On the Campus
October 25, 2006:
By Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08
Next spring, rising juniors and seniors will have a bigger room-draw
decision to make than single or quad, up or down campus, gothic
or air-conditioned. As students will be able to draw into the new
Whitman College for the fall of 2007, they will be faced by a choice
they hadn’t anticipated – eating club or meal plan?
The question of whether living in a four-year college would be
compatible with a student’s existing eating club membership
was explored during a series of informational meetings hosted by
Nancy Malkiel, dean of the college, and Mark Burstein, executive
vice president. On Sept. 20 the junior class had its turn to scrutinize
the new system and learned, among other things, that all members
of four-year colleges will be required to have a minimum dining
hall meal plan of 95 meals per semester.
Several students expressed disappointment that a joint membership
agreement had not yet been reached between the eating clubs and
the residential college planners, though Burstein said discussions
between the clubs are ongoing. “We are trying to create more
choices for undergraduates,” he said.
Allowing students to live in the four-year colleges without attending
meals would detract from a sense of community, Malkiel said. Citing
ideas like a class dinner or a pub night for seniors, she said “the
idea is to make those things more possible in the residential colleges
than anywhere else.”
Many students seemed torn between the spaciousness and comfort
of the new four-year college dorms and staying with their eating
club membership or being able to draw with friends who are club
“You’re making it very tempting to draw back in [to
the colleges] without making the other option equally enticing,”
said Claire Henderson ’08.
The meal plan, Burstein said, would be roughly equivalent to the
cost of some of the sign-in eating clubs. “It is the University’s
intent that financial decisions would not drive students’
choice,” he said.
Questions about the four-year college system, Malkiel pointed
out, are not unlike members of the Class of 1985’s frustration
that they would not be able to draw back into the formerly four-year
colleges of Wilson and Princeton Inn (now Forbes) in their senior
year, with the advent of the two-year college system.
As those students came to appreciate the new system, so will current
students, Malkiel said. “We are absolutely confident that
these colleges are going to work,” she said.
ON THE THIRD FLOOR of Frist Campus Center one
Saturday afternoon last month, groups of grad students huddled intently
around small cauldrons. Instead of neat lab notebooks, they were
guided by cryptic blackboard instructions. As they added something
to the brew, smoke begin to rise, and you realized: This was no
This was “The Game,” a combination scavenger hunt,
race, and social event sponsored annually by the Graduate College
House Committee and the Graduate Student Government. This year,
grad students Eugene Brevdo, Leo Alekseyev, Jada Strabbing, Karin
Velez, and Megan Ewing organized the event, and the theme was Harry
Potter. About 90 grad students and post-docs participated, taking
from three to seven hours to work their way through the seven clues.
“The most popular clue was probably the ‘Singing Spiders
of Sumatra,’ ” Brevdo said. “These spiders
have talking legs – seriously. You run your nail down
their ‘flimsy legs’ and the spiders ‘talk’
to tell you the location of the next clue.” (The “spiders”
were in fact inflated balloon with wires and a campus map attached.)
It’s not all fun and games, though. Take the potions quiz.
From the clue “Blood of Alligator, Hair of Rhinoceros, Bladders
of Penguins, and Dolphin’s Diaphragms,” could you decipher
that you were dealing with a potion meant for blinding? You could
if you figured out to highlight the first letter of the clue’s
first capitalized word, the second letter of the second word, and
so on. B-l-i-n … well, you get it.
A team might have been told to head next to the “tea break”
at the Chancellor Green cafe. There they received tea, snacks,
a “clue text,” and four small pieces of metal. By
interpreting the text correctly, the team would know to add the
metal wires to their tea. The drink’s heat contorted the wires
to spell out “1,” “8,” “7,”
and “9”: The next stop was indeed 1879 hall.
Got it? To play this game, you have to know how to keep up.
Hanamirian ’08 is an English major from Villanova, Pa.
Photo by Hyunseok Shim ’08