Mixer at Carleton highlights the value of a two-college community

A friend and I ventured into uncharted territory last Tuesday night – the campus of Carleton College. The student music organizations of St. Olaf and Carleton hosted a mixer-style evening complete with coloring books, music, snacks and conversation in the Cave at Carleton.

For those unfamiliar, the Cave is a neat space in the basement of Evans Hall and is used for visiting musicians, student concerts, open mic nights, dances and other student events. The eclectic, fading posters on the walls and the low ceilings provide ample good vibes. The layout of the space makes it a more intimate venue than the Pause Mane Stage.

The event itself was a great opportunity to get to know some students from Carleton and see the way that student organization leaders from both campuses bonded over their similar leadership roles.

My friend and I were welcomed into tables of small talk about music taste, classes, and campus cultures.

“Having two liberal arts colleges in a town the size of Northfield is a unique aspect of our community, and it should be valued more.” – Hannah Summers ’22

The healthy mix of Carleton and St. Olaf students meant that no one had to serve as the mouthpiece for their college. In fact, I often lost track of who went to which school because friendly rivalry we often joke about existing between colleges was hardly present at all.

For me, the evening was evidence of how much our connection with Carleton is underutilized. Having two liberal arts colleges in a town the size of Northfield is a unique aspect of our community, and it should be valued more.

For example, though I am only a first-year student, I was surprised to realize that this event was just the second time I had been to Carleton during my six months on campus.

Many of the events Carleton students said the Cave hosted in the past sounded like fun and  interesting things to do (a resource which should definitely not be taken for granted in Northfield), but I hadn’t heard any of them advertised or discussed at St. Olaf.

Since the Cave is such a different kind of venue than the Pause, it makes sense for music organizations from both schools to publicize events happening on both campuses, making students aware of a wider variety of concerts and artists.

Making a conscious effort to take advantage of the connection between our campuses is a good way to get the most out of one’s time in Northfield. It is also great way to step outside of one’s comfort zone.

I think highlighting Carleton events in campus-wide emails and increasing collaboration between student organizations at each school are good ways to encourage people to be more aware of what’s going on across town. There’s lots to be discovered on the other side of the river.


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