"Blogs were introduced right along with Oleville when it was launched last Valentine's Day," said Nate Preisinger '08, cofounder of Oleville along with Daniel Edwins '08.
Blogs include not only regular student postings, but also postings from Hall Council, Student Government Association (SGA), Student Senate and even St. Olaf President David Anderson.
"SGA was nervous last year about the changing of presidents; we thought it would give President Anderson an outlet to students. It also gives him the opportunity to dispel rumors going around."
President Anderson's most recent blog, posted on Sept. 19, outlines the basics of St. Olaf's environmental policy, including information on the new science center, Olaf's new bio-diesel vehicles and carbon emissions discussions.
St. Olaf's student body president Tyler Hauger '08 posted one blog to appeal especially to the incoming first-years on campus. The blog provided both advice and a general welcome.
Not all of Oleville blogs are so information-centered however. Other postings, under the title "Take a Break" blogs, allow students to choose their own topic.
"I had someone propose to write a blog about alchemy for humor's sake. And he did it. It's really quite funny. It's about the use of jam in the elixir of life," Preisinger said.
The alchemy entry, posted on Sept. 12, is currently Oleville's most recent blog. "It is a well-documented fact within the scientific community that strawberries are imbued with magical powers," said the blogger who identified himself as John Andrew Manke Esq.
One other blogger, not identified, devoted an entire post to the release of the third season of Grey's Anatomy as well as opinions of the characters. The post served as a follow-up to the Grey's Anatomy analysis posted last semester.
Another feature of Oleville blogs allows students to keep track of events within their residence hall. Each residence hall has its own personal blog under which to post dorm events and hall council discussions and decisions. Preisinger expects to see an increase in dorm postings in the coming weeks as hall councils and hall presidents become more established.
Though all students may post entries under "Take a Break Blogs," Preisinger makes a few reservations. "Anyone can post there, though if it's really vulgar I can change it."
Preisinger also assigns blogs specifically to members of the St. Olaf Community. "The people I've given blogs to are generally people I know and trust. There are some other people who have proposed blog entries, and I have interpreted them as inappropriate. It's a fine line," said Preisinger.
Blogs were originally designed by Preisinger and Edwins as a way to attract people to the Oleville site and increase awareness of the resources that the site offered. Preisinger stated the Oleville.com's predecessor, 55057.com, didn't effectively appeal to students.
"50557 had great resources," Preisinger said, "but students weren't coming to access them or weren't aware of them. We wanted students to know they had access to all of those resources. Blogs were a way of bringing them in."
When asked to evaluate the success of Oleville blogs, Preisinger said, "Mildly successful at best. We've had a little bit of a struggle finding people who would write for them."
However, Preisinger is hopeful that students will continue to contribute postings and is open to a variety of suggested blogs. "We're always looking for fun new ideas," said Preisinger. Students interested may contact Preisinger via e-mail for more information.