“I tell everyone to take dance classes their freshman year,” says MacKenzie Schuller, improvisational dance enthusiast and one of three dance majors graduating this spring. For most of its existence, dance at Reed was offered as an interdisciplinary major in conjunction with other departments, including theater, anthropology, sociology, and history, not unlike a minor at other institutions. “At that time, we didn’t have enough depth and scope of class- es to support a major,” explained Reed dance professor Carla Mann ‘81. In 2014, an $80,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation transformed the department, providing funding to hire new professors and expand existing positions.
Since its inception, Tir na nOg has beckoned to a certain type of Reedie. For many science-fiction fans at Reed, this setting—where role-playing games (RPGs) and immense, hand-sewn squids sprawl across the common rooms, showings of classic SF/F films and anime fill the evenings, and friendly-but-pitched discussions over the nuances of Tolkien’s Legendarium, the allegorical politics of Star Trek, or the continuity of H.P Lovecraft’s short stories can last well into the night—represents a community of like-minded peers that’s hard to find elsewhere. Kieran Sheldon, a current sophomore and two-year nOg resident, says of his first visit to the dorm as a prospie that, “looking in at all the Magic cards and role playing games was one of the things that made me decide to come [to Reed.]” A former Tir na nOg alum had this to say about his experience in McKinley and Griffin, “...The colloquialisms used [by Tir na nOg residents] tend to divide people into the high fantasy Tolkien nerds, the low fantasy Doctor Who nerds, the common Pokémon nerds, and the errant outsiders who don't belong.”
As the first shadow-puppet thesis show in Reed history, The Deluge combined incredible sound design, a whimsical cast of shadow puppets, and mythical storytelling to create an immersive half-hour tale of natural disaster, transformation, and courage. Violet McAfee, who created and directed the show as a component of her thesis, was inspired to create the project after taking a puppetry class in the theater department. “It was a combination of the puppetry class as well as my interest in lighting design that brought me to shadow puppetry. It's a very spiritual medium, and that lends itself well to the kind of art I want to make,” Violet explained. Violet switched to theater late in her time at Reed, and is proud to be directing an entire original show, something she never would have expected upon switching majors.
Outside the windows of Eliot Hall, the sky is gray against the orange and yellow trees that grow less orange and less yellow every day. I read The Oresteia, or my psychology textbook, or Thucydides. I watch faculty and staff eat their lunches out of carefully packaged tupperware and show each other pictures of their families. They walk by in the hallway and greet each other kindly. The wood around the windows and on the walls is old and unchanged from years of staging different and yet identical actors in its rooms.
In the summer of 2017, Guananí participated in an undergraduate research program at the University of Iowa’s Microbiology Department, where she was introduced to the ways of the research lab. This was accomplished by learning about the swarming of bacteria, how time works in a workaholic field, and why toothpicks are the most important tool in a bacterial genetics lab. But when all the experiments were said and done, she came to understand that beyond all the technicalities, science is about failing profusely and systematically, and the people you work with are as or more important than the subject being studied.
Nudity has played a major role in Reed community events, protests, and traditions of all sorts. The Grail went spelunking in the Archives to ask, how has nudity manifested itself at Reed over time, and how has its meaning changed? The events and traditions profiled here are but a few: there are mysterious unlabeled pictures of naked Reedies on the front lawn and reading on SU couches, acting independently from any Reed tradition, suggesting that nudity at Reed has meant everything from casual personal freedom to political statement to a symbol of community bonding to potential threat.
“You’re a failure.” “You just can’t do it.” “Give up.”
Though I was bullied until I began to lift weights in high school, and though I’ve been called many names, and been yelled at, laughed at, punched, kicked, ostracized, hungry for days, excluded, friendless, kicked out of a hundred spots when I lived in my car, dumped repeatedly, screwed over, stolen from, severely injured, and completely alone, I’m pretty sure that nothing has hurt me as deeply as the feeling of being a failure. I believe that much of the pain I listed above would fall under this sweeping characteristic, that of being a failure. Yet today, I will argue that failure, as you know it, is not a negative thing, and failure can be seen as success.
Think back to the year before you came to Reed, to finding those glossy brochures in the mail and pushing aside your Stanford and Berkeley applications to learn of that strange and wonderful liberal arts college nestled in the heart of Portland. Recall the education they promised, an education “characterized by close interaction between students and faculty in an atmosphere of shared scholarly concern and active learning.”
Reed has a lower percentage of its student body living on campus than most small liberal arts colleges, many of which house 90% of their student body or more. As housing in Portland has become increasingly difficult to find and afford, student demand for on-campus rooms has escalated sharply in the last few years. “We’re at a point of scarcity where every bed we give is taken away from someone else,” said Mike Brody, Dean of Students. “Reed has a relatively low graduation rate, and most of the attrition is happening in students’ first two years.” In response, Reed will be building a brand-new dorm with the intention of increasing on-campus housing capacity and seeing more students graduate.
Reed College will always celebrate its activists in hindsight. The popular history of Reed activism rarely acknowledges the bureaucratic opposition to activists that occurs behind closed doors, allowing the school to quietly silence dissenters even as it places them on promotional materials as champions of institutional progress. Any official statement regarding Reed in the 1960s will be quick to emphasize the success of the Black Student Union protests of 1968 and 1969 and highlight the peaceable establishment of the Black Studies Center in 1971. This narrative belies the powerful coalition of faculty and administrators who worked in opposition to the Center and played an active role in its collapse.
“routine - a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program”
We all follow a routine, whether we realize it or not. Perhaps your daily routine arose from the environment you were immersed in. Maybe you get up at 9 a.m. because that allows you just enough time to prepare for class. Maybe you do homework at night because you put it off and class is fast approaching. Maybe you hang with friends when you run into them, and you eat sporadically, because you remember to eat when you are hungry. A routine of “no routine” is itself a routine. Perhaps you’ve noticed that we (humans) seem to run in loops; we do the same things, we think about the same things, we make the same mistakes, over and over. Who we are is made up of what we do consistently; we are created by routines.
Forest fires have always been a familiar part of my life. As a kid growing up in Northwestern Montana, I had a comic book about Smokey the Bear detailing his entire (tragic) life story and ending with the familiar maxim, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Later, sports seasons were interrupted by air quality concerns, and the end of August always marked a time of blazing red sunsets due to smoke. I got a bit closer to fire than I would have liked two weekends ago, when a canoeing trip to Lost Lake was abruptly cut short by an evacuation due to concerns about the Eagle Creek Fire.
I’m writing you this letter to ask a favor. I know I have a lot to thank you for already, since you’ve given me so much to reflect about. I don’t know if it’s unreasonable or not to ask for even more help as if I were saying: “what difference is one more favor going to make after you’ve already given up so much?” I don’t think it’s too unreasonable though, because I am asking as your classmate, and as your equal. We are all students, now part of an academic world. This sets us apart from say the world of workers, government, business, etc. Even though some of us play a part in multiple worlds, we do all share a place at Reed. We are the community of students, within the community of Reed, within the community of academia, within the U.S.A., within the world. Being part of this academic community is a great privilege, whether we got here by sheer luck (myself), or through effort, or maybe both. In the end, it really doesn’t matter how we got here. What matters is that we’re here together, for better or worse.
As a freshman coming to Reed I was fascinated and excited by Fetish Club. I went to their BDSM 101 Paideia class and had a mystical experience: tying and being tied, struggling to escape, being jerked around, and being caressed, too. That was their last Paideia class to date, because the previous signators of Fetish Club graduated, and the kinky events faded away with them. My curiosity didn’t die out so easily, however, and last weekend I decided to venture beyond the Reed community to KinkFest, a festival held in the expo center on the edge of town.
“IS TAKING A LEAVE ONLY FOR RICH STUDENTS?” the anonymous posters in the GCC hallway screamed in all caps. While the initial reaction to the news of the changing refund policy has quieted in the last several months, many students are still disconcerted and uncertain about how the changes will affect future students who take mid-semester leaves from the college. Why is the policy changing? And more fundamentally, why do Reedies take leaves in such high numbers in the first place?
Ana Maria’s (name changed) lips tremble as she tells me about her seven-year old daughter who asks where her mother is every night. A couple of years ago, Ana Maria’s husband was deported and now, her daughter’s worst fear has come true: her mother is in detention and will probably be deported as well. Ana Maria has been living in Arizona for over ten years and her only criminal charges are two DUI’s. If she were an American citizen, these DUI’s may have meant that she would have gone to jail for a few months and then returned to her life. However, as an undocumented person, these charges make her a priority for deportation and separation from her daughter.
The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, nestled inside the library, has been a fixture of the Reed campus for decades now. The gallery was established in 1988 by a gift from Sue and Edward Cooley and John and Betty Gray, and hosted its first exhibition in 1990. The gallery aims to underscore Reed's rich academic program, particularly in the studio art and art history fields, by offering a variety of exhibitions, lectures, conferences, and presentations. Recently, there have been fascinating discussions concerning whether or not the Cooley Gallery will remain in the same location and about what work is being done to build a new space for it.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story about the Eliot Circle cherry blossoms. Maybe you’ve been told that they came from a thesis project involving grafting the flowering branches from one species onto the trunks of another species, creating the spectacular burst of light pink blossoms that showers down upon us in the springtime every year. Unfortunately, the origin of the beloved Eliot Circle trees and the spectacle they produce is not so grandiose. There is no record of such a thesis in the library’s database, and the grounds worker who has been at Reed longest, Ed McFarlane, remembers planting the trees but has no recollection of student involvement.
Rebeca Willis-Conger was initially attracted to Reed because of its reputation as a “weird little community of learners.” Generous financial aid convinced her to enroll, and in the fall of 2014 she moved from her Portland apartment into a dorm room in MacNaughton.
Just like for any student entering Reed, O-week is tough for transfer and non-traditional students, though not necessarily for the same reasons. For students coming from other colleges or working full-time jobs, especially older students, many of the Orientation workshops are simply not tailored to their needs. For Rebeca, Orientation at Reed was difficult more because of age differences than the fact of being a transfer. “People confused me for a parent a lot. It was a weird time,” she said.
Executive orders have been prominently featured in the news lately, given Donald Trump’s highly controversial series of orders that characterized his first few weeks in office. During the Obama administration, executive orders received similar treatment—the opposing party constructed a narrative that the executive order once created holidays and was now a way for the President to act unilaterally; that executive orders offset the balance of power among branches; that they are unconstitutional. But after a long news week, in which a large part of the Republican rhetoric was borrowed by the Democrats, I got curious: what is the legal precedent for executive orders? How constitutional are they? Where does the Supreme Court draw the line? Get ready: we’re in for a long series of grey areas and power grabs.