Author: Jessica Thao

STO Talks provoke thoughts, ideas

The fifth annual STO Talks conference took place on March 5-6 in The Pause. Similar to the popular TED Talks conferences, STO Talks gathers the St. Olaf community together for alumni, faculty, staff and students to share and articulate their ideas. A total of 13 speakers – nine were either current students or alumni and the remaining four were faculty or staff members – presented on topics ranging from psychopathy to the importance of meaningful work to the illusion of race.

The founder of STO Talks, Nick Kang ’12, mentioned that the goal of each speaker was not only to share his or her ideas, but for their “ideas to be challenged and debated by others.”

Throughout the talks, I found that not only did St. Olaf students attentively listen to the ideas presented, but we also pondered how their ideas might play a role in the the world we inhabit.

“It is always important to talk about these certain matters because they affect our world and how we think and how we find new ways to solve these matters,” Diane Vargas ’19 said.

Vargas also mentioned that the talk “Psychopathy as Contagion in American Culture” by Professor of English Carlos Gallego particularly stood out.

“We are mostly surrounded by a culture that influences us negatively and Professor Gallego repeatedly talked about how it is important to diagnose those with mental illnesses more carefully and not be quick to make assumptions,” she said.

Both Vargas and Gallego emphasized that oftentimes, the perceived problem is not necessarily the actual issue. The problem is how we, as a community or country, choose to approach and solve any particular challenge which immensely impacts the culture we live in.

STO Talks reminded students just how important it is to discuss socially-relevant topics. These presentations encouraged Oles to think critically about social issues and inspired students to build off of the concepts they learned about throughout the weekend.

One of the lecture push individuals to test their boundaries and accept failure. Failure ought to help individuals become more effective and efficient in their perpetual process of learning and sharing their ideas with others.

Speaker Yishu Dai ’18 emphasized the importance of community learning.

“Change never comes from a higher power,” she said, “but from the community.”

Within the St. Olaf community, there are individuals who will one day, as Professor of Biology Eric Cole put it, discover “the urge to create something of lasting meaning and beauty.” The STO Talks conference achieved this by having St. Olaf alumni, faculty, staff and students not only articulate their best, brightest and most deeply-held ideas, but create an environment in which these could be shared.

× Featured

Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Pink Out rallies for Planned Parenthood

Due to budget disputes within Congress, funding for Planned Parenthood has been threatened. The organization is under fire from Republican Congressmen due to video footage that allegedly shows Planned Parenthood selling fetal tissue to medical researchers. The question of whether it will continue operation is at the forefront of people’s minds, both nationwide and on campus.

Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of women’s health and reproductive care in the United States. The organization serves 2.7 million Americans through various services such as LGBTQ inclusive sex education, STI testing, cancer screenings, general health exams and access to contraceptives. Health facilities like Planned Parenthood ensure safe access to these necessary medical procedures that benefit women, men and non-binary conforming people of all ages. “Lobbying for affordable health care is relevant to students because of our potentially limited financial situation and need for a nonjudgmental medical care,” Malika Dale ’16 said. Dale is the co-president of Students for Reproductive Rights (SRR).

This past year, Dale visited Washington, D.C., where she lobbied for reproductive rights. After her trip to Washington, she returned to campus and began to work alongside co-president of SRR Zoe Marquis-Kelly ’18 to host a Pink Out event that was held this past Tuesday, Sept. 29. Throughout the event planning process, Dale, Marquis-Kelly and other SRR members worked closely together to gather information and relevant news stories that show the importance of Planned Parenthood to the lives of many women and men.

On the day of the event, students gath- ered in front of Boe Chapel dressed in pink from head to toe holding posters that read “I am a woman, not a womb” and “Reproductive Freedom for All.” SRR shared a few excerpts from a Huffington Post article about how Planned Parenthood has affected lives nationwide. In addition, a few students shared stories about their own experiences with Planned Parenthood.

Afterward, the assembled students exchanged thoughts and opinions about the embattled organization.

“Planned Parenthood represents how youths can obtain their rights,” Jasmine Aramburu ’18 said. “They can get access to health facilities, and it is unfortunate that momentarily the government wants to cut budgeting for Planned Parenthood because there are people who do need the support that the organization provides”.

Jonathan Hollister ’19 agreed.

“If Planned Parenthood is defunded, it will impact a lot of people…more than we realize, and mostly it will impact America as a whole and what we stand for,” he said.

The event was short, but the protestors made sure to make their message heard.

“[Our goal is to] demonstrate the quantity and diversity of Planned Parenthood supporters on campus and in Northfield and the strength of the social activist net- work on campus,” Dale said. “We wanted to motivate students and Northfielders to talk about their experiences with Planned Parenthood and get the word out to contact their state representatives to ensure state funding of Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health clinics”.

The Pink Out event emphasized the important services that Planned Parenthood provides.

“We need to focus on building a culture based on [Planned Parenthood’s] compassion, empathy, and support for access to basic reproductive health care and those who provide it,” Dale said.

Students can get involved by contacting to become part of the alias. They will be notified of upcoming events and be able to get involved by sign- ing petitions, volunteering at reproductive health clinics and calling government rep- resentatives to continue allocating funds to Planned Parenthood.

× Featured

Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote