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Malcolm, Right?

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:24 | By Anonymous (not verified)

 

Grinnell is a unique place. It’s one of the only colleges I know of where someone can play football and be involved in theatre at the same time. One of the things that makes this possible is the amazing

teaching staff at Grinnell. Professors are not only knowledgeable and respectful, they’re approachable too. They go out of their way to get to know students on a personal level. They care about your educational development, and they care about your development as a person as well.

I recently had an experience that illustrated to me just how true this is. I work at the local video store in town, and the other day my physics professor from first year came up to the counter to rent a few movies. I hadn’t seen this professor in about three years. I had also shaved off all my facial hair and lost 50 pounds since I had taken that physics course, so I was looking a little different than when he knew me.

He barely hesitated. “Malcolm, right?”

“Yeah, I had you for physics my first year.” “And you’re a ... senior now? Are you still doing theatre?” I was shocked that he remembered that small detail about me. But I guess I shouldn’t have been.

At Grinnell, you’re never just a face in the crowd.

 

 Malcolm Scott '11 is a Spanish Major from Washington, D.C.

Stargazing Amid the Cornfields

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

Author:  Kat Atcheson '12

Do you know what’s really cool? Seeing the stripes on Jupiter. The craters on the moon. The Andromeda Galaxy, which is approximately 2 million light years away.

I got to see all of them last semester when I took Professor Cadmus’ astronomy class, The Universe and Its Structure. The class is aimed mostly at nonscience majors who are still interested in astronomy, so if you only have basic math skills but an interest in space, it’s a good class to take. And, oh my gosh, I never knew there was so much going on in our solar system, let alone in the entire universe!

Each session started with picking up the day’s class outline on the front table, with lecture notes, homework deadlines, and observation sessions. Next, Professor Cadmus opened the class with “Show and Tell,” which was usually a brief little lesson about a physics concept, astronomy news, or another tidbit of interesting knowledge.

Then it was time to get down to business: galaxies, planets, stars, formations, deaths, light-years, gravity, and moon phases! Not in that particular order, of course. Most lectures involved video clips and slides to help us understand how the universe looks and how its laws behave. And don’t forget to ask lots of questions and take notes, because yes, it will be on the exam! Homework could end up being very hands on, involving things like astronomical calculations, predicting moon phases and positions, or observing various celestial phenomena on your own.

Thankfully, the astronomy class met during the day, even though the stars are only out at night. But the best parts of the whole course were undoubtedly the nighttime observation sessions throughout the semester. Grinnell has its own observatory, just beyond the track and about a 10-minute walk from the dorms.

Experiencing a session in the observatory might just have been the most awesome science-related thing I’ve done on campus. Bundled snugly in my favorite hoodie and holding my trusty flashlight, I would walk the path around 9 p.m. to meet my classmates at the observatory. A dozen or so of us stood around the telescope, listening to Professor Cadmus explain what we were about to view. Then each of us took our turn looking at the sky. This is not exaggeration — it was awe-inspiring. Seeing the moon’s craters up close, or a binary star, things I had only read about or seen pictures of in books, with my own eyes was incredibly humbling and inspiring at the same time.

I’m not really much of a science nut, but The Universe and Its Structure really did click with me. Maybe it was the fact that for the first time in my life, I could actually understand the laws of physics. Maybe it was the fact that astronomy appeals to my nocturnal tendencies. Maybe it was the resources Grinnell has to make a class like that not only possible, but also truly excellent. But really, I think it was simply that after taking the class I can look up at the heavens and think, “…You know, I kinda get that.”

Kat Atcheson '12 is an Anthropology Major from Overland Park, KS.

 

Fashionable Grinnell

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

 

Fashion at Grinnell is an extension of the freedom, social awareness, and acceptance reflected in college life here. After being at Grinnell for nearly a year, I appreciate not only the way Grinnell students express themselves through fashion, but also the way other students appreciate the message. I enjoy reading my fellow student’s shirts: “Peace please,” “Remember Virginia Tech,” “Eat locally!”

I can discover so much about my peers by noticing a friend is wearing earrings shaped like menorahs, or seeing that another friend is from Ohio because of his Buckeye T-shirts (to which I say, “Go Wolverines!”). My lovely roommate spends more than an hour and a half getting ready for the day; in contrast, it takes me 15 minutes. Neither of us hears any criticism or admiration for the way we look.

Grinnell’s fashion outlook adds an element of fun to getting dressed. It gives me the confidence to wear whatever I choose (for example, my tiedyed baseball hat) whenever I want. I can put on leather pants for a Friday night, because no one will care. It also makes dressing up for the numerous costume parties here interesting. Between using the absurd pieces of clothing we all own (whether we admit it or not) and borrowing items from others (“Hey, you know your platform boots you wore that one time? Yeah, can I borrow them for Disco?”), I find piecing together a great costume is easy and enjoyable.

Even though I didn’t come here to show off or improve my sense of fashion, I have borrowed ideas from fellow students. Plenty of people here enjoy looking good and sharing ideas.

Fashion at Grinnell is flexible, fun, and interesting. Expressing myself with a sequined shirt one day and with a 5K T-shirt the next is something I appreciate and am grateful for each day.

Elizabeth Pearce '13 is an undeclared major from East Lansing, MI.

Squid Attack: Life and Death in the Dining Hall

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

 

"SQUID!”

“Get it before it gets you!”

I was introduced to the tradition of squidding in my first year at Grinnell when, dining at ease with a group of friends, someone yelled “Squid!” and threw a banana peel across the table at us. It landed in front of my friend who, without hesitation, grabbed a fork and began to stab the banana-peel “squid” so furiously that fork and banana seemed to be involved in a life-and-death struggle. I may or may not have feared for human life in that duel.

The few seconds it actually took to kill the squid stretched into long minutes and culminated in a final thrust. With an inaudible moan from the banana-squid, it lay heaped on the table, fork still quivering upright in the yellow remains. Everyone at the table cheered, but I only sat there shocked and confused. How did people know they were supposed to do this? Stabbing the “squid” would not have been my first reaction, yet the squid-killer had acted with reflex-like speed and skill. Clearly, I still had much to learn about the Grinnell College dining experience.

The origins of squidding are unclear, though it is thought to be a fairly recent tradition, dating back less than a decade to an enterprising student adviser who taught it to his impressionable first-year students. They carried the game on into their senior year, passing it along to others and spreading the excitement of bananastabbing throughout the College. It is difficult to say how many current students are familiar with squidding. There is, of course, always one way to find out — if one is willing to risk letting a killer squid loose in the dining hall, that is.

The best squid attacks are launched from one table to another, or at the very least from one end of a table to the other end. Occasionally some overconfident person will attempt an attack from even farther away, such as from the balcony section of the dining hall.

As my friend Brittney Brown ’11 and I were casually having dinner underneath said balcony one evening, I was more than a little surprised to hear a shout of “SQUID!” and witness a banana peel thrown from above thump threateningly onto Brittney’s tray. Surprised into inaction, I slowly came to the realization that Brittney was not aware of squid protocol, and that she might not figure it out intuitively before the squid, say, ate her. That would be the sad end of a beautiful friendship. Still frozen by sheer surprise, I began to wonder what to do to prevent this awful but unavoidable outcome …

There was the flash of a fork, and a classmate I only vaguely knew was suddenly beside our table. With the cool, determined precision of a practiced warrior, the student finished off the squid, which Brittney and I had been too slow to vanquish. The classmate had seen the whole attack from two tables away and had bounded over, rescuing my friend Brittney and generally saving the day. I had a new hero.

Our rescuer returned the squid carcass to us and went back to finish her meal in peace, and Brittney and I, now fully recovered, began to laugh. As soon as I could keep a straight face long enough to muster coherent sentences, I explained squidding to Brittney. We laughed all the more.

I have held an undying respect for all squidders ever since.

Sara Woolery '11 is an English Major from Malvern, IA.

Fashionable Grinnell

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

Fashion at Grinnell is an extension of the freedom, social awareness, and acceptance reflected in college life here. After being at Grinnell for nearly a year, I appreciate not only the way Grinnell students express themselves through fashion, but also the way other students appreciate the message.

I enjoy reading my fellow student’s shirts: “Peace please,” “Remember Virginia Tech,” “Eat locally!” I can discover so much about my peers by noticing a friend is wearing earrings shaped like menorahs, or seeing that another friend is from Ohio because of his Buckeye T-shirts (to which I say, “Go Wolverines!”).

My lovely roommate spends more than an hour and a half getting ready for the day; in contrast, it takes me 15 minutes. Neither of us hears any criticism or admiration for the way we look.

Grinnell’s fashion outlook adds an element of fun to getting dressed. It gives me the confidence to wear whatever I choose (for example, my tiedyed baseball hat) whenever I want. I can put on leather pants for a Friday night, because no one will care.

It also makes dressing up for the numerous costume parties here interesting. Between using the absurd pieces of clothing we all own (whether we admit it or not) and borrowing items from others (“Hey, you know your platform boots you wore that one time? Yeah, can I borrow them for Disco?”), I find piecing together a great costume is easy and enjoyable.

Even though I didn’t come here to show off or improve my sense of fashion, I have borrowed ideas from fellow students. Plenty of people here enjoy looking good and sharing ideas. Fashion at Grinnell is flexible, fun, and interesting. Expressing myself with a sequined shirt one day and with a 5K T-shirt the next is something I appreciate and am grateful for each day.

Elizabeth Pearce '13 is an undeclared major from East Lansing, MI.

An Athlete's Community of Support

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

 

Author: (Unpublished) Erin Labasan

If you’re a student-athlete (emphasis on “student”), you will almost certainly love it at Grinnell. Sure, depending on your sport, you can find higher levels of athletic competition at other schools, but to find a place where you can be encouraged to excel in the classroom just as much as you excel on the field (or in the pool or on the court) is a much rarer phenomenon. The key to Grinnell’s success in both the academic and athletic spheres is the support the athletes receive not just from teammates and coaches, but also from professors and the student body at large. All these people care about my development as a human being and push me on multiple levels to achieve beyond my expectations.

I know that at some schools, being a “jock” would be all that defined me, but at Grinnell, people recognize that’s not all I am. Even if I spend much of my time at the athletic center, no one’s stopping me from exploring additional facets of campus life. I get to be a student, a tour guide, a writer, a varsity athlete, and anything else I feel like pursuing, all at once. It’s kind of liberating, knowing that people will let you be you.

And it’s personal here. You can see it in the class sizes (the student to teacher ratio is about 10:1) and within our athletic programs, too. My senior year of high school, when I was applying to colleges, I filled out maybe a dozen athletic inquiries online. In response, I received mostly generic, automated messages thanking me for my interest. But within 24 hours of sending my information to Grinnell, the head volleyball coach e-mailed me personally with some additional questions, like: What was I looking for from a college athletic experience? What was my philosophy of the game? He recommended I come to Iowa and experience the Grinnell community for myself.

I remember that word specifically: “community.” It has been the most relevant word in the last three years of my life while at college. Before I was even officially enrolled at Grinnell, the volleyball and softball teams made me feel welcome with personal e-mails and phone calls. Once I was here, I became part of a culture in which literally everything is an all-campus community event, where everyone, even the soonto- be-graduating seniors, cares about supporting his or her fellow students.

It really hit me during the last home volleyball game of the 2009 season. Looking up into the stands, I realized the gym was packed, vibrating with the crowd’s energy. But it wasn’t only other athletes who came out to support us, and it wasn’t just the student section that was crowded — professors, dining services and facilities management employees, the president of the College, and people from town who had no discernible connection to anyone on the team all turned out for our match, some with painted signs, some with painted bodies. Buoyed by this incredible support system, we won every one of our home conference games that season.

At Grinnell, you don’t have to choose between great athletics and high-quality academics. You can have both, plus a couple thousand people cheering you on the whole way.

Erin Labasan '11 is a Psychology Major from Neotsu, OR.

 

The Grinnell Coincidence

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

 

Choosing a college is hard — no one is going to argue that. Which is why sometimes little things like a squirrel can help make those decisions a whole lot easier.

My parents and I named it Blondie. True to its name, it was tanner than the rest of the Wisconsin squirrels, but with a distinctly red hue. It moved into our backyard my senior year of high school around the time I was plagued with the horrible “which college?” decision.

My mom spotted it first. “It’s a Grinnell squirrel!” she cried. “It’s a Grinnell squirrel! Molly, it’s a sign.”

True, Grinnell squirrels are unique when compared to other gray squirrels in the Midwest. Whether due to inbreeding or some weird genetic drift, they are, in fact, tanner than normal with a distinctly red hue. In the fall, they can also gorge themselves on acorns until they’re the size of a cat, but that’s neither here nor there.

While I made my college decision based on a number of factors that did not involve squirrels, it’s the little coincidences that make me confident my decision was right.

Given the smaller size of the school, Grinnellians are plagued with a surprisingly large number of coincidences — alums running into current students, students running into other students. During summer break,Alex Cohn ’11 was flying between Washington, D.C., and San Francisco when he ran into one of his floormates in the Denver airport. The time I visited Dan Covino ’10 on the East Coast, we ran into two of our classmates in Philadelphia outside the Liberty Bell Center. Before I even made it to my house for Thanksgiving my senior year, I stopped at the store to get some granola bars and there was Grinnell alum Nicole Spear ’08, who had moved to my hometown after graduating.

When Liz Reischmann ’12 flew in from Florida to visit Grinnell her senior year of high school, she was plagued with flight delays that left her stranded for more than 12 hours in the Detroit airport. Frustrated beyond belief, she was on the verge of asking the airport to just send her home. Standing in line, she noticed that the girl standing ahead of her had a squirrel on her T-shirt. “Isn’t the squirrel the unofficial mascot of Grinnell?” she thought. “That’s funny.” The girl was on the phone and as they both stood there, Liz overheard her talking to her friends.“Sorry, I’m not going to make it to the concert,” she said. “It’s just taking a long time to get to Grinnell.”

Turns out that girl standing in line was Huiting Liu ’10. While they waited for their flight, the two talked and talked and talked, and when Liz finally arrived on campus, she was treated to a 3 a.m. tour of campus.

More than anything, Chris Hildebrand ’10 wanted to get out of Connecticut for college. Still, the beginning of his junior year when, acting in his role of student adviser, he helped move in the new class of first-years, he couldn’t believe his eyes when he picked up a box marked “West Hartford, Conn.” Fun fact: turned out back home he and Sarah Mayer ’12, the girl whose box he was carrying, lived just four miles from each other.

These are the kind of stories that don’t really mean anything significant in the long run, but that stay with you all the same. Even if you’re only at Grinnell for eight months a year for four years of your life, the school has this habit of staying with you until your dying day. Kinda like mono. … But without the getting sick part …

OK, you know what I mean.

Molly Rideout '10 is an English Major and Gender and Women's Studies concentrator from Madison, Wisconsin.

The Importance of Dorm Decorations

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

After a full day of classes, there is nothing more comforting than ambling up a flight of stairs and relaxing in my surrogate home, that is to say, my dorm room. When I open the door to my three-room double, I am immediately transported into a world of color created through a collaborative effort by my roommate and me. Our common room, formally known as the “Boom Boom Room,” absolutely positively reflects our personalities. My roommate and I are both outgoing people who appreciate weird little oddities. Also, to be completely honest, we are both a little crazy — but crazy in a good way and our room personifies this.

Each section of our common room has its own theme, which combines to create a vibrant, almost pastiche feeling. One section of wall is dedicated to unwanted scarves, shirts, bandanas, and afghans that find a home in the Boom Boom Room. Another wall has art made from recycled materials, such as plastic silverware, cups, plates, and denim. The final wall is a drawing wall where our friends are free to doodle with chalk so that they too can leave their mark on the Boom Boom Room. My roommate and I consider our friends as part of a family, so having them contribute to our common room reminds us of the love and support that they continually give.

Because our friends visit often, the common room is laid out so that as many people as possible can sit and chat. We morphed the extra bed (the room was intended for three) into a couch, and the extra desk into a bench. Bringing the furniture together is a stately blue velvet and dark wood chair that we picked up at Goodwill. Watching over the Boom Boom Room, regal and wise as can be, is Alfredo the owl. As crazy and jumbled as the Boom Boom Room may appear to be, it actually comes together in a very soothing homey way, which accurately reflects our personalities.

One of my friends has a room that reflects not only her laid back and inviting personality, but also the way in which her experiences, both at and facilitated by Grinnell, have influenced her. Last semester, she was in New Delhi participating in an off-campus study program. She absolutely adored her time in India, and that adoration is clearly illustrated in her dorm room. The first thing you notice when you walk into her room is the serene and welcoming ambiance created by the layout. Her mattress is on the floor, and opposite it is an extremely comfortable couch. This set-up is perfect for relieving the stresses of the day, as it invites you to sprawl out and take a much-needed respite. While relaxing on the couch, you notice the heavy Indian influence of the room. An elaborate, colorful comforter made in India graces the couch, while the walls are adorned with miniature Indian paintings and dupattas, or scarves, worn by Indian women. Scattered around the room are little figurines of Hindu gods and antique bells, all of which serve as a reminder of a wonderful off-campus study experience.

Dorm rooms are truly a reflection of the people who live in them. The space is an area where you can express yourself and create a home away from home that can serve your every need.

Melanie Jucewicz '12 is a French Major from Chicago, IL

Friday Night Fun

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

 

It took a church basement full of grade-school kids to show me how much more there is to Iowa than just cornfields.

How did this happen? One Friday afternoon in the spring of my second year, my good friend Dan Covino ’10 convinced me to hop on a campus bus with him and some other volunteers and head to Des Moines to play with underprivileged kids at the Trinity United Methodist Church after-school program.

Friday Fun Night, as this program is called, has been taking Grinnell students to Des Moines in this way for 20 years to engage with extremely energetic but wonderful kids on a weekly basis. Because Grinnell offers so many weekly on-campus events and activities, not to mention whatever impromptu shenanigans students come up with on their own, I had never before seen any reason to leave campus in order to have fun. I was admittedly very skeptical that non-Grinnell Iowa had much of anything to offer me. However, since that first evening, I’ve gone back every chance I get.

Friday Fun Night always seems to be just as much fun for the college students as it is for the grade-schoolers. The club was established by Grinnell students and the Methodist Church to provide children in the area with a safe and supportive environment in which to start off their weekends. Every Friday, Grinnellians coordinate and lead fitness activities for the children, which transition into crafts. We finish out the night by sharing a snack with the kids. Themes reflect major holidays, the seasons, and the choices of the kids themselves. When it gets warm enough, we travel to the playground across the street to play football and capture the flag — but mostly we play soccer. Often the neighborhood kids, usually recent immigrants from Africa and Latin America, join in the games.

Being from an ethnically diverse suburb right outside Chicago, I’m no stranger to cultural diversity. I had arrogantly assumed that outside of Grinnell, bucolic, white-bread Iowa would never be remotely comparable to the diversity found in a metropolitan area the size of Chicagoland. So imagine my surprise to find 40-plus Latino/a, white, and black grade-schoolers romping happily together in a church basement in Des Moines. I was thrilled to discover that I could have conversations in both Spanish and English with pint-sized third-graders. I didn’t realize how much I missed interacting with people outside my age group, especially those younger than me. Volunteering with the student group allowed me to step outside of my college-aged bubble.

Friday Fun Night taught me just how much the areas around Grinnell have to offer my peers and me. Grinnellians are great at coming up with homemade fun, so if you never want to step off campus to enjoy yourself, you don’t have to. But one of the biggest myths I’ve encountered here is that we stick to on-campus activities because we have no other choice. In reality, there is so much more than cornfields to experience offcampus. I believe that Grinnell students tend to forget that the rest of the world also has a multitude of experiences to offer them.

For me, those experiences lay just 45 minutes west down I-80.

Matt Clarke is a Spanish Major from Skokie, IL.