New book chronicles St. John’s through photos

St. John’s High School students pose near an early sign in the early 1900s

Cullen Trobec
[email protected]
Ever wonder what St. John’s was like in your parents’ time? What about your grandparents’ time? Even great-grandparents’?
A new book from SJU alumnus and photographer Michael Crouser ‘85 and CSB/SJU’s head archivist Peggy Roske ‘77, Saint John’s Through the Years provides a visual glimpse into the rich history of St. John’s from the 1890s to the 1960s. The book features nearly 90 little-before-seen archival photos of St. John’s and its campus life as far back as the late 1800s.
Crouser is the photographer and creator of the highly popular book Saint John’s in Pictures, which is a staple at the SJU bookstore and adorns the coffee tables of countless alumni. Saint John’s in Pictures was published in 1994, and around the same time Crouser became inspired to create a similar volume, this time of archival photos instead of contemporary ones.
“I actually had this idea back in 1995 after my first book came out. It was so well received that I wanted to do a companion book of archival photos,” Crouser said. “It got put on the back burner, until this last year when I came across some files that I had been given by Fr. Vincent [Tegeder] which kind of rekindled the idea to put together a new book.”
Crouser reached out to Roske to help procure photos to include in the book. With help from Roske and archivists both past and present from the St. John’s Abbey, the two eventually compiled a collection spanning from the 1880s to the 1960s. Crouser curated the photos while Roske provided much of the historical background for the photos—included in photo captions on each page—and authored the introduction at the beginning of the book.
Many of the photos are aerial shots of SJU through the years showcasing the building, demolition and shuffling of the various buildings that dotted the campus prior to the ‘master plan’ designed by architect Marcel Breuer.

An SJU student studies in his room in Benet Hall circa 1932

“I was focused from the beginning on including images that would be both visually fascinating and informative,” Crouser said. “I wanted to show pictures that showed how the campus changed because this is a book for people that are mostly familiar with St. John’s.”
Many facets of early campus life also feature prominently. Early athletics, the bowling alley in the basement of Benet Hall, and the beginnings of the KSJR radio station are just a small sample of captures from SJU’s 150 plus years.
Sometimes details on a particular photo were slim to none. In these cases, Roske and her archival assistant Elizabeth Knuth had to do some sleuthing to discover exactly when, where, and of who the picture was taken.
“With the picture of the javelin thrower, there was no record of date or who it was. So there was a fair amount of work that went into figuring it out, given that particular uniform, it would have been during this time, and so on,” Roske said.
Eventually, Knuth was the one who was able to track down the identity of the person, John Maciejny ‘63, by comparing other pictures of the track and field teams.
Both Crouser and Roske are hopeful that their work will bring back memories for anyone who feels close to St. John’s.
“I hope people get a better sense of the history of this place. How long we’ve been here, how accomplished the monks were to did what they did, and the students that came here,” Roske said. “There’s a lot to be learned just by looking at the pictures and appreciating the life and vitality and the values that are evident.”
“The target audience is really those who appreciate St. John’s and enjoy their time there. St. John’s is a relatively small place, so I really want people to enjoy the experience of paging through the book again and again recalling their own time at Saint John’s, even though their experience at St. John’s might be over,” Crouser said.
Crouser hopes to make his way back to campus for reunion weekend in June and potentially arrange a future book signing at the SJU bookstore for fans of the book. It is available for purchase at the SJU bookstore and online at

Rat Pak breaks from tradition, inaugurates Bennie members

CULLEN TROBEC • [email protected] The Rat Pak first debuted girls at their “Everyone’s a Rat” themed football game this past fall semester.

By Alaina Graupman
[email protected]
“Why not girls?” Brother Gazoinks said, a SJU senior and Rat Pak member, when asked why, after decades of a strict “no girls allowed” policy, the Rat Pak suddenly decided to welcome Bennies into their ranks.
The Rat Pak, a student-run group for the past 63 years, has denied Bennie after Bennie entry on the basis of “tradition.”
Recently, two female rats debuted at St. John’s basketball games alongside the notoriously unruly batch.
“They are really funny. It changes the environment of our group for the better. It’s fun to have a different energy and a more diverse voice to our group,” Brother Ricket, senior Rat Pak member, said when asked about the new additions.
One of the new Bennie rats, who has not yet received her name, shares her brothers excitement.
“I feel very special,” she said. “I know a lot of girls are very excited. I was touched when a group of Bennie Alumni stopped me at a game to tell me how they wished girls could have joined when they attended St. Ben’s.”
Current students also share that excitement, according to Emma Stanke, CSB senior.
“I think it’s great!” Stanke said, when asked about her opinion of the new female rats. “We have so many Bennies that would be just as fun and engaging as the Johnnies in the Rat Pak— I think it’s about time this change happened.”
So why now is it time for a change?
“That was our reality,” Ricket said. “We came into the Pak with no women in it, so to us it was normal, but when people asked us why there weren’t Bennies in the Rat Pak we never had an answer.”
In the past, the Rats said that they would support Bennies if they wanted to create their own “Rat Pak,” but recently decided that considering the history and support the current Rat Pak receives, it would make more sense to be united. So at the end of the Fall 2019 semester, the existing Rat Pak unanimously voted to allow Bennies to join the group. Several candidates were proposed, and eventually initiated in a top-secret ritual in early December. Additional female members will likely join as well in preparation for next football season.
The Rats expect some negative pushback from students and alumni, specifically Johnnies, but are unapologetic in their decision.
“We are all unanimous and support this decision—we are the Rat Pak, people who think women shouldn’t be with us are not,” Gazoinks said.
So far,  the Johnnies have made the Bennies feel welcomed and supported.
“They are crazy,” one of the new Bennies in the group said, “which makes me feel like I can be even crazier.”
According to this Bennie, some women in the crowd feel like they need to be more reserved than men when cheering.
“Some think girls can’t be as obnoxious as boys, but me being in the group makes it more acceptable,” she said. “Let loose girls!”
Looking ahead, the Rat Pak is excited to extend their cheering to more St. Ben’s sporting events.
“We always want more attendance at female sporting events,” Gazoinks said.“We have more members now which makes it easier to go to more games”
And they only hope to grow in the future. The Rat Pak is always on the lookout for energetic fans—especially Bennies now.
The new Bennie Rat can be found at select St. John’s and St. Ben’s sporting events.
“We hope the school is as excited as we are about the new female members. Inclusion is important,” Gazoinks said—a historic and untraditional mindset from a couple of self proclaimed “stinky” rats.

Community recognizes MLK Day as a day ‘‘on,’’ not off

By Will Schwinghammer
This year, after years of student and faculty efforts and activism, CSB/SJU cancelled classes in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the first time. Events took place all week in recognition of King’s life and legacy, and MLK Day was filled with teach-in events and keynote speakers discussing the progress made and the work that lays ahead.

Class cancellation, meant to allow more students to attend the programming on MLK Day, was “the result of many factors coalescing,” according to Brandyn Woodard, Director of Intercultural and International Student Services. “I think student protests from last year, students visiting the St. Ben’s and St. John’s Senates and talking about their experiences, support and encouragement from Barb May and Academic Affairs, and us being in a different place and time for the institution’s history all came together,” Woodard said, finally pushing administration to cancel classes after years of activism. Woodard mentioned that he came to CSB/SJU over six years ago and that efforts to cancel classes on MLK Day preceded him. “I’m grateful, and I think many folks are grateful to have classes cancelled so the focus can remain on the day, Woodard said. While he always wishes for higher attendance, Woodard was “very pleased with the turnout” for Monday’s events.

Administrators are also pleased with the week’s events, and recognize that they are simply the framework for a larger task. “I am excited about the ongoing events that are occurring this week on our campus and I hope that these opportunities provide a means to support the necessary conversations and action to lessen inequities on our campus and in our community,” Barb May, CSB academic dean, said via email.
“Administration has always wanted MLK day to be a ‘day on,’ meaning an opportunity to discuss the value of his work and the work still needed to be done,” May said. This year, after years of student protests and activism, administration decided to cancel classes to meet that vision.

“I was concerned though, because I heard some students on Friday of last week were talking about having a three-day weekend, and I wasn’t sure how to interpret that,” Woodard said. However, “students showed up, faculty and staff showed up, and I’m appreciative of that,” Woodard said.

Although attendance dipped in the afternoon, “the turnout for the teach-in sessions was insane,” Cindy Umaña, SBS Trustee and Student Assistant at IISS, said. While having classes cancelled on MLK Day is not guaranteed permanently, “I hope that [administration] see[s] that this was successful,” Umaña said. A successful first year will hopefully make the changes permanent.

Other student leaders were similarly appreciative of the day’s success. “This is my first time in a long time on this campus I felt important. I felt like us as persons of color, our goals, and what we believe in, was listened to”, Tynesha Ashley, head of public relations for the Black Student Association (BSA).

The events exposed a broader swath of the student body to important issues.

“I finally get to witness peers who don’t necessarily look like me participate in things I’m very passionate about, or just simply become aware of the different situations people of color, specifically at this school, are put in,” Jasmyne McCovery, BSA Vice President, said.  The day’s events are for everyone, not just for students of color or for student activists. “I feel like this can be something that can be very powerful, very monumental and very moving for other people when they give it a chance,” McCovery said.

The afternoon convocation by Reverend James Alberts II discussed how work is still needed to continue living King’s dream.

“What’s needed now is more than people just showing, but we need people to do the work of making civil rights, diversity, equity, inclusion and justice real, so that’s going to require something from all of us” Woodard said. Students need to “continue working on themselves,” so that they can figure out “how what you’re doing, either intentionally or unintentionally, either contributes to the status quo or disrupts it,” Woodard said. “We all have work to do.”

The true value of recognizing MLK Day as a day of learning from each other outside the classroom might not be immediately measurable. The day provides students with an opportunity to work towards developing a better sense of community on campus. However, that work can involve sometimes uncomfortable growth. “It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. If you are present at this college, or any college, and you haven’t felt uncomfortable, I feel like you are not having a true college experience,” Ashley said. Even though some professors mandated attendance, Ashley emphasized that students should “listen to understand, not to respond to a discussion post.”

McCovery spoke about how vulnerability and courage are important parts of growth. “Being an ally means being active and supportive, no matter what,” McCovery said. Those who are unsure of how to begin should “just be brave, simply ask questions that you really, genuinely don’t know, because if you’re asking questions it means you want to learn something,” McCovery said.

Listening, asking questions and seeking understanding are necessary next steps to continue the work started during the Civil Rights Movement. “The more we’re able to connect with each other and have healthy relationships with each other, there are chances for honestly and reconciliation and truth and restoration, so that we start looking like the community we aspire to be, for everybody and not just for some folks,” Woodard said.

Although having classes cancelled was a major step, the work of furthering civil rights and equity on campus is not done yet. “I’m going to sound like a broken record, but the reality of it is, until all of us feel compelled, even obligated, maybe even mandated by our sense of self and community to be actively involved in co-creating, maintaining, and sustaining that community, I’m going to have to keep saying the same thing over and over again,” Woodard said.

The way forward requires effort from students, faculty, and administration. Umaña believes that students need administration’s leadership to keep the momentum rolling. “I think administration needs to lead by example, and make it intentional to where it’s inevitable,” Umaña said.

Classes have not yet been permanently cancelled on MLK Day, and making sure that classes are cancelled in the future is imperative if our campuses are going to focus on the work to be done in our own community. “If the events don’t continue, and the activities don’t continue, then it’s going to lose its meaning” Vassey Konneh, Events Coordinator for the BSA, said. Going to the events is a start, but student activism is required if this progress is going to stay. “Showing up and caring is only half the battle, you also have to be willing to act when it matters the most,” Konney said.

MLK Day is important to everyone, not just students of color. MLK Day is a day dedicated to someone who used his own voice to raise issues important to his community, and King’s dream should serve as a reminder to everyone that this work is ours to do. “It’s not just for me and my tribe that I’m doing this work, it’s for the betterment of humanity. We disagree about how that should happen for sure, but I don’t think we disagree that we want things to be better for ourselves, our children, our neighbors, and people that we care about,” Woodard said.

Immense progress has occurred since the Civil Rights Movement, and major developments have occurred over the past few years with classes finally being cancelled. Even so, there is work left to be done, and King’s dream has not yet been fully realized. Students are the ones who can take up that work. “Students fought for this da
y, so it’s up to students to keep the value of this day. When we were fighting for it, we recognized the need for it and how much it meant to us, and now we have to keep that going,” Konneh said.

BSA President Geonn Taylor, in a statement delivered by Ashley, welcomed the student body to attend the BSA’s next General Meeting on Feb. 3, and all future events, to continue conversations started on MLK Day and keep making progress in building our campus community.

$300,000 grant given to combat sexual assault and domestic violence

By Will Schwinghammer
[email protected]
CSB/SJU just received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women.

The grant lasts three years, offers $300,000 and is renewable for a second three-year term. The grant’s aim is to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking (SADVDVS) on campus. The grant will cover projects seeking to provide more services to sexual assault survivors, revise campus policies and trainings, educate students about sexual assault and establish a Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT). The grant’s term begins on Oct. 1, 2020, beginning the initial planning year for the grant. Grant-related programming will likely begin next fall.

Right now, CSB/SJU is in the process of hiring a program coordinator, as required by the grant, according to Michael Ewing, Director of Counseling at CSB/SJU. They will assemble the CCRT, which will include people such as “the program coordinator, directors of security, deans of students, directors of athletics,” Ewing said. The CCRT is a small group of stakeholders and students will likely also be involved. “I would think if we did it well, we would involve students in a variety of ways,” Ewing said.

The grant is an institutional grant, not just a Counseling and Health Promotion grant, so the CCRT will have members from across the institution.
Outside the school, the program will partner with the St. Joseph Police Department, the Stearns County Sheriff and the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center. One aim of the grant is to ensure that security, law enforcement and administrators all interact with survivors in a trauma-informed way, according to Ewing.

The grant was awarded in early October, and CSB/SJU is still in the process of hiring the program coordinator. Ewing is currently in the new grant orientee process, which includes trainings and guidance to help the school set up its CCRT and establish project goals. Part of that includes evaluating statistics and records to see what areas need to special focus.

“You want to build on your strengths, but also want to address the gaps,” Ewing said.  “This gives us the unique opportunity to do that with the expertise of the Office of Violence Against Women.” 

The grant provides a chance for the institutions to carefully evaluate their current measures to reduce SADVDVS. The grant’s resources will make sure that the situation is getting better.

“I’m someone who believes we’re always in the process of getting better, and if we’re not we’re probably getting worse,” Ewing said.  “This is a unique opportunity with the support of the grant to do that process in a well-defined way to get us where we need to go”.

Ewing is optimistic about the project, but there’s a long road ahead. “Three years will help us get us started, six years would help us get down into the work, but it’s something we’d have to keep working at well beyond six years or three years. That’s the commitment that happens more at the institutional level than at the grant level,” Ewing said.

The program is still in the hiring process and much planning lies ahead. “I’m looking forward to the process of getting time, energy, and support to look at our SADVDVS, our prevention efforts, our intervention efforts and to see where it takes us in terms of where our gaps are, and where we can and need to do better,” Ewing said.

Even after the grant ends, the project’s work will not be done. The grant is the start, and shows an important commitment by the institutions to counter SADVDVS on our campuses.

Salzburg program shares final look at study abroad experience

By Valerie Doze
[email protected]
ULM, GERMANY—The first weekend of November, the Salzburg group found themselves in Ulm—yes, the inspiration for New Ulm, Minn.—on their way to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. While in this city, the group went on a tour and learned about the history of the place. There’s nothing that brings the Reformation more to life than sitting in a Baroque church where many of the statues had been destroyed by rioting Protestants when the church was Catholic.

Upon arriving at their major destination of Rothenburg, the Austria program checked into their 350 year-old hostel. After a tour of the city the following day, people’s free time consisted of eating German sausages, buying Christmas gifts, walking through the Torture Museum and walking around the wall that surrounded the city while watching the beautiful sunset.

Abbey Estep, a CSB junior accounting major, enjoyed the Schneeballen [Snowballs], which are a type of pastry that resemble pie crust.

“Honestly one of my favorite things was the tour guide… it was really interesting [to see] her perspective on things and also having her take us to look out over the walls… I also liked how she talked about the concept of the city being enclosed by a wall,” Estep said.

Estep also enjoyed exploring the town after the tour.

“I also really enjoyed all the little shops. I’m such a shop guru that I loved going into
the Christmas shops, and I’m a small business supporter, so I loved that stuff,” Estep said.
Yes, it was as picturesque as one can imagine. Yes, the question of when the appropriate time to listen to Christmas music was asked (Poll response average: after Thanksgiving).

The Torture Museum was a bit lighter than the one in Prague, but definitely still a heavy subject to process. Morgan Bain, a CSB junior psychology major, who is studying the Salzburg witch trials for her experiential learning project, talked about the difference between the two.

“The Torture Museum was interesting because [the one in] Prague left me with an uncomfortable pit in my stomach. It was scary, but the one in Rothenburg wasn’t as heavy. As far as the witch burnings, it was a lot more educational than spooky,” Bain said.

Bain also used the time in the museum for research on her project, in which she is studying the Salzburg witch trials by reading the play, “Children of the Devil.”

[It was] “written about [the trials] in English to get the story out and immortalize it [since] the place where the witches were kept was bombed. [The play] was one of the last things I could really find to solidify that it [the trials] existed because you can’t really visit it anymore,” Bain said. “The witch trials in Rothenburg were mostly women, but the ones in Salzburg were males under sixteen years old and children, which is what makes Salzburg so different.”

On the way home, students stopped in Augsburg, Germany and took a tour of the city that consisted of churches, the Golden Hall of the Rathaus (Town Hall) and the Fuggerei, or the oldest social housing complex in the world.

In case you thought that a majority of student time was spent on excursions, last week, they went to a Salzburg Red Bulls Eishockey game. After three periods of shouting and prepping for Johnnie/Bennie hockey this spring, students excitedly watched the Red Bulls score right before the end of the game, bringing the final score to 2-1 Bulldogs.

“I thought the hockey game was such a cool experience because they played a lot of the same music that we have, and it’s the same chants but in German. It’s such a weird experience to go to such a normal part of our culture shifted to a different language. A lot of people were wearing American pro hockey team jerseys around us,” Bain said.

A highlight was definitely speaking with goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux after the game, especially since he played for the University of North Dakota in college. After living in Austria for seven years, Lamoureux and his wife have been able to travel parts of Europe, learn German, and have had two children born in Austria. He answered all questions about living and working abroad, as well as the difference between the Austrian and U.S. hockey teams.

Attending the game also inspired Bain because she is in the CSB Figure Skating Club.

“I had to go skating that next day because of the hockey game. I smelled the arena, and I was like, ‘I missed the ice,”’ Bain said.

Experiencing the Salzburg outdoor rink in the old city was fun for the group, and more are planning to join in the coming weeks as the Christmas markets open.

“We played a lot of tag, and there were a couple of wipe outs,” Bain said.

Historic stock trader, speaker delivers lecture at SJU

CULLEN TROBEC • [email protected] Lauren Simmons, the second African American female and youngest female stock trader to work at the New York Stock Exchange, encouraged students to seek new experiences, even if out of their comfort zone.

By Betsy Ruckman
[email protected]
On Monday Nov. 18, SJU’s Pellegrene auditorium filled with students, faculty, alumni and friends for the Mark Kennedy Frontiers of Freedom lecture series.
This year’s keynote speaker was Lauren Simmons, the second African American woman and the youngest female trader ever on the New York Stock Exchange at 23 years old. Now 25, she has since left the trading floor and works as a motivational speaker, an influencer and an entrepreneur.
Simmons has always been a go-getter. After graduating from Kennesaw St. University in 2016, she moved to New York to pursue her dream of a job in the big city. Despite her major being in genetics, she had a minor in statistics and looked for jobs in finance.
“Finance chose me,” Simmons said of her job search.
Most importantly, she networked, talking with hundreds of people.
“For one job posting they would get anywhere between 7,000-12,000 applicants. So how do you stand out? It’s going to be being in front of somebody.”
She is living proof of this method: Her connections introduced her to an executive at Goldman Sachs, who in turn referred her to the fateful equity trader position on the stock exchange floor. After a lot of hard work and studying, she was ready to make history.
Simmons protested the idea of working one job in one major your whole life.
“I had a lot of the older generation just not understanding why I didn’t want to pursue genetics,” Simmons said. “It’s a very dated mindset.”
She has gone from pre-medical studies to genetic counseling to finance, and she doesn’t intend to stop exploring.
“Statistically, only 32 percent of people go into the career in which they got their degree,” Simons said, encouraging students to leap at chances to do something new, something that scares them.
If you advocate for yourself and trust that everything will work out, it will.
“I’m not highly religious, but I do believe in having a faith-based system and taking a moment to just relax, because everything will be just fine The moment I calmed down, the universe had answers for me.”
The speaker has big plans for the future. She referenced the statistic that women make up only 6.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, and called for that to change to a ratio closer to 50/50.
Matt Lindstrom, Director of the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, echoed her goals of change.
“[Simmons] is a pioneer in her field and an inspiring role model, especially for young people. It’s long overdue that we have young people as role models, not to mention young black females as the leaders and role models.”
Simmons’ story is a common one in the current job market. Despite degrees in genetics and statistics, she followed her passion all the way to a finance career at the New York Stock Exchange.
Her advice to anyone? Be financially healthy by opening savings accounts and CD accounts. Laugh in stressful moments. Trust yourself. And always, she closed, “Network!”