Author: Aidan Zielske

St. Olaf celebrates Constitution Day

Tunes from the hit musical “Hamilton” rang through the quad on Friday afternoon, Sept. 16, as classes let out at 3 p.m. People filed in and around the entrance of Buntrock Commons as students, professors and other faculty and staff members gathered around 154 sheets of paper arranged in a large circle on the sidewalk.

Last Friday marked Constitution Day, a federal observance commemorating the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and to celebrate the entire document was printed out on the 154 sheets of paper. The event, formulated and organized by Associate Dean of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics Rebecca Judge, was a full recitation of the U.S. Constitution. From the preamble, read in a pre-recorded video by President David Anderson ’74, through each article and amendment, St. Olaf gave the 229 year-old document its hour in the sunlight.

The U.S. House of Representatives supposedly completed the ratification of the Constitution in a mere 40 minutes. Needless to say, it took St. Olaf longer, but the participants weren’t too far off. Some came, read and then left. Others stayed the entire time, reading multiple sections of the document. Some stopped by to listen but not to read. Others merely gave confused side glances and moved on.

Professor of Political Science Douglas Casson explained before the reading why St. Olaf hosts this event, why it’s important to our campus and what the event is meant to impart on the student body.

Constitution Day is celebrated at colleges and universities all over the United States due to a federal regulation to an appropriations bill in 2004 that requires every academic institution that receives federal funding to celebrate Constitution Day.

“Most legal scholars think this provision is unconstitutional,” Casson said.

He explained that the provision could be understood as coerced speech, which would generally be a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. However, he also said that the college is eager to commemorate the occasion and is “happy to take this opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate the Constitution, especially in our current context of political ignorance.”

Some people understood exactly what they were reading, while others just walked past and decided to join. As people read through key amendments, they remarked, clapped, laughed or included their own comments as preface to the passage they had chosen.

Casson urges the St. Olaf’s Community to respect the Constitution’s significance.

“The freedom and equality that animate our institutions require vigilance,” he said. “They don’t simply happen. The aspirations of the Constitution need to be remembered and reaffirmed by every new generation.”

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Inaugral Urban Sound concert electrifies

On Friday, April 1, St. Olaf College held their first ever Urban Sound Music Festival presented in coordination with MEC and Smack Radio, completely student-led. Held in the Pause Mane Stage, Urban Sound showcased student musicians from various musical disci- plines, debuting new Ole artists as well as highlighting students who have been making music on this campus for years. Performers included Paulo Gladney ’19, Tolu Toluhi ’18, Gen. Rising (Tatyana Hornof ’19, Maddie Thies ’19, Gunnar Olseth ’19, Lilia Escobar ’17 and Griffin House ’19), Afritino (Romario Smith ’17, Dillon Cathro ’17 and Alma Castañeda ’18), EJ the Catalyst (Efren Ramirez Jr. ’18) and DJ Ross Nevin ’17.

Gladney started the night off with nothing but his voice, a guitar and a loop peddle, singularly filling up the room. His shoutout to his mother after his first song instantly endeared him to the audience. His cover of Ed Sheeran’s “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” was

straightforward and upbeat, and his use of a loop peddle provided the audience with an inside look at how he builds his music.

Following Gladney was Toluhi, play- ing a set of fun and energetic songs including a cover of One Direction’s “Drag Me Down.” His band featured Paul Johnson ’19 on bass, Michael Banwart ’18 on piano, Escobar on cajón and Graham Essex ’18 guitar. Toluhi’s songs were catchy and emotive, and he encouraged the crowd to pick up the lyrics and sing along.

Gen. Rising’s jazzy attitude, engaging tempo transitions and aura of complete confidence made for an entertaining third act.

Every single act took the stage with a bearing like it had always been there, and the audience certainly agreed. Their fun and casual personalities paired per- fectly with their spirited and relatable songs.

Afritino captivated the audience with their synchronicity and the energy behind their movement. Backed by a

high-octane track, the three dancers brought a different artistic mode to Urban Sound.

EJ the Catalyst, hailing from the south side of Chicago, was clearly a crowd favorite. Accompanied by DJ Nevin, the hip hop set was filled with energy and momentum that flowed for- ward, bringing the audience along.

The last set of the night brought the audience into the mind of Alex Hemmer ’18, with her personal and honest lyrics. Equipped with just her guitar and her voice, she filled the room and brought the mood to a dreamy calm. Noting that sometimes one lan- guage isn’t enough to express yourself, she sang in both English and Dutch.

The concert concluded with an impromptu dance party led by DJ Nevin. The concert was well attended and certainly well received. Let’s hope this is the start of a new tradition here at St. Olaf.

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On the campaign trail


very four years, presidential election season rolls back around, bringing with it both political chaos and excitement. Since 2004, it has also brought about an Interim trip to New Hampshire led by Professor of Political Science Dan Hofrenning.

This year, 20 St. Olaf students accompanied Hofrenning to Manchester, N.H. in order to live, breathe and sleep politics. They worked on campaigns for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Marco Rubio. According to Hofrenning, the goal of the course is to “combine the academic study of the American process of nominating presidents with the experience of observing candidates and working in a campaign.”

Phone calling, door knocking, volunteer recruitment, campaign rallies, stump speeches and town hall meetings characterized the experiential aspect of the trip, while morning class, blogging for the Star Tribune, writing journals and reading textbooks characterized the academic side.

Why New Hampshire, one might ask? The state holds an important position in presidential primary elections because it holds the first primary of the season and thus can be a critical “make or break” moment for a campaign. Victories and losses coming out of New Hampshire can shape a campaign’s momentum for the remainder of the primary season.

“For a long time, no one became President without first winning the New Hampshire primary,” Hofrenning said in a blog post for the Star Tribune.

Will Seabrook ’16 describes New Hampshire voters as “indecisive and proud.”

“They often would boast in your face that they didn’t have to tell me who they were voting for and proceed to shut the door in my face,” Seabrook said.

He was not alone in that experience. Rhea Rajan ’18 worked long hours for Martin O’Malley’s campaign, going into the office at 10:30 a.m. every morning and working until 8 p.m., even on the weekends. She recalls “call time,” which lasted for three hours every night. In that time, the campaign staff would each make around 200 calls. With a 15 percent contact rate, Rajan says it was “a pretty inefficient method.”

Despite the long hours and freezing cold days knocking on doors, the students got a lot out of the experience. Eden Faure ’17 noted that she became “more receptive to other ideas” by engaging with and critically thinking about other candidates platforms while working for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Seabrook commented on the people he met in New Hampshire “who have been in this process for their whole life and are not even bothered by the aspect that strangers will flock to their door ready to preach to them about a certain candidate.”

Everyone took different experiences out of the process. Faure recalls her two favorite moments of the trip, the first of which was shaking Sanders’ hand. She was thrilled “to actually get to meet him and have him say thank you for all you’re doing.” The second, which she described as representing “the entire New Hampshire experience,” was the morning when she went to the hotel lobby and heard Ted Cruz’s voice. Thinking it was coming from a television screen, she looked around and locked eyes with Cruz himself. This kind of incident wasn’t unusual in the day-to-day retail politics atmosphere of New Hampshire, where the candidates were constantly touring the state.

Rajan reminisced on the many Martin O’Malley stump speeches she heard during her time in New Hampshire.

“We were quoting what he would say before he said it,” she said.

This program took political science students away from the theory they hear in class and read in textbooks and plunged them into the depths of the intense process of campaigning in New Hampshire. In another four years, it will hopefully do the same with another group of St. Olaf students.

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Rejecting pipeline promotes green legislation

President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline is, predictably, inciting reactions from both sides of the aisle. The Keystone XL pipeline began as just one individual and relatively unimportant infrastructure project. Now, it has morphed into a symbol of climate change policy, a determinant of President Obama’s legacy and an indicator of America’s place as a world leader in preventing climate change.

President Obama argued that the pipeline poses a number of environmental problems; however, many articles concerning this rejection have stated how his official reasons are somewhat weak. They claim that this decision is largely symbolic, and that President Obama is attempting to create a legacy as the president who took a stand on environmental change, making his officially announced reasons appear insignificant.

Other critics of President Obama’s decision have suggested that it doesn’t really matter if this project succeeds or not because it has such little impact on the environment as a whole, but it is a truly important issue. If we all thought that the little we could give wouldn’t make a difference, what incentive would there be to give or to help at all? Every step we take is a step that moves us forward, however small the progress.

It may be completely true. The failure of one oil infrastructure project will not have a noticeable impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution, but that does not mean that the gesture is useless. Perhaps this decision will help influence the minds of policy makers and lead to positive change in the future.

When deliberating about whether or not President Obama reasons to shut down the project were justified, consider the five years that citizens put into marching, rallying and protesting the Keystone XL pipeline project. These environmental activists are what made a simple infrastructure project into a national symbol. The symbolic reasons behind President Obama’s decision are justifications enough to reject the project.

Saying the pipeline has a negative impact on the environment is true: the 1,179 mile pipeline would have extended from Alberta, Canada, all the way to Texas, and carried over 800,000 barrels of carbon-heavy petroleum every single day.

The aim of rejecting the pipeline project may have been to send a message to other countries that the United States is ready to be a world leader in climate change and to encourage others to follow suit. It could’ve been the government giving a group of environmental activists what they wanted or it may simply be the president trying to leave his mark. Whatever the reasons, I believe that President Obama’s decions is a step in the right direction.

Aidan Zielske ’18 ( is from St. Paul, Minn. She majors in sociology and anthropology.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote