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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

An Ole Dad Told Me to Go to Carleton

<ing my time at Carleton, I have been engulfed by this false perception that we Carls are “better” than students at Olaf or Macalester or any of the other schools in Minnesota or across the US who happen to be lower on the ranking than we are. We are not. Neither are we inferior to students at Harvard or any school ranked higher than us. My point is we are no better or worse than anyone, so let’s stop thinking along those lines. More humility when it comes to our education enriches experience, inspires more respect from others, and offers us a broader perspective.

More specifically, I am writing this to all who have yet to cross the railroad tracks and go to Olaf. It’s just like going into town, Blue Mondays, Ho Bros, or the Defeat of Jesse James Day. You don’t get the complete Carleton experience if you stay in Carleton the entire time.

Jay and Joseph Walker, two of my close and musically-gifted friends from highschool (in Venezuela) went to Olaf. They and their dad, Joe Walker, are the primary reason why I came to Carleton. Their dad was the director of the international school I attended in Valencia, Venezuela. Once he heard Carleton accepted me and that my final choice was between Carleton and Amherst, he summoned me into his office. I was no stranger to his office, as discipline issues allowed me to work my way up to a VIP seat. That time, he pulled me out of class to tell me why I should disregard Amherst entirely and go to Carleton.

A few months later, I found myself with Joseph watching the Carleton-Olaf soccer match. We gladly insulted each other during the match, celebrating our schools’ goals blatantly in front of each other. However, as soon as the ref blew the final whistle, I introduced him to my Carl friends and he did likewise. That year, he visited Carleton many times, and I was at Olaf plenty of times. In fact, their band even played at the Cave. At the end of my freshman year, I attended Joseph’s graduation. There I had a chance to meet up with the entire family, where they all kept asking about Carleton despite it being an Ole event.  

I owe part of my experience to them. For the first few years, everytime I went back home, Mr. Walker and I sat and talked for hours about Carleton and Olaf. These were the moments I cherished, since during those hours, a man who I admired and respected treated me as his equal. A few months back he passed away, but the conversation resonates to this day. Carleton is the place to go. So when I get asked, “Why did you come to Carleton?”, I reply by saying that an Ole dad convinced me to come to Carleton. 4 years later, I approach graduation and feel no regrets.   

Carleton may be ranked higher than Olaf on an skewed ranking system, but we are not better than Oles. This mentality just shows that Carleton has taught you very little. Carleton offers a number of great things that are better here than at Olaf, but Olaf has a great number of things that are better than ours. On some things we are better, on others we are not. Welcome to life. I am not here to say the grass is greener on the other side, because let’s be honest, we have the arb. But venture out. You’d be surprised with what you see. Who knows, you might go on a date with an Ole. You might cohost a radioshow at Olaf or you might even rally together for causes Oles and Carls mutually care about. I did.

Oles have a lot to learn from us, and we have a lot to learn from Oles. But our elitist attitude only detaches us from reality, gives us a poor reputation, and circumscribes our college experience to the edges of Carleton’s campus. Venture out and visit other college campus and hang out with other college kids. As one of my rugby friends beautifully put it when describing his game at St. Thomas last week. “It was a tough match, you know St. Thomas players are huge. We played hard and strong; and did pretty well. But once the game was over, we all hung out and got shitfaced together.” This is what intercollege experiences should be like. Well, in spirit.

At Carleton however, for a variety of reasons we’ve created an island fed by the illusion of self-sufficiency which limits our experience and isolates us from like-minded folk left and right. Carleton prides itself on being a tolerant and open campus, but the warm hospitality felt in greeting prospies, parents, and new students rarely extends beyond our borders.  We need to change that. As a mature, well-grounded freshman, I envisioned this as a town-wide party organized by Carls and Oles, something along the lines of a Northfield Spring Concert. I sincerely believed in this, and still do. Although I’ve yet to organize such an event, this mentality has translated into long-lasting friendships across both schools that evolved from biweekly Carleton-Olaf get-togethers. Olaf and Carleton have taught me great things and have made my experience a complete one. I am not saying my experience is the standard to look up to, but don’t judge what you don’t know.

An Ole dad told me to go to Carleton, his kids – older friends whom I admire and look up to – both graduated from Olaf. The rivalry is healthy, but it isn’t everything.

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