As a Grinnell Student I’ve taken some considerable pride in the fact that Grinnell College has had a visible history of social and political activism. I have taken pride in hearing bands of students come together to raise the intellectual awareness of their peers. So, in following the legacy of Grinnellians in the past, I write this to do the same: raise our intellectual and social awareness. We as Grinnellians should be known as empathic scholars with a vision for how the world should be for all of us who inhabit it. But, are we really reaching our potential? The election of Donald Trump has brought about division and toxicity. Even if we ourselves try to ignore it, the cultural climate post election has been that of ignorance and intolerance from more than just our sworn enemies. This type of ignorance and intolerance extends beyond political lines and is the very thing that can give rise to apathy and reluctance. We must resist this and act. If we stand together as students of Grinnell College, no matter our background, we show that this division and apathy is not acceptable. On March 1st we intend to do just this.
When speaking of rituals, David Bowie once mentioned his essential “awe of the universe.” Rituals are not beautiful for what they represent, but for what they do for their practitioners: for their aesthetic appeal: for their sheer power to define in a vacuous world of competing identities: for their ability to peek out from our distracted lives and wave, reminding us that we live in a miraculous world.
Rituals and structures create an easement, or catharsis, for many who chose to create or follow them. They find a calm and productivity in rigidity, like the generative constraints of creative writing. For instance, given our current political climate on and off campus, tensions constantly soar from brains to hearts to bodies. Tension, bodily and otherwise, defines the Grinnell College campus community in its competitive academic culture, its cult of stress, and its social-justice pissing contests. Grinnell has fallen ill and continues to poison itself.
The woman leaned back, her tired eyes struggling to focus on the faces around her, blurs that surrounded her bedside. She could hear them whispering, concern in their voices as they refused to acknowledge the simple truth. She was dying.
It was an unexceptional moment in her life, she thought to herself philosophically. Surprisingly, she experienced no anxiety, only a calm peace that settled over her body. She anticipated the final breath, almost looked forward to it with a kind of morbid acceptance.
The voices around her got quieter, the turbulent babble of the living finally vanquished by the impending silence of death.
Instead she saw around her the faces of people long gone, the ghosts of her past coming back to haunt her in her final moments. They danced, swirling in vivid colors that reminded her of her youth, yet she felt strangely detached from them. Was her memory playing tricks again? She could no longer tell, her fatigued brain unable to distinguish between reality and the world that existed solely inside her head.
She blinked and suddenly she found herself in the middle of a party. She stumbled forward in shock as the sweating bodies wove their way around her, the pounding music throbbing through the floor up into her veins.
The lights flashed violently, and in the semi-darkness she could see the faces of her friends, mascara running in sweaty streams down their cheeks, their damp hair sticking to the skin on their backs and soaking through what little clothes they were wearing.
The drink throws me
back into myself from
deep paradises, out
of temporality into knowledge
I know now what it hides—
the poisoned geographies
the promises, the dead
oh, the dead, who within
consumption take action—
I know now that I am moving ahead
but through what I couldn’t say
a length of rope, a coil of sinew
peels of grapefruit, strange Continue reading
The most recent demonstration on our campus, Divest Grinnell, has prompted conversations about the history of student activism and its relationship to social justice at Grinnell. The college claims on its website that
From the beginning, our commitment to social responsibility has been a large part of our College history. Grinnell was a center for abolitionist activity before and during the Civil War. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Grinnell alumni to positions in his ‘New Deal’ administration. Today, our commitment to social justice continues with the strong philosophy of self-governance and personal responsibility, as well as programs and initiatives that encourage students to learn about the world beyond campus and to create positive social change.
Indeed, nowhere in its narrative of social justice does our institution mention the activism of its students.
i wanted to hear the ragged
miyazaki engine hum
through a rusted-out windpipe,
but we drove up here in a lexus
with working windows and an intact radio.
instead, we listened
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.
bubble of humans presents LOVE.
featuring Simonne Carlton, Sam Burt and Lauren Toppeta.