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ISSUE 121 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/29/2008

A Word from Our Editors: Pride

By Matt Tiano
Executive Editor

Friday, February 29, 2008

As St. Olaf students, we pride ourselves on the beautiful campus we find ourselves absorbed in nine months out of the year. We pride ourselves on the relationships we have formed, from Week One until this very day. We pride ourselves on terrific interactions with professors. It seems like we have a lot of pride.

That's why when I walk into St. Olaf's parking office, my pride disintegrates. For anyone that has attempted to park on-campus, through the obtainment of a legitimate permit, you know the process: 300-plus miles and you're entitled to a permit. Anything less and you must have "official documentation" on "official letterhead." The latter includes any kind of off-campus internship.

Situation #1: In the fall, I referee soccer games. I put on 9,000 miles between September and November. I need a car. To make a long story extremely short, the organization through which I am an independent contractor does not have letterhead. They don't even have an office. A simple Word document didn't cut it. Not on official letterhead. My assignments online -- will that work? No. (Students have created fake websites in the past to obtain permits.)

Situation #2: Throughout the NBA season (November-April), I'm interning with the Minnesota Timberwolves, using my car an average of three to four times per week, commuting to downtown Minneapolis. I came to pick up my permit. I didn't have official letterhead. How about an e-mail from my supervisor? That won't work. (We have had students create fake e-mail addresses to obtain permits.) How about seeing these articles that I've written on -- that would seem to prove my internship status. No. (Students have created fake websites in the past to obtain permits.)

First off, what type of students do we have at this school that look people in the eye and lie about what they do (and create web pages and false e-mail identities)?

Second, if we do have these types of students, I'm going to say -- correct me if you think I'm wrong -- that a vast majority of students here hold themselves to a slightly higher standard than the parking office portrays. Even if the office did grant a number of permits to the webpage makers and e-mail creators, would the world come crashing down? Additionally, the fact that e-mail is not an accepted form of communication is outdated. People, especially those that supervise St. Olaf interns, don't have the time to carefully craft a letter, on special paper, taking time out of their busy corporate day ... so students can park their car?

St. Olaf's R.I.C.H. statement represents respect, integrity, celebration and honesty. When I walk into the parking office, I want to be held to a standard, a certain standard (one that doesn't look me in the eye and suggest, "you might be creating false identities") consistent with what St. Olaf is all about -- taking pride in everything you do and doing things the right way.

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