread pressure to do so, the Republican Party was unable to put up a united front and dissolve the plague of tensions and disjointedness that has worsened through the new decade. This was further illustrated by Ron Paul’s refusal to endorse Romney for president, coupled with his supporters’ disruptive behaviors during the convention, which included calling out angrily from the stands and walking off the stage in outrage when Paul’s delegates were displaced.

It comes as no surprise that the rhetorically masterful Obama delivered an eloquent, passionate speech. What did come as a surprise, however, was the hailed highlight of the DNC: Bill Clinton’s address. President Clinton, who was once rumored to dislike Obama, fully endorsed him from the very first line of his speech. Clinton only referenced his personal accomplishments as president once, and while his speech used many critical statistics to convince viewers and attendees to vote for Obama, he also kept the audience engaged through humor, even poking fun at Obama’s victory over his own wife in the 2008 primary.

Before we pull the lever this November, we will be forced to consider not only the implications of associating ourselves with our chosen candidate, but also of the political party as a whole. So, pick a side and stick with it – just make sure the party you choose to align yourself with is one that will make you proud.

Madeleine Tibaldi ’16 tibaldi@stolaf.edu is from New York, N.Y. She majors in political science.

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Oles win nine straight, claim first round bye