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The cycle continues – A retrospective on race at St. Olaf

St. Olaf loves to market itself as an institution committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, but beneath the optics and empty rhetoric the College continually fails to adequately protect and support staff, faculty and students of color.

For many affiliated with the school, it is tempting to view student demonstrations and faculty departures as isolated flare-ups instead of what they are — manifestations of a systemic problem that has persisted at St. Olaf since before the school’s inception.

This special edition of The Olaf Messenger does not tell the full story of racism at St. Olaf itself — it falls short of painting a full picture even of recent history. However, we hope that by offering an anthology of articles, stories and editorials spanning the last five years we can center discussions around race on campus and prompt critical reflection on the work that is left to be done.

In order to fully take accountability and begin investing in the lived experiences of community members of color we must remember and reckon with the College’s failures and the persistent demands of its students. We hope this edition of the Messenger will be one step in the process of reexamination and renewal, with an eye always pointed toward the future.

Below are links to full stories featured in our July 2021 special edition, as well as more contextual articles.


Research and instruction librarian Ellen Ogihara resigns from college, citing bias, discrimination within LITS
Former professor Michelle Gibbs implicates ‘Ole Culture’ in letter following resignation
Bruce King says ‘Everything in time’ – community members say change is long overdue

Recent events:

What happened at the ‘7 Feet for 7 Shots’ march
Photos from the ‘7 Feet for 7 Shots’ march
President Anderson announces plan to retire after 2022-2023 school year

2017 protests:

Where the Inequity Lies
This Ends Now


Toxic racism permeates numerous St. Olaf athletic programs
Platform for change: St. Olaf athletes take key role in anti-racist activism


My Open Mayday Letter to Oles and Allies: On Where the Silences Are
It is time for long-demanded change
Students of color react to campus protests
Anti-racism training: Same old, same old St. Olaf
The kind of staff we lose

Ongoing efforts:

‘God is good’ – Campus reacts to Chauvin verdict
Northfield residents engage in weekly protests for Black Lives Matter
Women’s and gender studies, race and ethnic studies to receive departmental status

More stories:

CUBE: Practicing vital anti-racism work for over 50 years
Current focused efforts to address rising racial tension at St. Olaf
A starter guide to unraveling a white supremacist world