Home » Distinctiveness


HIV Testing and Drag Shows

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Lindsay Robinson ’09

As a first-year student, I dabbled in a little bit of everything. I went to half a dozen meetings every week and signed up to be on all the mailing lists. I was planning events with Concerned Black Students, Grinnell Multicultural Alliance, and the Stonewall Coalition. I was tutoring Sudanese refugees, sewing quilts, and working with the Office of Admission. I joined whatever happened to interest me, whether or not I really had the time for it.

This is a common problem for first-year Grinnellians. With so many organizations to join, it’s difficult to choose just one, or even a few, on which to focus our energies. Even with all of the opportunities to be active, sometimes there can still be something missing — as I discovered.

Luckily, it’s easy to start your own organization here. After attending two conferences on student leadership during my second semester, I was confident I could do just that. Last year, with the help of a group of friends, we re-founded an organization called Queer People of Color (QPOC). We resurrected it to bring focus to a community on campus that we thought needed more attention. We found immediate support.

That semester, we organized a successful panel on the intersection of race and homophobia during Pride Week. Students had a chance to publicly discuss their experiences and personal issues. We held an “Apples to Apples” study break and offered QPOC-themed prizes (Bessie Smith, Margaret Cho, and Bad Education CDs). The study break gave us all a chance to kick back and pretend we didn’t have 10-page papers to write for the next day. We also organized the National Day of Silence on campus, and more than 150 people participated. Students ate silent meals in the dining halls and gathered for a group scream at the end of the day. Afterward, we talked about why participating in Day of Silence was important to us, and we wrote our thoughts on a huge cloth that hangs in the Stonewall Resource Center today.

This year we’ve continued working toward visibility and awareness for various issues. During Coming Out Week, we held a bake night where we watched a film about being Asian American and queer. At one of our meetings, we showed a documentary on being Latino/a and queer. But our biggest event so far has been a “Drag Extravaganza,” organized with the Transgender Advocacy Group and Multicultural Manor (an on-campus project house). In the afternoon, people could learn the history and how-tos of drag at a workshop. That night we held a drag show where the performers collected tips as a fundraiser. With that money and donations from other organizations, we raised $300 to provide free HIV testing for students on campus during AIDS week. We don’t plan to slow down anytime soon. Currently in the works is the planning of the first annual Midwest QPOC conference.

I won’t pretend that leading an organization like this doesn’t take lots of time and energy, sometimes more than I have to give. But as stressed as I am in the days, weeks, and sometimes months leading up to an event, I love doing what I can to make things happen. Being part of this group has shown me there really are lots of opportunities at Grinnell to do the things you want to do. The resources are there, the support is there, and even though I have to sacrifice a lot of my sewing time and some of my naps, I am grateful that QPOC has been able to grow and provide a niche for me and for others.

Lindsay Robinson '09 is a Sociology major from St. Louis, Missouri.


We’ve Got Each Other—and That’s A Lot

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Erin Sindewald '08

As an oh-so-recent Grinnell grad who has oh-so-recently experienced the final ticks of my college clock, been handed a piece of paper of supposed symbolic significance that cannot adequately contain nor express the magnificent years that have so recently ended, and moved back home in hopes of finding myself/finding a job/finding a way, recently I’ve come to reflect on my time here at a Grinnell. In short: it’s been quite a ride.

Here I am, diploma in hand, nearly four years since the medallion ceremony in which I was told that my odds of marrying another Grinnellian were significantly higher than those of marrying my biggest celebrity crush (at the time, 1980s John Cusack); four years since I first ate breakfast in the dining hall with three guys from tutorial who later morphed into three of my closest friends; four years since I ran my first of many unseasonably warm runs with my cross country teammates along the rolling Iowan hillside.

It’s been almost four years since my first PEC shower, my first Grinnellian crush, my first of many Oreo cyclones from Dari Barn, my first bakery run, and my first day as a dining services employee when I accidentally dropped six cents into the cup of coffee that a professor had just purchased.

Over the past four years I’ve shopped at the local farmer’s market, eaten approximately 1,500 pounds of crispy fried tofu from Choung Garden (my all-time favorite meal on this planet — for serious), swung on the swings at Merrill Park, and watched a friend give a research presentation in Chinese even though I don’t speak Chinese. I’ve baked a lot of cookies, written a lot of papers, lounged on a lot of rooftops, and played a lot of Ani DiFranco on my iTunes.

During my time at Grinnell, I’ve worn rainbow suspenders, a maroon unitard, a unicorn hat, a rainbow beanie, and my fair share of gaudy spandex. At various parties I’ve rocked out to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” rocked out harder to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and found ways to make music deemed undanceable by many very danceable indeed.

As an Iowa resident, I’ve visited the bridges of Madison County, run the bases of the Field of Dreams field, sat in the world’s largest rocking chair, and used the bathroom at the world’s largest truck stop. As a study abroad participant I managed to contract dengue fever despite the safety my mosquito net and insect repellant theoretically provided.

As a Grinnell student I have flown kites naked as a study break during finals week, ridden dorm mattresses down the stairs in academic buildings, studied in the library without pants, participated in wheelie chair races in Noyce, explored an abandoned building in town, taken midnight bike rides off campus, taken a dip in the pond beyond the college president’s house in January, attempted to sit on every bench on campus (a work in progress), and engaged in silent dance parties outside of Burling.

And at the core of all these experiences, through every class attended, every test taken, and every paper researched, through every all-nighter and excursion to the dining hall, every concert, play, presentation, lecture, and sporting event, were some of the finest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with. I’m talking about the kindest, kookiest, most intelligent, most compassionate people I could ever have imagined into existence. People who have inspired me to be a better person, challenged some of my most steadfast opinions and beliefs, picked me up when I was down, and giggled incessantly with me every time a giggle was warranted (which was often).

I love the individuals who have made up my Grinnell experience, to quote whoever originally coined the phrase, “with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.”*

All of which won’t burn out for at least 5 billion years or so.

So as that oh-so-recent Grinnell grad who is both excited to approach a new world of untapped possibility and nostalgic for the community she’s leaving behind, I’d like to send out an invitation. If you’re kind and inquisitive, passionate and loving, open minded and open hearted, you might want to consider spending a few years at Grinnell. It just might be the ride you’re looking for.

*I most recently saw this expression used in a campus newspaper article written by John Guittar ’07 in September 2005, used, unsurprisingly, to express his love for Grinnell students. I feel it is appropriate to credit him here.

Erin Sindewald '08 is an English major from Orland Park, Illinois.

Un Feliz Año Nuevo en Guatemala

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


Issue:  Spring 2008
Author:  Stephanie Rosenbaum ’08
As a travelin’ woman, I’m proud to say that I have never spent New Year’s Eve at home during my time in college. My first year, I spent time in Overland Park, Kan., with a friend from school, along with her friends from home. Second year, I was on a flight to Israel when the clock struck midnight. Third year, my high school friends and I watched the ball drop from Milwaukee, Wis.

Even with all these amazing experiences, I must say that my senior year New Year’s Eve was by far the most memorable. I mean, not everyone can say they watched fireworks from the beach in Guatemala.

My best friend, Camila Alarcon ’08, is from the beautiful Central American country of Guatemala. We’ve been friends since the end of our first year. Ever since we met, she has been on my case about coming to visit her during a break. I was finally able to save up enough to go this past winter break, and the trip was well worth the wait. I’m from a suburb of Chicago, and the day I left the weather in the Windy City was abysmal. I’m talking wind, sleet, and snow that even a postal worker wouldn’t tolerate. Arriving in warm, breezy Guatemala City was the perfect remedy for wintertime blues.

I spent two weeks with Camila and her family in Guatemala this winter break. Apart from the fantastic New Year’s on the beach, we did everything from tanning on the beach and watching the waves roll in off the Pacific Ocean, to climbing ancient Mayan ruins in Tikal, to exploring crypts in 17th-century cathedrals in Antigua. I ate traditional Guatemalan food (and would recommend the beans to anyone), fed crocodiles part of my breakfast, and danced in clubs in La Zona Vive. It was a perfect vacation. Her family and friends were so welcoming (and a bit impressed that I knew un poco de español), that I felt completely comfortable and at home. When it was time to leave, I didn’t want to go! It was a great opportunity to not only meet the family and friends of someone I had known for four years, but also to experience a culture and lifestyle completely different from anything I knew growing up in Glencoe, Ill.

That’s probably the best part about going to Grinnell. The students here are able to learn not only inside the classroom, but also from people they encounter in the dining hall, at the various parties around campus, and from the friends they make during their four years here. If I hadn’t gone to Grinnell, I never would have met so many diverse and amazing people and gotten the opportunity to learn so much and expand my worldview. It just goes to show that the people you meet can take you on adventures you never even imagined!

Stephanie Rosenbaum '08 is a Spanish major from Glencoe, Illinois.


What it Takes

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Nik Jameson '11

Grinnell Monologues began in 2002 as a response to The Vagina Monologues about feminism and women’s empowerment, written and preformed by Eve Ensler. Grinnell Monologues expands Ensler’s themes to include body, relationship, and sexuality issues. The pieces represent a diverse cross-section of the Grinnell student body, and the event is open to anyone interested in writing or performing such pieces.

This semester I preformed my fourth monologue in a warm lounge packed with Grinnellians. The audience sat on the floor and in chairs with bottles of water, cans of soda, and pink cheeks, eagerly awaiting the start of the performance. Grinnell Monologues is preformed in the round, and the audience is required to scoot back and forth and turn around when each new performer stands up. This unique presentation style is only part of G-Mons history.

Twice a week, the leaders of G-Mons (two other students and me) organize writing workshops. The leaders work as a team to create writing prompts, secure performance dates, buy pizza, reserve lounges, and keep everyone on track. G-Mons features a specific type of personal narrative focusing on the body, relationships, coming out, staying in, and everything in between. Some memorable monologues have been about holding hands, first kisses, crushes, failed love interests, falling in love again, body hair (both lack of G and excess of), and self-governance as love, as well as several more risqué topics. Grinnellians tend to have unique perspectives. Even when topics overlap, each individual tells a different story from a personal perspective.

Each time we meet, we write for about 25 to 30 minutes. Then we share our work. Some bring a piece they have been working on and will continue to work on for the entire semester, in order to become really comfortable with it by the time we perform. Others write something new each week.

The most interesting and rewarding part of Grinnell Monologues is the community that forms around writing and sharing personal stories. We trust that what we share with the group will remain in a safe space: what’s said here actually stays here. We quickly learn to trust each other, and become a sort of monologue-writing family. G-Mons is unlike any other student group in that regard, and the friendships and trust built between us last even beyond the twice-weekly meetings.

I highly encourage new writers, and all Grinnellians, to come to workshops to see what G-Mons is about. Each person uses the space, time, and creative energy in a different way. It’s a great change of pace and a break from studying in the midst of a busy week, because it requires each person to think and write differently and outside of academic thought pattern.

G-Mons is love! G-Mons is sexy! G-Mons is what you decide to make of it.

Nik Jameson '11 is an Independent major from Kewanee, Illinois.

Well Rounded, Like a Soccer Ball

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author: Alex Exarhos '10

I didn’t pick Grinnell for its strong academic reputation. I didn’t pick it for its strength in the sciences, illustrious alumni, or the brand new modern buildings. It wasn’t even the touted small-town community feel that sucked me in. Believe it or not, what ultimately cemented Grinnell as my choice for college was the soccer field — an absolutely pristine thing of beauty, so flat and consistent it could almost be mistaken for a living room carpet. The first time I set foot on it, I knew I was coming here.

OK, it wasn’t only the soccer field that sold me. But when I arrived on campus a week early in mid-August for my first practice, that’s definitely all I was thinking about. In case you haven’t figured it out, I really love playing soccer. Really. And when I picked Grinnell, it was the only extracurricular activity I knew for sure I would be doing. I had a great first year, playing all I possibly could and meeting people who loved soccer (almost) as much as I did. What I didn’t realize is, I was missing out on a huge chunk of the Grinnell experience.

It wasn’t until my second year that, as my non-soccer-playing friends might put it, “I came into existence.” Having focused all my energy on academics and soccer, I didn’t know about all the great ways to get involved at Grinnell. But as soon as I found out how cool, active, and involved all the student groups were, I started looking at them with the same passion with which I look at soccer. And so began my extracurricular explosion.

Every time I started a new activity, I would think, “Why on earth haven’t I done this sooner?” I joined the TC (technology consultants) corps and felt perfectly at home helping people with computer problems, working with all the incredibly cool equipment in the AV Center, and messing around with all the fun software installed in the Creative Computing Lab. These were places I had barely known existed before, having basically lived on the soccer field.

The experience with the TC corps gave me the courage to start testing my comfort zone, and soon after I found myself attending, of all things, a swing dancing lesson. Here again, I found an activity I loved because I approached it with the same open-minded enthusiasm I had reserved for soccer in the past. I have since gotten completely carried away with swing (in a good way!). I have gone dancing in the far corners of the country, and now my enthusiasm has made me an instructor/organizer for the Grinnell Swing Society.

This year, I have filled what little free time I have left with responsibilities to the computer science department as a member of the SEPC (Student Educational Policy Committee), as well as writing programs for the psychology department, volunteering at the local retirement home, arranging music, playing the guitar, playing the piano, and singing in an a cappella group (which doesn’t have a definite name yet — we have gone through Acappelloctopus, Acapellicopters, Rocktopus, Twenty Minutes of Solid Instrumentals …). My life is so much more full, satisfying, and rewarding than it was during my first year, thanks to all the great opportunities Grinnell has to get involved.

I realize my story is probably different from most people’s. Who picks a Division III school for a sport, even if they do have the nicest facility I’ve ever seen? I guess the main point of my story is that regardless of your mindset coming to Grinnell, the culture is so engaging you can’t help but get sucked into a million awesome activities.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an AltBreak meeting to attend.

Alex Exarhos '10 is a Computer Science major from Richland, Washington.


Tutorial: A Laughing Matter

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author: Ross Preston '10

Thinking back to the summer before I came to Grinnell, I recall an inordinate amount of anticipation for everything Grinnell-related that came my way. I would check my Grinnell e-mail account, only to find no new messages. I was constantly thinking of new things to bring to school. And I probably spent too much time on Facebook, discussing my excitement with future classmates.

One of the more interesting things we talked about was which section of the First- Year Tutorial we wanted to get. Tutorial is required for all first-year students — it teaches college-level research, writing, and presentation while examining some fascinating topic in depth.

Incoming first-year students receive information about all of the tutorials sometime over the summer; they send back their top five choices, rank-ordered, by a certain date to get a spot in one of those five. For my number one choice, I went with the simple title “Comedy,” mainly because I’ve always had an interest in the stand-up variety of comedy and because the course description said we would be watching Pulp Fiction, easily one of my favorite films. I actually had no idea what I was getting into, let alone that it would be perhaps the best class I ever took.

Taught by Erik Simpson, an English professor, the course had four units: theories of comedy/humor, fairy tales, Pride and Prejudice, and lastly, modern films. Each student would write a paper on something from each unit, and once during the semester, every person would receive a workshop-style critique of his/ her writing. Despite the wildly varying subject areas, the course was united by a constant attention to comedy, mostly as a literary genre.

Neither Erik nor anyone else could have anticipated the way the class turned out, which was as funny as the things we were supposed to be studying. Many different people said hilarious things throughout the semester, and the class managed to find ways to inject humor into serious and often thought-provoking discussions. We also worked hard at improving our individual reading and writing skills, which is the intent of any tutorial offered at Grinnell. But I have a hard time believing any other tutorial has had so much fun and so many laughs in doing so.

One of the ways Erik created this enjoyable experience was through the informal but serious atmosphere he established with the class. Early on, he divided the class into two groups: “talkers” and “non-talkers.” Placing the two groups in separate classrooms, he also distributed separate handouts for us to discuss with our group before we were to reconvene. The questions were about class participation, literally “talking” in class, which can be a big thing for new students and is something tutorial aims to help first-years work at as well. Sitting with a group of people who talked about as much as I did helped me discover that college isn’t any more intimidating than any class back in high school.

A great example of one of our open class sessions was the day when everyone had to bring a joke to class. Advised to avoid the “dirty” variety, someone would tell the joke and then the class would analyze how the joke did its work. There is always the danger of taking away all of the fun when performing this kind of exercise, but that never seemed to happen. We laughed at the jokes, and the analysis was never excessive or too basic. It was very instructive to realize how the set-up of a joke was structured.

Not every tutorial is as funny as ours — it’s hard to find comedy in plant genes or imperial regimes — but being able to learn and improve your writing skills while having fun is something I know you’ll experience no matter what tutorial you choose.

Ross Preston '10 is an English major from Ponte Vedra, Florida.


SEPC, Anyone?

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Amy Henning ’10

In my first English class at Grinnell, I was awed by some of the upperclassman. Not only did they know their lit theory, but they also seemed to be involved in some mysterious, nebulous thing called the English SEPC. Was it a clique? A cult? Whatever it was, the members all seemed enthusiastic and committed to this SEPC organization. Eventually I figured out two things: they threw study breaks for English majors from time to time, and ordered English department T-shirts at the end of the year. It was a start.

As I talked with more people about the SEPC, I learned that it was much more than a social group. The acronym “SEPC” stands for “Student Educational Policy Committee,” which suggested slightly more serious educational involvement than just making T-shirts. I speculated with friends about what the SEPC might do, but still did not have a complete idea until the spring of my second year. At that point, the SEPC was looking for new members and sent out a description of the organization to English majors who might want to run for a spot on the committee.

I was immediately convinced to apply for membership. The SEPC, they said, works closely with the English department not only to throw fun study breaks, but also to truly shape the education we receive at Grinnell.

Because I have always cared about my classes and teachers and about pushing my education to the next level, I wanted to join the group to help other students like myself get the best Grinnell English experience possible.

Now I am in my second year on the SEPC, and we’re as busy as ever. We review professors, discuss the English curriculum, and work with the faculty to address issues that arise within the major (for instance, should we push to integrate more theory into survey-level classes?). The SEPC also participates actively in the hiring of new professors for the English department, thus ensuring that students (who know more about what students want to see in a professor than anyone) evaluate those who would teach at Grinnell. English is not alone in this, either — each major has an SEPC, and many of the interdisciplinary concentrations have them, too.

The English SEPC is so much more than I expected it to be back when I first heard of it. In each department, the SEPC is a group of dedicated, intelligent students with a mutual interest in helping create a strong, challenging environment in which to learn. We give students in our major a voice and serve as a liaison between faculty and the student body. The English SEPC is allied with other SEPCs, all invested in the same issues of educational quality and student voice. We all do a good deal to keep the excellence and value of a Grinnell education high. And, you know, we throw some pretty cool study breaks, too.

Amy Henning ’10 is an English major and Linguistics concentrator from Mundelein, Illinois.


Suit Up

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Sunanda Vaidheesh '12

Grinnellians love to dress up. We embrace every chance to put away our homework and don the most ridiculous, fantastic costumes you’ve ever seen — and we do it at least three times a semester!

Part of the fun is designing and crafting the costumes — a ritual filled with frantic runs to Goodwill, the consignment stores downtown, and friends’ closets to borrow a hallmate’s couture: neon green tights and fedora? Halloween is, of course, the costume favorite, but there are several other big themed events that attract those who love to dress up: ’80s, Disco, Mary B. James (our annual cross-dressing party…“Mary, Be James!”…get it?), and the Spring and Winter Waltz evenings, to name just a few.

What amazes me isn’t so much the sometimes bizarre costumes, but the precision with which they’re done, and the vast range of ideas people come up with. Costume designs span the decades, from Danny in Grease to Lady Gaga, from Mary Poppins (umbrella with parrot’s head on the top, giant bag, hat, tape measure, and all) to the yellow-jumpsuited revengeful bride in Kill Bill. Last Halloween, some particularly notable partygoers wove academics into their costumes. Representing the world of the fine arts, roommates Heather Riggs and Mandy Fassett (both ’12) dressed up as Van Gogh’s Starry Night and a Jackson Pollack piece, respectively. A trio of Grinnellians currently studying Russian dressed up as characters from an old Soviet TV show they’d recently watched in class. They dropped by the Russian language house and their professor’s house for trick or treating. The sciences were represented by a student dressed as a very convincing Rubik’s cube (handmade, with rotating sides). My personal favorite costume for this year: H1N1. Not only did the wearers of this costume have the molecular structure of the virus quite accurately depicted between the two of them, but the pig ears, nose, and tail, and accompanying oinks helped make it very clear what they were for the night. Needless to say, the sign on their backs was unnecessary. I did love that it took two people to rock out the H1N1 look.

After Disco, glitter seems to turn up everywhere on campus. The following Sunday, I even found some in Burling Library! Nor can I forget just how many Grinnellians own spandex and seize any chance they can to rock out in their favorite fabric.

Costuming here isn’t about buying the snazziest outfit online, but rather how creative you can be with the resources you have. That includes awesome peers who will own a feathery pink boa, available for loan, or a sewing machine to make your sneezing-panda-from-YouTube outfit. It’s about being passionately creative, resourceful, and different.

To me, the love Grinnellians have for costuming says a lot about who we are: passionate, goofy, wildly inventive, socially conscious, bold — and very sparkly under the lights at Disco.

Sunanda Vaidheesh '12 is a Sociology Major and Global Development Studies concentrator from Mumbai, India.


Top 10 Coolest Places to Study at Grinnell

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)
Author:  Ross Preston '10

Ross Preston '10As a senior who for almost four years now has enjoyed stretching the possibilities of where homework can most enjoyably be completed, I hereby submit a top 10 list of places to casually get stuff done on Grinnell’s campus:

10. Fireplace Lounge: Hidden away in the Joe Rosenfield Center, this cozy, centrally located haven is the undisputed place to bring your reading. Read a little, and then wake up a few hours later wondering where you are and what day it is. Just make sure you actually get the reading done and make it to class on time with this option.

9. Residence Hall Lounges: If it’s your dorm lounge, it offers a nice halfway point between your room and the rest of campus. Unfortunately, dorm lounges can be reserved/ occupied, so you can’t always count on them being available. Main Lounge on South Campus is especially good, since it is quite spacious and does not have a TV.

8. Dining Hall: This option doesn’t appeal to all students, but entering the dining hall with some work can often be the perfect way to squeeze in a meal and be prepared for class, as long as you can avoid being distracted by your friends.

7. Your Room: Sometimes, it’s good to get some things done on the home front. Having friends over with similar intentions of doing some not-too-intense work and hanging out is a great choice as well.

6. Noyce Common Rooms: Throughout the Noyce Science Center, there are lots of spaces out in the open that still provide a sense of partial privacy. These “commons” are especially nice for group meetings and study sessions that require conversation, as opposed to the utter silence you sometimes experience in other parts of Noyce and the library.

5. Bob’s Underground Café: Located in the basement of Main Hall, Bob’s is a Grinnell staple, hosting Open Mic nights as well as some smaller concerts. This a great spot for an evening cup of coffee and hanging out with people with just a little bit of work to do.

4. Creative Computing Lab: Located in the Forum and hands-down the best place to do a little bit of work when you need a computer. All the computers are top of the line and are rarely all being used at once.

3. The Spencer Grill: Also in the Rosenfield Center, the grill is the premium spot on campus for socializing under the pretense of doing work. With lots of food options as well as decent coffee, this is often the answer for informal meetings with professors, group meetings, and generally “grilling” some time.

2. Saint’s Rest Coffeehouse: Though not on campus, this wins out over the grill for me because of the fantastic coffee and College-friendly atmosphere. Some people go to Saint’s Rest every day to do work. If you don’t mind the two- or three-block walk, it’s a great choice.

1. Outside: Weather permitting, there’s nothing like being outside on a gorgeous day. While it may feel a little bit tainted by that book you have to read, some of my best memories of studying at Grinnell are outside, whether on the wide-open Mac Field, the bench outside Younker, or the questionably named “Cleveland Beach” (sans beach). For some reason, work just seems to feel better outside.

Ross Preston is an English major from Ponte Verda Beach, Florida.


What a Prospective Student Host Fears Most

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Nik Jameson '11

I am sometimes called “Prospie Host Extraordinaire” because I match up prospective visitors with suitable hosts in my job for admission. But I’m also a prospective student host myself. In about two years, I have hosted 16 prospies. Each time it is the same basic routine:

  1. Finish homework;
  2. Know what activities are happening on campus;
  3. Remember what time to pick up the prospective student; and
  4. Remember her name.

I usually get numbers one though three done successfully, with the occasional late night homework session outside the door of my room after the prospie has gone to sleep. It is the last one that proves difficult for me — always.

All hosts receive their prospective students’ names well in advance of the first meeting. No matter how many times I look at the piece of paper, it seems impossible for me to remember the name when I am standing in front of her. Luckily, the student usually doesn’t expect me to know her name either, so we have a nice little mutual introduction in the Office of Admission lobby. Sadly, about 30 seconds later, I have forgotten it again. Was it Erin, Jessica, or Julie? I have to tactfully ask her to repeat it, or dig through my bag discreetly for the piece of paper with her name on it. Sometimes, though, I am slyer than that and manage to have her introduce herself to someone else and pick up the name when she says it again.

Yet by some weird bit of social magic, soon after arriving on campus, prospective students start to answer of their own accord to the name lovingly given to them by current students: Prospie. Each prospective student gets introduced to countless Grinnellians, and each of those Grinnellians approaches us yelling excitedly, “Is that a prospie?”

Grinnellians are really eager to meet prospies. One of my friends recently compared prospies to babies. Everyone gets excited to see a new one. No matter how many you meet, each one is always appealing and different. The problem is, when Grinnellians meet a prospie, they expect his or her host to know everything about the student. So instead of asking the prospective student direct questions, they tend to ask the host instead. Not very helpful, I know, and I’m sorry about that. It usually means the name “Prospie” will stick more than the student’s given name, which I take such pains to try and memorize. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but many prospective students come to Grinnell College with respectable names and leave with the name of Prospie + Respectable Name.

This means if my prospies return as first-years, they will often get the question, “Aren’t you Prospie Erin/Jessica/ Julie who stayed with Nik?” It is my fear as a host that I am creating an army of first-year Grinnellians who spend their first weeks as Prospie Erin/Jessica/Julie before donning their respectable titles of just plain Erin/Jessica/Julie.

Nik Jameson '11 is an independent major from Kewanee, Illinois.