Author: pattin1

Tubman currency change incites feminist debate

“The Treasury promised to put Harriet Tubman’s face on the $10 bill but now we have to wait until 2030 for the $20 bill. Man, women haven’t been this deceived by a Bill since Cosby,” “The Nightly Show” host Larry Wilmore said when weighing in on the $20 bill debate at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, April 30.

On Wednesday, April 20, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that American abolitionist, humanitarian, armed scout and spy Harriet Tubman will be placed on the front of the $20 bill, replacing President Andrew Jackson. Immediately the media, politicians and the general public began to debate this decision.

Opponents argued that Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade or competitive markets, and that putting her on the bill would distract from existing inequalities in America. These inequalities include the wage gap between men and women, which affects African-American and Latina women the most.

The supporters of the bill change brought up Jackson’s historical background as a slave owner, as well as his initiation of the forced migration of thousands of Native Americans in what historians now call the Trail of Tears. Furthermore, Jackson had voiced his preference for a currency of silver and gold as opposed to paper money, so it never made sense that he was the face of the $20 dollar bill.

To some degree the decision to put Tubman on the bill does represent a step forward in America’s fight against gender inequality. However, another view to take into account is the feminist perspective, which sees Tubman’s nomination as disrespectful and ignorant of what she was really fighting for during her lifetime. Some argue that no women should be placed on any United States currency, at least until economic gender inequality is eradicated.

From a realist perspective it seems naive, if not foolhardy, to believe that economic injustice against women will ever completely end. It has been ingrained in our country and culture for years and it will take many more decisions and efforts similar to this one to make substantial progress against gender inequality.

While contemplating his experience during the Vietnam War, Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara remarked that we will never change human nature.

“It isn’t that we aren’t rational. We are rational. But reason has limits,” McNamara said.

I argue that this decision is a well intended step away from a male-dominated culture and that critiquing it so harshly will diminish the significance of this decision.

“Baby steps” seems to be the perfect term to describe this particular change. As this effort to recognize women’s role in United States history is made, there will be a lot of obstacles and hindrances along the way. While there is infinitely more work to be done when it comes to ridding the country of sexism, placing an influential woman on United States currency is a good step in changing the current status of gender inequality. While unlikely to please everyone or reach justice for all, efforts like this are important if we are serious about acknowledging men and women as equals.

Sam Pattinasarane ’18 (pattin1@stolaf.edu) is from Jakarta, Indonesia. He majors in Asian Studies and Political Science.

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St. Olaf Sentiments: March 11, 2016

2.5 years of attempts. 2.5 years of failures. 2.5 years and it all came to this.

Feb. 12, 2016. After 2.5 years, my application to attend a conference at Harvard University got through, and I finally set foot on the soil from which geniuses throughout history have gone out to achieve more than what the other 7 billion human beings are capable of.

There is more to the conference than what meets the eye, though. At the surface, it might have looked as if I were attending lectures and speeches from people who are apparently good at whatever it is they do and then returning to whatever it is that reality might throw at me in order to open my eyes or stifle my ambitions.

But no. It is the people that I met who had the greatest influence. And who were these people, you might ask? Well, since the conference focused on “Asian and International Relations,” it is pretty obvious where they are from, geographically speaking. But beyond that? Academics, entrepreneurs and government officials: you name them, and they were all there. Heck, the moment I realized that, I asked myself how on earth I got there.

But, alas, the opportunity to be within such a crowd compelled me to promote my maturity through my capacity for rational arguments and my ability to deconstruct the arguments of others into something my own mind could understand. It is one thing to do this with your friends with whom you spend your lunches and time at parties, it is another when you are doing it with a 29-year-old who realized he loves the environment after going through the ups and downs of being a lawyer.

From here, one could say that the conference is actually a networking event, albeit one that took me 2.5 years to get into. Knowing that there are other easier channels to do so, one is compelled to ask: is it really that worth it?

In all honesty, time moved so swiftly during the four day conference that I somehow said to myself that I might be exaggerating what this conference has done for me. Other people have already done more than suggest the same. I’m simply attending an event with the name “Harvard” attached to it.

Nevertheless, as I engaged myself in all the lectures, case studies, and even the dance, I felt that I had brought myself into a new step in my life. I have marked out a path that I will remember fondly, no matter how small or insignificant others may see it. What is important to me is the realization that I have to keep moving forward and not let myself succumb to the satisfaction of what I have already accomplished. There are still paths to be tread and marks to be made, and they are waiting for me to take the step forward.

When I got back and touched the soil of St. Olaf under a lukewarm sunset, I immediately went to the Buntrock Commons just to see what everyone else was doing. As I gazed over dozens of Oles glued to their laptops, textbooks and cups of liquid they have the gall to call coffee, I smiled and chuckled, saying to myself, “Look at all us undergrads.”

pattin1@stolaf.edu

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Obama’s Facebook reflects new politics

“In the past, all a King had to do was look respectable in uniform and not fall off his horse. Now we must invade people’s homes and ingratiate ourselves with them…We’ve become actors!” said English actor Michael Gambon, in his role as King George V in the 2010 Academy Award-winning movie, The King’s Speech.

As Gambon showed in his speech, being respectable in the eyes of the elites is no longer enough to sustain the popularity of world leaders. Whether they like it or not, politicians have no choice but to plunge themselves into the fickle exchange with voters that is the world of social media, in order to reach out to aging millennials and teens, catching their attention and gaining their support online before a real campaign begins.

With this new landscape, it is not surprising to see that just a few weeks ago, President Obama promoted his own personal Facebook page, saying he hopes it will be a “place where we can have real conversations about the most important issues facing our country – a place where you can hear directly from me, and share your own thoughts and stories. (You can expect some just-for-fun stuff, too.)”

Discussing issues from the refugee crisis to climate change, Obama’s Facebook page is, on the surface level, defined as a place for the president to flesh out his stance on various topics. This is meant to offer Americans a chance to delve into his beliefs, and help them to understand why he reacts to certain issues the way he does. Overall, it gives a human side to a figure who may otherwise lack that type of exposure.

However, one must look further than a Facebook feed to generate a critical and thorough understanding of the president’s policy. While a politician’s online persona can be informative, it lacks a broad perspective and only gives a slight overview. A Twitter feed is not a critical news source, and a Facebook page is not a journal article.

Living in the midst of an era where the need for information comes at a higher speed than ever before, political figures in the social media sphere allow us to see them on our level. The way they communicate within these mediums can also reveal new aspects of our leaders and representatives.

Nevertheless, we must not let ourselves fall under the illusion that what we see online is the truth. These posts encourage us to look deeper into issues, but it is still our responsibility to research them and form an educated stance.

At the very least, we should not be like lemmings, running blindly off a cliff.

Sam Pattinasare ’17 (pattin1@stolaf.edu) is from Jakarta, Indonesia. He majors in political science and asian studies.

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Renovations coming to Larson and Kittelsby

As students see the construction going on in Rolvaag Memorial Library this fall and read about the Holland Hall renovation plan, it is evident that there are going to be changes throughout the campus this year. As it turns out, the plans for change entail more than Holland and Rolvaag alone.

One of the goals of President David Anderson ’74’s Strategic Plan is to enhance students’ participation in and experience of residential life. In order to fulfill this goal, renovations have been made during the past summers on Kildahl, Ellingson and Hoyme residence halls. Kittelsby Hall will be renovated in the coming summer. In addition, plans for the renovation of Larson Hall are also being drawn up this year.

All of these projects are part of the process of renewing the college’s building life cycle, in which after a certain amount of time, usually about 40 years, the buildings on campus need to be renovated in order to increase sustainability and efficiency.

“I think it would make a lot of sense to focus our attention first on the first-year dorms, [as] most of them are nearing the end of the year of their life cycle now,” President Anderson said. In his view, the focus on the first-year students also stems from the rapid change in needs and expectations for the new students who are coming into a college environment for the first time.

There is also a desire to create additional gathering spaces to reinforce the sense of community that is part of St. Olaf’s vision and mission for the well-being of its students. Finally, the renovations will increase the efficiency of energy use, which in turn will lead to increased sustainability throughout the campus.

Plans for the renovations of Larson and Kittelsby began in August of this year, while the renovation of Kildahl was completed this past summer. In the first phase of the renovation, about $11.9 million will be spent on renovating Larson and Kittelsby. In comparison, about $9.25 million is going to be spent on the renovation of Holland Hall.

Another important aspect of the renovations is light harvesting, which is important to the college’s sustainability goals. There is a larger emphasis on creating spaces where sunlight can serve as the natural source of light.

“Light harvesting is one of our main design goals in the plans. It can contribute in decreasing the campus’ energy consumption. And that is another thing that people are looking for in these renovations: the improvement in the sustainability, where we use less energy to operate, which means we will generally consume fewer resources,” Assistant Vice-President for Facilities Peter Sandberg said.

Another thing that Anderson and Sandberg pointed out is that even with the many renovations and creation of new spaces, the total amount of energy use on the campus has been decreasing at a steady rate.

According to Sandberg, the whole campus has been consuming on average 17,250,000 kW hours worth of energy annually, a decrease from the annual consumption of about 18 to 19 million kW hours before the construction of Regents Hall of Natural Sciences, which is seen as the watershed of a more efficient energy consumption in the college’s history.

Eventually, the main purpose of the modernizations is to bring concrete changes through new, modern, and clean buildings. But these buildings have to be in character with the rest of the campus as well.

“We want to provide the proper facility that can better support the process of teaching and learning, and creating spaces that fall in line with what people are doing within them,” Sandberg said.

“Eventually, we hope that the designs of the new buildings can promote the purposes of the people who are in it, rather than working against their purposes. The design should be an advance and a complement to the system as a whole,” President Anderson said.

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Faculty in focus: Professor Anthony Taylor

Oles involved in St. Olaf basketball are already familiar with Anthony Taylor. Many students recognize him as the assistant men’s basketball coach, but what they might not recognize him as is a new member of the department of education.

Before setting foot on the Hill, Taylor earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of St. Thomas respectively. He then spent nine years teaching social studies in various public high schools throughout Minnesota, most of them within the Minneapolis area. A specialist in counseling, Taylor conducted multiple research projects during his time here on inclusiveness throughout the school’s environment. In his research he addressed the causes of various forms of discrimination and exclusivity in schools.

“The main idea is for students, teachers, and administrators to acknowledge the existence of various ‘isms’ such as sexism, classism, racism and ageism in schools and to create a general awareness that can lead to its removal,” he said.

Even though Taylor only started teaching at St. Olaf this September, he has been familiar with the Hill for a while. Currently in his fifth season as the assistant coach for the St. Olaf men’s basketball team, Taylor helped lead St. Olaf to its first NCAA Division III tournament and MIAC Playoff title in 2014, as well as its second in 2015. Throughout his time spent coaching, Oles have boasted the most All-MIAC picks in any three-year stretch.

Taylor endeavors to bring new meaning and purpose to future teachers, starting with his course about counseling and communication in schools. In his opinion, teachers nowadays have to be more dynamic when handling a classroom, which are increasing in size. But more than that, they also have to care about the well-being of each and every student in their class and make the necessary efforts to understand them on a personal level, while still creating clear and professional boundaries between students and teachers.

“I’m not teaching future teachers to be counselors, I’m teaching them to be helpers. I’m also giving them the necessary skills to do better in helping and guiding students,” Taylor said.

Taylor believes that education students have to be flexible as well, particularly in their efforts to find the right place for them to contribute to the education world after graduating.

“When you are in education, there are so many types of schools around you. Finding your fit is the key to be able to contribute more. If you go to one school and it seems to be not worthy of your effort, then keep looking. It all matters in finding your correct fit,” he said.

In addition to coaching and teaching, Taylor is planning to conduct research about methods of teaching in this country.

“It is an issue now, where we crammed so many people in a single class, and we simply expect them all to pass with flying colors. We should be focusing more on the development of individuals to become a whole person from a younger age,” he said.

Having spent almost five years on the Hill, Taylor’s new position in the education department enables him to have a new outlook on the St. Olaf community beyond the basketball courts.

“The way this college focuses on the well-being and continued growth of the students, it makes me proud to be a part of this community,” Taylor said. “The students themselves have a high sense of maturity too. They really work so hard, and they do want to become better persons and be better at what they do.”

We’ve seen your work on the court, Professor Taylor, and we’re looking forward to seeing it in the classroom. Um Ya Ya!

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote