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ISSUE 115 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/8/2002

Letters to the Editor

By Various Contributors
Sports Editor

Friday, March 8, 2002

St. Olaf overlooks band

I picked up the Variety section of the Messenger last week and expected to read a broad, all encompassing article detailing “The glorious sounds of St. Olaf musical ensembles.” Instead, I found an article I thought to be extremely lacking in detail, profiling only the St. Olaf Choir and Orchestra.

The music department website lists nineteen ensembles on the Hill. What about the other seventeen groups?

As a member of the St. Olaf Band, I’ll contribute a little information regarding this magnificent organization, in the hopes that members of the seventeen other groups on campus will do the same.

The St. Olaf Band is distinguished as the first official St. Olaf musical ensemble, being the first group over which F. Melius Christiansen took directorship. The St. Olaf Band is also the first organization from St. Olaf to tour domestically (1904), and it made American history as the first collegiate musical ensemble to tour internationally in its 1906 tour of Norway.

Rumor has it that the St. Olaf Choir and St. Olaf Orchestra will help celebrate this landmark made by the St. Olaf band with a Norwegian tour in 2006.

While our band doesn’t have nearly the publicity of our orchestra or choir, it achieved national and international prominence while under the baton of Miles Johnson.

One measure of the band’s excellence is the fact that it is the only collegiate group to have ever played in concert with the Kneller Hall musicians, who perform for the British royalty on all state occasions.

I hope these little tidbits help to round out the student population’s knowledge of the various musical groups on campus.

I also hope that more attention is paid to the less prominent groups on campus, who, while perhaps not as notorious as our band, choir, or orchestra, are every bit as hard working and dedicated.

—Tyler N. Breuch is a junior at St. Olaf College.

Student supports Tree Free

In her column titled "Tree Free Dupes Senate" in the Messenger on Feb. 28, Rachel Belter complains that the campus Tree Free campaign has not been honest with the student body, that it has hidden a radical environmental agenda behind seemingly harmless petitions such as the one to replace our current lunch bags with recycled ones.

Belter takes issue — and for good reason — with an organization that would further its agenda by misleading others about it. But we must not sacrifice a worthy cause such as the one championed by the Tree Free organization because of isolated misdeeds in the past. In fact, Belter doesn’t just criticize Tree Free’s methods, but the very issue itself. Hidden behind the moderate politics of her column is the endemic and latent complacency of this student body.

Belter complains that if Tree Free’s full agenda were to be carried out, it could mean a raise in student tuition. Oh No! We should remember that $26,000 pays for a lot more than paper supplies around here. If we are not willing to pay a few extra dollars for recycled paper products, I can think of a least a few other amenities we enjoy that could be sacrificed to keep tuition stable.

After years of having our lives handed to us on a silver platter, St. Olaf students have lost a sense of the costs, environmental or otherwise, that our lifestyles incur. If we really don’t care about those costs, if we really can’t see anything wrong with, say, large scale logging operations that rape this nation of its virgin beauty, then fine, let’s admit it; but let’s not complain about being misled on an issue we never really cared about in the first place. If, on the other hand, we do care about a conscientious use of our paper products, how could we pay tribute to that concern with such a worthlessly symbolic gesture as merely switching to recycled lunch bags?

Due thanks go to Belter for exposing Tree Free’s hidden agenda. After all, with such an ambiguous name as "Tree Free," how could anyone have guessed that they were interested in radical measures to save our nation’s forests? Now that the record has been set straight, though, I hope the members of that organization again attempt to solicit support for their cause. I for one would be honored to lend my signature to their petition.

— Dan Schramm is a sophomore at St. Olaf College.

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