Thank You, Olin

I’ll keep this short and sweet because it’s hard to write. I’ll be honest, I sat down to write a couple times before I teared up and had to stop.

Four years ago during Candidates’ Weekend, I caught a glimpse of Olin’s close, supportive community. Two weeks ago, I was reminded of it again. In a difficult time of rapid change and transition, we all came together. 

Faculty and staff worked quickly to keep our campus safe and make the transition a smooth one. End-of-the-year concerts and events were organized and held in a matter of days. On Thursday, seniors who were suddenly unsure of when our graduation would be were met with a ceremony as wonderful, if not more, than the one planned for May. 

Take it not just from me but from these anonymous messages of thanks as well:

“Big thanks to all of the teams that have scrambled to support Olin’s rapid changes over the past week, including facilities, dining, IT, student affairs, etc.”

“To Mark and the rest of the Academic Life leadership team: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the tone you’ve set for our AL meetings: the caring, the pragmatism, the openness. We’re so lucky to have you!”

“Thank you to everyone who helped pull [Fauxmencement] together. Thank you to everyone who set up the event, to everyone who made hats and tassels, to everyone who wrote kind messages in chalk and made the sea of bubbles to walk through. Thanks to all the speakers for pulling something together last minute. Every bit of it was beautiful, because it came from the love and care of the community. I almost hope we don’t have a real commencement — there’s no way it could be better than what you made it.”

“Thank you to those involved with the Presidential Search. An extra big thank you to Anupama Krishnan and Niyi Owolabi for committing their time to it. I am extremely excited for the positive changes a new president may bring to us in light of all that is happening currently. So thank you to those that made this happen and to our President-Elect Dr. Gilda Barabino for committing to Olin. An extra thank you to Anusha Datar for hosting a Zoom call to experience this event together as well.”

“Thank you to all the students, staff, faculty, (everyone really) for putting together those last events to send us home properly. It really felt like a proper good-bye. Thank you to all of those who have made events to stay together and have provided ways that we can. I am grateful to have the opportunity now to have better means to interact with the students who were away as we stay together. Your efforts have reminded me of why I chose Olin and why I am so grateful that I did. To the seniors, I will miss you all and I am thankful for the part you played and will continue to play in my life. You have made it all the better.”

Even now, in the awkward move to online classes, you all have shown that Olin’s community can never be contained to just five (and a half) buildings. 


Welcome back, and to all you fresh faces, welcome to this year’s first issue of Frankly Speaking!

For all you fresh people, Frankly Speaking is Olin’s student unofficial student-run newspaper, which means we publish almost anything and we do it for free.

A big thank you to our returning editor Kai Loewenstein and a big welcome to new editors Erika Serna and Duncan Hall. We’re here to add commas and help your articles be the best they can be.

Finally, let me introduce myself, Editor-in-Chief, Sophia Nielsen. For those of you that don’t know me. I’m a senior and recently-converted MechE. I have a deep love for Gilmore Girls the reality TV show Survivor.

If you would like to join our staff, shoot me an email at

We can always use help editing, posting articles to our website, doing layouts, and distributing, and since this is my last year, I need all the help I get from non-seniors to keep the paper alive.

As always, we depend on contributions from Olin students, faculty, and staff to fill it with content. So if you have any opinions, inspirations, or printable talents, consider submitting them to your favorite unofficial student-run newspaper.

For more information (and submission guidelines that make my life significantly easier) go to 

Promise of Ra: Chapter 2

It started like a pendulum, power shifting from one side to another, and each time it reached its peak someone would give it another push.

And so it continued, growing momentum until no side could reconcile the other. They had become too different and too sure of their place on the right side of history.

But the reason we started fighting and the reason we never bothered to stop: because war’s good for business.

“Whatever the cause, we’re a country divided,” Irene remarks. Hayden shakes her head.

“We were never a country in the first place, just a loose collection of nations each with its own culture and political ideology,” Hayden returns.

They are sitting on a couch that looks too expensive to sit on and Irene is wearing a dress that looks more expensive.

Irene nods slowly.

“I agree there were preexisting divisions, but what was the fatal blow?” she asks.

A boy enters the room wearing an expensive suit and a bad attitude. Another boy follows two paces behind.

The boy gestures for the girl next to Hayden to get up. Theo reluctantly moves to the neighboring chair. The boy lounges on the couch in the empty space.

“What are we talking about, ladies?” he asks with a self-certain grin. His follower sits silently on the other side of Irene. Irene and Hayden continue their conversation.

“There was no fatal blow,” Hayden answers. “It was simply a slow escalation of political blows from either side of a single division. Militias were formed long before the first shot was ever fired.”

“I disagree,” Irene contradicts. “There always is a catalyst even if the preexisting conditions suggest the break out of war.”

“Explain,” Hayden requests.

The ignored boy, Seth, is impatient to be included.

“What are you talking about?” he snaps.

“Anti-Semitism was rampant in Germany before World War II, but it took Hitler, the catalyst to start the Holocaust.”

Seth, frustrated, crosses his arms. Theo smirks, enjoying the theatrics, and joins in.

“A catalyst, yes,” Theo agrees, “but in this case that was the corporations committed only to themselves behind the banner of a major political party. The simple truth is that most people didn’t belong to either side of the division.”

Seth leans in close to Hayden’s ear.

“I think she’s right, don’t you?” he says. “Some people will never belong.” Hayden’s lips tighten. Irene locks eyes with Seth and goes in for the kill.

“You make a good point,” she concedes, her voice flat and unemotional. “The real lines in the war are drawn along financial boundaries. It’s a shame, don’t you think, that those who started this war will never have to finish it?”

Seth cannot respond, but he is angry, so he is not done.

“If you have the money to avoid the draft, you deserve to,” he snaps. Theo raises her eyebrows, and she and Hayden begin to eviscerate him.

Her job done, Irene leans into the couch, her back still ramrod straight. Seth’s follower, Nick, still has not said a word. Irene turns her head to address him.

“I don’t know what you see in Seth,” she muses.

“Excuse me?” Nick asks.

“What you see in him, why you follow him around like a puppy dog,” she clarifies.

“I-I don’t-” he stammers.

“Listen, Nick,” she confides, “he’s going to hurt you one day, and he’s going to cut deep.” Nick’s eyes are wide and his brow is drawn.

“What are you talking about?” he asks. But Irene has already turned away.

“You think just because one of your relatives had the very original idea of exploiting other’s labor, you’re entitled to more than the rest of us?” Hayden asks.

Seth moves over and slides his arm around her.

“So you’re not impressed by my money?” he asks.

In one quick movement, Hayden grabs Seth’s wrist and twists it behind his back.

Seth screams. No one steps forward to help, not even Nick. Hayden leans close to Seth’s ear.

“Maybe I don’t belong but I’d like to see you survive where I do,” she whispers.
Seth squirms.

“You can’t do this. I’ll tell my father” he cries.

“You won’t.” Hayden answers. Her yellow eye glints with malice but her grey eye is flat and conveys no emotion.

Promise of Ra: Chapter 1

Oscar walks through the cracked streets. He turns the wrong corner and finds himself at a dead end.

Two teenagers come up from behind, blocking his path. Their jeans are tattered and their guns clearly visible.

One walks forward. She wears an oversized army shirt and a dangerous expression, but more unsettling, her eyes are two different colors, one grey and the other an unsettling yellow.

“What you doing here, pretty boy?” she taunts. Oscar straightens and looks her in the eye.

“I have as much right to be here as you do,” he returns, perhaps unwisely. The girl laughs and shakes her head.

“See, I don’t think so,” she responds. “I think you’re on our turf, and if you don’t get off, you’re gonna end up on the wrong side of my Colt.”

“Your turf?” Oscar asks incredulously. The girl shakes her head.

“You’re out of your depth, boy.”

“I don’t think I’m the only one.” In response, the girl stops with her hand on her hip. The look on her face, if possible, becomes more dangerous.

“And why’s that?” she asks.

“You don’t have what it takes to shoot me,” Oscar challenges. She laughs drily.

“We’re not gonna kill you, trust fund baby. I, for one, always go for the feet, and Anubis here always loves a good kneecapping.” The boy behind her grins and cocks his pistol. “So get.”

Oscar doesn’t move. The girl pulls him down by the collar.

“Look,” she snarls, “I don’t walk your streets. I don’t crash your high society balls.” When she says this, a flicker of recognition passes across Oscar’s face.

“That’s not true,” he retorts. Her expression darkens. She pushes him back and cocks her gun in one motion, pointing it at his chest.

“I’ve never crashed one of those stupid parties,” she snaps, her voice tight with controlled anger.

Oscar, showing real fear for the first time, holds up his hand.

“Relax,” he responds frantically, “I’m just here to visit my grandmother.”

Surprise then skepticism pass over the girl’s faces. She looks back at the boy who shrugs. She shrugs back and drops the pistol.

“You better not be playing us, Red Riding Hood,” she threatens. She and the boy part to let Oscar pass. He starts to walk through them but stops near the girl.

“You’re playing a dangerous game,” he warns.

She steps closer and, though shorter, seems to tower over him.

“I’m not the only one, and the difference is, I know how to play mine, and I always win. Remember the name Horus, and pray to whatever pathetic god you keep that you never hear it again.”

Oscar, once again reminded of the real danger of the situation, walks away
without responding. Horus bangs her fist against the alley wall in frustration.

“He recognized me,” she snaps. Anubis shrugs.

“Maybe, maybe not,” he responds. “He seems like a guy who likes talking out of his ass.”

“Even so,” Horus says, “I need to be careful. They already think I’m not worth their champagne towers.”

“Champagne towers?” Anubis snorts.

“Yup,” Horus confirms. “Always gets knocked over by some drunk two hours in.” When their laughter dies, Horus suddenly sighs. “I have to get back. There’s another hell fest tonight. It’s not a medal ceremony without a champagne tower, right?”


Welcome back, and to all you fresh faces, welcome to this year’s first issue of Frankly Speaking!
For all you fresh people, Frankly Speaking is Olin’s student unofficial student-run newspaper, which means we publish almost anything and we do it for free.

Our staff, which ended last year as two people, has more than doubled this year! Let me introduce them to you.

Our distributors, the lovely Kristen Behrakis and Hannah Kolano will spend hours printing, folding, and tossing papers gleefully onto the dining room tables.

It’s the job our editors of Kai Loewenstein and Marie- Caroline Finke to check your commas and remind you whether it’s it’s or its.

Finally, let me introduce myself, Editor-in-Chief, Sophia Nielsen. For those of you that don’t know me, you’ll have to wait another couple months. I’ll be putting together this semester’s layouts studying abroad on the – cold – beaches of St. Andrew’s.

For now, just know that I have a deep love for the reality TV show Survivor and, thanks to Justin, a deep fear of angle brackets. If you would like to join our staff, shoot me an email at We can always use help editing, posting articles to our website, doing layouts, and distributing. Someday, I’ll even graduate and a young person will have to take over this paper. That person could be you.

As always, we depend on contributions from Olin students, faculty, and staff to fill it with content. So if you have any opinions, inspirations, or printable talents, consider submitting them to your favorite unofficial student-run newspaper.

How to Survive the Holidays

The holidays are great for a lot of reasons: everyone’s happy; there’s good food, decorations, lights; family comes to visit. And when family comes to visit, inevitably someone will ask you why you haven’t found that special someone yet.

This year I’ve decided to help you out and prepared a list of excuses you can give your Aunt Linda when she asks you why you still aren’t dating anyone.

– I’m looking for the right one.
– I’ve just been so busy with work.
– I’m emotionally stunted and never developed the ability to trust.
– I would go speed dating but I just haven’t found the right jeans.
– I want to be confident in my own identity before I commit to another person. I don’t ever want to lie about who I am to someone I care about. You get that, don’t you?
– Wow, that apple pie looks amazing. Can I have your recipe?
– For the last time, Linda, I’m ace.
– Why aren’t you dating anyone, Linda? Ever think about that?
– Look! A flying buffalo!
– I’m really still hurting from my last break-up. I doubt I’ll ever be able to feel love again, so don’t make any wedding plans.
– A really cool hat.
– Bobby’s not dating anyone either.
– 404: the page you requested was not found.

A Very Belated Hello

Hi there, Olinauts! You may have noticed that I wasn’t an editor and now I am. I just joined the Frankly Speaking team this year, and I’m finally taking the chance to say hello.
Here’s a little bit about me if you don’t already know who I am: I’m a Robotics major who came to this school with nothing but the ability to program and write any type of bullshit but poetry. I’m easily spotted on most days by a green army shirt and bright red high-tops. My favorite author is Neil Gaiman, and my favorite genre of anything is weird as shit.
I love any music in the realm of classic rock and alternative rock, but I’m going through my angsty music phase now: Fall Out Boy, twenty-one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, you name it. My pride and stubbornness are both my greatest assets and greatest weaknesses. I don’t know when to quit, and nobody tells me what to do but my mother (and sometimes my roommate).
I’m also really excited to work on Frankly Speaking this year.
This newspaper is such a cool way for Olin to speak its mind and offer interesting opinions on things like capitalism and maps.
I’m also hoping to make it a cool way to find out more about what’s going on at Olin from student-run events to faculty research to campus culture discussions and maybe even as a way to find out what’s going on in the world outside of Olin (if that exists).
But sometimes the barrier between “this should be in Frankly Speaking”
to sending it in is actually writing something.
Well, that’s what I’m here for. Do you have something you want to say but don’t know how to say it? Is there something you think someone should write about but don’t have the motivation to write it yourself? Are you slugging through an article but want an outside opinion or maybe just grammar check?
If any of these are you, I’m the person for the job. I’d love to complement the current Frankly Speaking spread with articles grounded in Olin and directly applicable to the Olin community.
If you have ideas for content along these lines, I would love to hear them.
Expect me to bother various club, activity, and student government meetings in the near future.
Is there an event you think I should cover? Let me know. Is there a TV show, movie, or book you want me to review before you commit your own time to it? Let me know.
That being said, I also love the application of critical theory to everyday topics and would love to advise on or write a critical spin on any topic on campus or off. If that’s something you’re into, let me know.
Stay Cool,
Sophia “Will Write for Free” Nielsen