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ISSUE 119 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/14/2006

Publications give variety

By Kristopher Follmer
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Manitou Messenger may be the "official" campus newspaper, but recently other papers have been circulating as well.

One paper has been around for nearly two years. The Counterweight, funded by the Student Organizations Committee (SOC), is a monthly conservative publication with a group of eight writers who hope to reach "reasonable liberals and individuals who aren't sure of their political beliefs."

Chase Donaldson '07, editor of The Counterweight, said that the purpose of the paper is to "present the conservative perspective on the events and issues of this campus." When asked why this goal was necessary, he claimed that the Messenger seeks only to inform students about St. Olaf happenings.

"The events on campus are good to report on, but I would like to see the Mess be more engaging and investigative, surprising and confrontational, exposing different interesting aspects of campus," Donaldson said. "They [The Messenger] do a great job, but I would like to see more."

Donaldson said that specific issues such as "blatant curriculum bias in some classes in the Spanish department" and "the radicalism of some student and faculty and pastoral leadership in our school congregation" are never addressed in the Messenger, leaving The Counterweight to address these issues head on.

The Counterweight's coverage creates controversy on campus among liberals and conservatives alike.

"I am always amused after publication with people talking about how it [the views presented in the paper] is an 'outrage' and getting all emotional about it," Donaldson said. "It's amazing how when many liberals' views are challenged their defense mechanisms kick in."

It is not just the liberal side that Donaldson thinks has problems with challenging dialogue.

"Some conservatives have become pigheaded from the constant challenging [of their beliefs] and have just shut out any liberal opinions altogether, and this is equally bad," said Donaldson, who believes that both situations demonstrate a failure in academia.

On the non-conservative side, The Weight is a young upstart paper. A weekly, decidedly non-partisan, privately funded publication with two issues to its name, The Weight hopes to reach "whoever picks it up or reads it."

The Weight lacks an editor because, as Tim Kraack '09 stated in the first issue, "An editor is only a president or king of words and ideas." The Weight looks to "create a forum for the exchange of ideas."

Co-founders Aaron Heidgerken '09, Sean Beres '09, Andy Rollins '09, Doug Nyback '07 and Kraack responded to an interview request from the Messenger with a written statement.

"We named it The Weight in the spirit of The Counterweight, as an encouragement of dialogue and opinion. The connotation of opposition stemming from the name comes not from an opposing political ideology but from a lack of any political ideology. Although some writers may express opinions in opposition, the paper as a whole does not endorse any specific worldview," the statement read.

Members of the Weight claimed, "Each issue is fully dependent on the submissions it happens to receive that week, from whatever source... Ultimately, The Weight should be an open forum for ideas, creativity, and discussion that is not beholden to any one ideology, organization or message."

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