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ISSUE 119 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/17/2006

Euphemistic changes

By Andrea Horbinski
Opinion Editor

Friday, March 17, 2006

Talk about better late than never: During the past few weeks, St. Olaf faculty, organizations and students have been notified that, as part of the imminent construction of the new Science Complex, many of their departments and programs will soon be doing a space-saving samba.

Some of these changes are long overdue. The World Languages Center (WLC) will be moving out of its current poorly climate-controlled home in the Old Main Annex to “temporary” quarters on the first floor of Rolvaag Library. According the article in the Manitou Messenger last week, “Building relocations finalized,” the new location will hopefully have a coffee shop with international newspapers. In other words, students might actually be able to caffeinate themselves after 8 p.m.

Speaking of poorly heated buildings, it’s high time that the Hill bade a fond farewell to the Art Barn as well. While some of the exterior carvings are pretty, the building as a whole is not worth saving.

But some institutions are not so fortunate as the WLC. The Asian Studies department will have to share the awkward Steensland Hall with International and Off-Campus Studies after October. Steensland is also (I am sensing a theme here) poorly heated; one of my fondest memories of the Great Conversation is taking my Interim final having removed only one glove. Moreover, it is hard to imagine how both those organizations will fit into just three rooms.

Various Buntrock organizations will shuffle as well, including this very newspaper (which is moving to the smaller current Multicultural Affairs and Cultural Outreach [MACO] office, whose director’s office will be cut in half to provide space fro SARN). Student organizations, according to Director of Buntrock Commons Tim Schroer, will be denied private office space in the SORC during this “temporary” transition.

By far the biggest eyebrow-raiser, however, is the news that the academic support enter, CEL, Education Department and TRiO programs will be moving to a “modular village” in the Rand parking lot. I have to hand it to the administration: I’ve rarely heard a classier euphemism for “prefabricated shantytown.”

TRiO’s relocation seems particularly ironic given that it has, once again, come up on the list of programs which Uncle Sam wants to axe. This year President Thomforde has sent the student body two e-mails reiterating St. Olaf’s strong support for the program, but apparently it is not quite strong enough to keep TRiO from having to spend the next five years in a parking lot.

Almost as charming as the “modular village” euphemism, is the authorities’ insistence on using the word “temporary.” The e-mails various parties have received concerning the relocations are strewn with the word, but repetition will not change the fact that these relocations will last three years at minimum, five at most.

Given the project’s current track record of keeping to its schedule, it is virtually certain that at least one, maybe more, class of St. Olaf students will spend its entire college career with many key organizations in a state of semi-vagabondcy.

Still, all this is the price of progress, right? St. Olaf’s sustainability quest continues, and we all better learn to love the party line. My advice for those who are relocating: Invest in a space heater.

Opinions Editor Andrea Horbinski is a junior from Marlton, N.J. She majors in classics with concentrations in Japan studies and in lingusitics.

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