On Wednesday, some harrowing news arrived from our sister school across town — the 52 Carleton students being held in the basement of Buntrock Commons would not be released until St. Olaf College received official word that Alison Byerly had stepped down as president of Carleton College. This escalation, the most drastic since the beginning of the St. Olaf Hostage Crisis last November, comes as news breaks of the horrid treatment of the hostages. Many are subjected to the withholding of Friday Flowers or extended solitary confinement, which they describe as “mid at best.” One of the St. Olaf students guarding the basement door to the large, windowless chamber housing the 52 Carls said, “What captives? I don’t see any captives. Do you, Sven?” to which the other guard responded, “No, Kristoff, I don’t know what this dude’s on about.”
President Alison Byerly has taken steps to ensure the safety of the hostages, namely, providing access to cell phone chargers and placing a Wi-Fi router in their basement room. She has been in contact with St. Olaf president David Anderson, reporting that he was a “straight hottie” but that negotiations for hostage release would get nowhere as long as she remained in office: “The way of life Carleton promulgates threatens all we hold dear across the river,” Anderson reportedly told her, “We will not negotiate with the object of releasing more Carls into the world to spread their secular radicalism.”
Public opinion at St. Olaf largely supports the keeping of the hostages, drawing on Carleton’s past interference in their affairs, namely its 2000 coup and subsequent installation of a Carleton-friendly president who would allow Carleton to maintain control of St. Olaf’s oil reserves. This president was ousted in a student-led coup perpetrated by the Ole Lefse Coalition, whose leader, Anderson, remains in power. President Byerly has already ordered a covert rescue mission, Operation Penguin Claw, which ended in disaster after late February’s winter storm swept through Northfield, causing eight Carls to slip on ice and slide all the way down the hill into the Cannon River. This strategic failure is expected to heavily impair Byerly’s chances of reelection, shifting the electorate toward former California governor Ronald Reagan.
In recognition of the immense emotional trauma expected to afflict the captives after being trapped in St. Olaf for this extended period, the state of Minnesota has promised to grant them lifetime free passes to any minor or major league baseball game upon their release.
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