As St. Olaf students, we are lucky to have a strong relationship with Northfield officials and residents. We live in a place where local businesses put signs in their windows to welcome college students. Every year, campus P.O. boxes are filled with coupon booklets offering deals to cash-strapped students. Signs around campus frequently solicit, for baby-sitting or shoveling snow in town.
While we have often heard the cliché "Minnesota nice," Northfield is a place where residents are genuinely interested in the well-being of others. When students venture off campus to The Tavern or The Contented Cow, it is not uncommon for them to be seated across from their professors. The city of Northfield itself is essentially an extension of the campus community.
With this in mind, we would like to offer two suggestions to students who live in off-campus housing, and those students living on campus who attend off-campus parties.
First, be respectful of your neighbors. When it gets to be late at night, take a moment to turn down your speaker system. This will come as a favor to the family who has to put their kids to sleep in time to catch the school bus in the morning. We should not hinder St. Olaf faculty and staff from being well-rested before they come to the Hill. Many of us have asked someone down the hall to quiet down so that we can get sleep; we would like to ask students in off-campus housing to extend the same courtesy to their neighbors.
Second, consider the ramifications of decreased off-campus housing. The present proposal to the Northfield City Council, if passed, would allow no more than two non-relatives to rent housing together. While the proposal has not yet become a reality, we can only imagine the close quarters that would become necessary here on the Hill if it were to be ratified. Would you like to live in a Kildahl triple? We certainly would not.
The recent complaints regarding the behavior of St. Olaf students should not be taken lightly. We are fortunate to attend a school in a place like Northfield, and we encourage students to be mindful of the community. If we do not respect their off-campus living situations, we risk alienating residents and making an already tight housing situation even worse. St. Olaf has long enjoyed a strong relationship with the city of Northfield, and we challenge students, especially those living and attending parties off campus, to continue to build and sustain that relationship.