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S &B
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 es-
tablished 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 bal-
anced 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 dis-
cuss 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

2| The S&B Magazine

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

The S&B Magazine | 3

S B & Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1
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
Send letters to the editor via e-mail at newspapr@grin- 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

graphics 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.
Mike Kleine Advertising inquiries should be directed to the business
manager, Katie McMullen, who can be reached at sandbads@ or by mail at Box 5886, Grinnell College, Grin-
nell, IA 50112.

Sophie Fajardo
Courtney Moore
Lawrence Sumulong

James Anthofer
Sydney Devine Rausch editors
Nora Frazin Editor..........................................Rebecca Park
Joe Hiller Associate Editor.......................J.Francis Buse
Maxwell Leung Associate Editor........................Chloe Moryl
Solomon Miller Copy Editor..........................Bradley Gordon
Rebecca Park Graphic Editor............................Mike Kleine
Asia Sample Design Editor.......................Margie Scribner
Photo Editor.................Lawrence Sumulong
4 | The S&B Magazine
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 an-
niversary 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
The S&B Magazine | 5
Rebecca Park: Could you tell me a bit about the history of the Gallery? But we also always have students who are working with us in the sum-
mer, and often it’s at least two who are here in the summer with us. And
Lesley Wright: It’s my understanding that prior to 10 years ago, we we regularly hire a student clerk.
had a couple of places for displaying art. There was the Print and Draw- We’re always thinking of new ways we can find to use students.
ing 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 RP: You mentioned the Burling Gallery and Print and Drawing Study
contemporary traveling shows. Room. How involved is Faulconer in other exhibition spaces like that?
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 LW: Burling Gallery is under our control, so that is a space. We’re
walked through. And then there was something called the Terrace Gallery, unusual in that we’re one department but we’re in two different buildings,
which is where the Health Center is now, that students used as their gal- as our spaces. So Kay works for me, it’s part of Faulconer Gallery. And over
lery space. So that’s what there was 10 years ago [1999], before Faulconer. the years we’ve started to kind of branch out, find other spaces. So we also
And as the trustees put together a committee to develop this building do the exhibitions that are in the lower level of the John Chrystal Center,
[Bucksbaum], they had administrators, had trustees and they had members and some years that’s a more active space than others, it’s been fairly static
of the three fine arts departments, who all traveled around other colleges now for about a year.
and looked at their fine arts buildings. And they decided they really wanted We helped with the commission of art in Rose Hall a number of years
a space that had facilities for the three departments but also a kind of a ago. We brought in an artist who did an installation in Noyce last year, a
gallery that could do bigger shows than they had been able to do. So that temporary exhibition.
was the beginning and that was the charge that was given to Cesar Pelli, We did a project one year that had a work of art that was in Herrick
to design a building that could accommodate theater, art history, studio art, Chapel.
music, dance, and have some kind of independent gallery space. 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
RP: And you find that’s adequate for the Gallery and its size and what like if you only show art in the Faulconer Gallery, then people don’t realize
you want to do here? 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
LW: I don’t think there’s a them and I think they see things in
museum director in the country a different way and realize there are
who wouldn’t say they want more other possibilities.
staff. We’ve talked about it. There’s
a couple of things we’d love to have. RP: So how do you feel your role
A Registrar, a person who really is has changed, how has the Faulconer
the record-keeper for the Gallery Gallery evolved and your participa-
and who also is the shipping expert, tion in it?
because we all participate in all of
that and it would be nice to have one LW: When we first came 10
expert, who’s just like our librarian years ago, it was crucial that we cre-
who could keep track of everything. ate a reputation for this place that
That would be an ideal position to didn’t exist. We had been given the
have. We would like somebody to charge that part of the mission of
help Milton [Severe ’87, Director of the Faulconer Gallery was to help
Exhibition Design] with preparing expand the reputation of Grinnell
works, but we do what we can with College through art. And we felt
students or the rest of us helping that meant that we had to reach
out. And we’d love to have a sup- out very widely to artists and to the
port staff person, you know, we don’t communities around us. So from
have a secretary of any kind to plan the very beginning, we have curated
all our events and do all our corre- exhibitions that are international,
spondence and all that kind of stuff. we have curated exhibitions with
artists with national reputations.
RP: You’re totally independent from the Art Department. 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.
LW: Completely. We are an administrative department, we are not an And we also wanted to do things that were innovative and would bring
academic department, which is an important distinction. Not that we don’t really great art to campus, so that students would see that art could be a
collaborate a lot with all the departments in this building and with other very exciting part of their education. As it evolved, [what] we began to do,
departments on campus. [to] add a third thing into the mix, which is to recognize and from time
I’m on a lot of faculty committees across campus, but I’m also on ad- to time highlight regional art. And that’s something I feel strongly about,
ministrative committees. It’s actually turned out to be really good for us if you’re going to be a museum that’s in a part of the country that’s not
to have contact in both those areas because it gives us a base of knowledge New York or Los Angeles or Chicago, you have a responsibility to support
we wouldn’t have had otherwise. the artists in that area.
It’s been great for me to teach. I think it really helps me understand We took the Expanding Knowledge Initiative and the Strategic Plan
the institution better, to really know the students. 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.
RP: How involved are students in the gallery? 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
LW: We use students in a variety of ways. We always hire students to title changed from Curator of Education to Curator of Academic and
be at the desk in the Gallery. So they’re kind of our front line, they’re the Community Outreach, because [Tilly Woodward, Curator of Academic
people that greet the public, they’re the face of the Gallery in many ways. and Community Outreach, is] really intended to do both those things,
Kay [Wilson, Curator of the Collection] hires a lot of students to not just to bring the public in from off-campus, but also to find ways to
work in the Print and Drawing Study Room, helping her pull work, to involve the Gallery in the life of the campus. So “Molecules that Matter”
get things photographed digitally to add up to the database and to install is going to have a lot of programming that’s directly relevant to classes as
the exhibitions over there. They also get involved sometimes with cutting well as directly relevant to the community.
mats and doing some simple framing. And then we have since about 2005, We’re more actively collaborating now with departments than I think
we have always had an intern, every fall and spring. we used [to]. We’ve always done some of it, but it used to always be one
6 | The S&B Magazine
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 build-
ing. 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

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 be-
fore, 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
A shot of “Molecules that Matter,” which combines science with art. Models of
on a college campus gives us the luxury of taking seriously the things that
ten significant molecules, each marking a decade and its scientific discoveries,
we do and the things that we show and being able to think about it in a
displayed throughout the Gallery organize the show.
way that’s beyond just trying to entertain people and get them in the door.
Courtney Moore
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. money from donors. And we’ve talked about developing our own mem-
bership, which a lot of college museums have. It’s a way of cultivating and
RP: How do you see the Gallery evolving? In the next 10 years, in the developing sort of a support group. And also it’s a way of cultivating and
next year, what are you looking forward to? 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.
LW: One of the things that we have continued to do over the past 10
years is we’ve continued to develop the collection. RP: That’s very exciting. Do you have any other final things you want
As the collection gets stronger, and as we do more with being able to to say about the Gallery and where it’s been?
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 LW: It’s been a great 10 years. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, it’s gone
place where we can be creative and where things are going to shift a bit. by very, very fast. We’ve been very lucky in having the support of the College
In recent years we’ve been doing more exhibitions that we ourselves to do what we do and I’m hoping that continues—I see no reason why it
are curating out of the collections. So it’s becoming a resource for us to won’t. There’s all sorts of things we can do out there and we’re excited to
mine and look at in different ways. One of the things we’ve talked about see what’s going to happen next.
doing, that other schools have done some of, is to bring artists to campus I would like there to be a way that every student comes through the
for residencies who then work with the collection and work with students Gallery in their time here. And I think something we would like to develop
so that they bring fresh eyes to the collection and develop other kinds of is a way to make the Gallery into a more integral part of New Student
projects using the resources we have here. And I’d love to do something Orientation or find ways to do even better outreach to students. Because
like that where we can really be a facilitator for other kinds of projects with I think it’s a challenge for college museums, because it’s a stable audience
artists as well as with the art. in that there are always students here, but it’s never the same students. So
It would be good down the line if we could develop some better ways you can’t do something once, you have to continue to do things that bring
of doing some of our own fundraising because I think that might give us students in and keep them engaged in what you’re doing.
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
The S&B Magazine | 7
Vernon Faulconer ’61, the Gallery’s namesake, at Commencement, Spring 2003.
Courtesy of the Office of Communications and Events

8 | The S&B Magazine

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

The S&B Magazine | 9

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 new writers until the GUM faded away. “The big difference
the writers and editors of the paper you are currently reading. But also the many between us and the GUM was that we solicited articles,” said
students who write and sweat in the cabineted, windowless Publications offices on Lloyd. “The GUM was [made up of ] eight guys who all lived
the second floor of the JRC often feel like a part of a history of creation, connected in a house off-campus together.”
to the years of chaotic late nights producing the articles or stories or poems or essays This difference from other humor magazines (see below)
or parodies that constitute the newspapers, journals and magazines later seen strewn would live on, though neither of the B&S’s creators would take
about the mailroom. credit for its current incarnation. “We sort of fooled around
The history of publications is a history of innovation in a pressure cooker, whether with it, tried to find a format that worked,” said Szapiro. “We
in the old publications office (the new Darkroom) or within the walls of the JRC. recruited Renata [Sancken ’07] to run it after a year, and the
Here, we offer you a glimpse at the full range of copy Grinnellians are currently fact that it exists probably has more to do with her than us.”
producing. How does a sudden burst of inspiration become an established presence? As part of the transition to Sancken, the B&S hoped to
What survives and what flounders and sinks? And, most importantly, how do I get increase its stable of writers beyond the friends of Lloyd and
in on all this writing-editing-publishing action? Szapiro. “I wanted more people to get involved, which was hard,”
Sancken explained. “But I realized I’d rather have four funny

Our Very Own Grey Lady 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 “Ju-
The Scarlet and Black is Grinnell’s longest standing student publication, never nior Editor” and “Webmaster” positions. Eventually it carved
shies away from proudly advertising that it is the first college newspaper west of the out a solid place in the Grinnell publishing community that it
Mississippi River. stands by today.
But the idea remains the same. “The goal is to have a really polished, finished “We try not to be too hard on people, we want to be more
product,” said Abby Rapoport ’08, co-editor-in-chief during the 2007-2008 school year. lighthearted than scathingly satirical,” said Ross Preston ’10,
To this end, the S&B has been open to many changes that help make it livelier, the current editor-in-chief of the “newest fake newspaper west
improved its content and make it more interesting to read. The past couple years alone of the Mississippi.”
featured the creation of the S&B’s eclectic back page, an increase in the types of stories “We definitely respond to the S&B,” he further explained.
shown on the front page, and a movement towards, and then away from beat writing, “And we find that people respond better to Grinnell specific
in which a reporter covers a storyline as it develops over the course of the year. [stories] first, supplemented by current events.”
“The key to having good leadership in the S&B is having people who are a little However, the B&S, like the GUM, still didn’t quite hit the
bit crazy,” Rapoport explained. “[People] who really want to not have a life their senior funny bone of some on campus. Jim Malewitz ’09 worked for
year, and instead spend their time on this product that most of the campus is going the GUM his first year and, unlike the protestors in the forum,
to complain about even if it’s great.” 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
On the Lighter Side a more free-flowing selection of things in a magazine.”
In responding to the GUM’s disappearance, Malewitz fo-
cused on keeping what he thought was funniest in it and moving
As any cursory glance into the second floor JRC office will show, using humor to away from the insular attitude that the late magazine gave off.
survive the grind has been essential to publications culture for a long time, whatever “I wasn’t really in on the clique,” he said.
the focus of the publication may be. He found his greatest inspiration in the so-called “lost issue”
Nick Lloyd ’04 and Aron Szapiro ’04 began the B&S in 2004 in the wake of a that contributed to the demise of the GUM. “The one issue that
controversy surrounding the GUM, a campus humor magazine of indeterminate age. never got produced (but was funded by SPARC) was actually
The earliest copies in Burling Library’s Iowa Room date from 1992, but Lloyd thought my inspiration for the Writer’s Digress, because it was a mock
it had actually started as the B&S in the seventies. But age didn’t matter—the truth Reader’s Digest.”
remained. “The reality was that by that time the GUM was just a bloated, unfunny, Malewitz found applying for money as easy as Lloyd and
tiresome piece of shit, and we thought we could do better,” Lloyd said. Szapiro did, though he is careful to note that he never got as
The two had previously run a weekly pre-recorded radio show during the fall much money as later critics of the Writer’s Digress would suggest.
called “Trapped in Darby,” giving them the confidence to approach SPARC during a “That part of the protest really did annoy me, “ he said. “We
North Forum lounge GUM protest in spring 2003. “[The show] was fairly popular,” got a really, really small cut of the money, and we used a really
Szapiro said. “Which is quite the accomplishment on KDIC.” cheap local printing place. Given that, I think we did a great job.”
Lloyd is more cautious about this assessment. “I think calling our radio show This controversy, similar in type but not size to the GUM’s,
popular is a perhaps a stretch,” he said. “The treasurer of SPARC was a close personal revolved around articles that some in the campus community
friend and we just called him up to take over the GUM [after the protest]. He asked found sexist (an advice column from Gary Kahn ’09) or racist/
why we didn’t just make our own paper.” classist (a parody of Forrest Gump by Marshall Chavez ’10).
The two received $1000 from SPARC for a year of monthly publishing in 2004. Since, like Malewitz, both Kahn and Chavez were/are varsity
“The GUM had a bigger budget than us, and the previous semester they had failed baseball players, the Digress was portrayed as a misuse of SPARC
to come out with a single issue,” said Lloyd. funds for a sporadic publishing of inside jokes (the last issue
As they continued to reliably publish, they began to get more money and attract
10 | The S&B Magazine
didn’t appear until Block Party). structure. “There would have to be a more rigorous application procedure
Chavez, who plans to create another issue of the Writer’s Digress in the [than for the committee] in the future if we did do this,” said Alper.
spring, defends the way Malewitz ran the magazine. “Jim just had a group Opening up the Review committee would, in theory, streamline the
publication process. “The problem each year is that, for example, when
of friends who were funny people, and he just wanted control,” he said.
Andrew ascended to editor he had no experience with InDesign [the
“We would make these articles and assign them and what we asked for software used to lay out the Review],” said Alper. “It’s kind of always been
wouldn’t come back, so both of our publications came out further than we the job of a person who’s been considered to be a lesser person and I don’t
wanted them to be put out.” want it to be that way again.”
As the editor-in-chief, Chavez plans to make the spring issue the best By paying everyone a little less and accepting some unpaid writers
yet, and SPARC has been behind such a goal in a manner analogous in 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
many aspects to the way they supported the B&S five years ago. “Chris receive more non-photography art-submissions, and need space to fit
[Bulbulia ’10, the head of SPARC] had those into the Review as well. Also, the
been encouraging me a lot,” said Chavez. Review has been unable to keep up with
But he was quick to provide a dis- “It only takes two people the growth of students’ interest in fiction.
“The quality and number of submissions
claimer. “It’s going to be tough because
has increased a lot in the last two years, and
I’m only going to choose people I think
are funny.”
to start a publication,” said it’s a problem to fit it in,” Alper explained.
“We don’t generally want to ask people to
Humor doesn’t have to be all about
word play. Don’t forget the visual! “Send Chris Bulbulia ’10, the head excerpt the work.”
The first e-mail that the editors sent
us your funny comics,” Barbara Monaco out to the Review list this year calling for
’10, co-editor-in-chief of the Sequence,
commanded. of SPARC, an apt summary of submissions briefly mentioned the rumors
of nepotism and cronyism that had been
Along with Asia Sample ’10, the circulating around the Review the last few
other editor-in-chief, Monaco oversees
the twice-semester publishing of comics
the free-wheeling universe years and required that the whole com-
mittee re-apply. “It’s always been run with
magazine. Released right before midterms
and right before finals, The Sequence aims of Grinnell publications. committee members expressing interest
with being on the committee, but I don’t
to entertain its readers and lighten the know if it’s always been refreshed in the
mood on campus. “Look guys: silver lin- past,” said Alper.
ing,” Monaco said. “The Sequence is out. With this new focus, Alper and Sumu-
Take a breath.” long originally planned to try to accept every person who applied to the
The Sequence was founded five years ago as Grinnell’s only collection of art and writing committees to the Review, though now they may end up
student art dedicated to humor, shying away from the more intense focus cutting some applicants for space. In the past, the application process had
of the Grinnell Review. Unlike the S&B and the B&S, which occasionally been more informal and selective. “Andrew [Lippmann ’09, last year’s editor]
print comics, the Sequence is dedicated solely to funny student art. cut people [from the committee] and I know Brendan Mackie [’07] did
The Sequence is trying to expand its set of contributors to students too,” she said. “I really don’t want to do that, but I told Lawrence maybe
across campus, of all artistic backgrounds. “It doesn’t matter if you can’t 15 people should be the maximum.”
draw,” Monaco said. “If you’re funny and you can tell a damn good nar- Both editors hope that they will get more submissions this fall than
rative, we’ll take it.” last spring, which Alper remembers as the smallest group she’s ever seen.
The magazine also hopes to become even more visible on campus this “In order to vary who was winning the creative writing contests, they made
year. Its editors are even considering printing T-shirts to make the Sequence it a rule that people who had previously published in the Review couldn’t
more visible on campus. “I think more than anything, we just want to get submit the same poems to the contests,” she said. “People do care a lot less
the word out there this year,” Monaco said. about getting into the Review than the contests. I know my first year there

And Everything In Between 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
Another important (and surprisingly funny part) of the publications talented writers don’t submit, or make it a policy not to submit.”
universe is the Grinnell Review. Though the angst in its pages of poems, Hoping to join the Review in the ranks of respected semester pub-
short stories and photographs may seem to be the bloody heart to the sar- lications, the Global Spectator, a merger of the magazines Eyewitness and
donic smiles of the B&S & Co., the writers and artists who have produced Spectator, will be debuting its first issue this December.
the work in it since 1983 often manage considerable levity as well. The In charge of the reborn publication is Liting Cong ’11. “[The magazine’s
current co-editor in chief, Jamie Alper ’09.5, described such a situation: purpose is] to provide students, on or off-campus, domestic or international,
a window to express their cultural heritage and [encounters] and to bring
“Molly Rideout [’10] and I actually have a running joke about judging global awareness to the Grinnell community,” she explained.
our own work, because at the release party, she told me that I had said one The Eyewitness and the Spectator may have originated from two
her poems sounded like it had been written by the baseball team…and different sources—the former was a Center for International Studies
then I said to her that you said that one of my poems sounded like it was publication that provided an outlet for sharing off-campus experiences,
written by a non-English speaker.” while Cong founded the latter for the Global Perspective Association to
But the anonymous judging process that the Review committee puts explore multicultural and international issues. Yet content—and monetary
every piece of submitted work through doesn’t have to be so acerbic. Alper restrictions—dovetailed for the two magazines. “Considering the increas-
and Lawrence Sumulong ’10, the other editor-in-chief (and, in interest of ing overlap between two publications and budget constraints on every
full disclosure, the photo editor of the S&B), hope to relieve some of the publication, combining two expensive full color magazines seemed to be
pressure by opening up the organization to more writers and dispelling the good for everyone,” Cong said.
notion that the Review is a clique. “The tradition of the Review is that the So how best to explain the variety of Grinnell publications, which
editor gets to train their successor and that person ascends the hierarchy,” run the full gamut from edgy humor to established newspaper? Well, as
said Alper. “Lawrence and I decided to split the position so we could train Bulbulia, the aforementioned current head of SPARC, succinctly summed
a new editor and pay the layout editor more.” up: “It only takes two people to start a publication.”
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

The S&B Magazine | 11

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

12 | The S&B Magazine

Lucerito, Part 1 by Asia Sample

The S&B Magazine | 13

Overseeing a Crisis
(in Journalism and
R ebecca Park

The Death of Conservatism is an elegant little book. The slender un- about ideology; it is the push-and-shove between leaders and movements,
adorned white cover fits as easily in the hand as it does on the bookshelf. the elected and the electing.
It maintains an appropriately conservative aesthetic—what better way to Tanenhaus proposes that the contemporary practice of conservatism
illustrate that the values of true conservatism, devoted more to preserving is far from what the philosophy’s founders—thinkers like Edmund Burke
the balance of power than advocating for the en vogue movement-of- and Benjamin Disraeli—originally conceived. The current inception of
the-minute? the American Republican Party is more about movement politics and us-
The manifesto’s author, New York Times Book Review Editor Sam Tanen- against-them argumentation than truly preserving the social order and the
haus ’77, recently came to campus as part of the Writers@Grinnell program, power relations that maintain it.
run by Carolyn Jacobson, English. More than just an average book tour stop, Once upon a time, “conservative arguments…spoke to the deepest issues
Tanenhaus—a member of culture and society,” Tanen-
of the Grinnell class of haus writes. Now, in-fighting
1977—was returning to dominates, with “exhortations
a place he knows well. from the Right to the Right: to
He is a delightful and uphold ’basics’ and ‘principles,’
rare anomaly—a Grinnell to stand tall against liber-
graduate and member of als—even if it means evading
that most elitist of all lib- the most pressing issues of
eral media institutions, he the movement.” And without
is also a nationally known a well-functioning right-wing
conservative advocate. Yet party, we’re left without pro-
he never oozes the kind ductive political opposition.
of pretentious corporate Avoiding passing judg-
capitalist sleaze associ- ment and forcing values at
ated with your stereotypi- the reader, he explains and
cal modern Republican. convinces why the validity of
Instead, as he demon- American conservatism is on
strated this past Monday, the wane and why, ultimately,
he is affable, approachable this decline is not a good thing
and all other genres of adjectives that suggest the kind of good nature one for the country.
hopes to see in the alumni of one’s school. In a September 2008 interview with the writer, Tanenhaus discussed
And, unsurprisingly enough, he’s smart and a good writer. No matter how his twin passions—politics and literary criticism—converge at the
your political beliefs, he presents a convincing, easy-to-follow argument, Book Review.
free from overwhelming wonkiness and insider references that so often “We review books more directly that have to do with politics,” he said,
drag down political writing. explaining how the Review has evolved since his editorship there began
Engaging the reader, he forces you to reconsider traditionally held in 2004. “We are more likely to find a reviewer who may actually quarrel
opinions. You might not finish the book ready to go out and radically with the book rather than simply state what’s in it and whether it works
change your life—there’s not a huge chance that you will switch your party or not. We try to sound the full ideological range.”
affiliation—but you will have a greater appreciation for the intersection of Practicing what he preaches, the values that he espouses as truly con-
politics, history and personalities. The American political system is not all servative—like actually being fair and balanced—are on view whether you
14 | The S&B Magazine
Sam Tanenhaus ’77 addresses the audience during his Writers@Grinnell presentation September 28.
Lawrence Sumulong

The S&B Magazine | 15

Nora Frazin
Artwork by Mike Kleine

A beauty
specifically taken care of today, ma’am?” said the voice on the other end. It

Chapter One 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?”
At 3 a.m. one Wednesday, Renee Anderson heard something bumping
“It’s big. Huge. I can hear it walking around up there.”
across the ceiling directly above her head. It’s a child, she thought wildly,
“We have a lot of clients on your end of town having squirrel troubles.
a child moving on hands and knees through the crawlspace above my
Do you think it could be squirrels, ma’am?”
bedroom ceiling. She lurched out of bed, bleary, and stumbled downstairs
“No, it’s not squirrels. It’s much bigger than a squirrel. It sounds like it
to the kitchen to grab a broom.
weighs at least seventy pounds.”
Back upstairs again, she stood quiet in the bleak dark strangeness of
“All right, ma’am. We’ll send one of our boys around in a few hours.”
her bedroom, eyes closed, listening. A few moments of silence passed,
“I can’t wait a few hours. I have to work. I won’t be home in a few
then she heard it, to her left above the armoire: thumpthumpthumpdrag.
A pause. A creak of floorboards above as the thing shifted its weight.
“We’ll just send someone out to have a look at the roof. We can do it
In a spasm of horror, Renee struck out at the spot with the brush-end
all externally.”
of the broom. The creature, taken by surprise, began to run in circles above
“Thank you. Oh, thank you.”
Renee’s head. thumpthumpthumpthump thumpthumpthumpthump
Renee walked to work at the elementary school three blocks from her
thump. Renee heard herself make a choking noise. She dropped the
house. As she approached the school, she saw Janice Flinn, the lunch lady,
broom and raced downstairs to the living room sofa where she curled into
getting out of her car. Janice handed out the kickballs at recess, and she
a ball and cried.
had a habit of cupping two balls against her chest, one in each arm, so that
Three hours later, Renee called animal control.
they resembled huge red rubber breasts. The children would shriek with
“This is Renee Anderson, 333 Pine Tree Lane. Something has gotten
laughter, to which Janice remained oblivious. Renee started walking faster,
into my roof and I need it taken away immediately,” she said.
and pretended not to see Janice. Janice’s vulnerability, Renee thought, was
“Could you give us more information as to the type of critter you need
16 | The S&B Magazine
detestable. getting whooping cough. No one gets whooping cough anymore. This
The classroom where Renee taught was not technically a classroom, isn’t the Oregon Trail, dear.” Renee prided herself on being able to relate
but rather the “multipurpose room,” so she had to arrive at the school to her students in terms they would understand.
at least forty-five minutes before her first class to create the proper “I’m allergic to pertussis.”
atmosphere. Renee was a firm believer in the proper atmosphere. She Renee did not follow. She gritted her teeth. “I can’t see how that’s
set up two sets of low risers along the wall for her students to stand on, relevant. Sweetheart. Now tell me why you wouldn’t be quiet for Angela
and hung up her Mozart and Chopin posters on the blackboard. The to sing her solo. Are you jealous of her?”
janitorial staff had asked her not to leave the posters up overnight, as “I. Have. Whooping. Cough.”
they interfered with cleaning. Due to budget cuts, Renee had to make do Renee sighed. “Go to Principal Ellis’ office.”
with a portable keyboard in lieu of a real piano. She pulled it out from the Over her lunch hour, Renee called animal control. The raspy voice, the
closet and plugged it into the wall. As a finishing touch, she went back voice of the hills, answered on the second ring.
into the closet and retrieved her six ukuleles, which she arranged just-so “This is Renee Anderson. I called this morning about the animal in
along the top of the bookshelves. When she finished, she sat down on her my roof.”
piano stool and rubbed her eyes. Her head ached from lack of sleep, and “Sure, sure, 333 Pine Tree. We sent our boy out this morning.”
the thought of the thing—animal—critter—whatever it was—slinking “And?”
around, inside her home, brought bile to her throat. “Looks like you’ve got yourself a raccoon in your roof. Happens all the
Renee’s house consisted of a living room, dining room and kitchen time around this time of year. Seems the little guy got in through a hole
downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. Randy had needed one of the by the fan you’ve got up there.”
bedrooms for his office, but when they moved in Renee had assumed that “Did you get it out?”
they could add a dormer, maybe, if they ever needed more room. They “We put a cage up there by the hole. We like to wait for a critter to
had been living in the house for six weeks when Renee mentioned this come out in his own time. When he does, the cage door closes, and we’ve
thought to Randy. got him. Now a raccoon, he sleeps all day, so he’ll probably come out at
“Just in case we ever, you know, wanted more space… if we were to night for some grub. You’re gonna hear a slamming sound. That’s the trap.
have a--” You call us, and we take him away. How does that sound?”
“Renee,” Randy said, “I’m leaving.” “That sounds beautiful.”
Silence. Renee woke up early the next morning and went outside in her
“I love you,” he went on, “please believe I love you. But I love you like pajamas to check the trap. She had some difficulty getting a clear angle
a sister. Every time I touch you it feels like incest.” of sight on the cage from the ground. She circled the house several times.
Randy moved out the same week. Her pajama bottoms dragged on the ground, and wet began to seep up
The fourth-graders arrived at the multipurpose room a little after the pant legs. Eventually, she clambered onto the roof of her car, which
eight-thirty. This was Renee’s most difficult class; by the age of nine was parked in the driveway. Sure enough, she could make out a gray shape
or ten, Renee had found, children ceased to be cute, which made their inside the cage.
episodes of naughtiness much less bearable. The animal control guy came about an hour later, a young guy, not the
The children lined up along the risers, and Renee took attendance, a owner of the voice on the phone.
task she dreaded, principally because of Marta Abram. On the first day “First stop of the day, the boss insisted,” he said. He took a ladder out
of school that year, Renee had said to the class, “Now, I know usually of his truck and climbed up to the roof. When he came back down he had
when your teachers call attendance, you have to answer with ‘here’ or the cage in his hands. Renee took several steps back as he passed her, then
‘present.’ But I don’t see why we can’t have a little fun when we take roll. immediately felt silly. The raccoon was much smaller than it had sounded
As far as I’m concerned, you can say whatever you want as long as you say when it walked above her. It hurled itself from side to side in the cage, but
something.” the man carried it to the back of the pickup with ease. When he set the
Congratulating herself inwardly at her ability to foster creativity in cage down, the raccoon sat up and stuck its hands out between the bars,
her pupils at all times, Renee had called the first name on her list. “Marta as if in supplication.
Abram?” “She’s a beauty!” said the animal control guy.
“Something.” The rest of the class tittered. “I’m just glad that this nightmare is over,” said Renee.
“Marta, that’s not what I meant. I want you to say what you want to “Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” the man said. “She’s a female. My guess is,
say. I don’t care how you answer me. You just have to say something. Now she was keeping some little ones up there.”
let’s try again. Marta Abram?” “What?”
“Something.” Marta, skinny and mouse-haired, stared at her from the “Just keep an ear out. They’ll let you know they’re up there soon
back riser. Renee noted with displeasure that Marta had a line of crusted enough.”

Chapter Two: In the

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
Renee lay in bed, listening. The animal control guy had said that the
the spring recital on Friday. As Angela sang out in the round tones of a
raccoon he’d taken out of her ceiling that morning was probably a mother,
wind-chime, Marta began to cough, a dry hacking that resonated through
and that she should expect to hear the babies chattering. Renee didn’t have
Renee’s brain, mirroring the throbs of her headache.
an attic; the raccoon had taken up residence in the low-ceilinged crawlspace
“That was lovely, Angela,” Renee said when the girl had finished
between the second floor and the roof.
singing, although she had heard almost none of it. “Marta, see me after
“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.
At the lesson’s conclusion, Marta stayed in her place on the back riser
That way we’ll be able to get them out of your hair right away.”
as the other children filed out of the multipurpose room.
Renee looked over at her bedside clock. It was 10:30. She had always
“Marta, why did you disrupt Angela’s solo?”
considered herself a night person, but ever since Randy left a year before,
“I didn’t do anything.”
she had been going to bed earlier and earlier.
“Now, Marta, you know as well as I do that you coughed all the way
The image of the mother raccoon stuck in her head, how its hands
through Angela’s solo today.”
reached through the gaps in the wire cage toward her. They were hands,
“I have whooping cough.”
Renee thought, not paws.
Renee paused. “Marta, I won’t tolerate you lying to me.”
By now the mother raccoon had surely been released in the forest pre-
“I have whooping cough.”
serve. She must be frantic, Renee thought. She began to wonder how long
“To go to school here you have to get a shot that keeps you from
The S&B Magazine | 17
it would be before the mother made her way back to claim her children. But inside of your house. Are you comfortable with that, ma’am?”
no, raccoons aren’t like dogs, surely. Surely she won’t be able to scent her “You can do whatever you like,” Renee said.
way back. The owner of the animal control business, the nice man with the She stayed downstairs while he was working. Quiet on the living
beautiful phone voice, will bring her children to her. Surely, surely animal room couch, she could hear him dragging the bed out of the way, then the
control wasn’t in the business of breaking up families. screech of the saw cutting through the plaster ceiling into the crawlspace.
Renee was in the woods, now, her black hands clinging to the thin She pictured the baby raccoon, watching the blade coming up through the
branches like whips, thin branches bending under her weight, small blood floor. It would look like a shark’s fin, she thought.
red berries just within reach— After about half an hour, Rod came down the stairs holding the small
She was shocked awake by a heckling noise. It was shrill. It sounded wire cage under one arm. The animal inside it lacked its mother’s mask.
like a bat, like a cruel child. Tears rose to her eyes like she’d been slapped. It looked more like a rat than a raccoon. It didn’t move much, but stared
The sound came from above the right side of the bed, Randy’s side. up at Renee blackly.
Renee got up. She wouldn’t be able to sleep with the babies so close above Suddenly Renee stood up, blocking Rod’s path to the door. She took
her. She went downstairs and lay down on the couch. two quick steps toward him and made as if to grab his free hand. He backed
Renee woke, disoriented, the sun in her eyes. She sat up abruptly. Her up, confused. “Ma’am?”
alarm was upstairs. She was downstairs. She looked at the clock on the “Mr. Tucker, I need to ask you a question.”
stereo across the room. 8:15. Her first class started in 15 minutes. He smiled, uncertain. “Well, fire away, I guess.”
Renee rushed into the multipurpose room where she taught music at “You know a lot about mothers and children. About creatures. Small
8:32 a.m. Her class of fourth-graders had already arrived. Renee hadn’t things.”
been there to set up the risers where they normally sat, so most of them “Well, yes, I suppose that’s true.”
were standing in circles. Some of the boys were running around, playing tag. “I’m an educator, Mr. Tucker, and I have a problem. There’s a child in
“Everyone sit down!” Renee ordered, trying to keep the note of plead- my class. A terrible child. She’s disruptive. Every day she claims to have a
ing out of her voice. new disease. She’s just trying to get under my skin. And now she says she
“But there’s nowhere to sit!” cried Angela Thornbury. won’t sing in the spring recital!”
“Just sit on the floor. We’ll all have to stand in a moment anyway, to Rod held the cage in front of him like a shield. “I’m not sure what
practice for the recital tonight.” you’re asking me, ma’am.”
As the children sat, Renee noticed something written low along the “What should I do?”
blackboard at the front of the room. He paused. He cleared his throat. “Well, it seems to me--”
I have lockjaw I can’t sing tonight, it said. A knock on the screen door. “Renee?”
Renee turned to face the class. “Who wrote this?” she asked. She turned. A man was standing on the porch.
“It was Marta,” said Angela. “Randy?”
Marta. Of course, Renee thought. Marta, knock-kneed, sallow, sunken- “Renee, baby,” he said. “We need to talk.”
eyed, the perpetual thorn in Renee’s side. Renee looked over her shoulder at Rod, who was still holding the rac-
“Marta,” Renee said to the girl staring up at her from floor. “On Wednes- coon cage in both hands.
day it was whooping cough, today it’s lockjaw? What’s it going to be next?” “It’s kind of a bad time,” she said.
Marta didn’t respond. The screen door shaded Randy’s face dark. “I made a mistake. Please
“Well?” let me come inside.”
Marta glowered at Renee for a moment, then very deliberately walked Rod cleared his throat. “Ma’am,” he said. “I can just take this critter
past her up to the board and wrote a second line. I can’t talk I can’t open my out to the truck now. I’ll send you the bill in the mail.”
mouth I have LOCKJAW. She underlined the last word. The other children This would not do. Renee needed an answer. Please stay, she tried to
giggled, shocked. tell Rod with her eyes. She turned back to the door.
“You’ve interrupted my class enough. You will be singing tonight, but “Randy. Get off of my porch before I call the police.” She closed the
first you will be going to the principal’s office.” heavy wood door in his face.
Renee barely recalled the rest of class; it seemed like no time at all “Mr. Tucker,” she said. “The girl. What do I do about the girl?”
until she found herself saying “Seven p.m., remember. We’ll meet in here He shifted the cage in his arms. “Well, ma’am,” he said. “I think I would
for vocal warm-ups. Send your parents along to the gym and make sure just let the kid sit this one out. What does it matter, in the end?”
to wear a white shirt and black pants. See you tonight!” Renee stared at him. He was right: what did it matter? What did
Renee usually responded to the high stress of recital days by planning anything matter?
every detail. Today, though, she felt reckless, even like she was losing her Rod stepped toward her. He motioned with his head toward the door.
mind. She found herself telling her sixth-graders, “Now, I think I’ve been “Can I take this little guy out to the truck now?”
good to you over the years. If your fly was unzipped, I would pull you to Renee nodded, but she didn’t move out of the way. “Will—will you
the side and tell you. I always let you take bathroom breaks, and sometimes release him in the same spot as his mother?”
I bring in movies on Fridays. So, for me, please, please try to stay on beat “What exactly do you mean, ma’am?”
tonight. This is your one chance this year to make our school proud.” By “In the woods. When you let him go, will he be able to find his mother?”
the end of the speech, she was nearly in tears. Rod winced. “We can’t release these animals into the wild. That would
The scratchy-voiced owner of the pest control service had explained, be in violation of state law.”
when Renee called him over her lunch hour, that the removal of a baby “What do you—where do you put them?”
raccoon is a delicate operation. “Well, ma’am, we have to put them down. It’s the law, ma’am.”
“Now, a grown-up critter we can catch with a trap on the roof, as you He started to walk past her, and she moved numbly to the side. She
saw,” he drawled. “A little guy, though, he’s not gonna come out on his watched out the window as Rod nodded to Randy, who was still standing
own. And we don’t want him starving to death up there, or you’ll have a on the sidewalk outside, and put the cage with the baby in it into the back
nasty mess on your hands. So what we’re gonna do is come around your of his truck. He drove away.
house tonight and see what we can do about getting that little sucker out Renee walked upstairs to her bedroom. The hole in the ceiling was
of there.” The owner said he would take care of the removal personally. square-shaped. Rod had covered it with a piece of plywood. The bed was
When he showed up at the house, around four, Renee was a little dis- still pushed up against the opposite wall, and there was plaster dust all
appointed in his appearance. From how he’d sounded on the phone, she’d over the floor.
expected a thin, wiry man, with a full black beard, maybe, and ice blue She looked out the window. Randy was still outside. For a moment,
eyes. Instead, he was a little pudgy, with thinning brown hair and a square she considered going down to let him in, but in the end she decided she
jaw. When he introduced himself as Rod Tucker, though, his syrup-thick couldn’t be bothered. She was supposed to be back at the school at six to
voice gave Renee chills. The man is magnificent, she thought. His voice get ready for the spring recital, but she didn’t end up doing that, either. She
is a thing of beauty. When he told Renee that he would be cutting a hole spent the evening looking at real estate ads on the Internet.
in her bedroom ceiling and pulling the baby raccoon out through it, she When the parents and children showed up at the school for the recital,
didn’t think to protest. they were met with a sign posted on the front door: RECITAL CAN-
“This means I’m going to have to carry the little guy out through the CELLED. MS. ANDERSON HAS LOCKJAW.
18 | The S&B Magazine
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?
The S&B Magazine | 19