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ISSUE 120 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/13/2007

Ideals not in action

By Devin Horne
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 13, 2007

The last year and a half at St. Olaf College have been a love-hate relationship for me. Every time I feel this institution growing on me, the school quickly reminds me of its low self-esteem, its need to push an image. I used to believe that it was St. Olaf's rules and idealistic beliefs that I disliked most of all, but I now understand that what sets me off about this school is the haughty attitude it has developed  or is sustaining  a year and a half might not be enough to judge. This institution insists on telling itself that it is what it is not. St. Olaf struggles to support its own motto, "Ideals to Action." Instead the school states its ideals, maybe even tries to take some form of action, but falls miles short of bringing the ideals into reality.

St. Olaf is a dry campus. Alcohol use, even responsible, is not tolerated here. Yet when I applied and visited here, I was told repeatedly by students not to worry about it, because parties happen all the time. When I pull up with my concealed case of beer and shoot a knowing smirk to other students as I stumble in the door with an obviously oversized bag, we all understand that Olaf is as wet as the mighty river Cannon. Despite the mounds of beer cans that accumulate around campus each weekend, St. Olaf College refuses to admit the obvious: students drink here.

Christmas Fest is a wonderful time at Olaf. The program put on by the choirs and orchestra is incredibly powerful and moving, and I'm thankful that I can participate. What I don't understand is why St. Olaf insists that this festival is a worship service. I have yet to see a pastor or priest bow twice during a 10-minute standing ovation following a worship service. Christmas Fest is great, but call it what it is. It's a performance. If we admitted this fact, at least we could listen to applause in between songs rather than the coughing and hacking of the audience. I realize that some people with strong religious beliefs might argue that it is in fact a worship service, but for those of us who aren't Christian (no way!) or religious, it is clearly a performance.

These two examples might appear to be very different, but to me they say something very clearly. They say that Olaf has not come to grips with its own identity. The dry campus policy might be the most glaring example of ideals to inaction; however, the blame for this unsuccessful implementation of ideals goes both ways. I hear cries of frustration with the alcohol policy ringing all across the Hill. Yet there is no action from the student body.

Are we that spineless? I believe that sometimes we, as students, forget a very important fact. St. Olaf College is providing us with a service. Our tuition, our donations after we graduate, pay the salaries of St. Olaf faculty and staff. President Anderson has nicknamed himself the "Money Man." His main goal is to raise money for the College and he isn't afraid to admit it. I admire his honesty, but good luck convincing a bunch of disgruntled students to give their money to the institute that consistently denies its students the ability to maturely accept responsibility.

Once again, if Olaf's policies perturb you, the duty falls to us to see to it that such policies change. Ideals to action, right? This institution exists for us, and we have a say in how it implements its policies. Wouldn't it be nice to have such freedom? It won't happen unless we students take our ideas and put something behind them. I know that people will disagree with my views. That's true of any opinion piece. However, I know you people who agree are out there. I know that St. Olaf does have a pulse, as faint as it may be at times. I have seen you people singing karaoke downtown. I have seen you being loud and obnoxious. I have served you when the only thing that can cure your drunken munchies is a Pause pizza. There has been enough hollow griping within the student body. Throw a kegger out back of Buntrock. Do something to bring your ideals into reality.

Contributing Writer Devin Horne is a sophomore from LaCrosse, Wis. He majors in English and in German.

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