The feats of Achilles and Hector pale in comparison to those performed by students and President John Kroger in pursuit of their prize.
On Friday night fewer students were quietly studying in the library than usual. Instead, many engaged their (often hidden) athletic sides in a battle for Reed’s most valuable and mystery-shrouded relic, the Doyle Owl. The mystic lure of this artifact was felt by more than just the students: dodging elbows, copies of the Iliad, and overzealous rugby players, President John Kroger himself took part in the fray to plant a hand on this remnant of Reed’s history.
It was warm and muggy, the sky clouded over, and the air full of the scent of newly blooming flowers and the shouts of students as they followed one another in a streaming horde, en route to the Owl. Near the nuclear reactor a ring of students swarmed around the Owl buzzing with excitement and the hope of victory. The fight itself looked a bit more like a frantic rugby practice than anything else, a scrum of students falling on top of the Owl, with spectators and the occasional CSO looking on.
The fighting had reached its zenith when a group of three students, wearing rain ponchos with their faces covered, appeared as if from nowhere, and sprayed the fighters with a foaming bottle of Diet Coke and threw, oddly enough, pickles. As the maneuver arrested the attention of the crowd, the group of three began their finale, and flung giant globs of mayonnaise everywhere. They jumped with glee as students began to leave in disgust. The CSOs looked on, flabbergasted.
When their supply of mayonnaise dispersed — much like the crowd — the masked mayonnaise marauders disappeared into the night, leaving no clue as to their identities or motives.
As the remainder of the crowd was dispersing, the appeal of the spectacle was wearing off. Only those with serious Owl lust and scratches down their faces struggled on for possession. Then, Dan Pogust ’17 came hurtling down the hill, screaming at the top of his lungs, “it’s a fake, it’s a goddamn fake!”
A few of the receding students paused to turn toward the huddle of bodies heaped over the Owl, curious to see what effect this news would have. There was a momentary lull in the fighting until someone yelled, “I want the fake Doyle Owl anyway,” and the brawl resumed full force.
It would seem that, as a previous captor of the Owl, Pogust was on to something. While most of the men’s rugby team was fighting over the one Owl, a group of students had discovered another by the Quad. Here it was less of a fight, and more of a tussle. Michael Carbone ’16, seized the Owl and dragged it ten feet with another student perched on top, ineffectively attempting to retain possession of the prize. Despite this adrenaline-induced feat of strength, he lost control of the Owl and was vanquished by a group of students bent on demonstrating the superior power of teamwork. It was here that Kroger decided to become part of Doyle Owl history no matter the cost. He valiantly plunged his way into the mêlée to get to the Owl as several nude students looked on from their perch in the naked tree. The frenzied glory on his face was proof enough of his triumph. Luckily for him, it was not one of the fake Owls, but the real one, that he managed to place his hands on.
The last possessors of the Owl were wily enough to create two casts of the Owl, and place them strategically around campus throughout the fervor filled night. The two replicas were both released at 7 PM, the first outside Bragdon and the second behind the reactor. An hour later, the real Owl was released in the Quad.
Thanks to the seams left by the mold running down their sides, that the ones outside Bragdon and the nuclear reactor were fakes should have been easily discerned. But in the excitement of the moment, with rival student factions vying for victory and Reedies piled on top of it, few could look closely enough to tell.
The Doyle Owl has a storied history after being snatched off an Eastmoreland lawn by a group of intrepid students in 1913. Since then it has endured innumerable indignities, including being dangled off a bridge, taken to Disneyland, and frozen in a block of ice.