Two Unexpected Residents in Cleveland

The other side: a different set of dorms with a different aesthetic inhabited, as is so often the case, by unfamiliar faces. 8th Ave. exemplifies more than the transition from the residence hall to the classroom; for many students, 8th Ave. separates North (and East) from South.

South CampusEvents in Loose lounge and Gardner can do only so much to bring students together in a self-selecting community. For Karen Bressler ’15, who lives in Loose, geographic estrangement only exacerbates the discordance between North and South.

“Hard to break North. There’s two different communities and you’re with people in one or with people in the other,” Bressler said. “The campus divide is fucked.”

Bressler paints a picture of parallel universes: equally nuanced communities where insularity is de rigueur. If you’ve ever heard characterizations of “North People” or “South People,” those too share in Bressler’s sentiment.

One of the most prominent stereotypes I encountered when investigating the campus divide was that North Campus is where athletes live. I lived in Norris my first-year, and I remember that at least one football player lived on Norris, Cowles, and Dibble, so I was intrigued when I found out that Daniel Ryerson and Daniel Reynolds, both running backs and both Class of 2015, chose to live in Cleveland this year.

Thankfully, these two Dan’s were more than happy to sit down and share their thoughts about campus culture and athletics.

Ryerson and I met in the Grille on April 23rd. At 5’10, 223 pounds, he carried himself with a peaceful swagger and looked a few workouts away from hulking. He could have moved boulders for a living. Ryerson lived on Cleveland 3rd as a first-year and was eager to live there again with more of his friends from the team.

“We were trying to do a six room draw and Cleveland was one of the options. I sort of talked it up a lot tried to really get it in their heads,” Ryerson said.

I talked to Danny Reynolds a week later, although notably smaller than Ryerson at 5’7, Reynolds amicably answered my questions, conversing with cocksure cadence. He said that choosing to live in Cleveland came with complications.

“One of us couldn’t live on campus this year, but we managed to stay in Cleveland,” Reynolds said.

Although their group draw wasn’t realized, Reynolds nonetheless enjoys living on South. “I love South Campus. I think it’s got a lot of personality; it’s got a lot of spirit. The people living here are nice. I don’t have to worry locking my door. It’s just a nice, calm when it needs to be, energetic when it needs to be, kind of place.”

While neither Dan complained much about living in Cleveland, team responsibilities hindered their immersion into one of South Campus’s most notorious dormitories. Perhaps most damning–especially when living in Cleveland–they signed an agreement saying that they would not drink or smoke during the season.

“We can’t smoke [non-tobacco] things. That’s just not something a football team likes to associate with. It doesn’t mean I don’t have friends who do it; it doesn’t mean I disrespect anyone who does it. I’m not going to think any differently of anyone who does do that. It’s just something I try not to get in trouble with,” Ryerson said.

Reynolds finds honor in not participating when Cleveland smokes.

“We sign a contract at the beginning of every season saying that we won’t, and so it’s breaking just fundamental team rules, it’s a big insult to the team.”

However, abstaining from smoking is also imperative, because even smoking one joint at the wrong time can have real consequences.

“There are some guys who would give you a really hard time or talk to a coach if they found out [you were smoking],” Reynolds said. “We lost our starting quarterback this fall before the season ever started because he got caught. Right after the season we lost two more players because they got caught. The quarterback was recognized by security. The other players might have been partially [revealed] by teammates, but there was a knowledge that these kids were smoking.”

Practices consume a lot of time that the Ryerson and Reynolds could spend working on other projects. During the season, the team conducts morning meetings and afternoon practices, while meeting and practice times rotate in the offseason.

“I don’t have as much free time as I like and that results in me staying up later, not managing my time as well,” Ryerson said.

Reynolds, a physics major, balances his practice schedule with his work as a tutor at the Math Lab.

Despite the obstacles that restrict their time and social interaction, Reynolds and Ryerson managed to connect with the residents of Cleve 2nd and create a strong community.

“We introduced a beer pong table to the floor, and everyone just started hanging out and we became a really good group of guys and girls,” Ryerson said. “I really don’t mind hipsters. That’s always been part of the gig.”

While Reynolds agrees that the beer pong table has been instrumental in uniting the floor, he still hears a calling to spend time on the weekends with other football players on North Campus.

“Sometimes we bring football players to Cleveland, but usually we go up North to hang out with other teammates. We don’t really want to isolate ourselves too much. There’s only one other football player who lives on South Campus,” Reynolds said.

However, Reynolds and Ryerson often find their way back to South Campus. Reynolds outlined the logistics of their weekend excursions, through which these football players often find themselves on their feet.

“We’ll start in Cleveland, and then we’ll go North and meet up with some other teammates. If there’s a Harris we’ll hang out in Harris for a little bit and then go down to Gardner and head to high street,” Reynolds said.

Sometimes, the football players bring Clevalanders who aren’t a part of the team North with them.

“We brought a friend of ours from the floor who is on the track team to a football gathering. We taught him a new game. Some of his friends showed up and played with us,” Reynolds said. “Honestly, it’s funny, but alcohol is a real glue between people to keep them friends and keep them socialized.”

Some might argue that Ryerson and Reynolds assimilated  onto their floor nicely, but the decision to live in Cleveland didn’t come without reproach from a few football team members.

“Some of my teammates were like ‘Why are you living there? Live on north. It’s closer to us!’” Ryerson said.

Over the past few years, some members have felt defensive about the football team. After Cunnilingus, some students discussed the need to disestablish the football team because of its apparent discordance with campus culture. Last year, an S&B editorial argued that Grinnell should not have a football team because of concussions. This year, however, Ryerson and Reynolds have experienced more criticism for their choice of residence than from residents of Cleveland themselves.

“I haven’t felt as attacked this year as a member of the team. We’re told to brush it off and let it run its course, it all blows over anyways,” Reynolds said. “People will make sweeping generalizations about the team and if I can successfully hide the fact that I’m a football player, and then introduce myself as a football player after I’ve already made a first impression, it doesn’t affect my relationship with people.”