Author: Anders Mattson

Radon found in Rand Hall

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Pamela McDowell issued an email statement to residents of Rand Hall regarding a radon test recently conducted in the dormitory.

“Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the test result indicates additional testing [must] be performed,” McDowell wrote.

According to the EPA’s help desk website, radon is “an extremely toxic, colorless gas.” McDowell also added that it is a “naturally occurring gas that can be harmful if a person has long-term exposure over a lifetime.”

The EPA also stresses that “radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.”

McDowell elaborated on the situation for Rand.

“​The radon levels of the test we received data about indicate that by [EPA] standards we should continue to monitor and do additional testing,” McDowell wrote. “We will be doing additional testing over spring break and the summer.” Director of Environmental Health and Safety Elisabeth Haase reiterated the need for further testing.

“We won’t have a full understanding of the radon levels in Rand Hall until we complete testing at multiple locations around the building,” Haase wrote.

McDowell also detailed the work of the firm hired by the school and the subject of its investigation.

“The firm we are working with explained that multiple dwelling units – like residence halls – have not been the target of testing around radon like single family homes because people only live in them for the school year,” McDowell wrote. “Rand is unique in that it is built more into the side of the hill than other buildings, allowing more contact with the soil. At this time there is not a recommendation to test other buildings on campus. Over spring break we will also be testing a few houses we own where there are bedrooms in the basement. We take our students’ and employees’ safety very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation and review recommendations from the EPA and our consulting firm.”

Haase also provided insight on the weeks ahead regarding Rand residence.

“Prior to spring break, residents of Rand Hall may be contacted regarding procedures to take during the testing phase,” Haase wrote. She also made it clear that although “the testing strategy will follow EPA guidelines for sampling, the EPA will not conduct the tests.”

mattso1@stolaf.edu

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St. Olaf Sentiments: Unity

As winter is slowly easing its way back into my life, I seem to be more nostalgic than I would typically be on a day-to-day basis on the Hill. Particularly, I have been thinking about the exact reasons why I left my perpetually sunny southern California hometown, and ended up at a college with a smaller population than my high school. It was because I found a unfound sense of warmth in the smallness of St. Olaf that I had never felt anywhere else in my life.

I think the size of St. Olaf and the proximity of its buildings has a profound influence on the campus and its students. From the start of my freshman year I found enjoyment in the cyclic routine my fellow Oles and I take across campus. It captivated me and made me feel unity with everyone around me. However, this unity has slowly begun to stagnate into a double edged sword. I do not just see the beauty in the unity, I see the hurt.

The hurt comes from my experiences being shackled to the very campus itself. The campus has a way of manifesting negative memories through my senses, from mundane things like tripping on ice near Skoglund, to significant moments of heartbreak. These memories are bound to the places where I experienced them, and every day I am thrust back into those moments. To the girl whose smoothie I knocked out of her hand while entering Tomson, I am sorry. To the iced tea I never got to drink because I spilt it all rushing to Great Con last year, I am sorry. To every person I have had an awkward interaction with at the doors entering Buntrock, I am sorry. The very simple act of going to the Caf can boil up such unnecessary anxiety that sometimes I wonder what captivated me about this school in the first place.

But the beauty does come in waves as well. Though right now the bad may appear more often to me than the good, the good is often a stronger feeling, bringing me back up from the shadows of melencholy. The past echoes throughout this campus bringing memories of joy. Every time I look up at the stars on an especially dark night I remember stargazing during Week One with people I barely speak to anymore. But the joy is still there. Every time I walk by Holland Hall I remember Professor Taliaferro’s introduction to the philosophy major that completely entranced me. And of course, Ellingson Hall, the shining gem of my freshman year: every time I walk by it I am reminded of the friendships that I made there that continue to flourish this year. These are some of the memories that serve as the rock on which I base all my other experiences on this hill. Like waiting for spring in the winter, I know more good times will come after the bad.

St. Olaf is a beautiful beast of emotion and memory. No other place has grabbed me by the heart and thrown me higher than the sky and lower than hell. It is in its walls that I feel the experiences I have had here, and as the highs get higher and the lows get lower, I will continue to battle with its complex unity.

mattso1@stolaf.edu

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Drake song trivializes mental health

Competition is a driving force in all creative expression, so it is not too surprising that artists often criticize one another about their artistic capabilities. The competitive nature of the music industry generally pushes artists to produce chart topping work. However, there is a serious problem when competition moves past artistry and instead attacks someone else’s mental health.

Aubrey Drake Graham, more commonly known by his stage name Drake, made such an attack on Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, better known as Kid Cudi. On Oct. 26, Drake released a new single titled “Two Birds, One Stone,” which directly makes fun of Kid Cudi and his recent check-in to rehab for depression and suicidal urges. This jab goes above and beyond creative competition, and is an unjustified and inhumane attack on another person.

The problematic lyrics come near the end of the song, when Drake raps, “You were the man on the moon/ Now you just go through your phases/ Life of the angry and famous/ Still never been on hiatus/ You stay xann’d and perk’d up/ So when reality set in, you don’t gotta face it/ Look what happens soon as you talk to me crazy/ Is you crazy?”

These lyrics leave no doubt as to who Drake is targeting when he references Kid Cudi’s album “Man on the Moon.” This is clearly Drake’s response to Kid Cudi’s recent Tweets that criticized Kanye West and Drake’s popularity. Though it may have been inappropriate for Kid Cudi to criticize other artists, Drake’s response went too far. His lyrics inappropriately mocked Kid Cudi for entering a rehabilitation center due to mental health issues. This attack by Drake is a sign of ignorance on his part, showing immense immaturity.

What is even more immature is the fact that Drake has not yet apologized, or shown any respect to a fellow rapper who is struggling. Even though Kid Cudi also criticized Kanye West, West still lent his support to Kid Cudi and wished him a quick recovery. At the first Los Angeles show of his Saint Pablo tour, Kanye dedicated a version of his song “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt.1” to Kid Cudi, looking past any differences that the two artists may have.

At another show in Houston, Kanye stated that “Kid Cudi is my brother,” and that “he’s the most influential artist of the past ten years and I hope he’s doing well.” This is a sign of a great artist who can separate his personal differences from more important issues, showing his support to a fellow musician during his struggles with depression. Even after Kid Cudi criticized Kanye, Kanye was able to be a better person than Drake and stand up against the stigma of mental illness.

It is simply embarrassing for a rapper of such high caliber to mock someone’s struggle with depression. In a world still not completely aware of the seriousness of mental illness, Drake exacerbated this problem by poking fun at an issue he clearly doesn’t understand.

Anders Mattson ’19 (mattso1@stolaf.edu) is from Dana Point, Calif. He majors in English and philosophy.

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