When I was teaching at St. Thomas, an old newspaper colleague – then the college relations director at Carleton – would regularly give me a not-so-gentle shot about how much smarter he thought the Carls (students) were than the Tommies.

I’d counter that while Carleton students were congratulating themselves about how smart they were 10 years after graduation, my Tommie students were out in the world kicking butt and taking names – trying to make the Republic a little better.


That old argument came to mind as I thought about the Republican National Convention last month. Four former editors of The Aquin had a role, from the inside or outside, in the gathering that attracted the country’s attention.

Bill Nowling, Aquin editor in 1991, came to St. Paul as the spokesperson for the Michigan Republican Party. He must have been important because he was interrupted a half dozen times during supper by urgent text messages on his Blackberry. Nowling, the insider, got his start covering the State House for the Fargo Forum. I gave him a little shot for selling out, but I picked up the check.

Chris Havens (2000), a Star Tribune reporter, also spent his time inside the Xcel Energy Center, talking with the delegates from Minnesota. “The convention was pretty scripted,” Havens said, “but it was exciting to see that mass of people in downtown St. Paul.”

Outside the Xcel on the last night of the convention, Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski, both reporters for the Minneapolis bureau of the Associated Press, covered the final anti-war march. Before it was over, police threw percussion grenades and tear gas and made nearly 400 arrests.

One of those grenades hit Krawczynski (2001), and police arrested him and Forliti (1995) for unlawful assembly. “We were on the on Marion Street bridge and couldn’t get out of the crowd,” Forliti said. “It was loud and scary, especially since I saw Jon go down.”

Forliti and Krawczynski contributed crisp, clear and concise coverage of the convention protests. Once they were arrested, their colleagues took over the reporting because the pair had become part of the story.

Krawczynski is back at his regular sports beat. Forliti is a spot news veteran who covered the murder of seven at Red Lake High School in 2005. “I love to be in the thick of things,” she concluded.

Precisely the point I was trying to make to my Carleton friend.

15 Responses

  1. Rachel, St. Paul

    Dave,
    Thanks for highlighting the work of our dedicated alumni.

  2. Kathryn, St. Paul

    As a St. Thomas student (and a liberal) I can personally attest to the fact that as a majority, the St. Thomas community is far from liberal, leftist, or socialist (at least in professed ideology).

  3. Michael Wilcox, St. Paul

    As a more recent Aquin editor (spring 2008), I really appreciate Nimmer’s “Where are they now?” piece and comments about Tommies who get the work done. I’m glad to know I’m among such humbling people.
    In respectful response to alumnus Ray Rauenhorst’s comment and the sentiments of others, I will say that I do indeed look forward to serving my country when I graduate — as a journalist. My St. Thomas journalism education, led by a collection of some of the best media professionals in Minnesota, has taught me one thing above all else: Our democracy and right to free speech stagnate without the constant vigilance that journalists like Ms. Forliti and Mr. Krawczynski provide.
    I know I sound like a bright-eyed, naive kid who hasn’t seen the real world yet, but I’m going into a field where I’ll be surrounded by people who have seen it all – writers who have covered the joys and pains we all experience or hope we never will experience.
    Mr. Rauenhorst, let us do our thing. Pick up the paper in the morning or don’t. But please don’t tell us that our dedication to telling stories is misguided, that our commitment to the rights you and others fought and died for is not genuine.

  4. Kim McIntyre, Washington, D.C.

    Professor Nimmer,
    I just wanted to say I made it further than Rhinelander, Wisconsin. I’m a working TV news reporter in Washington, D.C., and I love being in the thick of things, too.
    Kim McIntyre ’95

  5. Hugh Turley, Hyattsville, MD

    Sadly, Professor Nimmer still rejoices in temporal goods. Pray that alums will aim for a higher purpose in life.

  6. Ed DeGrenier '69

    Cheers for St Thomas U Alums,
    One of the driving motivations
    of my years observing St Thomas is a dedication to discover what the “truth” is when responsible for “covering” or reading stories that have social impact. Part of our education at St Thomas was and is to report the truth and live it as well.
    Keep up the good work,UST

  7. Patrick A Tillemans; Burnsville, MN

    Diverse comments from individuals with different political views and life experiences. My views were shaped by two of St. Thomas’s greatest teachers: Dr. Fred Flynn (Ethics) and Father James Whalen (Journalism) back in the 60′s. At that time,the world was able to watch the evening war news (Vietnam) prior to bedtime.
    Ray suggests that more of our graduates should “kick butt over in Afghanistan”.
    Our son, recently returned from Iraq after a year in Baghdad, kicking butt, awarded the bronze star, serving with Petraeus HQ unit, and for what? Another winless engagement by our forces, loss of life, countless wounded, for a few barrels of oil.
    Let us all hope that new leadership in Washington, will lead to either a safe exit of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan; or a committment to win both engagements, if it is possible to win in guerilla warfare.
    I hope our graduates continue to “kick butt.”

  8. Tim Moran '71

    St. Thomas wasn’t a liberal, lefty, socialist place when I went there, but some of us snuck through anyway… Glad it’s progressing.

  9. Brendan Loughrey, Brooklyn Park, MN

    Congrats to two fellow Tommies, out covering the news and being in the line of fire.
    Ray, I am sure you’ll never be back to this blog – but get your facts straight. These two were REPORTING on the rally. Your little Afghanistan dig was petty and wrong.
    And now, on to the news… Nim – Dave Bellmont and I just finished working on a TV commercial together – talk about sellouts!

  10. Marc Shrake, Santa Monica

    I don’t understand why Ms. Forliti finds such enjoyment, or in her word “love,” in having the opportunity to cover seven murders. Her comment, and Mr. Nimmer’s using it to make his point, are a perfect example of the media’s giving the impression that they themselves are the story, and that the reported events are merely incidental and secondary.

  11. Denise Renckens, Chicago

    The fact that many Aquin alums left St. Thomas with a passion for journalism and the drive to make their mark in the world is a testament to the fierce dedication to the craft that was instilled in us in the Aquin office, under Nim’s wing.

  12. Janice Evers, Aberdeen, SD

    I’m a St. Thomas alum also – working Senator Tim Johnson’s re-election campaign in South Dakota. I agree St. Thomas students care a lot – and we hardly are a leftist bunch. As an MBA graduate I can safely say with the bail-out this week by the government of our financial and insurance institutions – we are now all socialists whether we wanted to be or not. And it’s thanks to those on the right who adopted the same unwise policies that led to the Great Depression.

  13. Ray Rauenhorst, Easton, Minn.

    Sounds like St Thomas is becoming a liberal, leftist, socialist school. Not the one I went to. If Forliti and Krawczynski want to kick butt and make the Republic better, why aren’t they in Afghanistan putting their actions where their mouths are?
    Ray Rauenhorst ’66
    Former Marine

  14. Angela Shannon, Chicago

    Dave speaks eloquently about the St. Thomas alum. We’re not happy unless we’re out there living it, working it, making memories, making a difference, trying to make things better somehow. I’m incredibly proud of that. Rather than brag (hello, Carleton) we’d rather let our actions — and accomplishments — speak louder than words. Thanks, Dave Nimmer, for the pride you’ve always shown for your students.

  15. Emily, St. Paul

    Heck yeah! Tommies don’t rest on their laurels, they go out and get more :)