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ISSUE 116 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/15/2002

Letters to the editor

By Various Contributors
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 15, 2002

Dear Mess Editors,

Yes, the registration process is unfair. Yes, it does give seniors an advantage. Yes, you will not get some of the courses you desire. But that is how it works. We have all gone through it.

For seniors to be targeted as the reason for this is ridiculous. This senior class has probably suffered the worst from registration out of all the classes currently at Olaf. In our very first registration experience a large percentage of us didn't even have a choice of what class we wanted, as there were none left to register for. The following year, freshmen were given priority over everyone else for interim course selection. How freshman have seniority over seniors is beyond me. Now I'm hearing underclassmen complain that they can't get into SENIOR seminars.

I'm sorry you are in a rush to get them done, but my need to graduate preempts your desire to take them early.

I did not carelessly plan my schedule as the writer assumes. I, like juniors are now, have not been able to get into classes that I wanted in the past years. This is not a new problem that only affects current underclassmen. We have all been affected by it, and to write such a thoughtless article attacking seniors because juniors are now being affected by it is absurd. Laying her troubles at the feet of upperclassmen is ludicrous.

The hard fact that many classes important to various majors are not even offered yearly makes it difficult to effectively plan more than a semester in advance is undeniable. To be inflexible in your schedule planning is one of the best ways to guarantee disappointment.

Furthermore, to assume that seniors take their education lightly is insulting. We have worked hard our entire academic career to get to this point. St. Olaf classes are becoming over crowded, but I fail to see how seniors are the reason for this. Are juniors, sophomores and freshman not also crowding the classes? Is the administration not increasing the size of the student body while keeping class sizes down?

Maybe Miss Sowash needs to realize that the world doesn't revolve around her and that she is in a community of 3000+ other people who are, or have been in, the same situation she is going through. Her attack of the senior class is an uneducated and malicious one.

Dean Hill

Dear Mess Editors,

Please forgive me if I am mistaken (I seem to have morphed into a bonehead once I reached senior status), but I don't recall ever hearing of a concept known as junior-ity or gpa-ority or I-need-to-be-challenged-ority, for that matter. In the Nov 8 issue of the Messenger, Shenandoah Sowash proposed that St. Olaf should stop "babying" us through our final year, but wasn't your article a plea for St. Olaf to baby you?

I have seen many students (mostly from my class) leave registration in tears with a measly quarter credit, but to point fingers at the seniors, claiming that our assumed poor planning is screwing over your academic future is ludicrous. I am a history-turned-English-turned-art history-turned-nursing-turned-English major, and am proud of it. I would feel I hadn't gotten my money's worth if I hadn't changed my mind on a daily basis, and St. Olaf professors continue to challenge me (even in those wimpy 200 levels).

Last I looked, challenging wasn't defined as writing a 30-page research paper. One can make a class as stimulating or mind-numbing as he or she wants. Granted, academic performance is important, but don’t expect the "real world" to baby you through life because of a high GPA.

Ingrid Olson

Dear Mess Editors,

In response to the Nov 7 opinion article on registration issues, I am sorry that Shenandoah feels this way. Obviously, very senior at St. Olaf has achieved a goal to even be entitled ‘senior’. In particular, this class has endured many registration woes (more than any underclass student), changes in registration policies, and many tragedies.

Every registration causes stress. There is never an "easy" registration. Sure, I may have gotten all the classes I wanted, but somewhere between semesters, I decide to add or drop another major, pick up a concentration, or just plain find an elective course that sounds exciting. Nevertheless, I end up completely changing my schedule the next semester. I know I am not the only one that has done this. Registration is never easy and never will be easy, no mater how you tweak the system to cater to your own personal desires.

As many of us seniors reminisce on our younger days as first-years, the very thought of interim registration causes our blood to boil. I remember seeing half of my corridor bawling; as they did not get into their first tend choices of interims. Our sophomore year, the policy changed and now first years are allowed to register for interim before seniors, who are one semester away from graduating, juniors, and sophomores all desperately needing to complete general education requirements. Not only were we given a raw deal our first year, but to make matters worse, we still had to register last our sophomore year! But, such experiences build character and we are back on track for graduation.

More importantly and more devastating, this class has endured too many tragic losses that have caused all of us to rethink our goals, our faith, and life in general. Having gone through too many grievances, registration is not the be all and end all of life’s stresses. In the wake of these tragedies, many in this class have taken reduced course loads during a few semesters to allow us the opportunity to fully grieve the loss of our friends and their futures that once seemed so bright. I think this class has endured too much to be called ‘poor planners’ and ‘bone-heads’. And finally, some of the most ‘sub-standard’ students have done some pretty amazing things and I would hope that St. Olaf students would be human enough to believe that we all have the opportunity to do great things with our lives regardless of our GPA, or how many 300 levels we take.

Emily Zdenek

Dear Mess Editors,

My name is John Reddall and I am a student representative on the College Council and I feel it is necessary to clarify a few of Scott Connolly’s problems with diversity.

While it is true that St. Olaf is a pre-dominantly Caucasian Norwegian school, the administration is working on this problem and doing so in a fashion that retains the academic quality of students while expanding the number of students who are able to attend that previously could not for economic or other reasons.

With this knowledge, I would like to make a point-by-point rebuttal of a few of Scott’s more disturbing points. First, he does not give justice to the fact that the draft which he somehow came into possession of is a first draft of at least three formal revisions and more than a year of continuing debate throughout the St. Olaf community.

Second, he goes into how we are not working on changing this fact anytime soon. This is again untrue; if you look at the profile of the current freshman class (06) it is ten percent U.S. multicultural.

According to Scott’s figure of five percent, we have already doubled the numbers for classes that are incoming. Thirdly, he references the fact that the United States is only seventy percent Caucasian. The problem with this stat is that St. Olaf only draws from a limited area of the United States, and in particular mostly Minnesota.

Minnesota is not seventy percent Caucasian and therefore the number that needs to be focused on is the demographic of the area we are in and from which we draw students. Fourth, he goes into how this motive is not altruistic but financial. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, St. Olaf is concerned with remaining economically viable in the future and so student revenue is a concern but the two things he draws upon to illustrate his statement do not coincide. These are the demographic changes that occur in about 2020-2025, and the diversity figures in the strategic plan, which are over a 3-5 or at most a ten-year period.

Fifth, increasing diversity is not necessarily a way to increase revenue. In many cases recruiting of minority students may incur a financial cost but the gains in quality of community outweigh the monetary concerns. The question then becomes why do we recruit minority students. Here Scott points out the truth, it is not altruistic.

We do not do it out of a feeling of going above and beyond or giving something to people who do not have a right to it.

We are trying to increase diversity because it is our duty to make this school accessible to anyone who has the academic ability to benefit from it and who wants to. This includes many people of color who previously have been left out of recruiting efforts and have been stunted by societies views. He is right in saying it is not altruism; it is a duty, one we all take very seriously.

He also goes into how St. Olaf lies about its multicultural and cross-cultural learning programs, which are among the best in the nation. It is not a myth or a deceptive lie, it is a fact: we are leaders of cross-cultural learning. Unfortunately, Scott has misunderstood a document that’s purpose is to help rectify a situation, and instead of getting involved and fixing the problem, he sits on the sideline and criticizes.

John Reddall

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