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Options at the Dining Hall

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


The dining hall is one of my favorite places on campus. I remember the first meal on the evening of my arrival at Grinnell. The sheer size of the hall, the large number of dishes on offer, and the bustling atmosphere overwhelmed me so much, I barely managed to get myself a bowl of noodles before rushing to sit with my newly-found first-year friends.

The food is the first thing you see when you enter. There are so many options: pizza, pasta, hamburgers, salad, vegan dishes, sandwiches, stir-fry, or even a waffle. Of course, the initial excitement of the food wears off with time, and now I regularly walk around the dining hall wondering why there’s nothing to eat. But there are also days when I can’t wait to get there because they’re serving my favorite salad or my favorite chicken dish.

Some of my best memories took place in the dining hall. My first campus job was washing dishes. I had never washed dishes on such a scale before, with hundreds and hundreds of dishes coming through on a conveyor belt. My fellow dish line workers and I would scramble to get a stray plate here, a glass there. The job helped me make two great friends with whom I would eat lunch before we all started our shifts. We still regularly eat meals together. The dining hall was also where I met my second-year roommate, when we happened to sit at the same table and got to talking, just by chance. The dining hall can actually be a great place to make new friends.

The dining hall is emblematic of the accepting culture of Grinnell. The ladies at the entrance swiping your P-card always give you a big smile and ask how your day is going. If you’re in a social mood, you can eat in the big front area. If you’re feeling a bit quiet and want to chat privately with a friend, there are the booths at the back. Or if you just want to eat alone, there are tiny tables perfect for a meal with that homework reading you have to catch up on. I often go to the dining hall even if I’m not very hungry, because it offers more than just food — it offers friends and acquaintances and all round, a really Grinnellian atmosphere.

Gayatri Jayal ’11 is an English major from New Delhi, India.

A Letter to Grinnell from a Grinnellian

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

Dear Grinnell,

Could you explain to me how I became a college senior? I understand that classes were involved and the passage of time and a whole bunch of homework, but what happened? And now it’s my last year and in eight short months, I will be released into the world to unleash my liberal arts education on unsuspecting institutions. At Commencement when I walk across that stage, only one thought will go through my head. Well, two, actually. The first will be, “God, I hope there aren’t any huge boogers hanging out of my nose.” The second, however, will most definitely be, “Please don’t make me leave this place!”

Because, Grinnell, despite homework, I love you.

Who knows, maybe that love’s even with the homework. Maybe.

You’ve changed me, did you know? Changed me in ways I never thought I’d be changed. You got me to dance; you got me to reflect upon my beliefs, find context for the parts I wanted to keep, and a replacement for the parts I needed to replace; you got me to eat Indian food and to use semicolons.

I almost don’t recognize myself from the Molly who entered Grinnell three years ago. I like the new Molly. She’s cool, mature (on occasion), and refuses to be confined. She still loves children’s books, though, and dresses like a pirate or a punk rock star when she needs cheering up.

I found a community here. Not just a friends group, but an entire support system where so many people care and so many people want to help, be it my floor’s student adviser with comfort after a break-up or the director of the Center for International Studies with help and finances to create my dream project. And yes, I’ve had my heart broken once or twice. Even you and I, Grinnell, have had a few fights, but we came out better for it in the end.

You don’t understand how much I’ll miss you. Even I don’t think I fully comprehend it. I’ll miss the dorm’s smell of clean showers in the morning, the smell of fresh paint in the Rosenfield Center, and the smell of granola in my own room. I’ll miss walking only five minutes to get to my morning classes — especially in the winter.

Today, I spoke on the phone with a Grinnell alumna who graduated perhaps six years ago. I was looking forward to insightful advice on entering the publishing world. She was looking forward to hearing about how good old Grinnell had changed since she’d left. We talked for nearly an hour, and she laughed when she discovered I worked at Burling Library. Why, she’d worked there too! Was Brian still there? He was, he was. “I miss them all so much,” she said.

Even after graduation, you never leave us do you, Grinnell? That’s comforting to know. It really is. Because as terrified as it had been to apply for colleges and find a place to spend my next four years, I’m even more terrified to leave it.

Yours forever,


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

Scholars' Convocation

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


Scholars' Convocation


For over 30 years, the Scholars' Convocation series has created a common educational experience shared by the entire Grinnell College community. Established in the late 1970s in response to the College's move to an open curriculum, the accessible interdisciplinary nature of convocation offers an intellectual encounter that transcends disciplinary boundaries.

Scholars' Convocations are scheduled through a faculty committee. If you are planning or are interested in planning a Scholars' Convocation, please see Scholars' Convocation Proposals.

More information about this year's convocation series will be available at2012-2013 Schedule.

Fall 2012

  • September 5: Grinnell Social Justice Prize Announcement
  • September 12: Suzanne M. Wilson, as part of the Rosenfield Symposium on Education
  • October 3: Raynard Kington, President of Grinnell College
  • October 10: Mark Umbreit, Co-founder of the Prisoner and Community Together (PACT) Institute
  • November 14: Grinnell Social Justice Prize Symposium
  • November 28: Charles Hirschkind, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Berkeley

Spring 2013:

  • February 13: Rosenfield Symposium on Sustainability
  • March 6: Ingrid Daubechies, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Princeton University
  • April 10: Katha Pollitt, author and poet
  • April 17: Rosenfield Symposium on Human Trafficking
  • April 24: Phi Beta Kappa

Grinnellian Explores Climate Change on World Stage

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

Most Americans watched events at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, unfold from afar. One Grinnell senior’s own initiative took him to Copenhagen last December to attend the conference in person. Nathan Pavlovic ’10 calls the experience “eye-opening” in many ways.

The conference was an ideal extension of his academic interests, Pavlovic says, which include sustainability relating to the relationship between developed countries and the developing world. At the conference, he rubbed elbows with influential people, including former Vice-President Al Gore. President Barack Obama was also at the conference. “I learned that world leaders are human, too,” Pavlovic explains. “I think that we all too often think of decision makers as larger-than-life people, so to see them talking in person helped me put them in perspective.”

He believes his Grinnell experience gave him an advantage as he analyzed events at the conference. “My time at Grinnell has helped me develop the critical viewpoint that empowered me to question the motives and ideas of speakers at the conference, speakers who were far more ‘important’ than me,” Pavlovic says. “It was reassuring to realize that I’ve learned enough about the issues and politics to question what our leaders are saying and why they’re saying it.”

Pavlovic says, however, that attending the conference was somewhat disillusioning. He calls the process of negotiation “often undemocratic,” and he observed that NGOs were sometimes excluded from events. Pavlovic also cites frustration over what he calls the unwillingness of developed nations to help developing countries, where climate change is likely to have devastating effects. Overall, though, he still found it valuable to gain a fresh perspective. “I've developed a more nuanced and complete understanding of climate change as a political issue rather than a scientific one,” he says.

Back in Grinnell, Pavlovic plans to reach beyond campus and work with the city to both inform individuals and motivate action. He will make a campus presentation and lead a discussion forum, and he also plans to initiate meetings with city leaders and local high school and college student groups. He believes it is critical for the next generation to be engaged in the politics of climate change, so he hopes his program at the high school will help build a significant interest in climate change policy.

Pavlovic was also featured on an episode of The Exchange on Iowa Public Radio in December. The host spoke to Pavlovic in Copenhagen via Skype. “I had expected to maybe have a few short sound bites, but instead they let me talk for 10 or 15 minutes,” he says. “I was pleased at how interested they were in my experiences.”

Pavlovic recognizes he faces a challenge. “Without the resolve of a definitive agreement from the Copenhagen Conference, it’s harder to move forward,” he says. Nevertheless, the conference taught him much about the value of local action, and he is excited to help build upon the commitment to confront climate change.

Give My Regards to Student Affairs

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



 Spring 2009


 Deborah Berk '12

I’ve been a musical theatre kid my whole life. Though I never wanted to make it my career, most of the music on my iPod is musical soundtracks. While other middle school girls mooned over Justin Timberlake and Adam Brody, my computer desktop boasted Christian Borle and Norbert Leo Butz. An autographed photo of Bernadette Peters hung next to my mirror. I felt certain my interest in musical theatre would be compromised by moving to the cornfields of Grinnell, and I readied myself for four years of illegal bootlegs.

I realized how wrong I was early in my second semester at Grinnell, when I learned student affairs had extra tickets to the musical Spring Awakening on its off-Broadway tour in Des Moines. Did I want to go? I nearly fell out of my chair in my rush to get to the student affairs office. As I was giving my name and e-mail to the woman behind the desk, she asked me what my plans were for spring break and handed me a bright yellow flyer.

“We’re taking a group of students to New York City to see some shows, if you’re interested. I think it’s something around five or six shows over a four-day weekend. Sound like fun?”

I was in a state of pure euphoria. Half an hour ago, I had thought I’d be a grown-up before I could see live musicals again. Now I was hip-deep in them! After some mental calculations (about $450 bucks for the whole trip), I signed up then and there. Even discount Broadway tickets can cost anywhere between $50–150, not even taking into account hotel and travel costs. Sure, the trip wasn’t free, but it might as well have been. I, a girl from Oregon, was going to have a magical, wonderful weekend for easily a third of the normal cost. And Grinnell was helping me do it!

That weekend, the good deal got even better. The ticket I had purchased for Spring Awakening turned out to be one of a dozen seated onstage. I sat not five feet away from professional actors and actresses. I could feel their energy as they did what they loved. I left the theatre misty-eyed, and I suddenly realized I was wrong—even though I was passionate about musicals, I’d always thought I could live without them. But as I watched those people work, I realized I could not live without musical theatre.

I am now trying to figure out how to pursue a career in theatre production and management, and looking forward to my spring break more every day.

Deborah Berk '12 is undeclared and from Clackamas, Oregon.


Finally Feeling Fit

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


In my last day of Phys Ed in high school — I can recall the crisp December afternoon quite vividly — I gave a whoop of joy and did a cartwheel across the soccer field (and by “did a cartwheel” I mean I tumbled onto the ground without a care in the world). In short, I was never a fan of sports or physical exertion of any kind.

Now, as a rising second-year at Grinnell College, I’d like to tell you that I play two varsity sports, wake up every morning at the crack of dawn to go for a morning run, and am a health nut, but that would be too good to be true — and completely false. Although coming to Grinnell hasn’t made me an athletics freak, gung-ho about all things sports-related, it has opened my mind to a world more active than curling up on the couch on a sunny Friday afternoon. A variety of athletic possibilities within my range of abilities, and the wide range of options at my disposal, have most definitely helped me find a happy medium.

I should probably preface this with a note that the dreaded “freshman 15” (or perhaps I should say “first-year 15” here at Grinnell) did have a little something to do with my interest in figuring out how to become physically active on campus. After the initial few weeks of grumbling about aches and pains, the first-year 15 was last on my list of motivations. This past semester, I found a variety of ways to get myself (relatively) into shape. I took Beginning Weight Lifting as a onecredit course, discovered the wonders of the elliptical machine, and learned to love having easy access to the Grinnell gym. I joined the Grinnell Swing Society (a popular pastime among Ins&Outs writers, it turns out) and danced every Monday night this semester.

It was an almost Herculean feat in the dead of winter to get myself out of bed at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to go to my weight training class. But I found as the semester progressed and I started to get into it (and as the weather improved), I was actually enjoying myself. In contrast, I never had to drag myself to attend swing-dancing lessons. In addition to learning how to gracefully triple-step my way around my room when my roommate wasn’t around, I found a whole new community of Grinnellians.

As for the more random athletic endeavors I partook in? As spring set in, my friends insisted on tree-climbing at every opportunity, though the first tree I’d ever set foot in was on East Campus only six months ago. I found myself scaling (relatively) high heights before long and to my pleasure, I had the tree-climbing scratches and scars to prove it. Grinnell is also a great place to walk around, and in my year here, I’ve probably been on more scenic walks than my last 18 years in a busy city.

Though it might not seem like much, this combination of formalized, social, and random athletic activities has made me a more energetic and, believe it or are on varsity sports teams, but we all manage to find our ways of releasing stress, getting our heart rates up, and building social circles through athletics. Whether it’s learning Javanese dance, a one-credit water aerobics class, DAG practice every week on Mac Field (running around jabbing foam swords at people truly is a workout!), intramural Frisbee tournaments, Nerf wars in Noyce Science Center, or bike-riding down country roads past the cornfields, Grinnell offers plenty of opportunities to stay healthy, fit, and have fun — even if you’re a couch potato at heart, like me.

Sunanda Vaidheesh '12 is undeclared and from Mumbai, India.

Strengthening the Mind-Body Connection

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

Issue:  Winter 2009

Author:  Greg Wallace

Almost everyone has had that experience — you’re running, or swimming, or working out in the gym. Your mind is relaxed, you’re working hard, and thinking of nothing in particular — when the perfect solution to that exasperating problem magically materializes in your mind.

There seems to be a deep connection between physical fitness and mental fitness. Each supports the other — neither exists as well alone.

We at Grinnell believe so strongly in this mind-body connection that athletics and fitness have become significant elements of the liberal arts experience here — for all the members of our community.

This firm belief in the value of a sound body and a disciplined mind has been around at Grinnell for a long time — in fact, President George Augustus Gates said it in his inaugural address in 1887: “First, a sound body. … I believe thoroughly in the cultivation and encouragement of college athletics of all sorts. In the gymnasium and on the campus, games and sports, rivalries, field days are a tremendous education power.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

President Gates placed a sound body first among the elements of a complete education, and students at Grinnell College today are living proof of this statement’s continued relevance. The women and men who compete and participate in intercollegiate sports, club sports, and personal fitness programs at Grinnell today are engaging in a vital part of their liberal arts education. Participation in athletics doesn’t detract from what goes on in the classroom — on the contrary, many scholar-athletes say the time they spend on their sports makes them more disciplined and focused in their studies.

A dedication to wellness and the quality of life is another of the hallmarks of life in Grinnell. I’m proud to say that it’s reflected in my title: director of athletics and recreation. Students, faculty, and staff (and alumni back for Reunion and other alumni events) can take advantage of the state-of-the-art wellness facilities offered in the new fitness center, including an extensive assortment of strength-training and cardio equipment. Next year, Phase II of the Athletic and Fitness Center will be complete, opening up many new opportunities for the college community. Townspeople, too, can become members of the fitness center, and through membership with Grinnell Parks and Recreation they can utilize the pool and racquetball courts.

We’re really excited about the new facility, created through a unique partnership by two renowned architectural firms, Cesar Pelli and Associates and Sasaki Associates Inc. Those of us on campus watch the construction site north of 10th Avenue as it changes on an almost daily basis. Our new state-of-the-art fieldhouse and natatorium will give our teams a great venue for competition, but they also offer a place for intramural teams, spectators, and people who just want to stay in shape. Many students participate in activities such as dance and club sports, including Ultimate Frisbee and water polo. GORP, the Grinnell Outdoor Recreation Program, offers students many opportunities to take part in outdoor activities such as sailing, climbing, and kayaking. Through all these pursuits and more, students have fun while they stay in shape, burn off stress, and make new friends.

Community is a key word in any discussion of athletics and recreation at Grinnell. I see the new Athletic and Fitness Center as a gathering place for the entire community — students, faculty, and staff — where we can meet and get to know one another in the “friendly confines” of the College’s beautiful new facility. In my life I’ve seen that a little sweat and healthy competition can remove many barriers to friendship — I believe that Grinnell’s athletic facilities can bring people together and strengthen our already tight college community.

Grinnell’s richly storied athletic history is something a lot of alumni know well from their own student experiences, whether as competitors or fans. Athletics provide a way for Grinnellians to stay connected across the generations. I am grateful that the College, its trustees, and its alumni have remained committed to our new facilities even through recent economic upheavals, and I invite everyone to help us bring this project to a successful conclusion. If you can make a gift, please do so (http://www.grinnell.edu/car/dev/pioneerfund/ways). You will be a part of a centuries-long tradition of athletics and the liberal arts.


Fall Semester: A Wednesday Abroad on the Grinnell-In- London Program

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

7:30 a.m.: Roommate’s alarm goes off. Some vague memories of her getting up, and then I’m unconscious.

8:58 a.m.: Other roommate’s alarm goes off. Grr …

9 a.m.: My alarm goes off. Shower.

9:40 a.m.: First cup of tea of the day. Catch up on all of the American blogs.

10:30 a.m.: Walk to class. I close my eyes when I walk past the bakery with the Technicolor icing cupcakes so I won’t stop and buy one.

11 a.m.: Intro to Shakespeare. We continue discussing last weekend’s all-expense-paid fieldtrip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Patrick Stewart and David Tennant perform in Hamlet. Mostly we girls discuss how attractive David Tennant is. The guy next to me keeps nodding off, and I want to smack him with my book. I debate whether I could compose myself once again before he had a chance to look around.

1 p.m.: Walk home.

1:30 p.m.: Turn on the wrong burner of our electric stove. Wait for a long time for my skillet not to heat up.

1:48 p.m.: Move skillet to correct burner. Make lunch. Watch a rerun of Doctor Who while eating lunch. Mmmm … David Tennant.

2:30 p.m.: Second cup of tea of the day in the basement of a Starbucks-esque coffeehouse. Edit umpteenth draft of a screenplay I’ve been working on in my free time.

4:30 p.m.: Head out for our History of London walking tour of the East End. Do homework while sitting on the Tube.

5 p.m.: Class meets at Old Street Station. We explore the remnants of the 19th-century furniture factories and learn how the working class was exploited. All of us end the walk disappointed that we didn’t live in that era. Just kidding.

6:30 p.m.: My five flatmates and I fight over who gets to make their dinner first in our two-person kitchen.

7:25 p.m.: All six of us head out to the Duke of York Theatre where we join the rest of the program to see Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, starring Michael Gambon and David Williams. I’ve never heard of the second name, which reveals my ignorance of British pop culture.

10 p.m.: We all leave the play very confused.

10:05 p.m.: One of my flatmates and I wait at the stage door to get Michael Gambon’s autograph. We get David Williams’ too, although we still don’t know who he is.

10:40 p.m.: I look up David Williams on Wikipedia.

11:30 p.m.: Start going to bed. One roommate and I whisper for a long time while the other roommate who has to get up at 7:30 again tomorrow throws pillows at us.

Molly Rideout '10 is an English major from Madison, Wisconsin.

Lovin’ the Loggias

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


Loggia: n. (loh-JA) A roofed outdoor walkway attached to the side of a building. Sometimes described as an outdoor hallway. See Grinnell College campus.

 As you walk around the clusters of dorms on Grinnell campus, you notice that they all have one thing in common: loggias. Like many students, before I came to Grinnell I had no idea what a loggia was. When I saw the word written I pronounced it “log-ee-UH.” But now I realize just what a brilliant piece of architecture a loggia is, a structure not only useful for keeping the snow off your head during those cold Iowa winters and for serving as a pretty addition to campus buildings, but one that is simply essential to campus culture.

Each dorm cluster — north, south, and east — has its own loggia, but the loggias are each a bit different. North Campus dorms have a traditional loggia, with open sides and a fl at roof, right up against the building. South Campus has what is sometimes referred to as an “enclo-ggia” because the loggia is an enclosed corridor with windows instead of open sides. Traditionally, South Campus was home to women, and the enclosed loggia allowed for girls to move between each other’s rooms after the loggia doors were closed to all male visitors. East Campus has what I call a “faux-ggia,” because parts of it aren’t attached to the side of a building at all.

If you ever want to know what’s going on around Grinnell on any given weekend, you only have to check out the loggias. At any given time, the loggias are plastered with fl yers advertising parties, activity clubs, used textbooks for sale, campus speakers, and student performances. So staying up to date with campus activities is as easy as glancing at the pillars and walls of the loggias while walking back to your dorm.

The roofs of the loggias are as important to Grinnell as the walkways. Warmer weekends aren’t complete without a party or get-together on the roof of a loggia, with music, dancing, and sometimes even a grill-out. During the week, people will sit out on the loggia roofs to talk, do homework, and get some sun. Unfortunately, loggias can only be accessed by climbing through certain second-fl oor windows, but hanging out on the loggias is so fun and pleasant, it’s worth the scrambling around. Consequently, rooms with loggia access go quickly during room draw each spring.

Finally, loggias are the stage for some pretty entertaining activities. Last winter the modern dance troupe held their performance in the East Campus loggia, dancing up and down the walkway, with the audience seated at the entrance. Over the semesters, I’ve witnessed mud fi ghts, impromptu guitar performances, and rap battles in the campus loggias.

Without the loggias, the Grinnell campus wouldn’t be what it is. It wouldn’t look like it does, or have the social activities that the loggias enhance. And, oh yeah, it’s a lot easier to get around in the winter without having to trudge through the snow.

Kat Atcheson ’12 is undeclared and from Overland, Kansas.

Hands-On Learning

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

“Culture is hard to study because it is so huge.” OK, I get that. But it’s one thing to read it, to hear it. But Professor Kesho Scott doesn’t just say it — she shows it.

“Put your hands in front of your face,” she commanded us at the class’s first meeting. “Culture is in your face.” We’re so close to it, our view is dominated by the tiny fraction we can see, making it impossible to study it with any perspective. The goal of American studies, as Professor Scott explained it to my Intro to American Studies class (25 students with their hands covering their faces), is to pull that culture away from your face. Up close, we may only be able to see the details — the wrinkly lines crossing our palms, the small portion of the world we inhabit. But as you pull your hands away, the larger picture becomes clearer.

Professor Scott’s “hands-on” approach to teaching seemed awkward and silly at first. But concretizing this abstraction made an impossible concept manageable. Within a week of the start of class, we were trained: “Because class, what is culture?” she would ask. “It’s in your face!” we’d respond.

But we weren’t done acting out the abstract yet. To illustrate the social pressures inhibiting rebellion, she instructed three guys to lie down side by side on the floor. “Now, stand up, rebel!” she ordered. They stood up, a bit confused.

As soon as they were up, she told them to get back on the floor, and then told six of us, C myself included, to sit on the three men. We were understandably hesitant, but she insisted. Once we were in place, she told the students on the bottom to rebel again. With six people on top of them, this was a no easy task. Eventually they gave up, unable to dislodge us.

As we made our way back to our seats, Professor Scott explained what this exercise had to do with social change. It isn’t some nebulous force (“The Man”) that squashes rebellion. It’s us — the omnipotent weight of the expectations of society dictating compliance and obedience.

It’s one thing to be told that society works collectively to ensure that its norms and mores are observed. It’s another thing entirely to experience it, to be the one holding down your classmates. Throughout the semester, Professor Scott’s interactive method — she calls is “guerrilla teaching” because it has a way of bypassing your defenses — explained this and many other key concepts of American studies. As a senior, I can now observe and analyze abstract concepts in my higher-level classes without getting too caught up in the fingers and the fingerprints of culture and learning.

Katie Pimlott '10 is an English major and American Studies concentrator from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.