For the past three years, SAA's Ole Night Out offered the opportunity for students to leave campus and eat a meal at houses of St. Olaf alumni. Transportation, however, was a big issue, especially when alumni live far away. "Students sometimes needed to get all the way to the Twin Cities," Laura Durden '08, member of SAA, said. In light of this issue, SAA members realized it would be far easier to bring alumni to the students. Not only that, but it would allow alumni to participate in campus life. Anne Steeves '10, a participant in Ole Night In, stated that "alumni like hearing from us. I want to look forward to that when I graduate."
For Ole Night In, students volunteered in small groups to take a meal with visiting alumni. Upon arrival, alumni shared a coffee hour with the students and then headed up to Stav Hall to meet. "Students were not required to do anything except be with alumni for coffee hour and lunch," Durden said, "but they certainly can do more if they want. Last Sunday, for example, students had the option of attending morning worship or the afternoon Viking Chorus Concert." "This is an opportunity for students to invite alumni into our home," Mehrotra said, "since alumni have been so gracious to us in the past. Its an opportunity for us to give back to them."
Students who participated thought the experience to be worthwhile. Carl Nelson '08 said that Ole Night In is a good counterpart to Ole Night Out, and that Ole Night In is a way to thank alumni for what they've done for St. Olaf. Nelson was placed with two 91 Ole grads and their two children. "They were so cute," Nelson said. "I played with them the whole time."
Alumni varied widely in graduation years. "I was placed with a 55 graduate and his wife," Tremaine Versteeg '07 said. "They were great. I liked hearing their stories about Olaf of yester-year."
Steeves also enjoyed hearing past stories of Olaf experience, such as descriptions of the old Ytterboe Hall and ice rink.
"Ole Night In is a way for alums to feel connected to the school," Steeves said. "We forget that once we graduate well still be connected."
Although logistical planning may have been easier for students participating in Ole Night In, it still took an immense amount of planning on the part of SAA. "We stuffed P.O.s, hung up signs, passed out fliers, hung up posters in the Caf, sent out mass e-mails, put out Facebook invitations and advertised on Oleville.com," Mehrotra said.
According to Allison Fry '07, the SAA Coordinator, "the program needed a lot of exposure, simply because people hadn't heard of it before."
Both Fry and Mehrotra were pleased with the turnout for Ole Night In and have high hopes for it in the future. According to Fry, Ole Night Out also started out with about 50 participants, and by the third time drew approximately one hundred. Fry and Mehrotra hope Ole Night In will follow the same trend. SAA is considering having one Ole Night Out and one Ole Night In per year.
Both Durden and Versteeg admitted that a major draw of Ole Night Out was having a home-cooked meal. "Leaving campus makes it more of an experience," Versteeg said. She added, however, that the goal was the same: to find common ground between students and alumni. "It's all about the overall Olaf connection," Versteeg said.
Fry said that both Ole Night In and Ole Night Out have a place at St. Olaf. A good balance is to have both Ole Night In and Ole Night Out, Fry said. This way we can give back to our alum.