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The Lion’s Pause: Uniting students since 1968


By now, we’ve all heard about St. Olaf’s attempted coup of the Pause, our cherished and sole purveyor of reasonably priced food on campus. You may have attended the last-minute town hall meeting Feb. 21, or been frustrated by the need to attend a music or sports practice; you may have seen the petition to “Save the Lion’s Pause” circulating on your socials; if you are a student, you almost certainly received multiple emails on the subject declaring the administration’s bold plan, hesitation, and eventual retreat.


On the other hand, perhaps you’ve been living in the basement of Rolvaag for the past month and are only now emerging to catch up with campus events. If this is the case, past editions of the Messenger have all the sordid details for you. The outcome of the affair? Students and community members overwhelmingly spoke against St. Olaf’s move to have Bon Appétit take over management of the student-run Pause Kitchen, and the college hastily backpedaled the whole thing.


They were right to do so. Asking Bon Appétit to act as corporate babysitter to a small business that’s been successfully student-run longer than Bon Appétit Management Company has even existed, minimizing the Pause’s significance to a “vibe” — the move smacks of greed and disregard for the student body. 


The college seemed to be aware of the negative reaction their plan would produce, as well. The Finance Office and Presidential Leadership Team wore the Student Government Association as a mask while announcing the initial news — despite the lack of student agency in the actual planning process — and they continued to hide from us during the town hall, instead offering up discussion moderators to meet the community’s ire. In fact, they only showed their faces when emailing of their popularly-demanded retreat.


Certainly the current dining system has plenty of issues — ones created by the college itself less than three decades ago when it planned the new dining system around one location and a third-party monopoly — but the solution is most certainly not letting said monopoly expand its ability to rake in student money hand over fist. Neither does it speak well to the college’s supposed strong moral vision that they wish to increase their reliance on a subsidiary of one of the largest food corporations in the world, Compass Group, which draws profit not only from college students, but also the United States prison system and fossil fuel industries. So much for “the needs of neighbor and planet” honored in the St. Olaf mission statement.


I am glad that the college realized the risks they faced in continuing down the path of Pause annexation. Yet, if they had not so generously extended the last-minute offer of a “Community Conversation” to us, would they still have had this realization? Must we rely on the invitation of administration to speak out about the choices made at our institution, or to be taken seriously when we do so? The petition, the laudable organization carried out by the Pause Exec Team, the sheer turnout at the town hall, let alone the bravery of those who spoke — it all shows the power we as students have on this campus when we speak with a unified voice. We found that voice this time, and the administration claimed to concede before it, with promises of “regular input, transparency, and open communication.” But they’ve betrayed our trust already, and if their grace is still the only thing holding them to their word, it is difficult to swallow their words in good faith any longer.


Elias Hanson is from Chaska, Minn.

Their major is environmental studies.