St. Olaf College | COVID-19

October 28, 2021 at 12:16 p.m.

My Halloween message for you

To St. Olaf College students
Dean of Students Rosalyn Eaton

Dear Students,

It’s not long now…

In Northfield, thousands of kids will hit the streets, going door to door in search of candy, and as a resident of St. Olaf Avenue, I expect about 300 visitors. If you’re among the candy searchers, I should tell you that we already ate the peanut butter ones, but I left the Sour Patch things for handing out. Northfield children will also come to campus to attend the Volunteer Network-sponsored party. Our community truly knows how to enjoy this event.

As you plan your activities: Of particular concern around Halloween in a campus community is the amount of binge drinking that sometimes takes place. Several years ago on Halloween Weekend, 6 St. Olaf students were hospitalized for acute intoxication and one person was sent to detox. Still more students wound up being cited for underage consumption. On that Halloween night, St. Olaf students made it impossible for the Northfield Emergency Room to serve the greater community – they had to divert car crash victims to another town’s emergency room. It was a sad and troubling night because of the choices our students made.

I tell you this because every St. Olaf student incident from that night was 100% preventable had people made better decisions around if, how and where they were going to drink. Further, a number of other problems could have been avoided had hosts been more attentive or had friends taken more responsibility for what was happening around them.

No one wants a tragedy and no one wants to deal with the consequences of a hospitalization or a police record. I am appealing to the best in all of us with 3 simple requests.

  • Be thoughtful and decide before you go out what you will or won’t accept or do and then stick to it.
  • Commit yourself and your friends to look out for each other and keep dangerous behaviors at bay.
  • Remember that it’s reasonable to enjoy this festive weekend without alcohol at all.

As you plan a costume: We know you to be kind and thoughtful people and ask you to be particularly thoughtful as you select your Halloween costume. Ask yourself:

  • Is it funny because it makes fun of real people, human traits or cultures?
  • Does it attempt to represent a culture that is not your own?
  • Does it perpetuate stereotypes, misinformation or historical and cultural inaccuracies?

COVID-19: You know how it spreads. You know what’s risky. And you know that substances impair your judgment around healthy decisions. Whether you’re vaccinated or not – wear a mask over your mouth and nose when in a crowded indoor space.

People can and will call us out to criticize messages such as this no matter what their opinion or view is on costumes, alcohol, the alcohol policy or the state of civic harmony between St. Olaf students and neighbors. That aside, there must be a commitment from each of us to be thoughtful and safe and to do what we can to ensure the safety of others. There is too much at stake to do anything but this, and I trust that you care about this as much as I and others at the college do.

My best to you for a safe and enjoyable weekend.


Dean Roz