Hey, do you guys remember a year ago when Obama had just won the Iowa caucuses and was on a direct path for the White House? Remember those two key phrases that defined his campaign? Well, unless you’ve been sitting to the left of Cheech and Chong while on their comeback standup tour—don’t worry, they’re still touring—and can’t remember the past 12 months, you know exactly what I’m referring to: “Yes We Can” and “Change.” Duh.
Yes, I know that change is not a phrase. It’s a word. But it’s this very word that I want to talk about, and what it’s currently doing to our beloved Grinnell College.
There is no doubt in my mind that Grinnell is in the midst of a face-change on many different levels. As of this year, we have a new dean of students and a new vice-president of student affairs (Oh, where have you gone, Tom Crady-O, our college turns its lonely eyes to you, oh oh oh). And, our athletic facilities will soon double the size of our campus.
So, Grinnell, do we like all of these changes?
Recently, I was walking home one night with a friend, and as we were crossing 8th Ave, we stopped to discuss the newly paved, brick road (we’re off to see the wizard … ), as well as the medians that guard the entrances from Park and East St. I don’t remember how the exact conversation went, but it pretty much went something like this: “Dude, they should just block off this street and make it into, like, a Greek courtyard.” “You mean, like, with benches and pillars?” “Yeah dude!”
At times, it is easy to find the things around us to be ridiculous. It can be ridiculous in a funny way or ridiculous in an absurd way.
In reality, this current face-lift has been ongoing for almost 10 years now. The physical aesthetics of this campus were completely different shortly before any of us got here.
Once upon a time, Darby Gym was where the JRC is now, a majority of students didn’t have a cell phone or Facebook, ashtrays were still situated by p-card readers and public entrances, the Forum was the campus center and East campus didn’t exist. Heck, some of you out there still remember when there were two dining halls!
For the most part, change is good (I realize that I’m preaching to Obama’s choir and that you probably knew that already). It happens all the time. Ask any alumnus about their time at this school and they’ll tell you the numerous things that have changed since then. But like how America is currently undergoing a major cultural and social change, Grinnell is going through a similar one as well. The daily lifestyles of students are evolving with time.
I suspect that as long as the endowment remains as big as John Burrows’ love for the students of this campus, more buildings and more changes will come. I hope that as long as Grinnell students know no limits, that change will be met with openness and understanding, if not opposition and uproar.
And by “know limits”, I mean intelligence and a knack for social justice. Duh.