Issue: Spring 2007
Author: Elizabeth Bologna ’08
“There’s nothing to do!” It’s the mantra of young adults everywhere, the perennial complaint of high schoolers and college kids alike. It was something I was worried about when I was thinking of coming to Grinnell. It’s a small college in a small town … what if I was bored every weekend? What if the only thing there was to do was drink? I didn’t like the idea of that.
Basically, I knew from the time I learned to read I needed to be an English major in college. I love to read and I love to talk about books — what major could suit me better? Unfortunately, Grinnell has this strange idea that you should have a well-rounded education, so they wouldn’t let me take only English classes. I had a lot of fun experimenting — taking classics, art history, or whatever I felt like. I knew I had already picked my major, so there was no pressure on my schedule.
When I first visited Grinnell, I was looking for ways to differentiate the College from other schools I had already been to. What was it about Grinnell that everyone said was so different and progressive?
For me, the answer was the school has a fake newspaper.
Sometimes in college residence halls, there are floors so great their inhabitants are designated by floor name. My first year, there were “those kids from Loose Second.” The next year, it was “those kids from D First.” I was always sort of mystified. How could people who had seemingly nothing but geography in common become so close?
Then, in my senior year, I moved to Read Second.
"These kids are truly barbaric!” my mind screamed as I walked into the child-infested art room of the local middle school. Fifteen paper planes were flying, a rental clarinet was honking, and scissors-wielding 10–13-year-olds were zooming across the room, reminding me more of Brownian motion than of an academic institution. I was a first-year and eager to rocket into the upper ranks of the learned and distinguished. This was my hell.
The year is 1984. The legal drinking age in Iowa rises to 21. The state’s largest vendor of beer, according to legend, loses three-quarters of its customers. Two years later, the Grinnell College campus pub closes.
While most colleges have some sort of mascot, a select few have unofficial ones that are even more popular amongst the student body. Here at Grinnell College, our unofficial mascot is unmistakably the squirrel.
Hang on. A squirrel?
It seems a bit odd at first. Why would we adopt a common, medium-sized rodent as an unofficial icon at a top-notch liberal arts institution? I admit I was a bit puzzled myself when I learned about the importance of squirrels to Grinnell College student life.
Half an hour ago, as I walked back to my dorm after class, a pair of gorgeous monarch butterflies flitted across my path. Now, I have seen butterflies at home in Oregon — the white-winged kind that are actually just a prettier species of moth — but these were not Oregon butterflies. Dancing in front of me was a pair of true, orange-and-black, fluttery-winged monarchs looking for all the world like two butterflies in love.