Category: News

NARAL president Ilyse Hogue speaks on working women

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, St. Olaf hosted the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue. Hogue, who graduated as a geology major from Vassar College, has become an instrumental activist for social justice. Most notably, she champions reproductive  rights and womens’ place in the workforce.

The 2016 Democratic National Convention speaker came to St. Olaf to discuss her role at NARAL Pro-Choice America and the power and benefits that come with having women in the workforce.

“If you have 10 percent of women at executive or key positions, you’re going to get a return on your investment at 27 percent better than you will with less than 5 percent,” Hogue said. “So in economic terms, that’s a pretty good investment.”

She went on to explain how these benefits to companies can be threatened without access to reproductive healthcare.

“There’s literally no way to get to representation of women in civil society or in the workplace if we don’t centralize a commitment to the power of women to have control over the most fundamental decisions we will ever make in our lives, which is when and how and with whom we have families,” Hogue said. “All of that benefit … is not possible without thinking about how and when we are in charge of procreation.”

A knowledge of the history behind reproductive rights is important to understanding her argument. Contrary to popular belief, the religious right was not always organized in opposition to abortion. The religious right began by fighting school desegregation, and they lost that fight. In the 1970s, contraception became legal for use outside of the context of marriage. These events ushered in an age of sexual liberation in which more women started entering the workforce and began competing with men for jobs. 

The United States is 57 in the world in terms of representation of women on the federal level. It is also the only industrialized nation without paid parental leave. Culturally, women are “reproductively damned if you do and reproductively damned if you don’t,” Hogue said. She stressed the importance of women standing up for themselves and holding positions of power.

“Everything we aspire to as a democracy comes down to protecting the rights of those with the least power among us,” Hogue said. “So for me … there is no possibility for a strong, equal thriving democracy without affording women equal power, and there’s no affording women equal power if you don’t start from a place of power and sovereignty over our own bodies, which leads to power and sovereignty over our own lives. And that there is why I became the President of NARAL.” 

About Manitou Messenger

View all posts by Manitou Messenger →

× Featured

Student journalism is a very important platform for opinions

Meet Damian Waite, new AC in Kildahl and Rand

For Damian Waite, newly hired Area Coordinator for Rand and Kildahl Halls, working at St. Olaf College was a bit unplanned. Growing up in Jamaica, Waite never expected to attend college, let alone move to the U.S. Yet here he is, a newly minted hire sitting in his Rand office, his cheerful smile and welcoming demeanor lighting up the room.

A whirlwind of chance events landed Waite on the Hill, starting with his journey to the U.S. for college.

“College was really very incidental,” Waite said. “I was very studious in high school, and I went to one of the top high schools in Jamaica. Even though I did very well in high school, no one ever told me that college was my next step.”

College first surfaced as a real possibility when Waite traveled to Minnesota with the Key Club, a service organization associated with Kiwanis International.

“I was on the district board and came to the U.S. for conventions, and had friends in Minnesota, and they said, ‘Have you thought about going to college? Let’s do some touring.’” Waite toured and applied to Bethel University and the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, and eventually decided to attend Northwestern after receiving a generous scholarship.

From there, Waite received his B.S. in marketing with a minor in finance from Northwestern, earned a Master’s of Public Administration from Hamline University and received a Master’s of Social Work from Boston College. He also spent several years on J1 research scholar visas at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and Virginia Tech.

“At Virginia Tech, I did an IRB-approved research project on what were the characteristics of global citizenship as it relates to how we are educating college males,” Waite said. “It’s a long-term interest of mine, this idea of global citizenship.”

After Waite’s J1 visa expired, he moved to New York and applied for asylum. As a member of the LGBTQ community, Waite faced the threat of violence and discrimination in Jamaica.

“If you know about Jamaica, there’s a lot of homophobia. It’s still evolving as a country as it relates to the rights of its citizens. When it comes to crime and violence, that’s a number one issue.”

Waite’s asylum was granted, and he began working in the hotel industry in New York as a night auditor and manager. He was especially involved in scrutinizing the finances of the hotel, forecasting occupancy rates and paying the bills.

While chance encounters brought Waite to the U.S. and eventually to St. Olaf, the job of Area Coordinator seems to be a natural fit, in line with what Waite enjoys most.

“I’m sort of coming back home in terms of a career change. I made a conscientious decision that I wanted to return to student affairs, which was where I felt most comfortable in terms of my own skill set.”

It is evident the Waite is deeply passionate about working with college students to create social change, and hopes to help foster community at St. Olaf. As Area Coordinator, he is charged with that very goal, in addition to the more day- to-day tasks of supervising Resident Assistants and Junior Counselors and coordinating Hall Council.

“I’m hopeful that my own impact on residents in Kildahl and Rand is that we can engage in a community where we will be civil with each other, where we will learn from each other and where we will draw the best out of each other,” Waite said.

St. Olaf’s global focus also appeals to Waite, given his long-term interest in global citizenship.

“St. Olaf is a global-minded college. The majority of the students will travel overseas during their academic years, and so what better university to rejoin than a school that has a global-minded focus?”

So far Waite has been enjoying his new job. While he approached the residential nature of St. Olaf with some initial hesitation, he now sees the benefits.

“I think residential campuses have a really neat opportunity to really foster strong communities, that when turbulence comes, it can withstand that turbulence because the people are so interconnected.”

Waite was impressed by the early enthusiasm for Hall Council, appreciating that so many people wanted to get involved and has enjoyed overseeing such different dorms. Even though he arrived on campus after most of the other staff had moved in, he has been “pleasantly surprised” by the welcome he’s received.

“I always say that you can know if you’re going to succeed in the first few weeks of any job just based upon how people receive you, how people welcome you, and the reception here has been much greater than I ever imagined.” 

× Featured

Student journalism is a very important platform for opinions

St. Olaf defends DACA

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, St. Olaf College administrators issued a swift response to the bombshell announcement that the Trump administration would be rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, proclaiming that the college would “protect our students to the extent we are able under the law.” In the response, the college expressed concern over the negative impact the White House’s decision may have on St. Olaf’s DACA participants – often referred to as Dreamers – and pledged support for enshrining DACA protections into law.

Established in 2012, the DACA program created an application process in which undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children could obtain a “deferred action” commitment from the federal government which would temporarily shield them from deportation. DACA provided these individuals with two year, renewable work permits and social security numbers. Under the Trump administration’s new policy, the federal government is no longer accepting new DACA applications, and will no longer renew permits after March 5. As a result, DACA will slowly wind down as participants’ permits expire.

The Office of Marketing and Communications team began crafting the college’s statement shortly after the announcement, with input from the President’s Leadership Team and President David Anderson ’76.

“There was deep concern for the welfare of Dreamers on campus, and there was an immediate desire to get a response out so that our position was crystal clear,” St. Olaf General Counsel Carl Lehmann ’91 said.

The college’s position of support faces some formidable legal obstacles. The college has a limited ability to prevent Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from carrying out deportation proceedings against any undocumented students on campus, and would need to comply with any court orders or subpoenas.

However, according to Lehmann, the college is nonetheless “not required to and not inclined to cooperate in identifying individuals or assisting with any efforts that would result in deportation of students.” Furthermore, few administrators at the college know the identities of DACA participants, likely hindering any hypothetical ICE operations.

Another constraint facing the college’s support efforts relates to financial aid. Under DACA, participants receive a social security number that allows them to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While Dreamers are not eligible for federal financial aid, completing the FAFSA allows colleges to assess their financial need and award their own aid packages. Without the FAFSA, Dreamers’ access to aid would be severely curtailed. Employment and financial aid through St. Olaf work awards would also be prohibited.

There are still some options for Dreamers seeking financial assistance. Minnesota has state-level aid available to Dreamers through the MN Dream Act. Passed in 2013, the legislation offers need-based grants, low-interest student loans and a number of other aid options to qualified applicants.

Beyond financial strain, the Trump administration’s decision creates new uncertainty for the lives of DACA participants, a fact decried in the college’s response. Professing concern for the “peace of mind” of Dreamers, the statement emphasized that “all of the resources of the college are available to support these students at this difficult time.”

The college provides a number of services to help DACA participants. Even before the DACA news broke, the Dean of Students Office and the Piper Center had been offering academic and career support to undocumented students. The Boe House also offers a number of mental health services for students struggling with the stress of the DACA repeal.

Bruce King, Chief Diversity Officer, noted that it’s not just Dreamers that face an anxious future, but also the friends and family of DACA participants. He also emphasized the way that the DACA decision strikes at St. Olaf as a community, and implored people to shift their mindset.

“I think it’s important to stop thinking about DACA as something that is happening to them, but as something that is happening to us,” King said. “I think that this DACA issue, immigration bill, all these things that are happening external to us, we’ll be ok if we continue to keep caring about each other as a community.”

The news cycle surrounding DACA has been head-spinning. While the repeal of DACA is currently underway, President Trump continues to gesture towards ‘revisiting’ the issue. News broke on Wednesday, Sept. 13 of a political deal wherein Democrats would support more non-wall border security funding in exchange for legislating the provisions of DACA. While House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the contours of the deal Thursday night, the White House subsequently denied agreeing to a deal, and all parties later clarified that no actual agreement had been made.

Closer to home, a solidarity march and rally was held by Cannon Valley Indivisible on Sunday, Sept. 17 in downtown Northfield in support of immigrant and minority communities. Hundreds of college students and local residents marched through Northfield to show their support for these communities recently under attack. 

× Featured

Student journalism is a very important platform for opinions

Library debuts Ole Bikes program

Returning students who bore witness to the rise and fall of St. Olaf’s Green Bikes program will be delighted to see bike-lend- ing return with Rolvaag Memorial Library’s new and improved Ole Bikes initiative. As of Sept. 12, students can check out one of 30 yellow bikes for use on campus and around Northfield. The former Green Bikes program, which debuted in 2011, dissolved as each of the bike in the fleet fell into a state of disrepair.

“[The Green Bikes] were not owned by the library; the library agreed to administer them, so there was this question of who should repair the bikes, who’s going to maintain them, is there a budget for this?” Access Services Librarian Sara Payne said. “It was a really major stress point for all of us who work in the Access Services portion of the library because people would come and ask to check out a bike and we often did not have one that was functional.”

Payne “became a pest” to her superiors at Rolvaag and asked to be involved with the initiative once the resources became available.

“Roberta [Lembke], head of library IT, devoted the time of some summer staff to take the bikes down, see what repairs were needed and arrange to have chains replaced,” Payne said. “In the process of looking for spare parts, they found 30 brand new bikes, still in the box and not even put together yet.”

The bicycles, which are meant to be ridden only on paved roads, may be checked out for 48 hours at a time and are logged in students’ library records just like a book or other equipment would be. Catalyst, the library’s online catalog, shows how many bikes are available to be rented at any given time.

Payne has set up a bike-related display near the entrance of Rolvaag featuring, among other cycling paraphernalia, infor- mation on biking laws and safety tips.

“Do you know that bikers are subject to the same laws as car drivers? You need to go the same direction as traffic, you shouldn’t ride your bike on the sidewalk … it’s also a Minnesota law to have lights on after dusk.” Lights and reflectors are attached to every Ole Bike and while it is not required that cyclists wear a helmet, the library must offer one with every rental.

While it is not immediately clear the funds required to maintain the bikes will always be available, Ole Bikes are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

“Myron [Engle, a desktop support spe- cialist in the IT department] claims we should not have any maintenance to do for a year,” Payne said. “We do have pumps that can be checked out and we will have a bike maintenance station to be used by staff should there be anything that needs it.”

Francesca Bester ’21 has used an Ole Bike for several trips to and from Carleton College.

“The gears didn’t shift as well as they should have, but it felt like a very sturdy bike, like it wasn’t going to break or any- thing,” Bester said. “It was really difficult to ride uphill compared to other bikes I’ve ridden, possibly because it is so sturdy and big, but I thought a loaner bike would be more rickety, so I was pleasantly surprised.” 

About Manitou Messenger

View all posts by Manitou Messenger →

× Featured

Student journalism is a very important platform for opinions

Newly renovated Holland Hall reopens for fall semester

Holland Hall – dubbed “Hogwarts” by many on the St. Olaf campus – reopened in late August, almost three months after the projected completion date of May 31, 2017. Academic departments have moved back into the new office spaces, now located around the building’s perimeter, and classes are being held while landscaping work on the east end is being finished.

The new space boasts open staircases, gingham wingback furniture and vaulted ceilings with exposed iron beams. Holland had previously lacked student study spaces, but the new design incorporates multiple lounges and waiting areas for professor office hours. The sixth floor previously housed small offices, but is now a large, open loft space, rivaling the fourth floor of Regents Hall of Natural Sciences.

This loft space is called the Carol and Ward Klein Learning Loft, after the donors who gifted $1 million to the project during St. Olaf’s For the Hill and Beyond fundraising campaign.

One of the primary goals of the year and a half long renovation was to “maximize natural daylight and views throughout floor,” according to the original design team presentation. The previous design inefficiently carried light through the building, leaving the exterior classrooms bright and the interior space dimly lit. The new interior resembles Regents in that it carries light effectively from one end of the building through to the other. The white walls provide a reflective surface which brightens the entire building.

St. Olaf partnered with the Minneapolis-based architectural firm Perkins+Will to complete the project, estimated to cost about $13 million. The firm has taken on a number of notable projects in the Minneapolis area, including the renovation of the Capella tower lobby in downtown Minneapolis and has also completed higher education projects at the University of North Dakota.

Originally built in 1992 to house the administration and sciences, Holland was renovated in 1968 to include the academic departments it currently holds – political science, history, sociology/anthropology, economics and philosophy. According to the St. Olaf website, academic buildings are on a forty year rotation for renovations (for reference, residence halls are renovated every nine years). Holland missed its turn after the College’s Strategic Plan placed an emphasis on revamping residence halls, but the project was made possible after the College refinanced its debt to afford the cost of the renovation. 

× Featured

Student journalism is a very important platform for opinions