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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

St. Olaf professor resigns after sign theft

< Busse, a visiting professor at St. Olaf College, resigned Monday, November 3 after confessing to the theft and destruction of a number of McCain-Palin campaign signs in Northfield.

Busse posted a confession to these acts of trespassing and misdemeanor theft on the nationally known political blog The Huffington Post on the morning of Thursday, October 30. According to a statement made by David Gonnerman, the Media Relations spokesperson for St. Olaf, the college learned of Busse’s acts the following day and immediately informed authorities while simultaneously launching its own investigation into the matter.

“In a statement issued on Friday,” Gonnerman went on to say, “St. Olaf made clear that Mr. Busse’s actions were in direct conflict with the college’s values and mission and that the college did not in any way condone them. [This] statement also declared that St. Olaf deplores unlawful interference with political campaigns and expression of speech.”

In his online post, Busse admitted to stealing McCain-Palin signs not only from a particular stretch of Highway 19, but also from the yard of at least one private home. Accompanying his confession is a photo of blue and white McCain signs protruding from a green dumpster.

Some excerpts from Busse’s post, entitled “Confessions of a Lawn Sign Stealer,” are reprinted below:

“By early October…there were no McCain-Palin campaign signs on the eastbound stretch of Highway 19. It wasn’t because loyalties had switched, but because I pulled them out. And that goes for the oversized 4 x 8 foot mini-billboard in front of the ranch-style farm house. It barely fit in the back of my Subaru. But I carted it away with seven other lawn signs that, like a ninja under the cover of cloudy Minnesota night, I ‘removed.’”

“Sure, I understand that stealing a sign will not change anyone’s mind…Even so, yanking out the signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single-most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done.”

“A vote often feels like a raindrop in an ocean. But this illicit act of civil disobedience was something visceral. It was unscripted and raw expression. It was a chance to stop talking about theories and projections and get my hands dirty…Mature? No. Illegal? Yes. Satisfying? Definitely.”

“By pulling out the McCain signs, I was hoping to curb the impression for passing motorists that family farmers in Minnesota supported McCain. Or, at least that’s the most high-minded explanation that I can offer.”

According to Gonnerman, Busse had been hired by St. Olaf to teach one introductory media studies course for the fall semester. As of November 3rd, however, Gonnerman stated that he “is no longer affiliated with St. Olaf.” The Carletonian was unable to reach Mr. Busse for comment.

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