Student Organizations and Co-Curricular Involvement
Office of Student Activities
The mission of the Office of Student Activities is to empower students to discover and define their passions, themselves, and their communities. We seek to promote an active and engaged campus environment through advancing a culture of intentional co-curricular involvement and striving to know each Ole by name and story. By investing in student organizations, cultivating dynamic student leaders, and supporting campus programming initiatives, we aim to augment the St. Olaf experience, preparing students to live lives of meaning and purpose.
Many programming initiatives sponsored by the Office of Student Activities are planned and implemented through collaborative efforts with the Student Government Association.
Student Government Association (SGA)
Every St. Olaf student is considered to be a part of the Student Government Association.
The St. Olaf Student Senate, composed of elected student representatives, is the legislative division of the SGA. The senate is elected by the student body and serves as the main liaison with the administration and faculty. It consists of SGA division chairs and representatives from residence halls and campus-wide committees. It is the official student government on campus. It represents the interests of the St. Olaf College student community, overseeing student-related affairs. Copies of the St. Olaf Student Senate Constitution and meeting minutes are available online at Oleville.
At first glance, the name, Student Government Association (SGA), is slightly misleading. The SGA is not a separate committee itself, but the term used in referring to its ten divisions, in addition to student media. These divisions are the Board of Regents Student Committee, Diversity Initiatives Support Committee, Music Entertainment Committee, The Lion's Pause, Political Awareness Committee, Student Activities Committee, Student Organizations Committee, Student Senate, Volunteer Network, and After Dark Committee.
- The After Dark Committee (ADC) creates fun events for students after 10 p.m. on weekends.
- The Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC) is responsible for gathering and voicing students' concerns to the governing body of St. Olaf, the Board of Regents.
- The Diversity Initiatives Support Committee (DISC) coordinates the many cultural celebrations held on campus each year through its supported seventeen student organizations. These include Black History Month, Viva La Raza, Hmong New Year, and the Drag Ball.
- The Music Entertainment Committee (MEC) is responsible for booking all musical acts on campus. Its goal is to bring diverse musical genres ranging from solo acoustic to touring bands. Past performances include Lizzo, Black Eyed Peas, Jesse McCartney, Ingrid Michealson, Andy Grammar, Doomtree, and OK Go.
- The Lion's Pause, located in Buntrock Commons, is a place as well as an SGA division. It provides space for students to kick back and grab a shake or fresh pizza from The Pause kitchen.
- The Mane Stage is a fully functioning performance venue modeled after First Ave in Minneapolis. It is perfect for large performances, concerts, and dances.
- The Lair is a much smaller venue, located between the Den and the Kitchen. It is designed to have a cozier feel, suitable for acoustic shows, open mic nights, or other smaller performances.
- Sit back and relax with some food, use the gaming system, or have a study group with friends in the comfortable seating of the Jungle.
- The Den is equipped with a pool table and giant TV. Come watch the next big game with us!
- The Political Awareness Committee (PAC) strives to keep students on top of critical political and social issues by bringing in national speakers, such as Karl Rove, Angela Davis, Gretchen Morgenstern, Newt Gingrich, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Arianna Huffington. It also works to keep students aware of election issues and candidates.
- The Student Activities Committee (SAC) features four sub-committees that program special events such as comedians and magicians, promote Ole pride at sporting events, show weekly movies on campus, provide opportunities for students to venture off-campus, and plan Ole traditions such as Homecoming, the President's Ball, and Senior Days.
- The Student Organizations Committee (SOC) oversees 200+ student organizations, ranging from academic and honorary groups such as Neuroscience Club and Sigma Tau Delta (Student Nursing Association) to club sports such as men’s and women’s ultimate frisbee. SOC grants formal recognition status and coordinates grants and funding to these organizations to help them with the planning of programs and activities. Student groups are free to organize and regulate their own activities within the limits set forth by college policy. The specific roles appropriate for each of the student organizations are specified by the constitutions of these bodies.
- The Volunteer Network (VN) provides St. Olaf students with a wide range of rewarding volunteer opportunities in Northfield and the surrounding communities, such as pet therapy with nursing home residents, tutoring in Northfield schools, Special Olympics, and being role models for Northfield youth. It supports service student organizations as well.
All divisions of the SGA are entirely student-run.
There are a number of student media outlets on campus that students engage with regularly. While not the sole organizations on campus, the below three student media groups make up the Board of Student Media.
The Manitou Messenger, founded in 1887, is the college newspaper published weekly by students for the St. Olaf College community. It is the medium for announcing and reporting campus-related events and for expressing student and faculty opinions.
The Quarry, a St. Olaf Literary Arts Magazine, is the publication of the creative arts at St. Olaf College. It stimulates and solicits creative work from students and faculty members as well as from other sources and is published each spring.
KSTO is the student radio station for the St. Olaf College community. Broadcasts include music, athletic events, community service announcements, and recorded programs from college and outside sources. KSTO, 93.1 FM, is student-run and operated 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Webcast available.
Community Volunteer Services
A large number of St. Olaf students participate in numerous volunteer activities in the local Northfield area and surrounding communities. Students regularly visit with area youth and adults in need. Some students also visit shelters to help the facility staff and play with animals. Other students contribute their time and talents visiting senior citizens in the local hospital and retirement centers, as well as participating in a number of tutorial opportunities within the Northfield schools and local literacy programs. Interested students may contact the student coordinator of the St. Olaf Volunteer Network in the Office of Student Activities for more information.
The Interhall Council (IHC) plays a significant governing role in the shaping of residential life. Membership is determined by elections held in the fall. The hall councils meet regularly to program activities and review the needs and concerns of hall residents.
The Honor Council (in conjunction with a College Judiciary and a College Appeals Board) is the primary body for hearing discipline cases involving academic dishonesty.
For more detailed information about campus governance, consult The Book, available online.
St. Olaf as a Worshiping Community
St. Olaf’s primary aim is to provide the best possible education. As a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, St. Olaf intentionally carries out that aim in the context of a worshiping Christian community.
In addition to the study of theology, the college provides time, facilities, and personnel to sustain the worship life of the community of faith on campus. A 20-minute chapel service in Boe Memorial Chapel every weekday is part of the college’s regular schedule. The St. Olaf faculty and student body exercise the privilege of voluntary attendance at these services.
Sunday morning worship on campus is the responsibility of the student congregation. Because of the denominational affiliation of the college, the worship services generally follow the liturgical tradition. The College Ministry Staff, together with the student congregation, does, however, carry on a ministry addressed to the needs and interests of all students, regardless of church affiliation. The various churches in the Northfield community cordially invite students to participate with them as well.
In addition to supervising the daily chapel services and the activities of the student congregation, the College Ministry Office is always open to students who wish to discuss personal, vocational, or religious areas of concern, or who simply desire to inquire about ways to get involved in the various religious activities available on campus. This is done with complete confidentiality.
Varsity, Club, and Intramural Sports
St. Olaf offers an extensive program of intercollegiate, club, and intramural sports. Excellent facilities and coaching are available for the large number of students who wish to take part in sports activities.
St. Olaf athletic teams compete in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which includes 12 colleges in addition to St. Olaf: Augsburg, Bethel, Carleton, Concordia, Gustavus Adolphus, Hamline, Macalester, St. Benedict, St. Catherine, St. John’s, St. Mary’s, and St. Thomas.
The program of intercollegiate athletics for men includes baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, hockey, nordic and alpine skiing, soccer, swimming, tennis, and track and field.
The intercollegiate athletics program for women includes basketball, cross country, softball, golf, hockey, nordic and alpine skiing, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
The intercollegiate athletics program is considered an integral part of the college, and its purpose and scope are educational in concept and in operation. This philosophy reflects institutional ideals and objectives, and its supervision and control are vested in the faculty.
Eligibility for intercollegiate athletics is certified by the faculty in accordance with Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference policy.
Of the two courses required to complete the SPM general education requirement, one and only one may be through credit via an intercollegiate sport. See regulations concerning general education.
Intramural and Club Sport Options
The intramural program offers a wide range of activities to meet the needs and desires of as many students as possible. The program includes dozens of activities offering competitive and non-competitive opportunities for men’s, women’s, and coed teams. There are also a number of club sports, teams which are not sponsored as intercollegiate sports, that provide “extramural” competitive experiences in sports such as Ultimate Frisbee™, men’s volleyball, lacrosse, rugby, and cycling. Intramural and club sports do not carry academic credit and do not count toward fulfillment of any graduation requirements.
There are many opportunities for general recreation and free play for all students. Several types of aerobic and weight machines are available for use in the Tostrud Center and in Tom Porter Hall. The gym, fieldhouse, weight room, climbing wall, and pool facilities in these buildings are available throughout the day and evening hours, and on weekends. The outdoor fields and hiking/skiing trails within the 350 acre natural lands surrounding the campus are also available for student use. Our St. Olaf Outdoor Recreation Program (STORP) provides rental equipment for a minimum fee for camping gear and winter sports such cross country skis and snowshoes. A nine-hole frisbee golf course is also located on campus.
Skoglund Athletic Center and Tostrud Center houses all indoor sports, including basketball, volleyball, swimming, indoor track, and tennis. The new ice arena for hockey, intramurals and recreation opened for use in January 2019. The gymnasium, with three full-sized basketball courts, has seating for 2,000 at intercollegiate basketball and volleyball events. The swimming pool has six seven-foot-wide racing lanes and spectator seating for 300. The fieldhouse with a textured mondo surface contains a 200-meter track, areas for indoor track and field events, two batting cages and ample room for indoor baseball, football, softball, soccer practice throughout the year. Three tennis courts provide students with indoor tennis play.
The two-story common unit links all other elements of the Athletic Center and includes a spacious lobby concourse, classrooms, offices, locker rooms, matted all-purpose room, weight-training room, cardio-fitness room, training room, and one handball/racquetball court and a golf simulator for the golf teams for indoor practice.
Outdoor facilities include a turf football stadium, adjoining practice fields, a nine-lane artificial surface outdoor track, a separate soccer game turf field and four adjacent practice fields, tennis courts (6), baseball field, softball field, and four intramural fields. Porter Hall houses a strength room, meeting room, training room, two team dressing rooms, an equipment room, public rest rooms, and general changing areas.
Performance and Creative Opportunities
Companydance© is a student dance company offering a wide variety of performing opportunities. Companydance© strives to be inclusive and to accommodate the evolving interests, needs and abilities of a broad spectrum of students (dance majors and non-majors), while encouraging student responsibility, creative collaboration, community building, and, of course, great dancing. To provide for the optimum growth and safety, each member is required to be concurrently enrolled in a Dance Movement-Intensive class at an appropriate level. May be repeated. P/N only. Offered every semester.
Veselica International Dance Ensemble introduces student performers and audiences to dance as a global art, expanding their awareness of the spectrum of dance forms and contexts in the world. Student performers develop skills by performing a variety of dance forms and experience the process of working together in an ensemble to create quality performances. Interested students can choreograph or stage international dance works, and members of the ensemble may also work with guest choreographers. The ensemble is open by audition to all students. May be repeated. P/N only.
St. Olaf College is renowned for its excellent music ensembles. Eight choirs, two orchestras, two symphonic bands, three jazz bands, early music vocal and instrumental ensembles, handbell choirs, and other groups continue a rich tradition begun by F. Melius Christiansen more than 100 years ago when he founded the St. Olaf Music Department. Nearly 1,000 students participate in these ensembles each year.
The annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival is a highlight of the Christmas season for many on campus and around the world. Featuring the St. Olaf Choir, the St. Olaf Chapel Choir, the St. Olaf Cantorei, the Manitou Singers, the Viking Chorus, and St. Olaf Orchestra performing as individual groups and as a mass ensemble, the festival attracts over 12,000 people to campus for four concerts and is heard by tens of thousands more on public radio and television stations across the nation.
St. Olaf Choir, with 75 mixed voices, is the pioneer a cappella choir in the United States. For more than a century, the St. Olaf Choir has maintained its original purpose — study and performance of a wide range of sacred and secular choral literature. Private lessons in voice are required for all members. During annual tours in the United States and abroad, the ensemble exemplifies the highest artistic standards in choral music performance.
St. Olaf Chapel Choir, an ensemble of 120 mixed voices, performs a wide range of choral repertoire that includes larger works for choir and orchestra. The choir sings for Sunday services of the student congregation and performs a fall vespers concert and a spring concert together with the St. Olaf Orchestra.
St. Olaf Cantorei, a choir of 95 mixed voices performs a wide range of choral repertoire. In addition to singing at services of the student congregation, they often perform music for choir and instruments or organ as well as congregation.
The St. Olaf Chamber Singers, a vocal chamber ensemble of 20-24 singers, specializes in performing a broad range of early music and modern repertoire both sacred and secular, traditional and innovative, in a chamber music setting. Performances include concerts in Boe Memorial Chapel each term as well as singing for Sunday Chapel services; they also participate in collaborative performances with the St. Olaf Collegium Musicum and other professional and college vocal chamber ensembles in the area and region.
Manitou Singers, a 100-voice first-year treble chorus, performs a wide range of choral repertoire, giving campus concerts, singing at services of the student congregation, and making occasional off-campus appearances. Participation is by audition for soprano/alto singers only.
Viking Chorus, an 85-voice first-year tenor/bass chorus, performs a wide range of choral repertoire, giving campus concerts, singing at services of the student congregation, and making occasional off-campus appearances. Participation is by audition for first-year tenor/bass singers only.
Gospel Choir, a mixed ensemble of students of all backgrounds and denominations, pursues the performance of gospel music. Its repertoire includes traditional through contemporary gospel music and such influences as African, Caribbean, Latin American, and jazz styles.
Collegiate Chorale, a non-auditioned treble ensemble, is open to students in all four class years as well as faculty, staff and emerita. Emphasis is on a less-demanding rehearsal schedule to create an enjoyable choral experience for all members.
St. Olaf Orchestra, the college's touring orchestra of approximately 90 instrumentalists, performs a broad range of repertoire at a variety of concerts and college functions both on-and off-campus during the school year. Private lessons on one’s orchestral instrument are required. The ensemble tours regionally for 10 days each year and also tours abroad periodically.
St. Olaf Philharmonia is an ensemble of approximately 90 instrumentalists that performs orchestral literature of all periods. Performances include fall and spring concerts, a vespers concert with the Chapel Choir, and occasional off-campus appearances.
St. Olaf Band, the college's touring symphonic band of approximately 95 instrumentalists, performs a broad range of challenging and meaningful repertoire for winds and percussion at a variety of concerts and college functions both on- and off-campus during the school year. Private lessons on one’s band instrument are required. The college's oldest music ensemble, the St. Olaf Band tours across the United States for 10 days each year and also tours abroad periodically. Its standing as one of the nation's finest bands has been recognized with invitations to perform at national music conventions, positive critical review of its CD recordings in major music journals, and regular broadcasts of its recordings on NPR, MPR, and streaming sites focused on band repertoire.
Norseman Band, a full symphonic band with 100 instrumentalists, performs a broad range of repertoire for wind and percussion instruments. The group performs several concerts each year, with occasional off-campus appearances.
Jazz Ensembles — Three jazz big bands perform music from the different eras of jazz history, including swing, be-bop, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, funk, and contemporary styles. Each group performs in a concert and swing dance each semester.
Handbell Ensembles — Two handbell ensembles perform in a variety of settings, including chapel and Sunday services and a major spring concert.
Collegium Musicum performs music of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras on historical instruments. Students learn and perform on early instruments such as recorders, viols, sackbuts, lutes, and cornets that are owned by the college. Performances are often in collaboration with the Early Music Singers.
Chamber Music — Through regular rehearsals and coaching sessions, chamber groups prepare and perform selected literature, learn about related repertoire, and cultivate observation, communication, and leadership skills. Typical ensembles include string quartets, brass or woodwind quintets, piano trios, saxophone quartets, etc.
Other Instrumental Musical Groups — The Trombone Choir, Horn Club, Flute Choir, Clarinet Choir, St. Olaf Brass, Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, Pep Band, and Percussion Ensemble offer opportunities for membership in performing groups to all students at St. Olaf. Musicians who belong to other performing groups, as well as students who have no other ensemble membership, join together in these unique ensembles. They perform regularly in campus concerts and frequently travel to other cities in the area to perform. In most cases, these ensembles rehearse once a week.
A highly diverse group of students participates in theater at St. Olaf. Participation in the theater program is open to the entire community, and all major productions are produced under the direction of the professional staff of the Department of Theater. No previous experience is necessary to participate. Auditions for productions and interviews for design and technical positions are held at the beginning of each semester and other times as needed. Contact the main office of the Department of Theater for current information.
In addition to the major season of five plays selected from the classic and modern repertory, the theater fosters a series of one-acts, experimental, and “Readers’ Theater” presentations. During the one-month Interim, there are a variety of exciting opportunities to become involved in theater. The program of the St. Olaf College Theater Department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theater (NAST). See the department web page for more information (http://wp.stolaf.edu/theater/).
St. Olaf Artist Series
The St. Olaf Artist Series presents outstanding interdisciplinary fine arts events with the aim of reaching a wide audience. Sponsored events, with related programming, bring renowned artists or groups to campus and are intended to serve as an important facet of a liberal arts education.
The Artist Series Committee, chaired by the Associate Dean of Fine Arts and consisting of faculty and staff from across campus, selects and sponsors Artist Series events. Admission is generally free to students, faculty, and staff.
St. Olaf Convocation Program
In addition to the regular academic offerings, the college provides opportunities for students and faculty to hear and meet prominent persons in the fields of education, government, politics, theology, and the arts. A series of convocation lectures brings such persons to the campus at regular intervals throughout the year.