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ISSUE 121 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/12/2007

Regents evaluate land use options

By Miriam Samuelson
News Editor


Friday, October 12, 2007

Amidst highly debated opinion about appropriate usage of St. Olaf land, the Board of Regents met to discuss the issue. The Oct. 4-5 Board meeting addressed the myriad of issues facing St. Olaf College, including the future of the extensive "non-core" land owned by the college.

The Executive Committee of the Board of Regents passed an amended version of the recommendation made on Aug. 31.

The new version retains the assertion that Parcel F be kept as a permanent natural resource and that Parcels A and B be treated as a part of the college endowment.

The Board voted to reword the third section of the recommendation to place more emphasis on the integrity of the natural lands. The section now reads: "Consider Parcels C, D and E as available for development at a future time, keeping in mind that, because they are contiguous to the Core Campus, any development would need to be carefully considered in light of its impact on the Core Campus and its connection with the mission and purposes of the College. Particular care would need to be taken in the consideration of any future development to preserve the integrity of the Natural Lands."

Board of Regents Student Observer Magdalena Wells '08 explained that changes to the recommendation do not imply immediate development. "Adoption of this recommendation does not entail immediate action, except that Parcel F will become a permanent easement and that Parcels A and B will be integrated into the endowment," she said.

During the meeting, Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC) members Alissa Broz '08, Carl Samuelson '08 and Marcus Mittelsteadt '10 presented a report that highlighted land use as an issue of particular student concern.

"The Regents responded positively to the report, praising its balanced view," Wells said. In response to efforts made on campus to educate students about the decision, Wells reported that the Board of Regents applauded students for taking a more holistic view of the issue.

"These decisions were not made lightly at all," Wells said. "Faculty and student input made for a richer and more prolonged conversation."

Wells also encouraged students, faculty and alumni to continue communicating with the Board of Regents Student Observer (Magdalena Wells this academic year), Faculty Observers (John Ferguson and Karen Marsalek this academic year) and Alumni Observer (Douglas Smith '85 this academic year).

Wells also emphasized the lasting impact of comments made before the Board's meeting.

"None of the comments received are lost," she said. "As an activist myself, I know it's hard to feel like you put a lot of effort into something and then a vote happens and you're back to square one, but that's not the case here. Students, faculty and alumni will need to continue to be ready to give their opinion about what should be done with Parcels C, D and E."

President David R. Anderson '74 agreed. "There will be an ongoing conversation about the campus land," he said. "We're at a place in the College's history where we need to step back and assess the future, and talking about the land is wrapped into that."

Wells reported that the Board discussed at length the spiritual and financial value of St. Olaf's lands as well as their own commitment to making the College an affordable and sustainable institution. President Anderson attested to this ambiguity.

"None of the really important decisions in life are black and white," he said. "Our great need is to support the College."

The Board of Regents will further communicate the ramifications of the decision to the student body in coming weeks.





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