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ISSUE 117 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/30/2004

Nothing as it once seemed

By Shayna Melgaard
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 30, 2004

Oh, to be a prospy again. To walk across campus and see the black and gold welcome banners and know they were meant for me. To walk into Buntrock Commons and see tables with cookies and water and coffee and know that it is for my enjoyment. But I'm no longer a prospy. Ive been roped into this institution and have become an Ole. Until Im an alumnus, those cookies and banners are no longer for me.

Okay, so visiting a friendly and edible campus is not what made me decide to attend school here. In retrospect, I realize that my St. Olaf visit as a prospective student wasnt anything like my present life here. But, what in life isn't like that? The trial packets of shampoo really lose their novelty once you buy the full-size bottle, dont they? You still love the way your hair feels after shampooing, rinsing and repeating, but that fresh scent is no longer a surprise. The thrill is simply gone.

Thats what going from prospy to Ole is like. Whether or not you got the whitewashed version of St. Olaf on your visit becomes irrelevant. Did your host take you to a house party or did you watch a movie in the dorm?

Doesnt matter. The reality check doesnt come into play until you get here and notice the ridiculousness of certain thingslike those welcome banners. Its disturbing to realize the lengths our school goes to impress guests.

For example, we shampoo carpets and ban residents from their lounges right before Christmas Fest because we know that the people who fork out the dough are coming to town.

Outside the residence halls, Im sure we spend a frightening amount of money decorating campus for the holiday. Is that why tuition keeps going up? Why cant we just keep clean all the timeor why not just leave things the way they are? People know that we live here. It is not as if the pillows on the sofas are always fluffed and arrangedpeople do sit there from time to time.

Dont get me wrong- I dont like to live in filth, but I think its filthy how we perform for alumni, parents and prospective students. We put on ritzy dinners for the folks with the checkbooks. I say, let them eat in the Cafthats where the people paying tuition eat. Or isnt that food good enough?

And for the prospieslets make sure theres plenty of PG-rated activity going on when theyre visiting. Why? After Week One every prospy will be able to tell you where the party is and how to get there, whether they partake in the binge drinking scene or not.

I don't hate St. Olaf. I am delighted that St. Olaf is such a great place to grow and learn. We have quality facilities, although we all know there are some departments that get favor over others (but that is another article). We have professors who are flexible and dedicated to teaching us how to understand the real world so when we leave the bubble society doesnt dupe us.

We have diversity. Maybe not much in term of skin color (aside from those excessive tanners), religious beliefs or socioeconomic background. But as far as opinions, personalities, and interests go, St. Olaf students run the gamut. So with the incredible personality this institution has created through its high standards and honor system, why arent we ourselves when people come to visit?

If we must keep the elaborate dinners for alumni, then we must add elaborate dinners for studentsquarterly. If we insist on decorating the commons with Ralph Lauren ribbons and ornaments, then lets do the same for each dorm rather than K-Mart style decor. If we cant let go of those welcome banners for parents and prospective students, we need to purchase some Welcome Back! banners to brighten up our Monday mornings as we drag ourselves across campus. Once we come here, the royal treatment is over.

I can only speak for myself, but if I actually believed the presentation of St. Olaf as a prospy, I would feel as if I had been the victim of grand-scale trickery once I became a student.

LookIm just a freshman (pardon me, first year). I dont have a solution for St. Olafs fixation with misleading non-students. Life at Olaf is good, but its not what a visitor would expect. For now, my best advice for prospies is this: Beware the grotesque misrepresentation of Olaf, or next year you might find yourself a fool on the Hill.

Staff writer Shayna Melgaard is a first year from Bismarck, ND. Her major is undecided with a concentration in media studies.

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