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Magazine Little Gallery on the Prairie

Ten Years of the Faulconer Gallery Photo courtesy of the Office of Communications and Events


from the editor’s desk Welcome to the third installment of the S&B Magazine! This month, we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Faulconer Gallery, along with examining a host of publications—from the most established to the newest—that have been serving the campus community with equal fervor. In our Comments section, Asia Sample’s comic Lucerito offers a light-hearted look at the Grinnell community, a teasing tone balanced with the more sober reflections of student and professor on the role of the liberal arts today. In our first full year on campus, the magazine’s identity is not all so obvious. Yeah, we have been here before, but we are not quite second years. Maybe we’re more like transfer students—we’ve got some solid experience under our belts, but, in a lot of ways, we’re still learning the ropes. And we’re working on developing a solid support group to help us achieve our hopes and dreams, goals and aspirations. We need all the resources of the Grinnell community. As a supplement to the newspaper, we provide a wider forum to discuss pressing issues and communicate creatively. We’re always looking for feedback. If you have questions, comments, ideas, criticisms, witticisms, reach out to us. We may look and feel a little different from our newsprint brethren, but the [newspapr] e-mail account serves the same purpose. Rebecca Park Magazine Editor

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contents 5.......... the big 1-0: the first decade of the Faulconer Gallery 10............. magazines and more: a closer look at campus publications 13.......... lucerito, part one 14.......... overseeing a crisis (in journalism and conservatism) 16..........a beauty, chapters one and two 19..........thoughts on the liberal arts

Thomas Agran’s ’09 work at the Student Salon epitomizes a Faulconer tradition. Sophie Fajardo

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The S&B Magazine welcomes story ideas from students, faculty and other members of the town and college community. If there is any story that should be covered, please e-mail newspapr@grinnell.edu. Send letters to the editor via e-mail at newspapr@grinnell.edu or mail them to Box 5886.The author’s name must be included, but letters can be published anonymously in certain occasions upon request. Letters may be printed at the discretion of the editor in the next issue of The S&B Magazine.The S&B reserves the right to edit any and all submissions. The opinions expressed in letters to the editor, opinion columns and advertising do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the S&B, SPARC or Grinnell College. Advertising inquiries should be directed to the business manager, Katie McMullen, who can be reached at sandbads@ grinnell.edu or by mail at Box 5886, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA 50112.

graphics Mike Kleine

photographers Sophie Fajardo Courtney Moore Lawrence Sumulong

contributers James Anthofer Sydney Devine Rausch Nora Frazin Joe Hiller Maxwell Leung Solomon Miller Rebecca Park Asia Sample 4 | The S&B Magazine

editors

Editor..........................................Rebecca Park Associate Editor.......................J.Francis Buse Associate Editor........................Chloe Moryl Copy Editor..........................Bradley Gordon Graphic Editor............................Mike Kleine Design Editor.......................Margie Scribner Photo Editor.................Lawrence Sumulong


The Big 1-0: The First Decade of the Faulconer Gallery Sydney Devine R ausch & R ebecca Park “Molecules that Matter” opened at the Faulconer Gallery Sept. 25, marking the 10th anniversary of the Bucksbaum establishment. As an integral part of the Grinnell community the Faulconer Gallery brings new arts, cultures and ideas onto campus every year. For the past decade, Lesley Wright, Director of the Gallery, has conducted the organization of exhibits and related activities. Excellent management and student participation continues to bring exciting new exhibits like this one to our campus. At the S&B Magazine we had the opportunity to meet with Wright. Here, we present you with the inner workings of the Faulconer Gallery and what students can do to help out.

A gallery tour of the very first Faulconer Gallery exhibit, “Restructure,” which ran from September 25 to December 11, 1999. Courtesy of the Grinnell College Archives

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Rebecca Park: Could you tell me a bit about the history of the Gallery? Lesley Wright: It’s my understanding that prior to 10 years ago, we had a couple of places for displaying art. There was the Print and Drawing Study Room in the [Burling] Library, which was built in the 80s, and that’s where the Collection did most of its exhibitions and presented contemporary traveling shows. There was a corridor gallery that ran down the corridor that the Art Department used to do little shows. Literally, it was a corridor that you walked through. And then there was something called the Terrace Gallery, which is where the Health Center is now, that students used as their gallery space. So that’s what there was 10 years ago [1999], before Faulconer. And as the trustees put together a committee to develop this building [Bucksbaum], they had administrators, had trustees and they had members of the three fine arts departments, who all traveled around other colleges and looked at their fine arts buildings. And they decided they really wanted a space that had facilities for the three departments but also a kind of a gallery that could do bigger shows than they had been able to do. So that was the beginning and that was the charge that was given to Cesar Pelli, to design a building that could accommodate theater, art history, studio art, music, dance, and have some kind of independent gallery space. RP: And you find that’s adequate for the Gallery and its size and what you want to do here? LW: I don’t think there’s a museum director in the country who wouldn’t say they want more staff. We’ve talked about it. There’s a couple of things we’d love to have. A Registrar, a person who really is the record-keeper for the Gallery and who also is the shipping expert, because we all participate in all of that and it would be nice to have one expert, who’s just like our librarian who could keep track of everything. That would be an ideal position to have. We would like somebody to help Milton [Severe ’87, Director of Exhibition Design] with preparing works, but we do what we can with students or the rest of us helping out. And we’d love to have a support staff person, you know, we don’t have a secretary of any kind to plan all our events and do all our correspondence and all that kind of stuff. RP: You’re totally independent from the Art Department. LW: Completely. We are an administrative department, we are not an academic department, which is an important distinction. Not that we don’t collaborate a lot with all the departments in this building and with other departments on campus. I’m on a lot of faculty committees across campus, but I’m also on administrative committees. It’s actually turned out to be really good for us to have contact in both those areas because it gives us a base of knowledge we wouldn’t have had otherwise. It’s been great for me to teach. I think it really helps me understand the institution better, to really know the students. RP: How involved are students in the gallery? LW: We use students in a variety of ways. We always hire students to be at the desk in the Gallery. So they’re kind of our front line, they’re the people that greet the public, they’re the face of the Gallery in many ways. Kay [Wilson, Curator of the Collection] hires a lot of students to work in the Print and Drawing Study Room, helping her pull work, to get things photographed digitally to add up to the database and to install the exhibitions over there. They also get involved sometimes with cutting mats and doing some simple framing. And then we have since about 2005, we have always had an intern, every fall and spring.

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But we also always have students who are working with us in the summer, and often it’s at least two who are here in the summer with us. And we regularly hire a student clerk. We’re always thinking of new ways we can find to use students. RP: You mentioned the Burling Gallery and Print and Drawing Study Room. How involved is Faulconer in other exhibition spaces like that? LW: Burling Gallery is under our control, so that is a space. We’re unusual in that we’re one department but we’re in two different buildings, as our spaces. So Kay works for me, it’s part of Faulconer Gallery. And over the years we’ve started to kind of branch out, find other spaces. So we also do the exhibitions that are in the lower level of the John Chrystal Center, and some years that’s a more active space than others, it’s been fairly static now for about a year. We helped with the commission of art in Rose Hall a number of years ago. We brought in an artist who did an installation in Noyce last year, a temporary exhibition. We did a project one year that had a work of art that was in Herrick Chapel. So if it’s appropriate for the show, we will partner with somebody else on campus or in the community to use another space. Because I really feel like if you only show art in the Faulconer Gallery, then people don’t realize that art can be part of their lives in a way that’s not in a traditional museum space. So I like to take the art out of the door sometimes and bring it to them and I think they see things in a different way and realize there are other possibilities. RP: So how do you feel your role has changed, how has the Faulconer Gallery evolved and your participation in it? LW: When we first came 10 years ago, it was crucial that we create a reputation for this place that didn’t exist. We had been given the charge that part of the mission of the Faulconer Gallery was to help expand the reputation of Grinnell College through art. And we felt that meant that we had to reach out very widely to artists and to the communities around us. So from the very beginning, we have curated exhibitions that are international, we have curated exhibitions with artists with national reputations. By bringing their art here they come to know about us and we develop a reputation as a museum that’s serious and knows what it’s doing. And we also wanted to do things that were innovative and would bring really great art to campus, so that students would see that art could be a very exciting part of their education. As it evolved, [what] we began to do, [to] add a third thing into the mix, which is to recognize and from time to time highlight regional art. And that’s something I feel strongly about, if you’re going to be a museum that’s in a part of the country that’s not New York or Los Angeles or Chicago, you have a responsibility to support the artists in that area. We took the Expanding Knowledge Initiative and the Strategic Plan that the College had gone through and looked at that and realized that interdisciplinarity was becoming a bigger and bigger fact of life on campus. And if we could have a person whose responsibility really was to find those kind of projects to do with faculty, that would be great. So that’s why the title changed from Curator of Education to Curator of Academic and Community Outreach, because [Tilly Woodward, Curator of Academic and Community Outreach, is] really intended to do both those things, not just to bring the public in from off-campus, but also to find ways to involve the Gallery in the life of the campus. So “Molecules that Matter” is going to have a lot of programming that’s directly relevant to classes as well as directly relevant to the community. We’re more actively collaborating now with departments than I think we used [to]. We’ve always done some of it, but it used to always be one


shot with one show and now I think we’re developing more of a role on campus. You don’t just have to come with us if you want to do something in the Gallery but we can help you do other kinds of projects as well. RP: And now just a flashback a little bit. Do you remember the first time it opened? Do you remember what kind of reactions you got from other people? LW: We had a really successful opening when we first opened the building. Of course, they made it into a big dedication of the whole building. We had an exhibition in the Gallery called “Restructure,” which was all contemporary art. It was a very exciting show, it had all sorts of different kinds of work in it. I think it gave people the sense that there were a lot possibilities with this space that we could do. RP: I was looking at the attendance list. It looks like it’s almost doubled in the past year or two. Do you know what accounts for that? LW: It’s the outreach. You’ll see it kind of ebbs and flows, and has gone up and down. The years where we have done something that has Impressionism, there have been big spikes. And when we haven’t had an Outreach Curator, which we didn’t have for 2006-2007, and then Tilly was brand-new 07-08, so she was getting things going but it was going to take awhile to see the effects of that. But when we’ve had really effective and active outreach, it’s made a big difference. And now that we’re sort of doing it in two directions, it’s making an even bigger difference. Plus, I have to say, it’s also the quality of the shows we’re doing. We’ve kept a very high level of quality with the exhibitions, and what that does is it continues to draw audiences from beyond the community. We are now definitely a player in the art world in Iowa. We make sure our name is out there all the time with the shows we’re doing. RP: I was wondering too how is it balancing both being a museum, independent and also being on a college campus. Is that a difficult balance to strike? LW: I don’t think so. I used to work at the Cedar Rapids Museum before, which is a private museum in Cedar Rapids. And I actually found that harder because you didn’t have an audience that assumed there was going to be content to an exhibition. And here people are very comfortable with the fact that there’s content. It’s not just entertainment. So I think being on a college campus gives us the luxury of taking seriously the things that we do and the things that we show and being able to think about it in a way that’s beyond just trying to entertain people and get them in the door. Not that other museums don’t do that, but sometimes that’s harder to do within the community, some communities. So I find it a very natural balance, but I’m the product of a small liberal arts college. It makes sense to me. RP: How do you see the Gallery evolving? In the next 10 years, in the next year, what are you looking forward to? LW: One of the things that we have continued to do over the past 10 years is we’ve continued to develop the collection. As the collection gets stronger, and as we do more with being able to present the collection in different ways using online and digital resources, I think how we use the collection in our exhibitions is going to become a place where we can be creative and where things are going to shift a bit. In recent years we’ve been doing more exhibitions that we ourselves are curating out of the collections. So it’s becoming a resource for us to mine and look at in different ways. One of the things we’ve talked about doing, that other schools have done some of, is to bring artists to campus for residencies who then work with the collection and work with students so that they bring fresh eyes to the collection and develop other kinds of projects using the resources we have here. And I’d love to do something like that where we can really be a facilitator for other kinds of projects with artists as well as with the art. It would be good down the line if we could develop some better ways of doing some of our own fundraising because I think that might give us flexibility we don’t always have. Right now we get a good budget from the College but we, except for writing grants, we really don’t go out and raise

A shot of “Molecules that Matter,” which combines science with art. Models of ten significant molecules, each marking a decade and its scientific discoveries, displayed throughout the Gallery organize the show. Courtney Moore money from donors. And we’ve talked about developing our own membership, which a lot of college museums have. It’s a way of cultivating and developing sort of a support group. And also it’s a way of cultivating and developing interest in art, sort of over a lifetime—it’s a way of expanding our mission of what we’re doing already, but that’s for down the line. RP: That’s very exciting. Do you have any other final things you want to say about the Gallery and where it’s been? LW: It’s been a great 10 years. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, it’s gone by very, very fast. We’ve been very lucky in having the support of the College to do what we do and I’m hoping that continues—I see no reason why it won’t. There’s all sorts of things we can do out there and we’re excited to see what’s going to happen next. I would like there to be a way that every student comes through the Gallery in their time here. And I think something we would like to develop is a way to make the Gallery into a more integral part of New Student Orientation or find ways to do even better outreach to students. Because I think it’s a challenge for college museums, because it’s a stable audience in that there are always students here, but it’s never the same students. So you can’t do something once, you have to continue to do things that bring students in and keep them engaged in what you’re doing.

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Vernon Faulconer ’61, the Gallery’s namesake, at Commencement, Spring 2003. Courtesy of the Office of Communications and Events

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An interior of the Faulconer Gallery, during installation of “Molecules that Matter.�

Courtney Moore

Getting up close and personal at a Faulconer sculpture exhibit. Courtesy of the Office of Communications and Events

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Magazines and More

A closer look at campus publications James Anthofer & Solomon Miller Is there a publications culture on campus? Many would say yes. And not only the writers and editors of the paper you are currently reading. But also the many students who write and sweat in the cabineted, windowless Publications offices on the second floor of the JRC often feel like a part of a history of creation, connected to the years of chaotic late nights producing the articles or stories or poems or essays or parodies that constitute the newspapers, journals and magazines later seen strewn about the mailroom. The history of publications is a history of innovation in a pressure cooker, whether in the old publications office (the new Darkroom) or within the walls of the JRC. Here, we offer you a glimpse at the full range of copy Grinnellians are currently producing. How does a sudden burst of inspiration become an established presence? What survives and what flounders and sinks? And, most importantly, how do I get in on all this writing-editing-publishing action?

Our Very Own Grey Lady The Scarlet and Black is Grinnell’s longest standing student publication, never shies away from proudly advertising that it is the first college newspaper west of the Mississippi River. But the idea remains the same. “The goal is to have a really polished, finished product,” said Abby Rapoport ’08, co-editor-in-chief during the 2007-2008 school year. To this end, the S&B has been open to many changes that help make it livelier, improved its content and make it more interesting to read. The past couple years alone featured the creation of the S&B’s eclectic back page, an increase in the types of stories shown on the front page, and a movement towards, and then away from beat writing, in which a reporter covers a storyline as it develops over the course of the year. “The key to having good leadership in the S&B is having people who are a little bit crazy,” Rapoport explained. “[People] who really want to not have a life their senior year, and instead spend their time on this product that most of the campus is going to complain about even if it’s great.”

On the Lighter Side As any cursory glance into the second floor JRC office will show, using humor to survive the grind has been essential to publications culture for a long time, whatever the focus of the publication may be. Nick Lloyd ’04 and Aron Szapiro ’04 began the B&S in 2004 in the wake of a controversy surrounding the GUM, a campus humor magazine of indeterminate age. The earliest copies in Burling Library’s Iowa Room date from 1992, but Lloyd thought it had actually started as the B&S in the seventies. But age didn’t matter—the truth remained. “The reality was that by that time the GUM was just a bloated, unfunny, tiresome piece of shit, and we thought we could do better,” Lloyd said. The two had previously run a weekly pre-recorded radio show during the fall called “Trapped in Darby,” giving them the confidence to approach SPARC during a North Forum lounge GUM protest in spring 2003. “[The show] was fairly popular,” Szapiro said. “Which is quite the accomplishment on KDIC.” Lloyd is more cautious about this assessment. “I think calling our radio show popular is a perhaps a stretch,” he said. “The treasurer of SPARC was a close personal friend and we just called him up to take over the GUM [after the protest]. He asked why we didn’t just make our own paper.” The two received $1000 from SPARC for a year of monthly publishing in 2004. “The GUM had a bigger budget than us, and the previous semester they had failed to come out with a single issue,” said Lloyd. As they continued to reliably publish, they began to get more money and attract

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new writers until the GUM faded away. “The big difference between us and the GUM was that we solicited articles,” said Lloyd. “The GUM was [made up of ] eight guys who all lived in a house off-campus together.” This difference from other humor magazines (see below) would live on, though neither of the B&S’s creators would take credit for its current incarnation. “We sort of fooled around with it, tried to find a format that worked,” said Szapiro. “We recruited Renata [Sancken ’07] to run it after a year, and the fact that it exists probably has more to do with her than us.” As part of the transition to Sancken, the B&S hoped to increase its stable of writers beyond the friends of Lloyd and Szapiro. “I wanted more people to get involved, which was hard,” Sancken explained. “But I realized I’d rather have four funny people than 15 not funny people, because I had to rewrite all of the bad articles.” The B&S solidified under Sancken, as she created the “Junior Editor” and “Webmaster” positions. Eventually it carved out a solid place in the Grinnell publishing community that it stands by today. “We try not to be too hard on people, we want to be more lighthearted than scathingly satirical,” said Ross Preston ’10, the current editor-in-chief of the “newest fake newspaper west of the Mississippi.” “We definitely respond to the S&B,” he further explained. “And we find that people respond better to Grinnell specific [stories] first, supplemented by current events.” However, the B&S, like the GUM, still didn’t quite hit the funny bone of some on campus. Jim Malewitz ’09 worked for the GUM his first year and, unlike the protestors in the forum, mourned rather than celebrated the loss of the magazine. “I liked the idea that the GUM existed, because I thought it offered a good alternative to The Onion-style humor,” he said. “I wanted a more free-flowing selection of things in a magazine.” In responding to the GUM’s disappearance, Malewitz focused on keeping what he thought was funniest in it and moving away from the insular attitude that the late magazine gave off. “I wasn’t really in on the clique,” he said. He found his greatest inspiration in the so-called “lost issue” that contributed to the demise of the GUM. “The one issue that never got produced (but was funded by SPARC) was actually my inspiration for the Writer’s Digress, because it was a mock Reader’s Digest.” Malewitz found applying for money as easy as Lloyd and Szapiro did, though he is careful to note that he never got as much money as later critics of the Writer’s Digress would suggest. “That part of the protest really did annoy me, “ he said. “We got a really, really small cut of the money, and we used a really cheap local printing place. Given that, I think we did a great job.” This controversy, similar in type but not size to the GUM’s, revolved around articles that some in the campus community found sexist (an advice column from Gary Kahn ’09) or racist/ classist (a parody of Forrest Gump by Marshall Chavez ’10). Since, like Malewitz, both Kahn and Chavez were/are varsity baseball players, the Digress was portrayed as a misuse of SPARC funds for a sporadic publishing of inside jokes (the last issue


didn’t appear until Block Party). Chavez, who plans to create another issue of the Writer’s Digress in the spring, defends the way Malewitz ran the magazine. “Jim just had a group of friends who were funny people, and he just wanted control,” he said. “We would make these articles and assign them and what we asked for wouldn’t come back, so both of our publications came out further than we wanted them to be put out.” As the editor-in-chief, Chavez plans to make the spring issue the best yet, and SPARC has been behind such a goal in a manner analogous in many aspects to the way they supported the B&S five years ago. “Chris [Bulbulia ’10, the head of SPARC] had been encouraging me a lot,” said Chavez. But he was quick to provide a disclaimer. “It’s going to be tough because I’m only going to choose people I think are funny.” Humor doesn’t have to be all about word play. Don’t forget the visual! “Send us your funny comics,” Barbara Monaco ’10, co-editor-in-chief of the Sequence, commanded. Along with Asia Sample ’10, the other editor-in-chief, Monaco oversees the twice-semester publishing of comics magazine. Released right before midterms and right before finals, The Sequence aims to entertain its readers and lighten the mood on campus. “Look guys: silver lining,” Monaco said. “The Sequence is out. Take a breath.” The Sequence was founded five years ago as Grinnell’s only collection of student art dedicated to humor, shying away from the more intense focus of the Grinnell Review. Unlike the S&B and the B&S, which occasionally print comics, the Sequence is dedicated solely to funny student art. The Sequence is trying to expand its set of contributors to students across campus, of all artistic backgrounds. “It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw,” Monaco said. “If you’re funny and you can tell a damn good narrative, we’ll take it.” The magazine also hopes to become even more visible on campus this year. Its editors are even considering printing T-shirts to make the Sequence more visible on campus. “I think more than anything, we just want to get the word out there this year,” Monaco said.

structure. “There would have to be a more rigorous application procedure [than for the committee] in the future if we did do this,” said Alper. Opening up the Review committee would, in theory, streamline the publication process. “The problem each year is that, for example, when Andrew ascended to editor he had no experience with InDesign [the software used to lay out the Review],” said Alper. “It’s kind of always been the job of a person who’s been considered to be a lesser person and I don’t want it to be that way again.” By paying everyone a little less and accepting some unpaid writers onto the staff, the editors hope to be able to go from 76 to 96-100 pages, solving a couple of different problems. For one, the editors also hope to receive more non-photography art-submissions, and need space to fit those into the Review as well. Also, the Review has been unable to keep up with the growth of students’ interest in fiction. “The quality and number of submissions has increased a lot in the last two years, and it’s a problem to fit it in,” Alper explained. “We don’t generally want to ask people to excerpt the work.” The first e-mail that the editors sent out to the Review list this year calling for submissions briefly mentioned the rumors of nepotism and cronyism that had been circulating around the Review the last few years and required that the whole committee re-apply. “It’s always been run with committee members expressing interest with being on the committee, but I don’t know if it’s always been refreshed in the past,” said Alper. With this new focus, Alper and Sumulong originally planned to try to accept every person who applied to the art and writing committees to the Review, though now they may end up cutting some applicants for space. In the past, the application process had been more informal and selective. “Andrew [Lippmann ’09, last year’s editor] cut people [from the committee] and I know Brendan Mackie [’07] did too,” she said. “I really don’t want to do that, but I told Lawrence maybe 15 people should be the maximum.” Both editors hope that they will get more submissions this fall than last spring, which Alper remembers as the smallest group she’s ever seen. “In order to vary who was winning the creative writing contests, they made it a rule that people who had previously published in the Review couldn’t submit the same poems to the contests,” she said. “People do care a lot less about getting into the Review than the contests. I know my first year there were over 100 submissions to the poetry contest alone.” Overall, Alper hopes that the Review becomes even more important to the campus writing community. “At its best, the review has been a passing attempt to show the best writing on campus,” she said. “Obviously some talented writers don’t submit, or make it a policy not to submit.” Hoping to join the Review in the ranks of respected semester publications, the Global Spectator, a merger of the magazines Eyewitness and Spectator, will be debuting its first issue this December. In charge of the reborn publication is Liting Cong ’11. “[The magazine’s purpose is] to provide students, on or off-campus, domestic or international, a window to express their cultural heritage and [encounters] and to bring global awareness to the Grinnell community,” she explained. The Eyewitness and the Spectator may have originated from two different sources—the former was a Center for International Studies publication that provided an outlet for sharing off-campus experiences, while Cong founded the latter for the Global Perspective Association to explore multicultural and international issues. Yet content—and monetary restrictions—dovetailed for the two magazines. “Considering the increasing overlap between two publications and budget constraints on every publication, combining two expensive full color magazines seemed to be good for everyone,” Cong said. So how best to explain the variety of Grinnell publications, which run the full gamut from edgy humor to established newspaper? Well, as Bulbulia, the aforementioned current head of SPARC, succinctly summed up: “It only takes two people to start a publication.”

“It only takes two people to start a publication,” said Chris Bulbulia ’10, the head of SPARC, an apt summary of the free-wheeling universe of Grinnell publications.

And Everything In Between

Another important (and surprisingly funny part) of the publications universe is the Grinnell Review. Though the angst in its pages of poems, short stories and photographs may seem to be the bloody heart to the sardonic smiles of the B&S & Co., the writers and artists who have produced the work in it since 1983 often manage considerable levity as well. The current co-editor in chief, Jamie Alper ’09.5, described such a situation: “Molly Rideout [’10] and I actually have a running joke about judging our own work, because at the release party, she told me that I had said one her poems sounded like it had been written by the baseball team…and then I said to her that you said that one of my poems sounded like it was written by a non-English speaker.” But the anonymous judging process that the Review committee puts every piece of submitted work through doesn’t have to be so acerbic. Alper and Lawrence Sumulong ’10, the other editor-in-chief (and, in interest of full disclosure, the photo editor of the S&B), hope to relieve some of the pressure by opening up the organization to more writers and dispelling the notion that the Review is a clique. “The tradition of the Review is that the editor gets to train their successor and that person ascends the hierarchy,” said Alper. “Lawrence and I decided to split the position so we could train a new editor and pay the layout editor more.” As part of this change, they also tentatively plan to recruit new writers and artists to help with layout and to create a less unitary organizational

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COMMENTS a section where we look at the things we are talking about today (and other related ramblings)

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Lucerito, Part 1

by Asia Sample

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Overseeing a Crisis (in Journalism and Conservatism) R ebecca Park

The Death of Conservatism is an elegant little book. The slender unadorned white cover fits as easily in the hand as it does on the bookshelf. It maintains an appropriately conservative aesthetic—what better way to illustrate that the values of true conservatism, devoted more to preserving the balance of power than advocating for the en vogue movement-ofthe-minute? The manifesto’s author, New York Times Book Review Editor Sam Tanenhaus ’77, recently came to campus as part of the Writers@Grinnell program, run by Carolyn Jacobson, English. More than just an average book tour stop, Tanenhaus—a member of the Grinnell class of 1977—was returning to a place he knows well. He is a delightful and rare anomaly—a Grinnell graduate and member of that most elitist of all liberal media institutions, he is also a nationally known conservative advocate. Yet he never oozes the kind of pretentious corporate capitalist sleaze associated with your stereotypical modern Republican. Instead, as he demonstrated this past Monday, he is affable, approachable and all other genres of adjectives that suggest the kind of good nature one hopes to see in the alumni of one’s school. And, unsurprisingly enough, he’s smart and a good writer. No matter your political beliefs, he presents a convincing, easy-to-follow argument, free from overwhelming wonkiness and insider references that so often drag down political writing. Engaging the reader, he forces you to reconsider traditionally held opinions. You might not finish the book ready to go out and radically change your life—there’s not a huge chance that you will switch your party affiliation—but you will have a greater appreciation for the intersection of politics, history and personalities. The American political system is not all

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about ideology; it is the push-and-shove between leaders and movements, the elected and the electing. Tanenhaus proposes that the contemporary practice of conservatism is far from what the philosophy’s founders—thinkers like Edmund Burke and Benjamin Disraeli—originally conceived. The current inception of the American Republican Party is more about movement politics and usagainst-them argumentation than truly preserving the social order and the power relations that maintain it. Once upon a time, “conservative arguments…spoke to the deepest issues of culture and society,” Tanenhaus writes. Now, in-fighting dominates, with “exhortations from the Right to the Right: to uphold ’basics’ and ‘principles,’ to stand tall against liberals—even if it means evading the most pressing issues of the movement.” And without a well-functioning right-wing party, we’re left without productive political opposition. Avoiding passing judgment and forcing values at the reader, he explains and convinces why the validity of American conservatism is on the wane and why, ultimately, this decline is not a good thing for the country. In a September 2008 interview with the writer, Tanenhaus discussed how his twin passions—politics and literary criticism—converge at the Book Review. “We review books more directly that have to do with politics,” he said, explaining how the Review has evolved since his editorship there began in 2004. “We are more likely to find a reviewer who may actually quarrel with the book rather than simply state what’s in it and whether it works or not. We try to sound the full ideological range.” Practicing what he preaches, the values that he espouses as truly conservative—like actually being fair and balanced—are on view whether you


Sam Tanenhaus ’77 addresses the audience during his Writers@Grinnell presentation September 28.

Lawrence Sumulong

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Nora Frazin

Artwork by Mike Kleine

A beauty Chapter One

At 3 a.m. one Wednesday, Renee Anderson heard something bumping across the ceiling directly above her head. It’s a child, she thought wildly, a child moving on hands and knees through the crawlspace above my bedroom ceiling. She lurched out of bed, bleary, and stumbled downstairs to the kitchen to grab a broom. Back upstairs again, she stood quiet in the bleak dark strangeness of her bedroom, eyes closed, listening. A few moments of silence passed, then she heard it, to her left above the armoire: thumpthumpthumpdrag. A pause. A creak of floorboards above as the thing shifted its weight. In a spasm of horror, Renee struck out at the spot with the brush-end of the broom. The creature, taken by surprise, began to run in circles above Renee’s head. thumpthumpthumpthump thumpthumpthumpthump thump. Renee heard herself make a choking noise. She dropped the broom and raced downstairs to the living room sofa where she curled into a ball and cried. Three hours later, Renee called animal control. “This is Renee Anderson, 333 Pine Tree Lane. Something has gotten into my roof and I need it taken away immediately,” she said. “Could you give us more information as to the type of critter you need

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specifically taken care of today, ma’am?” said the voice on the other end. It was a backwoods voice, a voice like a rusty hinge. “I don’t know what it is. I don’t care what it is. I need it gone. Now.” “All right, ma’am, don’t you panic, whatever it is we can take care of it for you. Can you give us some estimation as to the size of the critter?” “It’s big. Huge. I can hear it walking around up there.” “We have a lot of clients on your end of town having squirrel troubles. Do you think it could be squirrels, ma’am?” “No, it’s not squirrels. It’s much bigger than a squirrel. It sounds like it weighs at least seventy pounds.” “All right, ma’am. We’ll send one of our boys around in a few hours.” “I can’t wait a few hours. I have to work. I won’t be home in a few hours.” “We’ll just send someone out to have a look at the roof. We can do it all externally.” “Thank you. Oh, thank you.” Renee walked to work at the elementary school three blocks from her house. As she approached the school, she saw Janice Flinn, the lunch lady, getting out of her car. Janice handed out the kickballs at recess, and she had a habit of cupping two balls against her chest, one in each arm, so that they resembled huge red rubber breasts. The children would shriek with laughter, to which Janice remained oblivious. Renee started walking faster, and pretended not to see Janice. Janice’s vulnerability, Renee thought, was


detestable. The classroom where Renee taught was not technically a classroom, but rather the “multipurpose room,” so she had to arrive at the school at least forty-five minutes before her first class to create the proper atmosphere. Renee was a firm believer in the proper atmosphere. She set up two sets of low risers along the wall for her students to stand on, and hung up her Mozart and Chopin posters on the blackboard. The janitorial staff had asked her not to leave the posters up overnight, as they interfered with cleaning. Due to budget cuts, Renee had to make do with a portable keyboard in lieu of a real piano. She pulled it out from the closet and plugged it into the wall. As a finishing touch, she went back into the closet and retrieved her six ukuleles, which she arranged just-so along the top of the bookshelves. When she finished, she sat down on her piano stool and rubbed her eyes. Her head ached from lack of sleep, and the thought of the thing—animal—critter—whatever it was—slinking around, inside her home, brought bile to her throat. Renee’s house consisted of a living room, dining room and kitchen downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. Randy had needed one of the bedrooms for his office, but when they moved in Renee had assumed that they could add a dormer, maybe, if they ever needed more room. They had been living in the house for six weeks when Renee mentioned this thought to Randy. “Just in case we ever, you know, wanted more space… if we were to have a--” “Renee,” Randy said, “I’m leaving.” Silence. “I love you,” he went on, “please believe I love you. But I love you like a sister. Every time I touch you it feels like incest.” Randy moved out the same week. The fourth-graders arrived at the multipurpose room a little after eight-thirty. This was Renee’s most difficult class; by the age of nine or ten, Renee had found, children ceased to be cute, which made their episodes of naughtiness much less bearable. The children lined up along the risers, and Renee took attendance, a task she dreaded, principally because of Marta Abram. On the first day of school that year, Renee had said to the class, “Now, I know usually when your teachers call attendance, you have to answer with ‘here’ or ‘present.’ But I don’t see why we can’t have a little fun when we take roll. As far as I’m concerned, you can say whatever you want as long as you say something.” Congratulating herself inwardly at her ability to foster creativity in her pupils at all times, Renee had called the first name on her list. “Marta Abram?” “Something.” The rest of the class tittered. “Marta, that’s not what I meant. I want you to say what you want to say. I don’t care how you answer me. You just have to say something. Now let’s try again. Marta Abram?” “Something.” Marta, skinny and mouse-haired, stared at her from the back riser. Renee noted with displeasure that Marta had a line of crusted snot running up the sleeve of her Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. Every day since that first day, Marta had indicated her presence by calling out the word “something.” It had begun to catch on with some of the naughtier boys, now, too. What bothered Renee wasn’t the insurrection itself, but the humorlessness with which Marta delivered the line. Her face showed no spark of mischief, just willful incomprehension. After attendance and vocal warm-ups, Renee called Angela Thornbury to the front of the room to practice her solo, which she would perform at the spring recital on Friday. As Angela sang out in the round tones of a wind-chime, Marta began to cough, a dry hacking that resonated through Renee’s brain, mirroring the throbs of her headache. “That was lovely, Angela,” Renee said when the girl had finished singing, although she had heard almost none of it. “Marta, see me after class.” At the lesson’s conclusion, Marta stayed in her place on the back riser as the other children filed out of the multipurpose room. “Marta, why did you disrupt Angela’s solo?” “I didn’t do anything.” “Now, Marta, you know as well as I do that you coughed all the way through Angela’s solo today.” “I have whooping cough.” Renee paused. “Marta, I won’t tolerate you lying to me.” “I have whooping cough.” “To go to school here you have to get a shot that keeps you from

getting whooping cough. No one gets whooping cough anymore. This isn’t the Oregon Trail, dear.” Renee prided herself on being able to relate to her students in terms they would understand. “I’m allergic to pertussis.” Renee did not follow. She gritted her teeth. “I can’t see how that’s relevant. Sweetheart. Now tell me why you wouldn’t be quiet for Angela to sing her solo. Are you jealous of her?” “I. Have. Whooping. Cough.” Renee sighed. “Go to Principal Ellis’ office.” Over her lunch hour, Renee called animal control. The raspy voice, the voice of the hills, answered on the second ring. “This is Renee Anderson. I called this morning about the animal in my roof.” “Sure, sure, 333 Pine Tree. We sent our boy out this morning.” “And?” “Looks like you’ve got yourself a raccoon in your roof. Happens all the time around this time of year. Seems the little guy got in through a hole by the fan you’ve got up there.” “Did you get it out?” “We put a cage up there by the hole. We like to wait for a critter to come out in his own time. When he does, the cage door closes, and we’ve got him. Now a raccoon, he sleeps all day, so he’ll probably come out at night for some grub. You’re gonna hear a slamming sound. That’s the trap. You call us, and we take him away. How does that sound?” “That sounds beautiful.” Renee woke up early the next morning and went outside in her pajamas to check the trap. She had some difficulty getting a clear angle of sight on the cage from the ground. She circled the house several times. Her pajama bottoms dragged on the ground, and wet began to seep up the pant legs. Eventually, she clambered onto the roof of her car, which was parked in the driveway. Sure enough, she could make out a gray shape inside the cage. The animal control guy came about an hour later, a young guy, not the owner of the voice on the phone. “First stop of the day, the boss insisted,” he said. He took a ladder out of his truck and climbed up to the roof. When he came back down he had the cage in his hands. Renee took several steps back as he passed her, then immediately felt silly. The raccoon was much smaller than it had sounded when it walked above her. It hurled itself from side to side in the cage, but the man carried it to the back of the pickup with ease. When he set the cage down, the raccoon sat up and stuck its hands out between the bars, as if in supplication. “She’s a beauty!” said the animal control guy. “I’m just glad that this nightmare is over,” said Renee. “Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” the man said. “She’s a female. My guess is, she was keeping some little ones up there.” “What?” “Just keep an ear out. They’ll let you know they’re up there soon enough.”

Chapter Two: In the Woods

Renee lay in bed, listening. The animal control guy had said that the raccoon he’d taken out of her ceiling that morning was probably a mother, and that she should expect to hear the babies chattering. Renee didn’t have an attic; the raccoon had taken up residence in the low-ceilinged crawlspace between the second floor and the roof. “They should be too young to move out of the nest,” the man had said, “so I need you to listen carefully and figure where the noise is coming from. That way we’ll be able to get them out of your hair right away.” Renee looked over at her bedside clock. It was 10:30. She had always considered herself a night person, but ever since Randy left a year before, she had been going to bed earlier and earlier. The image of the mother raccoon stuck in her head, how its hands reached through the gaps in the wire cage toward her. They were hands, Renee thought, not paws. By now the mother raccoon had surely been released in the forest preserve. She must be frantic, Renee thought. She began to wonder how long

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it would be before the mother made her way back to claim her children. But no, raccoons aren’t like dogs, surely. Surely she won’t be able to scent her way back. The owner of the animal control business, the nice man with the beautiful phone voice, will bring her children to her. Surely, surely animal control wasn’t in the business of breaking up families. Renee was in the woods, now, her black hands clinging to the thin branches like whips, thin branches bending under her weight, small blood red berries just within reach— She was shocked awake by a heckling noise. It was shrill. It sounded like a bat, like a cruel child. Tears rose to her eyes like she’d been slapped. The sound came from above the right side of the bed, Randy’s side. Renee got up. She wouldn’t be able to sleep with the babies so close above her. She went downstairs and lay down on the couch. Renee woke, disoriented, the sun in her eyes. She sat up abruptly. Her alarm was upstairs. She was downstairs. She looked at the clock on the stereo across the room. 8:15. Her first class started in 15 minutes. Renee rushed into the multipurpose room where she taught music at 8:32 a.m. Her class of fourth-graders had already arrived. Renee hadn’t been there to set up the risers where they normally sat, so most of them were standing in circles. Some of the boys were running around, playing tag. “Everyone sit down!” Renee ordered, trying to keep the note of pleading out of her voice. “But there’s nowhere to sit!” cried Angela Thornbury. “Just sit on the floor. We’ll all have to stand in a moment anyway, to practice for the recital tonight.” As the children sat, Renee noticed something written low along the blackboard at the front of the room. I have lockjaw I can’t sing tonight, it said. Renee turned to face the class. “Who wrote this?” she asked. “It was Marta,” said Angela. Marta. Of course, Renee thought. Marta, knock-kneed, sallow, sunkeneyed, the perpetual thorn in Renee’s side. “Marta,” Renee said to the girl staring up at her from floor. “On Wednesday it was whooping cough, today it’s lockjaw? What’s it going to be next?” Marta didn’t respond. “Well?” Marta glowered at Renee for a moment, then very deliberately walked past her up to the board and wrote a second line. I can’t talk I can’t open my mouth I have LOCKJAW. She underlined the last word. The other children giggled, shocked. “You’ve interrupted my class enough. You will be singing tonight, but first you will be going to the principal’s office.” Renee barely recalled the rest of class; it seemed like no time at all until she found herself saying “Seven p.m., remember. We’ll meet in here for vocal warm-ups. Send your parents along to the gym and make sure to wear a white shirt and black pants. See you tonight!” Renee usually responded to the high stress of recital days by planning every detail. Today, though, she felt reckless, even like she was losing her mind. She found herself telling her sixth-graders, “Now, I think I’ve been good to you over the years. If your fly was unzipped, I would pull you to the side and tell you. I always let you take bathroom breaks, and sometimes I bring in movies on Fridays. So, for me, please, please try to stay on beat tonight. This is your one chance this year to make our school proud.” By the end of the speech, she was nearly in tears. The scratchy-voiced owner of the pest control service had explained, when Renee called him over her lunch hour, that the removal of a baby raccoon is a delicate operation. “Now, a grown-up critter we can catch with a trap on the roof, as you saw,” he drawled. “A little guy, though, he’s not gonna come out on his own. And we don’t want him starving to death up there, or you’ll have a nasty mess on your hands. So what we’re gonna do is come around your house tonight and see what we can do about getting that little sucker out of there.” The owner said he would take care of the removal personally. When he showed up at the house, around four, Renee was a little disappointed in his appearance. From how he’d sounded on the phone, she’d expected a thin, wiry man, with a full black beard, maybe, and ice blue eyes. Instead, he was a little pudgy, with thinning brown hair and a square jaw. When he introduced himself as Rod Tucker, though, his syrup-thick voice gave Renee chills. The man is magnificent, she thought. His voice is a thing of beauty. When he told Renee that he would be cutting a hole in her bedroom ceiling and pulling the baby raccoon out through it, she didn’t think to protest. “This means I’m going to have to carry the little guy out through the

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inside of your house. Are you comfortable with that, ma’am?” “You can do whatever you like,” Renee said. She stayed downstairs while he was working. Quiet on the living room couch, she could hear him dragging the bed out of the way, then the screech of the saw cutting through the plaster ceiling into the crawlspace. She pictured the baby raccoon, watching the blade coming up through the floor. It would look like a shark’s fin, she thought. After about half an hour, Rod came down the stairs holding the small wire cage under one arm. The animal inside it lacked its mother’s mask. It looked more like a rat than a raccoon. It didn’t move much, but stared up at Renee blackly. Suddenly Renee stood up, blocking Rod’s path to the door. She took two quick steps toward him and made as if to grab his free hand. He backed up, confused. “Ma’am?” “Mr. Tucker, I need to ask you a question.” He smiled, uncertain. “Well, fire away, I guess.” “You know a lot about mothers and children. About creatures. Small things.” “Well, yes, I suppose that’s true.” “I’m an educator, Mr. Tucker, and I have a problem. There’s a child in my class. A terrible child. She’s disruptive. Every day she claims to have a new disease. She’s just trying to get under my skin. And now she says she won’t sing in the spring recital!” Rod held the cage in front of him like a shield. “I’m not sure what you’re asking me, ma’am.” “What should I do?” He paused. He cleared his throat. “Well, it seems to me--” A knock on the screen door. “Renee?” She turned. A man was standing on the porch. “Randy?” “Renee, baby,” he said. “We need to talk.” Renee looked over her shoulder at Rod, who was still holding the raccoon cage in both hands. “It’s kind of a bad time,” she said. The screen door shaded Randy’s face dark. “I made a mistake. Please let me come inside.” Rod cleared his throat. “Ma’am,” he said. “I can just take this critter out to the truck now. I’ll send you the bill in the mail.” This would not do. Renee needed an answer. Please stay, she tried to tell Rod with her eyes. She turned back to the door. “Randy. Get off of my porch before I call the police.” She closed the heavy wood door in his face. “Mr. Tucker,” she said. “The girl. What do I do about the girl?” He shifted the cage in his arms. “Well, ma’am,” he said. “I think I would just let the kid sit this one out. What does it matter, in the end?” Renee stared at him. He was right: what did it matter? What did anything matter? Rod stepped toward her. He motioned with his head toward the door. “Can I take this little guy out to the truck now?” Renee nodded, but she didn’t move out of the way. “Will—will you release him in the same spot as his mother?” “What exactly do you mean, ma’am?” “In the woods. When you let him go, will he be able to find his mother?” Rod winced. “We can’t release these animals into the wild. That would be in violation of state law.” “What do you—where do you put them?” “Well, ma’am, we have to put them down. It’s the law, ma’am.” He started to walk past her, and she moved numbly to the side. She watched out the window as Rod nodded to Randy, who was still standing on the sidewalk outside, and put the cage with the baby in it into the back of his truck. He drove away. Renee walked upstairs to her bedroom. The hole in the ceiling was square-shaped. Rod had covered it with a piece of plywood. The bed was still pushed up against the opposite wall, and there was plaster dust all over the floor. She looked out the window. Randy was still outside. For a moment, she considered going down to let him in, but in the end she decided she couldn’t be bothered. She was supposed to be back at the school at six to get ready for the spring recital, but she didn’t end up doing that, either. She spent the evening looking at real estate ads on the Internet. When the parents and children showed up at the school for the recital, they were met with a sign posted on the front door: RECITAL CAN-

CELLED. MS. ANDERSON HAS LOCKJAW.


Thoughts: Two Different Ideas on the Liberal Arts Maxwell Leung When I was asked to write a short essay about my understanding of a liberal arts education, I was not sure if I was the most qualified person to talk about it. I did not attend a liberal arts college. I barely knew of its existence. Yet here I am at Grinnell College, teaching and working with the most exceptional students that I have ever had. But I have an idea on what it might be, so here’s my best shot. The liberal arts involve skills learned to free the mind, lift up society and embrace the ethical and moral responsibilities of a citizen of the world. These are skills that form the foundation of an active, informed and engaged citizenry—in short, practices of freedom. When I was offered the opportunity to join the faculty at Grinnell College, a close activist friend and community organizer privately criticized me because he believed that I was “selling out.” Despite my anger at his accusation, I found myself contemplating what it would mean for me to live in the middle of Iowa, teach at an institution of vast wealth and work with intellectually elite students. My friend and I had both graduated from San Francisco State University, a school that is known for the Third World Student Strikes in the late 1960s that led to the establishment of the nation’s first College of Ethnic Studies. We believed that after graduating we would work for the betterment of our communities in San Francisco. But when I went on to become a professional academic, I was seen as abandoning the young men and women of the community who could have benefited from my skills, knowledge and access to resources. What would an exceptionally bright and intelligent student body at a nationally ranked college with an astronomical endowment do with a teacher-scholar-activist like me? My doubts about coming to Grinnell subsided, however, when I learned more about the College’s values of social responsibility and action, and its strong tradition of self-governance and personal responsibility. I was encouraged by the Sociology Department’s commitment to social justice as well as their recognition of the importance of community building. My understanding of a liberal arts education expanded to involve more than the mere acquisition of learned skills. I now understand a liberal arts education as deeply interlinked with practices of emancipation, justice and democracy. The goals of a liberal arts education are empty rhetoric if they do not confront privilege, luxury and apathy head on. I immediately recalled the words my mentor said to me over twenty years ago, when I was an undergraduate student: “You need to step up.” Simply put, it’s taking what you learn to the next level. The easiest part of a liberal arts education is learning—it is harder to practice your values, and hardest of all to challenge oppression in its many forms. On a campus as idyllic as Grinnell College, there is always a need to “step up.” I admire the A-Just Grinnell and No Limits Project as two examples of stepping up, of taking one’s education to the next level. More importantly, these political projects, and many others like it, have produced a vibrant discussion about the very essence of emancipation, justice and democracy. They asked, “What does agency look like at this campus community?”, “How do we practice freedom?” and, finally, “How do we further enhance the possibilities for freedom?” These are vital questions that can be asked at any college with a liberal arts curriculum in this nation. But there is only one reason why anyone would want to raise and attempt to answer these questions at Grinnell College, and that is the shared genuine desire to learn, live and practice freedom. Anything short of that and I don’t think you are stepping up.

Joe Hiller By our own choice, we are all submerged in the liberal arts—they surround and permeate every aspect of our small college experience, from our academic courses to our activist engagements to our artistic pursuits. They are inescapable and ever present—even our residential environment is designed with the liberal arts in mind. However, despite their overarching supremacy on campus, the liberal arts are precisely what is most liberating about our Grinnell education. The liberal arts are the truest road to what Brazilian educator Paulo Freire calls “education as the practice of freedom.” It is no coincidence that “liberal” and “liberty” share the same etymological root. Indeed, the pedagogy of the liberal arts is a pedagogy of freedom—the freedom to forge a unique path through academic disciplines and extracurricular activities, the freedom to continue feisty intellectual discourse late into the night over tea with your friend from down the hall, the freedom to plan activist events with one of your professors to demand action from college administrators and, perhaps most importantly, the freedom to define and give shape to your own particular freedom. Such an education—such freedom—has no limits. Moreover, a meaningfully realized liberal arts education is humanizing, enfranchising and enormously invigorating. It stands in direct opposition to dogmatic indoctrination and stifling rote memorization, those oppressive “educations” which limit discourse and critical thought, education that draws stark lines between “teacher,” the holder of unquestionable truths, and “student,” the empty vessel to be filled with the teacher’s ideas. Instead, a liberal arts education brings all community members into constructive dialogue and recognizes that all people have something to teach and something to learn in the shared, hopeful pursuit of knowledge. The liberal arts are anti-hierarchical and prioritize no one viewpoint or academic specialty over another—they are empowering and enlightening, marked by open-eyed questioning, rife with intellectual curiosity and interdisciplinary creativity. Their emancipating effects transcend the classroom, lasting long after the four or more years of undergraduate schooling have ended. Their value cannot be overstated. A liberal arts education is not available to all—it remains a privilege of the few. For this reason, and for the undeniable existence of severe social disparity and global injustice, the liberal arts cannot be relegated to the hedonistic pursuit of intellectual or social pleasures. It must also emphasize informed action and consciousness, continual reflection upon that action to transform the oppressive reality that confronts us today and to create a better world, a world in which all people can realize their full humanity. It is the duty of those of us privileged by a liberal arts education to recognize our privilege and to use it for the betterment of ourselves and of the world. The precise form that this “betterment” should take is undetermined. But what better way to understand it and give it shape than through the liberal arts?

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