Author: vincentj

Men’s track and field tested at NCAA’s

On March 11 and 12, the St. Olaf men’s indoor track and field team competed at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in Grinnell, Iowa. The Oles put on a good showing, finishing in fifth place overall. St. Olaf was the only team in the MIAC conference to finish in the top 25 nationally. Other notable MIAC finishers were Augsburg in 34th place with six points, and Carleton and Hamline finishing in 38th place with five points each.

The men were quite successful in the individual events. Paul Escher ’16 won the mile for the second straight year, making him a two-time defending national champion in the event. Escher had a final time of 4:10.10, coming to the finish line only 0.52 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Haverford College’s Charlie Marquardt. This would seem to be the perfect ending to Escher’s college career. Earlier this season, he easily broke the former school record for the mile.Jake Campbell ’16 had a spectacular day as well, finishing second in the 3,000-meter race. Campbell gave the crowd everything they could have hoped for at the finish, beating out the third place runner, Nick Peterson of UW-Eau Claire, by only 0.01 seconds. Unfortunately, the two second gap between him and the first place finisher, Eau Claire’s Josh Thorson, was simply too large to overcome.

The Oles also got some help from their distance medley team, which came in sixth place at the championships. The medley team, led by the experienced sprinters James McFarlin ’16 and Kevin Skrip ’16, along with Sean Bjork ’17 and Jacob Eggers ’17, finished with a final time of 10:04.52.

The women’s team did not qualify any athletes in this year’s indoor track and field championships. However, it still has an outdoor season to compete in before setting its sights on next year’s indoor season. The outdoor track and field season begins April 2 for both the men’s and women’s teams. Their first meet of the year is the Hamline Invitational at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. Both the men and women will be hard at work preparing to hit the outdoor season in full stride, as the Hamline Invitational will feature some of the MIAC’s toughest competition. Expectations will be high as both teams look to capitalize on successful performances during the indoor season, with many athletes looking to make their final season one to remember.

vincentj@stolaf.edu

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Confederate History Month ignores slavery

On Feb. 10, 2016, Governor Phil Bryant proclaimed April to be Confederate History Month in his state of Mississippi. April was chosen because April 25 is Confederate Memorial Day, a holiday that is still celebrated in some Southern communities. Circumstances surrounding this proclamation are curious, as it was done very quietly and only made public once the Mississippi chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans posted it on their website and Facebook page.

The proclamation makes the claim that “it is important for all Americans to reflect upon our nation’s past, gain insight from our mistakes and successes, and to come to a full understanding that the lessons learned yesterday and today will carry us through tomorrow.”

At first, this intention sounds agreeabl, even noble, but if this were the sole intention of the decision, the month could have easily been labeled Civil War History Month. Confederate History Month carries certain connotations, which the governor was certainly aware of when he signed the commission.

Invoking the Confederacy recalls a period in our nation’s history when 11 states seceded from the Union and fought to maintain the inhumane practice slavery.

Another controversy surrounding the proper way to remember the Confederacy and its impact on American history occured this past summer, when the South Carolina state legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from atop its statehouse. While some South Carolinians argued that the flag was an integral part of their state history, others argued its presence above the capitol was a symbol of racism. The legislature ultimately deemed it best to remove the flag after the tragic shooting of nine churchgoers in Charleston.

The proclamation given by Bryant prompts us to consider the line between remembering unsavory moments of our history and glorifying those times. Though remembering all aspects of our nation’s history is important, we must remember them in a way that clearly illustrates their perversity, so that no one mistakes our past wrongdoings as acceptable.

The Civil War was a dark time in our history, with brothers fighting one another and families torn apart by the atrocities of war.

We must never forget why we fought. We must continue to not only condemn the practice of slavery but also racial discrimination in all forms, both explicit and implicit.

Recently, I got into an argument on Facebook over a video a schoolmate shared of a young black man who was beaten and thrown to the ground by four white police officers. Ultimately, though he was originally stoped for jay-walking, he was charged with resisting arrest. My schoolmate blamed the man for being noncompliant with the police, but I argued that I would have behaved similarly if beaten for crossing the street improperly.

Given how commplace instances such as the arrest displayed in the video have become, it is clear that we have work to do as a nation. We fought our neighbors to end the practice of slavery. Over one million Americans died in this conflict, and their deeds and memories should be preserved at all means. However, their deaths will have been in vain if we continue to treat each other as unequal. Black or white, immigrant or Native American, gay or straight, we are all Americans.

Governor Bryant’s declaration of the month of April as Confederate History Month will most likely be seen as a slap in the face to the African-American community, who continue to struggle for the equality they fought and died for in the Civil War.

Though both the Union and the Confederacy deserve remembrance, we cannot afford to toe the line between remembrance and glorification. The Confederacy was wrong and Black Lives Matter.

Jacob Vincent ’17 (vincentj@stolaf.edu) is from Bettendorf, Iowa. He majors in mathematics and political science.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Students battle in lip sync competition

The second annual St. Olaf Inter-Hall Council Lip-Sync Battle was a night full of laughter, applause, puns and memories. With a full line-up of 11 acts, each with their own song and style, complete with costume, it was a memorable night. Fortunately, the show did not disappoint. It all started with an introduction by the two moderators, Erin Engelhardt ’17 and Preston West ’16. To add a cherry on top, Jimmy Fallon even made an appearance (albeit in cardboard form). With a panel of three celebrity judges, made up of the Mohn/Thorson Area Coordinator Peter Costanza, Campus Pastor Matt Marohl and the SGA St. Olaf/Carleton Liaison Emma Lind ’17.

To begin, each contestant or group chose their own song to perform. The first act got the show started with lots of laughs, as Jacob Johnson ’19 and Jakob Otten ’19 took the stage together. Johnson wore a dress and a wig in order to complete the male/female duet of Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” As Johnson’s wig flew off, there was no way he could disguise his true identity. He didn’t miss a beat, however, and the show went on without a hitch.

The third act had its own memorable moments. As Lucas Judson ’16 and Hamsitha Dontamsetty ’16 took the stage, the audience roared in appreciation of Judson’s costume choice: a homemade toga. This was an incredibly apt choice of costume, because the dynamic duo sang Susan Egan’s “I Won’t Say I’m in Love,” from the soundtrack of Disney’s Hercules. The judges appreciated this attention to detail and voted to send the duo to the final round.

The toga-wearing team was followed up by another performer who was also attentive to detail. Salvador Alvarez ’19 not only dressed the part of Michael Jackson during his performance of “Billy Jean,” but he channeled the King of Pop’s dance moves as well. It was evident that Alvarez had rehearsed beforehand, because his performance was quite the thriller. He had the crowd singing along, and wondering how much time and effort he had put in, in front of a mirror, in order to be able to move like Jackson. Whatever the case may be, it was well worth it, as it earned him a spot in the final round.

At this point, the emcees were curious what the judges thought of the contestants’ costume decisions so far in the competition. The judges, unaware that they would be giving feedback throughout the competition, were all caught off guard. However, when called on, Costanza noted that the costumes had been “present” and that he had approved of them thus far. After the first round was over, Marohl was asked what he hoped to see in the final round. Acknowledging that they didn’t have much to work with, Marohl said that he would like to see how creative the contestants could be with their costumes in the final round.

Rounding out the Top Three, all of whom made it to the final round of competition, were Colin Alexander ’19 and Whitner Schellingerhoudt ’19, performing “Hiphopopotamus Vs. Rhymenoceros,” by Flight of the Conchords. Once again, the costumes ruled the stage as the duo stripped off their jackets to reveal their suspenders and ties beneath. Once they made it into the championship round, they forgot their jackets all together and simply went with suspenders and ties. Though they did not win the grand prize, they certainly won some serious style points for their costume creativity.

After the preliminary round, the Inter-Hall Council treated the audience to an unexpected surprise. During the intermission, they all took to the stage, along with the night’s contestants, to perform the infamous Silento’s “Watch Me.” In the championship round, Judson and Dontamsetty performed Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance with Me,” Alvarez lipped “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and Alexander and Schellingerhoudt sang along to “Cheerleader,” by OMI.

The night began with 11 contestants, but could only end with one victor. This year, that victor was Judson and Dontamsetty, who stunned the judges with a combination of their faux-vocals, out-of-this-world dance moves and throwback costume design. They chose the aptly-named “Netflix and Chill” prize package, which included a year-long subscription to Netflix, and are now fully equipped with endless procrastination options for the next year. Congratulations to Inter-Hall Council and all of the contestants for a fantastic show!

vincentj@stolaf.edu

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Ole Alert system keeps students in the know

Communication would be key if there was ever an emergency situation at St. Olaf. That is why every St. Olaf student has been upload- ed into the Ole Alert system as of Oct. 20.

Ole Alert, purchased after the tragic events that occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007, is a renamed version of a software called e2Cam- pus. It allows the college to communicate rap- idly and effectively with its students, faculty and staff when an emergency occurs.

Prior to the recent changes, the system was an “opt-in” system, which means that each student had to register in order to receive alerts via text message.

“We had a hard time getting the com- munity [participation] above 30 percent,”

Vice President for Student Life Greg Kneser said.

Kneser noted that 30 percent was not a sig- nificant amount; if something happened, not everyone would hear about it.

“You don’t have to reach everybody,” Di- rector of Public Safety Fred Behr said. “But you do reach a tipping point where word of mouth spreads.”

Unfortunately, the Ole Alert system simply had not reached that tipping point to ensure the safety of everyone on campus. Now, the system is “opt-out,” meaning that everyone is automatically a part of the system, but a stu- dent may choose to remove him or herself. This has raised the number of people who will receive alerts to about 95 percent of the campus, which includes all of the students and about three quarters of the faculty and

staff.Kneser said that campus does not yet have the cell phone numbers of all faculty and staff, so they could not be uploaded to the Ole Alert system like the students. However, thanks to the diligence of the college’s administration, about 75 percent of St. Olaf ’s employees have opted into the system so that they too will be notified if an emergency occurs on campus.

This decision was not made overnight. In fact, Kneser said that it has been in the works for a little over a year.

“We said ‘enough of this…let’s just do it,’” Kneser said.

The decision was finally made to enroll all students in Ole Alert, and the wheels were put into motion.

“IT cleared their priority deck and Dan Beach has been really terrific,” Kneser said.

He noted that it was really a college-wide de- cision and thus a college-wide effort.

“This was not necessarily an initiative of the President’s [Leadership] Team,” Kneser said. “There were a lot of people [involved].”

Kneser said that many different parts of campus were a part of the initiative, includ- ing the President’s Leadership Team, Public Safety, Marketing and Communications, IT and Student Life.

Behr is also pleased that such a large swath of campus is now included in Ole Alert. He said that the college has put an emphasis on security recently.

“When we are remodeling a building, we’ve got a little bit more of a safety and security thought process,” Behr said. He mentioned that the college has taken several steps to improve safety and security on campus, one of which is the recent updates to Ole Alert. He listed things such as additional campus lighting, CCTV cameras and card access for doors into residence halls and academic buildings.

Behr said that Ole Alert is “part and parcel to a whole response program.” For example, Behr said that the college is “adding more card access on campus to give us the ability to control our access points more.”

“We are moving in that direction and we are making good progress,” he said.

Both Behr and Kneser were adamant that Ole Alert would only be used in an emergency. Alerts would only be sent out when absolutely necessary, and not for events like classes changing.

“We don’t abuse it. We use it strictly for what it was designed for,” Behr said. “I think there’s the misnomer out there that they’re going to get bombarded with text messages. That’s not the case.”

Echoing Director Behr’s assessment of what sorts of scenarios would warrant an Ole Alert, Vice President Kneser said that an alert would only be issued for emergency situations such as an active shooter, a chemical spill from the tweather events such as “the blizzard of the decade” or a tor- nado headed towards campus would be cause for an alert.

Another effort the college is making towards increasing security on campus is two training programs, the goals of which are to educate students, faculty and staff on what to do if there is an active shooter present on campus. The sessions will include a short video, discussion and time for questions and answers from a panel consisting of Kneser, Behr, Dean of Students Roz Eaton-Neeb, Director of Residence Life and Associate Dean of Students Pamela McDowell, Director of the Counseling Center Steve O’Neill and Northfield Chief of Police Monte Nelson. The programs will be on Monday, Nov. 18 and Monday, Nov. 23 at 7:00 p.m. in the Pause. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend and participate in these sessions.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Politicians avoid “the issues” on late-night TV

As we creep ever closer to the next election season, it’s once again time for the candidates to rev the engines of their Campaign Machines. For many, it seems like we just finished our last set of elections. All the same, it is time for more political ads, debates and, as has become the new norm, appearances by the candidates on comedy shows. More and more, we see Presidential candidates on television programs such as “The Daily Show,” “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

Shows like these have become common publicity stops for most serious presidential candidates, with many making appearances even after they’ve been elected. The candidates talk about a variety of issues on camera, from the hot button topics of the present campaign cycle to lighthearted issues (like Obama wearing jeans), and some even take part in skits written for the shows (such as Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, acting as themselves).

The fact that we are seeing politicians on comedy shows raises several questions, the first of which is, why? Why bother showing up to a late night talk show, only to perform in a three minute skit in which you mock yourself alongside the host? The answer is very simple – it’s all about image.

Candidates need to be seen as not only down-to-earth, everyday citizens, but must also paint themselves as capable of taking criticism and even laughing at themselves from time to time. They want voters to see them as someone they might relate to, and a late night talk show provides an opportunity for the politician to be seen in a different light, particularly as compared to the normal interviews or town-hall meetings.

Unfortunately, many use these opportunities to focus solely on shaping their public profile rather than on discussing the issues of the election-at-hand. I can understand that they get tired of answering questions from reporters who are trying to trip them up, looking for the next good sound-byte to report on, but I would rather see the appearances on late night talk shows and comedy shows used as a forum to present the candidates’ stances on various issues to an audience that might not hear them otherwise.

I am certain there are people in this country who would much rather watch Jimmy Fallon talk for an hour than listen to a 20 minute interview of a presidential candidate. I know this, because there are days when I am one of those people. We’ve all been there.

So when someone like Donald Trump is a guest on Jimmy Fallon’s talk show, it might be his one chance to reach out to that particular demographic and give them a quick synopsis on who he is and where he stands on the issues. That’s why I feel as though just about every candidate that makes an appearance on these types of shows misses his or her opportunity to push the conversation forward. Instead, they waste the precious few minutes they have performing in skits and laughing at themselves.

While it is nice to see that even politicians can be human beings, we must hold those in power to a higher standard. Part of this standard includes taking every public appearance seriously, so that more people the positions of their lected officials. Education and knowledge are key components of democracy.

Without being informed on the current issues and our elected officials stances on those issues, how can we hold them accountable? If we fail in this duty as citizens, we give them the power to act in their own interests and thus create the beginnings of an oligarchy. We don’t need to be experts on everything, but we need to be able to make an informed decision when electing representatives to Congress and the Presidency.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote