THE student tour guide probably recognized the dazed look on our faces. We had driven six hours through cornfields to visit Grinnell College. The Iowa cornfields ended at the very edge of campus. “We are in the middle of nowhere,” he acknowledged.
Thus, student organizations offer distractions. “If you want to form a club devoted to solving Rubik’s Cubes or watching ‘Family Guy,’ no problem. If you want to change the world or fight global warming, no problem.”
Later, I visited Grinnell’s Web site to discover the range of club activities. There were the major food groups — Christian groups, political groups, ethnic groups, oddball sports and things I’d never heard of, like the Grinnell Monologues, which exist to “perform a collection of monologues about gender and genitalia,” and the Adventure Sewer Explorers, “dedicated to exploring sewers; good for town relations; will attempt to gather a library of material about sewer engineering.”
For the rest of our campus tour, it seemed impossible to escape student organizations: fliers and posters pinned to dorm walls, messages in chalk on sidewalks, folding tables in student unions.