Author: Danny Vojcak

St. Olaf brand receives facelift

A little over a year ago the Marketing and Communications Office began working on updating and revitalizing the St. Olaf brand. This new brand identity includes a new logo and a redesign of the St. Olaf website. The new website is being designed specifically to create a better mobile experience and to better meet today’s accessibility standards. While the new website has not yet launched, the new logo has been implemented and appears on the current website.

According to Associate Director for Media Relations, Kari VanDerVeen, the previous logo has been in use since 1999. It didn’t work well on mobile devices or social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The college needed a fresh logo that could offer greater flexibility for conveying the brand identity on digital platforms.

The Marketing and Communications Office staff started the rebranding process by gathering input from the St. Olaf community. They held focus groups with current students, prospective students, faculty and staff. In addi- tion, they consulted with St. Olaf alumni and parents who are experts in the agency and branding field. A new Brand Advisory Group, consisting of faculty members and other stakeholders across campus, regularly provided thoughts and feedback.

The shield in the new logo originates from the St. Olaf seal, which in turn is derived from the Norwegian coat of arms. As the website explains, “the shape presents the strength to be a citizen of substance, the freedom to strive and learn, and the courage to shape the world.”

The shield also incorporates the “Ole swoosh,” which is the top of the O from the St. Olaf wordmark. The archway within the shield is a symbol for the Hill as well as a pathway to achievement and forward movement. The words “St. Olaf” in the logo utilize a square serif font to look “forged” and “powerful.” The word “College” in the logo utilizes a sans serif face to create a “youthful, forward- looking foundation.”

VanDerVeen acknowledged that launching a new brand identity always presents challenges. The Marketing and Communications Office knew that they wouldn’t be able to please everyone. As expected, they heard from many people who love the new look, and many who are reluctant to let go of the old one. Many alumni feared that the college was removing the St. Olaf lion during the launch of the new brand; however, their concerns were unfounded.

“The St. Olaf lion will remain a prominent – and important – element of our branding materials,” VanDerVeen said.

Furthermore, some members of the St. Olaf community have compared the new logo to others, such as the Ducati logo.

“We realize people will make comparisons to other logos with shields, but we believe our mark is unique in many important ways, and is grounded in our history as well as our school colors of black and gold,” VanDerVeen said. “Overall, we’re happy with how the new brand has been received on campus and with how willing students and faculty have been to adapt to this change.”

“We develop individuals of action and substance through a strong community that both challenges and empowers us to form citizens who will shape the world,” VanDerVeen said.

A concise catchphrase for describing the St. Olaf com- munity is also arriving: “Oles Can. Oles Will.” These branding changes to the new website will arrive soon.

Information on the new brand materials and insights into the rebranding process can be found at brand. 

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Faculty in Focus: Jennifer Kwon-Dobbs

Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Jennifer Kwon-Dobbs is well regarded not only by her students but also by the literary community at large. Her educational background is a hybrid of literature and Asian American studies as well as capital adoption history. Kwon Dobbs obtained her Masters of Fine Arts degree in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh, she earned her Master’s and her Ph.D. in literature from the University of Southern California.

Kwon-Dobbs is Program Director for the Race and Ethnic Studies program at St. Olaf. She teaches an Asian American literature class and an advanced poetry writing class, and she collaborates with Professor Timothy Howe in teaching a class titled “The Soul of Stuff: Arts, Culture, and Ethics.”

Kwon-Dobbs was born in Wonju, South Korea and grew up in Oklahoma (the state which she claims has the best barbeque in the world). She currently lives in St. Paul and remains active in the Twin Cities literary scene by holding a position on the Board of Directors for Coffee House Press.

She has written a plethora of highly regarded anthologies, essays, individual poems and other works. For example, her lyrical essay titled “Nothing to Declare” appeared in Crazyhorse magazine. In addition, she has received the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Motton Book Award for “Paper Pavilion.” One of her works, “Notes From a Missing Person,” can be viewed in its entirety online.

Kwon-Dobbs is working on a number of projects at the moment. She was recently invited to Vancouver to participate in the Art Song Lab, a program that pairs poets with composers. The song resulting from the program will debut at a music festival this summer. She is also working on a poem for a dance project with Professor Janice Haws Roberts.

One of her largest undertakings is her work on her second book, “Three Legged Bird.” The book focuses on different ways to imagine Korean reunification. While writing the book, she has drawn upon the history of the Korean diaspora, the Koryo dynasty, cosmology and the Samjoko (the three legged crow) for inspiration.

Outside of the classroom, Kwon-Dobbs loves cooking and considers herself a “foodie.” When she travels, she inevitably ends up bringing back suitcases full of food, such as ham and red pepper.

Kwon-Dobbs loves the learning possibilities that a classroom environment presents. She appreciates that the classroom is one of few places where one can test out new ideas and concepts creatively and critically. She finds teaching to be a real gift and an opportunity to explore alongside students. She explains that she is really happy here at St. Olaf, and she has found that “folks here really care about their work” and that “both the students and classes at St. Olaf are so distinctive.” Upon returning from speaking at other academic institutions, Kwon-Dobbs always remembers how striking it is that the students at St. Olaf are unique in their commitment to learning and seeking to truly understand material.

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Sanders defines platform, wins debate

CNN recently hosted the first Democratic Presidential Primary Debate in the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Oct. 13. The debate featured Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Some of the issues discussed during the debate included the state of the country’s economy, the environment, gun control and immigration. Perhaps even more notable than the debate itself, however, is the public’s reaction following the debate.

While CNN was quick to declare that “Hillary Rodham Clinton was the clear victor,” Michael Addady from Fortune noted that “multiple polls seem to show that most Americans don’t agree with these media pundits,” asserting that Sanders was the clear winner instead.

In contrast to Addady, John Cassidy from the New Yorker wrote an article largely criticizing the validity of post-debate, online polls and the results they represent. According to Cassidy, the only online poll using orthodox surveying techniques was conducted by the research firm Gravis Marketing – a poll which showed Clinton was the victor of the debate.

The question regarding who won the debate remains controversial. Nevertheless, I assert that the real winner of the first Democratic Presidential Primary Debate is indubitably Sanders. I don’t believe anyone, myself included, denies that Clinton performed well during the debate; she appeared poised, well-rehearsed and confident when she spoke.

However, in deciding the winner of the first Democratic Debate, I considered more factors than merely the ability to clearly articulate ideas and statements that the general public wanted to hear. Rather, I based my judgement on where each candidate stood prior to the debate in relation to their place following it and on whether or not each candidate was able to effectively use the debate platform to its fullest potential as a forum to voice opinions and articulate political goals.

Clinton was a household name before the debate and, of course, remains one following the debate. She undeniably used the debate as a means to solidify her stance on many of the issues the public is concerned about. On the other hand, Sanders utilized the debate platform to raise awareness of both his viability as a candidate and his particular positions on a variety of topics.

In a post at Vox, an online news source, Andrew Prokop noticed that approximately one-third of democrats didn’t know enough about Sanders to have formed an opinion about him prior to the debate.

“Even many of those who did know about him likely hadn’t been exposed to him all that much. So when Sanders made the case at length for why he’s a democratic socialist, many of these voters might not have heard that before—and might like it,” said Prokop.

In this respect, Sanders took full advantage of the debate and its nation-wide audience and used it as a means to not only make himself and his views more widely known and understood, but to also showcase his legitimate potential as a presidential candidate.

Furthermore, even though Cassidy remains skeptical of the post-debate online polls, he conceded that of the polls that showcased a win for Sanders, he consistently won by at least an 18-point margin. Cassidy even pointed out that Frank Luntz, a focus group leader for Fox News, sampled a focus group of Democratic voters after the debate, and the voters described Sanders’ performance as “for the people,” “strong,” “straightforward,” “confident,” “direct,” “sincere,” “powerful,” “educator” and “smart.”

Although Clinton had more name recognition going into the debate, the debate clearly offered the opportunity for the general public to discover Sanders.

On the subject of “discovering Sanders,” I would like to mention one more highlight of the debate which further demonstrates why I believe Sanders was the real victor. Perhaps the climax of the debate was when Clinton was defending herself against the scandal regarding her personal emails.

As noted by Brian Hanley for The Huffington Post, Sanders actually came to Clinton’s rescue and “demonstrated the decency that is the hallmark of his campaign” while also proving “that he’s no ordinary politician” when he asserted that the public was tired of hearing about Clinton’s “damn emails.” In making such a statement, Sanders was able to effectively encapsulate the core values of his campaign and himself as a candidate.

Ultimately, because of his strong moral convictions displayed in the debate, his well-executed utilization of the debate as a forum to better inform the American public about his platform and the increase in overall awareness facilitated by such a forum, I can’t help but conclude that Sanders was ultimately victorious. By using the debate to his full advantage, Sanders was able to ensure that both the American public and his fellow Democratic candidates were beginning to “Feel the Bern.”

Danny Vojcak ’19 ( is from Naperville, Ill. His major is undecided.

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Senator Lugar examines Iran nuclear deal

By Danny Vojcak

Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, in Viking Theatre, for- mer Indiana Senator Richard Lugar discussed the Iran nuclear deal. The event was co-spon- sored by the political science department and the Institute for Freedom and Community.

Lugar studied as an undergraduate at Deni- son University. He later became a Rhodes Scholar, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and served six terms as Senator and two terms as the chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He is a co-creator of the Bipartisan Index, a tool used to measure the frequency with which a member of Congress co-sponsors a bill proposed by the opposite party and the frequency with which members of the opposite party cosign a congressman’s proposed bill. He also worked with Sena- tor Sam Nunn on a program that dismantled thousands of nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union. Professor of Political Science Dan Hofrenning gave the introduction, and Gary Eichten, retired host of a midday Min- nesota Public Radio show, was the moderator.

To begin, Eichten asked Lugar to explain why every Democratic member of Congress voted for the Iran deal and every Republican member against it. In response, Lugar sug- gested that each member voted for what each thought would be best, but he added that, “agreement is absolutely essential if we have any hope of stopping a nuclear program in Iran.”

Lugar then proceeded to explain why he believes supporting the Iran deal is in the country’s best interest. The agreement calls for the destruction of 98% of the highly enriched uranium currently in Iran. It will also put two- thirds of Iran’s centrifuges – uranium enrich- ing tools – out of commission. Approximately 1500 inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are in charge of evalu- ating Iran’s facilities to insure that no develop- ment of plutonium or nuclear warheads takes place.

Although he is a strong supporter of the deal, Lugar also addressed the reasons why there have been many outspoken critics of the agreement. Many dislike that the Iran deal will only last for 15 years. However, Lugar remind- ed the audience that there wasn’t much choice in this matter.

“[The] Iranians were not willing to agree to something longer than 10 to 15 years. They were not willing to agree to various other stip- ulations with regard to the inspections,” Lugar said.

Furthermore, Lugar emphasized that the Iran deal was technically still a negotiation. However, if the United States wanted to re- negotiate, it would be difficult consider- ing that the other countries involved are content with the deal and unwilling to start over.

Lugar offered reassurance to skeptics of the deal. Thanks to so-called “snap- back provisions,” the United States and other participating countries can sanction Iran if it breaks the agreement.

While the majority of the event focused on the Iran Deal, moderator Eich- ten and members of the audience also asked Lugar to discuss a number of po- litical issues. Eichten asked if Lugar sup- ported a particular presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, but Lugar insisted that he does not endorse any candidate at this time. Nevertheless, he did comment that many people find Donald Trump appealing.

“[Trump] expresses the general dis- gust that a majority of people feel towards Congress,” Lugar said.

Lugar also criticized presidential can- didate Ben Carson’s recent statement that he would not support a Muslim presi- dent.

“Persons who are citizens of the Unit- ed States are eligible to become president, or to become Senators, or to take office. The Republicans have to have a more in- clusive party, and that is not obtained by

abusing people of diversity,” Lugar said. He was also asked about about the pos- sibility of a government shutdown due to indecision on the funding of Planned


“It’s very conceivable,” Lugar said, not-

ing that a shutdown would only reinvigo- rate public frustration with Congress.

After the lecture, Lugar continued the discussion at a dinner with students. Opinions varied on the Deal’s merits. One student was concerned that the amount of time it would take for the IAEA to plead a violation of the deal to a

commission and await a response would be enough time for Iran to develop nucle- ar weapons. Another student wondered if it was fair for the United States to curtail nuclear development in other countries when the United States still houses 4,760 nuclear warheads.

While differences of opinion persist, Lugar’s lecture provided insight to some of the complexities of the Iran deal and the Congressional process of negotiating with foreign countries.

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Remodeling in Holland, Rolvaag

Pardon our dust. St. Olaf College has recently adopted the massive undertaking of renovating Holland Hall and Rolvaag Memorial Library. While construction is well underway in Rolvaag and expected to be finished by Thanksgiving, the extensive changes planned for Holland Hall wil not begin until January and will require the building to close for 18 months. Both of these buildings have served students well over the years, but the administration has plans to improve these facilities to support students even further.

While the exterior of Holland Hall will not change, there will be major modifications inside the building. These alterations will be so vast that the approximately 70 faculty members occupying Holland – from the History, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy, Nursing and Social Work departments – will have to temporarily relocate to the current IT and Telecommunications offices.

Holland Hall was built in 1925 and dedicated in honor of the college’s 50th anniversary. The Norman Gothic design was inspired by a fortress monastery in Normandy, France. The building was renovated in 1968, and according to Assistant Vice-President for Facilities Pete Sandberg, this renovation changed the interior of the building drastically. Most notably, the renovation prevented daylight from traveling very far into the building.

The upcoming construction will place a “big emphasis on getting daylight into areas where students are,” Sandberg said. Large openings in the floor by the windows on the third floor will “drive daylight down to the second floor where it never had been before.”

Besides an increase in the flow of light, other prominent features of the new design include a new entry on the first floor with a common area and grand staircase, open spaces on the third floor, and beautiful student study spaces along the curved stone wall in the east wing of the building on the fourth and fifth floors.

“It’s really going to be neat that we’ve got a big constituency design team from all the affected academic departments, the Dean’s Offices, Provost’s Offices, the Registrar’s Offices and two current students at St. Olaf,” Sandberg said.

One of those students is Claire Bents ’16. According to Bents, the new building design has several open lounge spaces throughout the building, eliminating the need to perch upon a heater in the hallway while waiting for a meeting with a professor. She is also excited about the redesign of the sixth floor, which may come to resemble the lounge space on the sixth floor in Regents of Mathematical Sciences.

While the renovations in Rolvaag are not quite as extensive as those that will take place in Holland, there are still a number of significant changes in store. Perhaps the most significant change is the extension of Rolvaag’s fourth floor. The new fourth floor will contain the offices for the IT department along with a new area tentatively titled the “Digital Scholarship Center.”

The DSC will be a mixed-use space with a computer teaching space (which students can reserve when not in use), an open technology space with about sixteen computers and a mix of casual seating, study booths, tables and chairs. This new space will contain a 3D printer and large format printers previously located in the media lab in the lower level of Rolvaag. The DSC will also have a room specifically intended for video recording and a room intended for audio recording.

According to the Director of IT and Libraries Roberta Lembke, “a student focus drove even the development of our office space.” Not wanting to take up space that students could use, the IT department decided to accept smaller offices on the fourth floor in order to free up space. There will now be four new group study rooms along with meeting rooms that can be utilized when not otherwise occupied.

“We don’t want to give the impression of something that is [only accessible] by invitation,” Assistant Director of Instructional Technology Benjamin Gottfried said.

Rather, the college wants to create “a space where students could feel welcome to come and just work using what’s available. That’s been a part of the design from the beginning.”

Considering how much thought and consideration for the students the college has put into the renovations in both Rolvaag and Holland, students have reason to be excited.

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