Author: Alexandra Madsen

Lit Crawl celebrates wide range of works

On Friday, April 24, students and faculty gathered to attend the 2nd annual Lit Crawl, getting drunk not off of alcohol, but off of their love for literature. The event, organized by St. Olaf English honors society Sigma Tau Delta with help from the English department, the Poetry House, the Race and Ethnic Studies Program and the St. Olaf Theater Appreciation Society was well attended and featured voices from all over campus.

The idea for the Lit Crawl came about last year in an effort to build a community in the English department and feature voices from students from all over campus. The Lit Crawl utilized the concept of a pub crawl at which the participants move from location to location with a different event happening at each station. The event was held in three parts, starting with a reading from professors, followed by an open mic and ending with a reading by award-winning Minneapolis author Ed Bok Lee.

This year, Sigma Tau Delta co-presidents Andrew Wilder ’15 and Madalyn Rose ’15 decided that they wanted to take the event further and incorporate new elements into the previous year’s event. They made changes that increased attendance, including bringing in pizza for the last station attendance dwindled as the dinner hours approached last year and bringing in an author from the Cities to do the final reading. This offered students a chance to hear from not only their professors, but also from outside authors that students don’t typically have the chance to witness.

The event began in Rolvaag Memorial Library, where students sat and listened to professors read from their favorite authors, with some professors even sharing works of their own. The works ranged from the abstract to the more lyrical, each bringing a different element to the room.

“I think the professors really enjoy this because it gives them a chance to share the literature that they love outside of a classroom setting,” Wilder said. “It’s a chance for them to organically bond over the common literature they all love.”

After the readings by professors, the event transitioned to the undercroft of Boe, where attendees could hear readings from students in a more informal setting. The space was quiet as each person stepped up, yet it transformed once they started speaking. The power and presence of their voices filled the room with each word uttered.

The students that participated came from multiple departments around St. Olaf. The open mic offered students who were not English majors the opportunity to feature their pieces and to meet other students and professors with similar interests.

The final event was held in the Lair. There, Ed Bok Lee read poems and pizza was provided. The incorporation of Lee, who is an exceptionally performative poet, gave students the opportunity to connect with an award-winning author and be inspired by the success he has achieved.

The event will continue annually in order to foster an environment where English majors and non-English majors can come together to appreciate a common love for literature. In future years, students hope to continue to bring in outside authors and keep the well-rounded spirit of the event to highlight students, professors and other working authors.

“I really enjoy having a mix of the classics, but also the contemporary stuff that’s being written here and now,” Wilder said. “Its kind of the idea that literature is alive. There is great literature that is being produced right now and right here at St. Olaf, and I think that’s something to celebrate.”

madsen1@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: ANDREW WILDER/MANITOU MESSENGER

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Revisiting Its On Us with media projects: Task force aims to provide educational material on current campus policy

Since its implementation in the fall, the “It’s On Us” initiative continued working “to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” SGA recently created a task force to discuss innovative ways to educate St. Olaf students about sexual assault.

The “It’s On Us” student-run task force works to incorporate as many campus voices as possible. The task force was created by the SGA wellness subcommittee. It also has ties to the Wellness Center, SARN and the Gender and Sexuality Center.

“We wanted students feedback,” wellness subcommittee leader Olivia Luther said. “Some people really want to have a voice with this issue, so we thought this was a really great way of giving students that opportunity to share what they think about the It’s On Us task force, or how they think they can share their voice and prevent sexual assault.”

While incorporating voices from all over campus, the task force was also able to include students from all years, which has helped ease the worry that campaign would not be sustainable beyond this year. First years such as Swannie Willstein ’18 and Rita Thorsen ’18 dove right in and assumed leadership positions in the policy subcommittee of the task force. Organization members encouraged them to contribute, take on leadership roles and work through the organization to not only make St. Olaf a safe environment, but also create tangible change.

“The task force has provided a situation where we all come to the table from different backgrounds and perspectives,” Thorsen said. “But each opinion is equally valued, and it has propagated an environment in which we can be leaders.”

The involvement of underclassmen is critical to making sure the organization continues to grow and make a difference.The task force deals with preventative issues, such as education and awareness. The changing of campus culture will take time and effort by the larger student body.

The task force is divided into three subcommittees, where members work on poster and video campaigns and review St. Olaf policy on assault. These three subcommittees are only starting points and organization members are open to other ideas for the task force. The subcommittee members in each group are not limited to their own individual committee, they are encouraged to contribute to all aspects of the organization.

The current video project will identify different terms such as consent and sexual assault and will also include resources for students to get more information.

“We plan to get students from all over campus so that when we launch this digital campaign, people will be tagged from all over campus,” SGA president Rachel Palermo ’15 said. “Their friends will then see the video, and hopefully take the time and watch it and learn about this education campaign.”

The committee hopes that a social media campaign will spread the message to a large proportion of the student body. The poster campaign has similar goals. It aims to create slogans that not only incorporate the key pledges of the It’s On Us campaign, but also provide another quick educational reminder about sexual assault in hopes of changing campus culture.

The policy subcommittee has worked on reviewing campus policy and reporting processes. They want to make their message as clear as possible in an attempt to alleviate some of the confusion that comes along with such a sensitive and complicated topic. The policy subcommittee also works closely with Dean Greg Kneser and other administration members who serve as advisors for the committee.

“The administration is extremely supportive, and they are faced with such a difficult task because each individual case is being so specific, and all of the codes and rule systems they need to follow,” Willstein said. “But I know they are doing everything in their power and they care so much, it’s just a really difficult situation.”

The task force is always looking for new voices, and welcomes all students to come share ideas and get involved in an important and relevant issue. Meetings are at 6:30pm on Sundays in BC 143. All are welcome to come contribute or just listen and be a part of change.

“Sexual assault is an issue and it should be addressed,” Palermo said. “It’s not just a women’s issue, it’s an issue that effects everyone. It’s so important for our society as a whole to get that, so we need to address it.”

madsen1@stolaf.edu

Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER

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Arts club volunteers assist with musical performance

The A+ Art Club works to connect St. Olaf and Carleton volunteers with A+ club members on the autism spectrum through art projects.

The program was started by Laura Goodwin and Professor of Art and Art History Meg Ojala as an experiment to see if arts and crafts could break down barriers and help students on the autism spectrum work past issues in a more unconventional way. During its first year, the club turned out to be a huge success. Since then, it has continued to work on new ways to continue its objectives, including improvisation activities and a recent musical.

On a typical night, volunteers arrive and pair up with club members one-on-one, which allows strong relationships to form. Everyone then participates in a team building activity, which helps facilitate trust between the members, while providing a way for members to relax and enjoy themselves. Guest artists then come in and work on a particular project with the organization members, using a range of different mediums to engage the group.

“It’s a great organization,” co-coordinator and volunteer member Lara Shefelbine 16 said. “It has a great balance between challenging students to get out of their comfort zone with new artistic techniques and new activities, but also being a comfortable and safe space with volunteers working one-on-one with club members.”

Techniques can get hard at times, but the club members are usually very willing to take a deep breath and try again. Volunteers try to do whatever they can to maximize members’ learning while also keeping them happy and safe.

Club member Aria McAfee, who lives in Northfield, has been a member of A+ for almost six years. Her favorite medium to work with is photography, and she enjoys taking photos of landscapes around St. Olaf.

“My favorite part of the club is all the friends I’ve made and doing the summer art mart,” McAfee said.

The club has also recently worked outside of the realm of 2D media into a more theatrical setting with improv activities and a recent production of “Buzz: The Musical,” the story of a bee who didn’t buzz quite like all the other bees. Typically, young adults on the autism spectrum do not like being placed in situations where the unexpected is involved. During the improvisation activities, however, many of the volunteer members were extremely impressed by the reactions of the club members who took over the stage. Many stepped out of their comfort zones and adapted to the situation with positive attitudes.

During the production of the musical, many club members were asked to memorize lines and dance routines, which sometimes proved difficult. Some members in the beginning refused to participate in certain aspects of the play, but by the end of the dress rehearsal, they participated in everything that was asked of them. As their comfort levels improved, so did their willingness to try new things.

On the opening day of Friday, Feb. 27, there was a packed house. Friends and family members from all around the Northfield area poured into the theater to see their loved ones perform. The club members and volunteers were prepared and excited. As the play started, the club members started off strong. As the play continued, one could see the members come out of their shells more and more, and at some points, ad-libs were even added in by some of the members, which only contributed to the audience’s enthusiasm. The play not only raised approximately $2,000 for A+ activities, supplies and scholarship programs, but also helped some members realize their love for theater. Some actors expressed the desire to star in more plays in the future.

For both club members and volunteers, the A+ Art Club has changed many lives and cultivated strong friendships. For volunteers such as Shefelbine, the two hours a week she spends at A+ is her favorite part of the week.

“I’ve seen really meaningful relationships form between the club members and volunteers,” Shefelbine said. “And the dynamic that forms between those people is so easy and kind, and every Tuesday when you walk in, it’s like no time has passed. It’s just such a great atmosphere for everyone involved, both volunteers and club members.”

madsen1@stolaf.edu

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Coachless Oles dance to success

The St. Olaf dance team started off this season strongly like it has every other year – without a coach. The team’s thirteen girls, along with the first ever boy on the team, have been hard at work perfecting their jazz and pom routines for their big competitions of the season.

This year, the captains decided they wanted to push themselves and compete in three different competitions rather than their usual one. They wanted to create a more collegiate atmosphere in the dance team and continue to stand out as a successful sport at St. Olaf. They competed at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire Competition and received 1st place in pom and 4th in jazz. At the WowFactor Timberwolves Competition, they placed 1st in pom and 1st in jazz. Finally, at the St. Thomas Invitational, the team placed 1st in pom and 4th in jazz.

This year’s auditions for the team were tougher, the team practiced more often and more team bonding activities were enforced – all of which contributed to the overall success of the team’s season. The emphasis placed on getting closer as a team allowed for a more cohesive atmosphere and provided opportunities for the teammates to get to know each other on a very close level.

“This year, the team has been really close, and we definitely have more of a family vibe, which allows us to push each other harder and get the best out of each other,” Hannah Erie ’15 said. “But we have also emphasized taking talent from our non-captains, which has allowed us to incorporate each person’s unique style, which has brought a really cool aspect to our routines.”

This year’s captains – Courtney Kein ’16, Aylin Awbrey ’15 and Megan Sather ’16 – were determined to make this their best year yet. Without a coach, it was up to them to motivate, organize and guide the team members, which sometimes proved difficult.

“We do have to take over some of the responsibilities of a coach, like being authoritative and doing the administrative things a coach would do, which can be a unique challenge,” Kein said. “But it also has given us an advantage in that we are invested in every aspect of our team, and in order for our team to run, every member has to have respect for each other or the whole dynamic doesn’t work.”

The success of this year’s season has already pushed the captains into thinking about goals for the team next year. They hope to continue ranking highly in competition, keeping their practice time up and continuing to be a tight-knit group.

Seniors such as Erie are sad to leave. Erie said she knows that during the four years she has spent on the dance team, she has made close friendships and had a creative outlet in her life doing something that she loved. Some of the freshmen on the team, having only been on the team for one season, can already see the impact that the dance team has had on their lives.

“I have made some of the best friendships on the team this year, and the girls are extremely supportive while also making you work hard and grow as a dancer,” Becca Braun ’18 said. “I’m really proud to be a part of the team this year, and I know this only sets the bar for improvement for next year.”

madsen1@stolaf.edu

Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER

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New art exhibit showcases apprentices

Through the St. Olaf Art Apprenticeship program, the five art apprentices for 2014-2015 have been working hard on creating their first exhibit, which opened on Jan. 9. The exhibit, entitled “Found Space,” features each artist’s unique perspective on space. The works vary on topics from religious space to home space, distinctly showing each artist’s personality in his or her works.

For Caroline Wood ’14, the experience has been a time of reflection. The exhibit allowed her to return to where she grew up and focus on the idea of home as a space. She visited her hometown of Oak Park, Illinois, and photographed the places that were meaningful to her.

“For me it was a really good time of reflection,” said Wood. “I don’t usually center my work around myself, so it was a good time for me to focus on something personal and special to me.”

Other apprentices, like Madeline Berger ’14, focused on a time in a new space. Berger’s piece, entitled “Me Are My Walls,” is a representation of living in a small apartment with a significant other for the first time. The piece by Madeleine Senko ’14 is a series of collages of deities or icons, where she recreated a reverent space. This represented a more emotional and spiritual space. It created a facet to think about the ways people explore spirituality through art. The piece by Isaac Burton ’14, “Black Hole Soliloquy,” is a series of complex graphic illustrations that incorporate outer space. Finally, “Substance” by Juan Yanqui Rivera ’14 is an interactive piece through which the viewers can use their phones to create 3D shapes that get projected onto a screen. Each artist used different media to explore the concept of space, but the end result worked well together.

The title “Found Space” was developed after all the artists had begun their pieces. In the process of designing the exhibit and forming a title, the artists decided to play a word game to see how their works were connected. After almost four hours of playing with words and ideas, one idea kept coming into focus and that was the idea of space. Whether it was space as a new physical location, or finding a new emotional space post-college, space was a central idea in each of their pieces.

“The title came about really organically,” Senko said. “And I think each of our pieces really work and play off of each other. The personalities and styles are really balanced which turned out cool.” The exhibit is not the only project each artist is working on. The St. Olaf Art Apprenticeship program participants often have many other pieces they are working on, and the time in the apprenticeship allows them not only to manage their time but also to gain critical experience. The two exhibits the artists put on allow them to see what it is like being independent from an academic art class. Teachers are used as resources rather than instructors, and the apprentices put together all aspects of the show.

Though the artists have just opened their first exhibit, they are already hard at work on their next exhibit, “Disposal.” This show will be different in that the title has already been decided, in contrast to the first show. That was just a consequence of time. However, some of the artists, like Senko, are excited to see how this will shift their work and change their creative process. “Disposal” is scheduled to open in March at the Northfield Arts Guild.

madsen1@stolaf.edu

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