Ole Night Out builds ties, relationships, appetites

November 18 marked the 13th Annual Ole Night Out, an event geared toward fostering the relationship between current St. Olaf students and alumni.

Ole Night Out started as a way to give students and alumni a way to meet and form relationships.

“It is nice for students to have one calming evening at a home with great food and conversation,” said Kari Swanson ’13, Student Alumni Association SAA coordinator. “It is a little slice of home for Oles in the midst of piling up deadlines.”

This year, 90 students were paired with 51 alumni and parents in 22 homes.

Students signed up to participate in Ole Night Out on Oleville. Before hosts and guests met, each received information about one another including hometown, majors and interests, but as soon as the night started, both students and hosts found they had a lot to talk about, about life both during and after St. Olaf.

Molly McDermott ’13 dined with two more recent graduates, Amanda Furth ’00 and Chris Huot ’01. She was eager to discuss life at St. Olaf before cell phones and Facebook.

She said she was surprised to learn that dorm phones used to be a primary method of communication.

“[Furth] told us how you’d get voicemails […] five hours after they left the message, but that’s just how it went. They planned meals far in advance and had to trust that they’d meet each other when they said they would,” McDermott said.

Over the course of the night, Oles learned what life was like before Buntrock and Froggy Bottoms and how Goodbye Blue Monday used to be open 24 hours a day. McDermott wishes that there were more opportunities to connect with Ole alumni, especially around Christmas Festival time.

“I think it’s important to recognize the ways St. Olaf has remained consistent over the year and also changed dramatically,” she said.

For those looking for additional ways to connect with St. Olaf alumni, next semester SAA is hosting a series of alumni speakers to talk about their time at St. Olaf and life beyond the Hill. In the spring, Alumni Board Connections ABC breakfast is another event where Oles can share a meal with alumni in Stav Hall.

In addition to new connecting outlets, Ole Night Out continues to be a meaningful experience for current students and alumni.

“A few groups this year requested to be with the same hosts as last year, and their hosts requested the same!” Swanson said. “I participated in this event last year and I saw my hosts at the Founders’ Day Banquet this year. They immediately knew who I was, and we had a great time catching up.”

Both Madeline Crowley ’14 and Stephanie Tyler ’13 felt that participating in Ole Night Out was an important reminder of all that life has to offer after St. Olaf.

“It’s wonderful to hear about their life journey and how St. Olaf played a part,” Crowley said.

“At a school where our entire lives remain in a one-mile radius for three-fourths of the year, seeing a bigger picture is incredibly refreshing. We can also learn so much from alumni and be inspired by their stories,” Tyler added.

“I think we all appreciate the bond you share with other Oles who have graduated years before you, but you aren’t often put in a venue to really get to know each other and swap stories,” McDermott said.

Ole Night Out was just the opportunity Oles needed to share stories and remember that all that is learned now in school will be carried with them for the rest of their lives.

Interested in getting involved in SAA? Contact Kari Swanson at swanske@stolaf.edu.


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