Graduation is a mere three weeks away; it is imminent, it is real. After all the caps have been tossed, all the pictures have been taken and the final goodbyes have been exchanged, a good portion of the St. Olaf student body will be leaving the Hill for good. At this point in the semester, the only thing standing between this years departing graduates and the bright futures they have been envisioning is a final exam or two (or three, or four).
Yet, with so much emphasis being placed on the future, it is important that the class of 2005 retain a solid grasp on the past namely, on the past four years they have spent at St. Olaf, during which time they have devoted countless hours of love and labor to academics and extra-curricular activities.
We must ask ourselves: Was our money spent wisely? Did we make valuable use of our time? What have we lost? What have we gained?
Certainly, St. Olaf students have suffered numerous losses these past four years. Those of us 21 and older were stripped of our Arbstock privileges after Carleton and St. Olaf failed to reach an agreement surrounding Spring Concert security. Just this past year, we lost a student junior Nic Harter to the unrelenting waters of the Mississippi River. And many of us will be forced to say goodbye to some of our most beloved and influential professors after they retire next month.
In spite of these jarring disappointments, many students would argue that we have gained more than we have lost while attending St. Olaf. Many students have accrued staggering amounts of academic knowledge, have formed lifelong circles of friends and will be leaving St. Olaf with a cache of joyful memories too numerous to count.
Yet perhaps we should focus not on what we have gained or lost, but on our reactions to said victories and defeats. Rather than carping about our revoked Arbstock privileges, we should decide whether or not our roles in the security decision surrounding Spring Concert were proactive and significant. And instead of feeling satisfied with the breadth of academic knowledge we have gained at St. Olaf, we should ask ourselves if we are satisfied with the social knowledge we have gained, and whether or not we could have expanded it (through greater amounts of volunteer work or charity-related extra-curriculars).
Ultimately, the decisions we have made these past four years are those that will most directly and reverberatingly affect us. Whether or not we have always made the right choices is debatable; whether or not we can take what we have learned and use it toward the betterment of ourselves and of society in the future is undeniable. Yes, we can affect change. Yes, we can live lives of worth and service. And yes, there is still time to embrace the things that we have hesitated to accept these past four years; all we must do is ask ourselves the right questions and pay close attention to the answers.