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ISSUE 120 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 12/1/2006

Letter to the editor

By Letter to the Editor
Contributing Writer

Friday, December 1, 2006

The great St. Olaf tradition of Christmas Fest is upon us. Unfortunately, as we greet this tradition we may be saying goodbye to another: Manitou Cottage. Many students may be unaware that the former home was originally built in 1900 to be the residence for the college president John Nathan Kildahl (yes, the names of your dorms do mean something!). Over the years many departments have occupied the building, from the Home Economics Department to International Studies.

The construction of the new science complex requires Manitou Cottage to disappear. But where should it go? The college has offered to sell it for $500 to a private party, with the condition that the purchaser pays for the move to its new home. I am a history major, and therefore slightly prejudiced, but shouldn't we make an attempt to hold onto a piece of our heritage?

Let me offer a few ideas of what the college could use Manitou Cottage for. First, we are currently at capacity in our residence halls and honor houses. The college could move Manitou Cottage to one of the empty lots at the intersection of St. Olaf Avenue and Lincoln Street and remodel it as an honor house or as a house specifically for visiting Kirkegaard scholars.

Secondly, appreciation for college history on campus is superficial at best. Most students have no idea the Archives or the Heritage Room exist. Faculty members are no better when they claim the Heritage Room solely for coffee break. It was designed as a student area in the student center. The Archives, together with the Norwegian American Historical Society, holds many unique and valuable artifacts, but has no place to display them. Manitou Cottage could become this space. Obviously, the college is leery of spending any of its already stretched budget to ensure a future for Manitou Cottage. The administration clearly acknowledges the building's importance by offering to sell it rather than simply demolish it. It seems then that they should work to preserve it. I remain hopeful that a kind group of alumni who value the history of St. Olaf College will rescue Manitou Cottage. This Christmas Fest, please remember that while some symbols of college heritage, lutefisk and lefse, will reappear next year, others will be gone forever.

- Christopher Blum '07

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