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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Mystery of Schiller still lingers

<t something to clarify. Before I address how great it is to be back writing as a Carletonian Columnist (just as a guest, though, despite the popular demand I’ve been getting to revive Benshoof’s Beat), there’s something in the air that’s got to be cleared up. And no, I don’t mean that stench coming from the other side of town (beat us by 1 point – we’ll show you, Olaf) – I’m talking about Friedrich Schiller. Where is he? Is he safe? But most importantly, is he alive?

Now, last term, I was abroad in Madrid. Maybe you didn’t know that, but I was. And what a wonderful time it was – I’ve definitely caught myself wishing more than once these past few days that I was back there, either in Madrid, Toledo, or on the beach of San Sebastian, or maybe the hills of Lisbon. But it’s not the cold that has me wishing I were back; no, just a general yearning. Instead, to stay true to my Minnesotan self, let me just say this– 5 degrees, or 0 degrees, or maybe even -3 degrees, which is the high for Saturday, is nothing. In fact, it’s laughable to say that that’s “cold.” If you’re from Texas or California, sure, it’s probably cold for you. But, up in Bemidji, where I very proudly hail from, it was 15 degrees below zero Thursday morning at 9:00. The high for Saturday is -10, and for Sunday and Monday -3 both days. So don’t go telling me, or your friends or family, that this is cold. It’s chilly, I’ll grant you that, but you don’t even know how much worse it could be.

So, anyway, I digress. But, while I was in Madrid, apparently “someone” wrote in to the Carletonian saying that Schiller wasn’t going to be on campus for the Halloween Concert. What a tragedy, they said, and rightly so. I think it’s a huge deal that Schiller wasn’t on campus for Fall Term, that all of you incoming freshmen from the class of 2011 weren’t able to see what this great tradition is all about. And you’re still wondering. Sure, you’ve probably heard tales from upperclassmen, but it’s not supposed to be like that; tradition is tradition. ‘Nuff said.

And for some reason, people came to the very scientific conclusion that it was I who had written that piece for the Carletonian. Sure, I share the views of whoever wrote that piece, and maybe some parts of our writing style are similar, but I should think that it’s pretty clear that I had no part in that. Why, do you ask? How can I convince you that I didn’t write it? Well, easy. Look at who the letter was signed by. Was it Samuel G. Benshoof, American Studies major, class of 2009? No, dear reader, it most certainly was not. It was signed by Friedrich Schiller. While I appreciate that some might draw the comparison between myself and the great Schiller, I’m just simply unwilling to accept such compliments.

Whether or not it was I who wrote the piece (which it wasn’t), I should say that the issue is more important than whether or not I was behind it. And even if I did write it, who’s to say that I knew, or know now, who has Schiller? No, the issue at hand – what really needs to be debated – is to ask what’s going to be done about it? Perhaps whoever had Schiller in Madrid still has him. Perhaps they took pictures of Schiller overseas. Perhaps they even had composed a letter to write to the Carletonian at the end of the term in defense of their choice to bring Schiller away from campus, that, for whatever reaon, they never submitted (maybe because it was too late in the term, or something – I guess I wouldn’t really know). Well, now is their time to act. I say that they should post those pictures, that they should publish that letter. If they think that what they did was the right thing, then they should prove it. Let this newspaper, here and now – or perhaps next week – be a forum for intelligent debate, just like in the old days.

I believe strongly that the tradition of Schiller became great because every student had an opportunity to have him; the idea was that the bust would be passed on, that every student from every class would have an equal chance to possess the bard and an equal chance to achieve glory by showing him off. Some might say that Schiller has been, and should be, the great equalizer – he crosses racial and class lines (class in the sense of freshman-sophomore-junior-senior and also American class). The idea of that tradition is shattered when one student holds the bust for longer than he has been held in the past, depriving other students of the chance to success, to write their names in Carleton’s history books.

This term President Oden is off-campus. Please don’t make this any worse than it is by holding Schiller in secret any longer. I’ve become too busy this term to maintain Benshoof’s Beat (but, if you’re really craving my writing, check out my blog –, but I will return as a Guest Columnist as often as need be – or as often as Vivyan Tran needs me – to defend my position. You know who you are – let the debate begin.

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