As I prepare to graduate this May I find myself reflecting on my time here at Concordia. As an incoming freshman I remember feeling wanted and welcomed as I started my life on campus. I quickly found communities all over Concordia, from individuals in my classes, to choir, to theatre, and I even made connections across campuses with students from both MSUM and NDSU. I am extremely appreciative of Concordia for many of my experiences as an undergrad; however I am also extremely disappointed. When I began the process of applying to colleges I fell in love with the idea of a liberal arts school. Concordia distinguished itself from other schools with its motto of “BREWing.” I am sure we are all tired of the same message being drilled into our brains in every class semester after semester; however we should not dismiss the idea of “becoming responsibly engaged in the world,” and furthermore, we should extend this expectation to our school as a whole. It has come to my attention that Concordia does not support the very messages it preaches to students.
Recently Minnesota had its presidential nominating caucuses. I was shocked to hear Concordia did not cancel night classes for students, making it difficult for both professors and students to attend the caucuses and cast their votes. Public schools like MSUM are governmentally required to allow faculty, staff and students time off to vote. As a result MSUM mandated that all classes ended before 6 p.m. on March 1 (Minnesota’s caucus). Concordia not only held night classes, but there were also reports of professors punishing students for attending the caucus instead of class. Some students expressed concern about losing points from quizzes that they couldn’t make up. For others it was losing participation points for the day, or missing sign up day for presentations, etc. On top of holding night classes and using grades against students, Concordia also planned the Concordia Choir’s tour over Minnesota’s caucus date. This means any of the 72 students who are Minnesota voters in the choir were unable to participate in the election. (Absentee ballots for Minnesota’s caucus are not counted toward candidates, delegates or resolutions. For more information, visit the following URL: http://www.dfl.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/08/AbsenteeParticipationform.pdf.) Whatever the case, it seems that Concordia was discouraging students from becoming responsibly engaged in the world by limiting their opportunity to participate in an election.
As Concordia struggles to retain students and keep their professors, I have a suggestion: practice what you preach. When a college claims they encourage students to “BREW” and then does the exact opposite, students are not likely to want to continue attending the college. Concordia needs to follow its own advice and become more responsibly engaged in the world. Everyone has a right to vote and everyone should be given equal opportunity to participate in elections. Whether a public school or a private school, all educational institutions should teach students the importance of voting, rather than impede students in their political endeavors.
Meghan K. Olson (Psychology, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies, ‘16)
This article was submitted by Meghan K. Olson, contributing writer.