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ISSUE 115 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 3/22/2002

Petty problem consuming St. Olaf

By Erin Nickel
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 22, 2002

Returning to St. Olaf, there were certain stressors I anticipated: making sure I was enrolled in the correct courses, that all my credits transferred and simply reacquainting myself with the campus. Little did I realize that none of these could compare to the stress of room draw.

After being on the hill for a mere two weeks, I was approached by a close friend during a leisurely dinner about what my plans for rooming next year were. Honestly, the thought had not entered my mind, but apparently I was the minority in that room draw was the hot gossip around campus and I was the last to know. My first reaction was that after being at a campus of 27,000 did it really matter where I lived because pretty much every dorm on campus is within 7.5 minutes from the other? As soon as this thought crossed my mind, I glanced back at my friend and was reminded that in fact this is a big deal, the most crucial of all decisions, and I did not have the heart to ask her why. My guess is this is just another result of living in our secluded St. Olaf environment. This is not an entirely bad thing, because truthfully, there is no other place on earth like St. Olaf, but there is a price to pay for St.Olaf’s unique atmosphere and perhaps one of those sacrifices is the dramatizing of minute details, such as room draw. I understand that we all want to live with our friends, and that the ideal situations for upper class students are to live in a sextet in Larson or have a pod in Ytterboe. However, I was unaware that choosing dorms and rooms is a popularity contest of sorts, in that we deliberately plan for months which dorm to live in and in which room and around whom we wish to live. If I am not mistaken, a dorm room is just that, a dorm room, and I guarantee you will not be judged based on where you live. Sure, we all do the sweet remembrance of freshman year by greeting one another as "we were third floor Kildahl girls" or as "don’t you remember, he lived in the ghetto". I am afraid that it is time to stop the childish games and stop casting judgment based on dorm associations because it is awfully petty. Is room draw truly worth all the pining? Because last time I checked, room draw times were done randomly and that it was nothing personal. In fact, what is the worst that can happen? That we don’t live in the "hot pod" in Ytterboe? Oh, I am sorry I forgot that if we don’t get the right dorm room, then we will never see any of our friends, we would all become unpopular and we will live a life in complete solitude. I hate to ruin your pity party, but realistically, this will not happen. Worst case scenario, you might live with someone new, someone not in your clique. I am sorry that it makes you uncomfortable. But by living with a new person you might be taught lessons not only about compromises and differences in tastes, but also about yourself. After all, in the real world we will not be granted the luxury of easy living arrangements. Certainly I am not alone is my bewilderment of the soap opera of rooming; multiple students I know have experienced life on the other side. I wonder what those returning from Global, term in the Middle East and England think of all this "room draw" talk. I can imagine that while living in a completely different and foreign country, room draw seemed far from number one on their list of priorities. Rather, surviving, experiencing life as God intended it to be experienced and testing their limits in an attempt to grow were these students’ foci. While we are by no means abroad on the hill, St. Olaf offers numerous opportunities to expand our horizons. Looking back at the past few weeks I find myself remembering some of the most touching and personally trying events at St. Olaf, and I feel sorry for those too wrapped up in room draw and such worries to fully taste these opportunities. From a powerful AIDS presentation to a very personal remembrance of a young woman lost to anorexia nervosa, events far more crucial mark not only our campus, but also the world around us. I say this not as a put down, because I too am guilty of ignorance. My hope is that we can enter room draw this year with a little more ease, a little better perspective and the realization that worse things could happen than living with new people.

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