The purpose of this letter is to voice my opinion about the Colleges demonstrated lack of commitment to helping students with their post-St. Olaf endeavors and to inspire change where it is needed. I am a senior preparing to go to graduate school in neuroscience; therefore, I am spending a good portion of my spring semester traveling to interviews. Most people at St. Olaf are happy for me and accommodating to my schedule. Professors let me switch labs, students lend me their notes and my fellow staff members at Residence Life are kind enough to switch duty nights.
However, the College as an institution is turning my dream of attending graduate school into a nightmare. My first conundrum is that interviewing at graduate schools requires me to leave campus. Because I do not meet any of the traditional requirements for getting a parking permit, the College expects me to take my magical hoverbike to the airport. I daresay that parking my car on campus for one semester would be the logical thing to do. However, the Beloved Students Born Outside the Mystical 200-Mile Radius Surrounding St. Olaf are much more deserving of these permits, and a plebian such as myself should be ashamed to even ask for the rarely seen but much desired Parking Permit. The parking office promptly denied my request for a permit despite my most desperate pleas.
Unfortunately, my problems did not stop with the parking office. As a scientist, I stay up-to-date on the hottest research, which reveals that traveling and feeding oneself costs money. Because I will be missing at least 50 of my meal plan meals, I felt that the College would be amicable to my cause and allow me to escape from the hellish money pit known as The Meal Plan. Hypothetically, I could use the money to buy food possibly even real food, not just preservatives and fat disguised as food from McDonalds while traveling and then use Ole Dollars when Im here on the Hill. However, I was informed that I am a slave to the Almighty Master Bon Appétit and that lowly students interviewing at graduate schools do not deserve to have the same privileges as the Esteemed Off-Campus Students.
The College needs to think about the message it is sending to students when it refuses to accommodate them. All I am asking is for a parking space out in the boonies of I-lot and to pay cash for the exorbitantly priced cafeteria meals all so that I can pursue higher education after St. Olaf. Has the College been good to me throughout the years? Yes. Has my undergraduate work prepared me for graduate school? Yes. For these things I am grateful. St. Olaf College is a place that I love and I tell all of the program directors, admissions committees and researchers I meet about the wonderful place we all know it to be.
Still, at the end of the day, the College has actively impeded my goal of attending graduate school, and I cannot think of a greater disservice that a college could do to a student. I hope that the College will consider my story as an impetus for change in policies and attitudes toward its graduating students.
Sincerely, Ashley Poquette 07