The comments from Kathy Glampe appearing in the Manitou Messenger last week about my SSS article in the Counterweight deserve a brief response. First, Glampe breached newspaper etiquette by writing to the Messenger about an article in a different paper. The lack of propriety of her action parallels that of someone writing to the Northfield News or The New York Times to complain about an article in the Manitou Messenger. It is unheard of and uncalled for, especially since the Counterweight gladly publishes such challenges.
Regarding Glampes claims of factual inaccuracy, I hope that readers will look a bit further than the words of someone whose job depends on successfully promoting the SSS. The only possible inaccuracy she mentions relates to the percentage of white students in the SSS. However, this inaccuracy is in large part her own fault since it came from TRiO promotional material she provided to me personally when I interviewed her. According to this literature, 49 percent of those served by TRiO during the time period of 1984-2004 have been caucasian. As my article points out, this contrasts sharply with the SSS racial composition at St. Olaf.
Perhaps most confusing in Glampes response is the claim that all eligible students are invited to SSS during Week One. After speaking with non-SSS whites who fit official eligibility requirements, I learned that the SSS will send out small invitation cards along with the piles of junk mail students get during Week One, after the Summer Bridge program has concluded.
As expected, most people ignore the cards, but even if they dont, the strategically timed invitations ensure that they cannot take part in the summer program. Targeted individuals, mostly non-whites, receive official invitations to the summer program many months earlier. Also as expected, many of them attend and form a tight social network before other students arrive in September.
This greatly contributes to the problem of segregation and unequal treatment of students, the main issue addressed by my article and ignored by Glampe in her comments. The fact that Glampe could only nitpick at select details, which remain correct, further supports the original argument. Due to the word limit, I cannot continue a refutation of each point raised by her letter here, but I will respond to interested individuals. To read the article, which has been verified as correct by those within the SSS, go to http://www.stolaf.edu/orgs/counterpoint/index.htm.
Ben McDonald 07