Note: While writing this article, I used the online S&B Archive as a source for my information.
Why are things the way they are? What were they like before?
These questions plagued me at the start of my second year at Grinnell. The first time I saw a new student I immediately thought to myself how only one year apart, this student’s experience at Grinnell would already be so different to mine.
This is due in part to the fact that Grinnell, like many other college campuses nationwide, has a problem with institutional memory. Knowledge is continuously lost as students graduate and leave, weakening student power and making the already slow crawl of creating positive change on this campus — at an institutional level — transform into a trudge.
“How was your night?”
This ‘easy’ question always leaves me staggered. The four words themselves are so simple and most of the time so is the thought behind them, but the weight attached to the question itself makes it very difficult to answer. It is problematic because this ‘straightforward’ generic phrase often has an extremely complicated response. It’s used most often as a Sunday afternoon formality, to engage in conversation someone you hardly care about. Quite often, people walk away before the question is even answered, or stand there waiting and hoping that the reply is a meaningless one-word acknowledgement that can allow the exchange to end. It involves no detail or care for a person’s unique circumstances. It can make someone feel belittled, because quite often they don’t know “how they are” and can’t rate “how their night went”.