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ISSUE 117 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/30/2004

Sophomore receives award for leadership

By Emelie Heltsley
Staff Writer

Friday, April 30, 2004

Last weekend, St. Olaf student Brittany Larson 06 received the Minnesota Association of Scholars (MAS) Outstanding Student Leader Award for her work involving intellectual diversity at St. Olaf.

Larson was unaware of the nomination until she received the award.

"I was definitely surprised and very, very flattered," Larson said.

The MAS, an offshoot of the National Association of Scholars, consists of professors across the state who believe in a traditional liberal education. Their mission statement supports "principles of intellectual substance, individual merit and academic freedom in higher education."

Last Friday night, the MAS presented Larson and another student from the University of Minnesota with Outstanding Student Leader Awards. The ceremony took place at Macalaster College and included a regular MAS meeting, dinner and a keynote speech by political activist David Horowitz.

"I may not agree with everything he said, but one of the highlights of the night was when he addressed me in his speech," Larson said.

Another highlight of the evening was the company of her parents, who drove six hours and missed other commitments to be at the festivities.

"I was in another world Friday night," Larson said. "This was the culmination and validation of all my work and efforts this year."

She was quick to point out, however, that she cannot take full credit for the success of the intellectual diversity movement at St. Olaf.

"Its not just me. Im just a mouthpiece for a number of students who havent had a voice until this year but were well aware of the problem," Larson said.

Other students celebrate with Larson and admire her success. Jessica McGlauflin 05 got to know Larson through her work with College Republicans, the Committee for Intellectual Diversity and Philharmonia Orchestra.

"Brittany deserves this award very much, and her work has been invaluable in bringing [intellectual diversity] to light on campus," McGlauflin said.

Although Peter Gloviczki 06 may disagree with some of her views, he said he has "always respected Brittany because she articulates her own views very well and is more than willing to consider the ideas of others."

McGlauflin agreed that Larson is sensitive to the political scene on campus.

"Brittany passionately be-lieves that everyone benefits by being exposed to a variety of viewpoints," McGlauflin said. "Her campaign for intellectual diversity is not about hearing views that she agrees with in the classroom or on campus. It is about hearing all viewpoints and having each side presented in a fair and equal manner."

John Hensel 05 said that he met Larson in February though his work on the Board of Regents Student Committee and College Republicans.

"Brittany has worked hard in the face of adversity," he said. "She sets a goal, works toward an end and does not let anything stop her from reaching it."

Hensel said that he appreciates the work Larson has done regarding intellectual diversity.

"She has helped to ignite a conversation on campus regarding an issue the campus feels very strongly about," he said.

McGlauflin agreed, noting the far-reaching effects of Larsons efforts.

"Brittany's work has certainly instigated a great deal of political discussion and thought on this issue and, consequently on other political issues."

Hensel agreed with the positive nature of increased discourse on the St. Olaf campus.

"This dialogue, while uncomfortable, will make students well-rounded," he said.

McGlauflin said she believes that Larson has had a significant influence on the campus as a whole.

"Brittany's work on campus is essentially a fight for a higher quality education for all St. Olaf students," McGlauflin said. "By giving Brittany this award, I believe that the Minnesota Association of Scholars recognizes the importance of intellectual diversity, and the impact Brittany's hard work has had on St. Olaf."

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