Home » Admission

Admission

A Film Festival Spectacle

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

Let me tell you a little about Titular Head, Grinnell’s own homegrown film festival. Now don’t get the wrong impression. We’re not sophisticated filmmakers. We don’t watch in silence and clap politely at the end. And we definitely don’t submit the movies on time.

To give you an idea, some recent successful Titular Head movies have been about a fearsome rivalry between two racquetball players, dancing dining hall staff, a campaign to elect our student government president as the new U.S. president, and a tale about a student’s epic struggle to become the best streaker on campus. Raucous cheering and catcalls accompanied the screenings, making the event even more fun. For the past 32 years, students and a few brave faculty and staff have squeezed into the limited seating to watch not so much a film “festival,” but rather a rare spectacle that celebrates this unique campus community we all know and love.

It’s important to note that Titular Head wasn’t always a film festival. It actually got its start in 1976 as a short skit show in conjunction with Grinnell Relays, another fine Grinnell tradition still happening each year. Who knows if the founders had any idea of what exactly they were creating? Even the origins of the name have been lost to the mists of time.

During the 1980s, camcorders hit the scene and folks started submitting videos instead of practicing skits. Gradually the tradition began to move away from the Grinnell Relays, eventually evolving into a short film show traditionally held on the same day but later in the evening. With improvements in technology, film quality also got better and archiving became a possibility. A new era of shorts began in the late ’90s with the creation of consumer digital editing software, and since then we’ve seen the iMovie pushed to its limits.

This spring, the student body celebrated the 32nd Titular Head. We handed out nearly all of our tickets within the first hour they were available. Eager fans filled the lobby of Harris Concert Hall and crammed into the bleacher seating for the opportunity to scream, cheer, and boo 23 films over the course of two and a half hours. All that enthusiasm — from the audience, judges, and filmmakers — contributed to another successful chapter in Titular Head history.

Titular Head is a great show, but there’s more to it than good laughs and big crowds. I’ve had the privilege of helping out for two years now, and I’ve discovered that the films allow you to really note the incredible community and quirks of Grinnell. Regardless of some of the bad films and bad hair in the ’90s archives, this event has consistently documented our excitement and senses of humor, and really illustrates the unique vibe of Grinnell.

But honestly, I can’t give you that a good idea of what Titular Head is all about. Ask other people around on campus, search YouTube, and get a ticket for next year. Even better, grab a camcorder and make some local history. Come be a part of just one of the many spectacles that makes Grinnell spectacular.

Dan Neely '09 is a Psychology major from Chicago, Illinois.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being a Student Adviser

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

 

Twelve first-years. Twelve! While staff training week taught me how to handle pretty much every conceivable conflict I might encounter as a student adviser, or S.A., it left out that little part about any potential pandemonium that could arise when 12 nervous first-years begin their Grinnell experience on Read Second. Suddenly, my self-doubt about being an S.A. rose. My welcoming presence would play a key role in getting the college career of my first-years off to an acceptable start and convincing parents that leaving their kids in Iowa wasn’t such a bad idea.

Thus, I decided the success of move-in day would depend primarily on whether I could keep myself from looking like a complete idiot. It began awkwardly. Rolling out of bed at 9:30 a.m. for my 10 a.m. shift, I half-heartedly grabbed a towel and walked shirtless across the hall toward the bathroom, only to be eyed uncomfortably by a parent and sarcastically asked by more-awake staff members already on duty, “Hey Mark, have you met any of your first-years yet?” I was off to a stellar start.

Looking vaguely respectable, I began greeting first-years and unloading SUVs. Being self-conscious, I found this both exciting and potentially dangerous. One must establish an initial friendship and learn cool things about the other person, even though periods of Facebook stalking have already revealed many of the desired answers.

Besides, appearing and acting friendly meant people might not pass judgment at my moderately creepy door decorations. While a lot of S.A.s play it safe by putting stupid laws or Samuel L. Jackson movie posters by their first years’ names, I went all out with phallic buildings as my floor theme. Because nothing reassures nervous students and parents more than pictures of buildings that look like private parts affixed to every door in the hall. Well, maybe just the students were reassured.

I still needed something to convince myself that I could actually succeed at this S.A. job. Everyone seemed nice, but were they having fun? Did they like me? I finally got an indication during that afternoon’s floor meeting, with the help of one of my better ideas in recent memory. My vehement disdain for icebreakers of any sort forced me to rack my brain for something fun that could be done within the confines of the Read Second hallway. My solution? Wheelie chair races.

With Europe’s “Final Countdown” blaring from my room and boxes scattered across the floor as obstacles, I divided my first-years into teams of four, forced them to learn the names of everyone on their team, and began the extravaganza. Much to my relief, they seemed to be having fun. Apparently, crashing into one’s fellow floormates in a wheelie chair is just as enjoyable as I thought.

After that, any nerves about floor difficulty subsided. All 12 of them went to dinner together, and ended up hanging out on the floor for much of the night. The next day, group volleyball again brought everyone together.

There, I received one final indication that I wasn’t going to fail miserably as an S.A. when I got smacked in the face by a particularly powerful spike. It was embarrassing, but reassuring nonetheless. The subsequent laughter and my failed quest for revenge made me realize that maybe 12 first-years wouldn’t create the chaotic scenes I had envisioned, and that my S.A. experience wouldn’t be so nerve-racking after all.

Mark Japinga '09 is undeclared and from Holland, Michigan.

Traveling with Friends

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

It occurred to me the other day that the Cycling Club at Grinnell is really more like a hive mind than anything else. When I started the club two years ago, all I really wanted was more people to ride with — and that is our philosophy today. The power of Cycling Club lies in its e-mail list and its Plan (an online community — not run by the College — that provides interested students with space where they can keep a blog of sorts). I haven’t been riding very much recently, but there are plenty of other rides going on.

We do coalesce as a hive for certain things, like fixing student bikes for free, dabbling in collegiate road racing in the spring, and running “theme” rides, like one to a local apple orchard in the fall. This past summer, we also rode RAGBRAI as a group.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, more briefly known as RAGBRAI, is the largest bicycle touring event in the United States. It is a sevenday party that travels across Iowa, along with you and your bike. You, and 20,000 other people.

I treasured the experience to get better acquainted with my current home state. There’s just something about riding through a tiny town, being greeted by the mayor in a cherry-picker, and stopping to eat sweet corn — fresh out of a butter vat — that made me love Iowa even more than I already did. It also makes 80- to 100-mile days in the saddle a whole lot more bearable.

There is also a lot to be said for variety. RAGBRAI is fairly representative of the Grinnell cycling community in that all sorts of people get involved. You can strap on your lycra and hammer away, or you can build a bike out of bamboo. I lost track of the number of bikes towing speaker systems blaring music. Even though it might seem strange, riding a bike for more than 450 miles can be fun. In fact, everybody was having a blast.

You see, I’m convinced that RAGBRAI works solely because it is in Iowa. Nowhere else would you be able to find so many friendly people statewide willing to put up with thousands of sweaty, dirty cyclists. We were invited into homes, offered food, and cheered along by old folks in lawn chairs almost the entire way.

RAGBRAI cemented my love for Iowa. It also made me realize what it is that I love so much about bike riding: it’s an experience. You can get on a bike and go somewhere and do something. A bike trip can be exactly what you want it to be. I’m not going to say something contrived like, “and in that way it’s like a Grinnell College education,” but … I suppose I just did. My apologies. Rest assured that if you come to Grinnell and go somewhere with your schoolmates, you’ll be traveling with friends.

Hugh Redford '10 is a Philosophy major from Pound Ridge, New York.

Check Out My New Crib

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

 

Issue: 

 Fall 2007

Author: 

 Nmachi Jidenma '09

Every morning when I wake up and stagger to the bathroom downstairs in my lovely new Cowles apartment, I do so with a great degree of pride and satisfaction. I love the wooden furniture, I love the stairs, I even love the smell. When I walk, cook, lounge, dine, and whine, I do so with the same degree of comfort as I would at my home in Nigeria. I love the novel and the crisp, the new, and the exciting, and my Cowles apartment feels like all that and more! In many ways, I feel privileged to be able to live in such style as the stereotypically poor college student. But who am I to complain?

Though I live in one of the smaller apartments, it is huge compared to the living accommodation I had last year in the dorms. The apartment has a sitting room, a kitchen, a very spacious bathroom, and four bedrooms. Other perks include a TV with cable access, a DVD player, and lots of comfy furniture, perfect for both studying and relaxation. It’s great — I get an off-campus experience without ever having to worry about paying rent or taking out the trash, and I still live close to all the campus hotspots. If I want, I can isolate myself within the four walls of the apartment; but at the same time, I know I can enjoy the comforts of communal living with a quick skip over to visit my friends who live on North Campus.

In addition, the Harris Center is just a stone’s throw from my apartment, which makes weekend activities particularly exciting. On any given weekend night, my suitemates and I can often hear the blaring music emanating from Harris. Some might consider this a negative, but I love it. From the comfort of my apartment, I can gauge the vibe of Harris parties just by listening or by peeking to see if the people hanging outside the entrance look appropriately merry and gleeful. When I’m feeling the vibe, I make the quick trek to Harris to mingle and unwind. When I’m not, I simply indulge myself in one of my favorite guilty pleasures: yet another marathon of America’s Next Top Model on MTV.

Most important, it does not hurt to have the additional attraction of being able to show my apartment off to friends or share it with the rest of campus through forums such as this publication. Thanks to my new accommodation, I have the added privilege of feeling like something of a campus celebrity, just by inviting the rest of the world to “come view my crib.”

Next semester, just before room draw, I intend to ask Grinnell’s housing office if I can live in my apartment again next year. I can’t imagine my senior year without my lovely new living space. I would love to have another year of watching cable TV without the additional stress of having to reserve a hall lounge, of cooking with my suitemates in our very own kitchen, and of checking out the vibe of weekend parties without ever having to get up off the couch.

Nmachi Jidenma '09 is an Economics major from Lagos, Nigeria.

 

Religion in the Cornfields

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

 

I’ve been a Unitarian Universalist all my life. I’m used to people asking me “What’s UU?” all the time, so by now, I’ve got the speech down. But what I didn’t know was that by coming to Grinnell, I’d have to ask myself the question in a whole new way.

I’ve had to (and chosen to) sort through new issues arising from contact with new experiences and different people: UUs, Christians, Pagans, Jews, agnostics, and others. Tons of different religious groups exist on campus, but even beyond the groups, people always have something to say or ask about religion. And being around all these new people makes you think about where you stand, and why others choose to stand differently. So all those late night talks/really-anytime-you’re-interested talks really do happen because we’re a curious, open, and opinionated bunch.

I joined the UU group right away when I came to Grinnell and started co-leading it my second semester. This year, I still lead, and I’m a part of the worship team we’ve created. We gather over Thursday night dinner every week. We share news about our weeks, light the chalice (our religious symbol), sing some songs, and discuss issues that are important to us. We have a small and lively group and we’ve even made puppy chow (a college staple containing Chex cereal, chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar).

I’m also a member of other religious groups on campus. I attend the Grinnell College Christian Fellowship events, and I’ve gone to some of Chalutzim’s (the Jewish student organization) Friday night services. I am part of the Religious Life Council, which includes a representative from each religious student group on campus. We host events throughout the year to promote interfaith dialogue at Grinnell. I am also in the pre-seminary group, because I plan to become a minister at midlife. I’ve consistently found many venues to explore religion here. The groups are both intentional and open, meaning people consciously gather to reflect and act on their beliefs, and at the same time they’re welcoming to others who see things differently.

You may have heard that Grinnell is a pretty liberal school. And that’s true, but it certainly doesn’t mean that people here don’t believe in anything or don’t have values or don’t like to talk about religion. We tend to engage each other about what we believe and why, on religious issues and non-religious issues alike. We aren’t afraid to be challenged or vulnerable, and we are also committed to avoiding ignorance. So we ask questions and seek out dialogues in order to understand.

People always tell you that you learn both in and out of the classroom, and since being at Grinnell, I’ve realized it’s true because we make it so. Learning certainly does go beyond the classroom, and even beyond the student groups, because we engage each other in ways that are both purposeful and comfortable. So we keep on asking not just “What is UU?” (fill in the religion of choice), but also “Why do you choose to be one and how does that impact the way you act in the world?” Then we all keep on learning.

Amen to that!

Ariel Herman '09 is an Independent major from Oak Park, Illinois.

Opening up with Grinnell Monologues

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

 

I am not a theatre person by any stretch of the imagination. I have terrible stage fright, I cannot memorize lines whatsoever, and once, I even threw up while giving a presentation in front of my high school class. So when my friend begged me to go to the kickoff meeting of Grinnell Monologues during my second year, I thought, “Okay, I’ll go to make her feel more comfortable about being there, but no way am I going to have any part in this performance nonsense.”

Grinnell Monologues, or GMons, as it is also affectionately known, is a student-run group on campus that writes and performs its own original monologues centering on themes of sex, sexuality, gender, relationships, body image, and more. Given the intimate nature of the performance content coupled with the still fresh in my mind high school vomiting memory, one could see my hesitation about joining such a group. Little did I know how much this first meeting would alter my perspective.

The meeting began innocently enough. We sat around and answered the basic questions: what’s your name, what year are you, and so on and so forth. But then we got a little closer to each other when the group leader asked everyone at the table, “What was your most embarrassing moment from a Grinnell hookup?” Excuse me, I thought, is that something you should even be asking? I didn’t think so. But to my surprise, everyone answered with very truthful and earnest answers, and I really admired everyone’s openness and acceptance of what others had to say. When it came to my turn, I shocked myself by answering with an embarrassing story of my own. So much for keeping my guard up. But I no longer felt it was necessary to do so. And I showed up for the second meeting.

The point of starting our practices with personal questions was to get the creative juices flowing. Hearing a response from one member of GMons might spark an idea in another member, and poof! A monologue is born! By the end of the semester, we all had come up with great ideas and were ready to perform. Some monologues were comical, others were serious, and some were emotional, but all of the performances were honest, insightful looks into topics that hardly ever get talked about in the open. Sharing a story about how uncomfortable a woman is with her large breasts, or how a man hates to be identified as a heterosexual alpha male, all in front of an audience, is not easy to do. However, stories such as these open doors to dialogue about body image and gender, doors I think deserve to be opened and dialogue that needs to be heard. I believe that everyone who walked away from watching that performance had an altered view about something discussed in the show.

It is probably hard to believe, but even after all my resistance to performing and getting up on stage, I became so enamored with Grinnell Monologues that I served as co-leader of the group the following year. Working with these students was incredibly rewarding because I got to listen to their stories and encourage them to be as truthful and sincere about their own stories as the leaders from the previous year had done with me. And the applause at the end of the performance? That was the best part.

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

One Enchanted Evening

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

 

I spent spring break of my third year in a car, driving across the country. Dan, a student at Williams College, and Sara, a theatre major at the University of Washington, met me in Grinnell. We got stuck in some snow in Nebraska, took a stunning route through Sedona, Ariz., ordered Chinese food from a beach outside of San Francisco, and got Sara back to Seattle just in time for classes.

Dan and I booked it on the drive back to Grinnell. Needless to say, we were exhausted when we finally pulled up outside of Russian House. We weren’t excited to find the kitchen overflowing with students who coerced us into joining them for rice and curry. I excused myself as soon as I could, going up to my room and leaving Dan to fend for himself.

The next day was no different — activity filled the house from dawn to dusk. Dan and I wanted to make a nice dinner, so we invited everyone to join us, planned the menu, and went grocery shopping. However, when 7 p.m. rolled around, my housemate Suyog and his friend Aashish had taken over the stove. They seemed confused when we reminded them of our dinner plans. Frustrated, Dan and I spent the evening wandering around town.

After all of our wandering, we didn’t get dinner started until nearly 10:30 p.m. But then the whole evening took a turn. Everyone congregated in the kitchen once again as Dan and I started the pasta. A group of students played cards at the table. Three friends of mine, all from Nepal, began tossing bottle tops into a can at the other end of the room, fluidly interchanging English and Nepalese. Avram, another housemate, unexpectedly walked in, giddy after a week in Las Vegas.

By the time we finished cooking, the dynamic seemed like something out of a Woody Allen film — people sitting around with wine glasses, eating fettuccini and roasted peppers, talking about spring break adventures and Bob Dylan. After dinner, someone suggested I play my saxophone. I couldn’t see why not, so I went upstairs to get it. When I came back down, the living room was lit by candles. I improvised jazz standards for nearly an hour while people talked and mingled.

The evening ended just as unexpectedly as it began. Suddenly someone realized how late it had gotten and stood up to go. Within minutes, Russian House was quiet again. I didn’t get to bed until nearly 4:30 in the morning.

I’ll always remember that night as one of the strangest and most unexpectedly beautiful evenings that I’ve spent in Grinnell.

Catherine Wagley '07 is an Art major from Spokane, Washington.

Community

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

 

It was like trying to believe in Santa Claus. Was it really true? Would she remember? Would she really get up early on a Tuesday, walk from her cozy off-campus house all the way over to Rose Hall, in the cold, and cook breakfast — just so I could have a little extra time to sleep? I knew I had found a community in the Grinnell College Christian Fellowship (GCCF) — a community that cared about me like none I had known before — but really, nobody expects anyone else to walk half a dozen blocks in a winter sunrise just to fry up a few eggs for one stressed-out first-year. It’s not reasonable.

Nor, it turns out, are a lot of Grinnellians. Because when I crept downstairs to the little dorm kitchen, there she was with a breakfast all for me, a book for her, and a cheerful smile, all to my astonishment.

Everyone needs a community. One of GCCF’s goals is to be a caring, active community open to the whole campus (not just Christians). My first year, four GCCF guys lived in a mini-co-op (an apartment-like room in a regular dorm); they decided to use their extra space to foster community. They left their door open and invited anyone and everyone to come borrow their stuff, use their kitchen, eat their food, and socialize in their space. I was one of many who felt exceptionally welcome and at home there, and as a result, I now live there myself. My roommates and I are happily continuing the tradition of the co-op as a space where life is shared and good community happens.

A good community is dynamic. Students at Grinnell are willing to discuss their experiences and beliefs with each other and don’t duck challenging questions. The first time I went to a GCCF Bible Study, I was nervous because the study wasn’t based on a prepared lesson, but on participants’ on-the-spot questions. What if people asked difficult questions? Well, they did, and I learned that when a group of people is willing to tackle tough questions together, what results is not an ugly argument, but a healthy and thoughtful discussion. I’ve listened to people talk about everything from how Jesus might be like a ninja, to whether salvation is a single decision or a lifetime process, to how the biblical story of creation might be interpreted so as not to interfere with scientific theories — the list goes on.

GCCF in the context of Grinnell has done a lot to broaden and deepen my ideas about what community is and what it means to love people. I’ve learned that love is more than hugs and happy notes, more than anonymously shoveling parked cars out of the snow, more than cooking masses of pancakes at 3 a.m. Loving people — building a real community — is getting to know people, going beyond simply tolerating people to really appreciating them for who they are. It’s listening to their stories. It’s knowing we all make mistakes and dumb decisions, and yet we can respect others (and ourselves) regardless. It requires a little risk, a lot of trust, a real desire to learn, and a faith in something bigger than yourself, be it God, humanity, or reason.

Or Santa Claus.

Sara Woolery '11 is an English major from Malerva, Iowa.

Bubble What?

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

 

I had been studying for my chemistry final for three days straight. I was sick from the winter cold, and had lost the notebook with all my notes. I was so stressed and over-caffeinated, I realized that if I didn’t take a break, I’d go crazy.

Cue Grinnell’s notorious creativity. I needed to de-stress, even if only for an hour, so I decided to go to one of our many study breaks. There are more study breaks held in the week of finals than in the entire semester combined. They range from mini-snack breaks to mini-smoothie breaks, from spontaneous choir singalongs to mini tie-dye and candle-making breaks. I attended many study breaks last year, but the best one hands down had to be the bubble one.

My bubble journey began by running into a sea of bubble wrap extending from one end of the hall to the other. It was so relieving to just drop myself onto the floor and roll around while I felt and heard every little bubble break. Inevitably people got very excited, and everyone started rolling around without any type of systematic order. As you might expect, this led to many Grinnellian-to-Grinnellian crashes, tumbles, flips, wrong turns, and Grinnellian- to-wall collisions. We’re not exactly known for our coordination here.

When I got to the center of the hallway (you’d be surprised how long that actually took!) I arrived at a table with all the bubble mix and magic wands you would ever want in an entire lifetime. The wands came in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I immediately pounced on the butterfly-shaped wand. It was destiny. Using my magic wand, I blew bubbles into a makeshift dartboard. We had still not gotten over the flurry of giggles from the bubble wrap, and it was surprisingly difficult to blow a bubble with a straight face. (You try blowing bubbles while you’re laughing! It’s not that easy!)

From the dartboard, people rolled along the ground again, popping the bubble wrap as they went (again, this took a good 20 minutes!) to the other end of the hallway where the bubble tea awaited. I tasted the mango and strawberry mix, which I must say was delicious! I had only tasted the milk-based teas, so having the splash of fruit flavor was a whole different experience. Eventually we tasted all the flavors, including pineapple, lemon, coconut, and kiwi. Personally, my favorite part of the whole tea was the tapioca balls.

I can honestly say it was the best hour I spent that week. Not only did it reduce my tension, but I also laughed like a maniac seeing everyone stumble on the bubble wrap and try all the different bubble tea flavors. Laughter truly is the best medicine! Even though I was having a stressful week, I knew that night that I had made the right choice to come to Grinnell.

Sandra Torres '12 is undeclared and from Chicago, Illinois.

Extracurriculars

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

 

One of the things I was most amazed at when I began my first semester here at Grinnell was the vast diversity in the student clubs and organizations. There were so many choices at the Organizations Fair during New Student Orientation, I felt overwhelmed. Unable to choose, I signed up for everything I found remotely new or interesting.

I signed up for almost 85 percent of the organizations at the fair. I hadn’t given much thought to just how I was going to fit everything in, but I resigned myself to the fact that I’d figure that part out later. A year later, I have indeed figured it out. Each semester I pick and choose so I can do a variety of things in my time at Grinnell. While it can be overwhelming to be involved in many student organizations, it’s too hard to pass up.

Grinnell has more than 100 student organizations — something for every interest. From politics, to sports, to academics, to religion, to dance, to social issues, to games, to just-for-fun — there are so many types of student organizations that it’s hard not to sample a little here and a little there.

It’s not uncommon to find student organizations collaborating on events and festivities on campus. We strongly believe in “the more the merrier” philosophy to organization. Collaboration isn’t just emphasized inside the classroom; you have to find some way to apply everything you’re learning! It’s also a more pleasant experience planning and executing the event when you have several points of view and several ways of thinking all in one group. You’d probably expect chaos to ensue, but the way we do things here … we make it work. With a very large success rate, might I add? I’m glad I came to a school where I can dance salsa one day, connect with alumni the next day, and round out the week by helping decorate for a Latin American Festival … and then change it all up for the next semester!

Sandra Torres '11 is a Biology major from Chicago, Illinois.