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ISSUE 118 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/22/2004

Off campus restraint needed: Show respect for greater community

By Greg Kneser
Dean of Student Life

Friday, October 22, 2004

I am writing to share my thoughts with students, and lend my support to off-campus residents who are trying to be decent neighbors in the Northfield community.

Off-campus resident and Off-Campus Sen. Jason Hendricks articulates the thoughts and feelings of most of the folks who live below the Hill on the challenges of dealing with others who visit their houses and apartments.

In 16 years at St. Olaf, I have never seen a letter written to the Messenger from this perspective, and it is important that folks take notice of what Jason and others are saying.

The folks who live off campus must balance their status as St. Olaf students, as well as residents of the Northfield community.

This means taking into account the needs and feelings of their neighbors, which often includes senior citizens, families with young children and others who simply want to live quietly and peacefully.

I have never liked the term real world being applied as it often does around here, as if life on the Hill is not real. It actually is a lot more real than folks might realize.

But for those off campus, the living experience is different, and as such, they not only have a right, but an obligation to set reasonable boundaries about who is invited and who comes into their homes.

I live next door to campus, right across from the Ole Store. My family and I see and hear the St. Olaf world go by our house every day and night.

We have been there for 12 years and have rarely regretted being such close neighbors. Students are role models for our children, and friends to us, and we wouldnt have it any other way.

Some years we have had students as next-door neighbors, and other times not, but always, students have been a presence, and that is one of the great parts of living in Northfield.

And today, I wouldnt hesitate to have Jason and his roommates live next door. I know them, and they are decent and honorable guys, who have great and respectful friends.

But that balance is sometimes difficult to keep when others dont respect their boundaries, and Jason has articulated this well.

All of this reminds me of a sign an RA in Thorson put up a few years ago that summed up everything we are saying. The sign simply said: Take care of yourself. Take care of your friends. Take care of this place.

That last phrase is worth committing to memory. Do that, and more important live that, and a peaceful and respectful balance all across town is possible.

Greg Kneser is the Dean of Students.

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