By Carter Ottele

Corvid cases are spiking in Poweshiek County this semester, as an enormous flock of crows has descended upon Grinnell College’s campus. Roosting en masse in East Campus’s tree branches, the boisterous birds spend the whole day—and much of the night—squawking furiously at their avian brethren.

However, a shocking new allegation this week suggests that the crows’ emo aesthetic may be a mere disguise for something more serious. A manifesto written on the ceiling of the Burling Third bathroom claims that in fact, the crows house the spirits of Grinnell College students. In exchange for corporal imprisonment inside a bird, the transmogrified students receive free room and board as well as a 50% tuition discount. 

“The crows are real,” reads one part of the cryptic manifesto. “The crows are YOU. So go the crows, so goes the school.” At the bottom, the message is signed by “Deepthroat.”

Meg Plant, a Residence Life Coordinator for the College, seemed to confirm the theory. “There are….how to put this…alternative methods for funding a college education,” explained Plant. Work-study programs are more familiar to the public, but for students willing to try something adventurous, “interspecies morphological transformation” is a viable option.

“You don’t need a bed if you can sleep in a tree,” Plant explained. “You don’t need a meal plan if you can eat bugs, food scraps, and roadkill. It really makes the whole college experience easier for students and the school.”

Several students voiced their agreement with the policy. “I get that it looks weird,” admitted Sherry Turnover ’25. “But, I mean, the comprehensive fee just went up by 5% for next year. And financial aid only covers so much.”

Kris Saunt ’24 agreed. “I’ve sold my soul to this school so many times already. And I’ve sold my body here a few times too—please don’t put that part in the article. Anyway, if I get to pay less next semester because I’m a crow, that sounds like a great deal.”

“Plus the sense of community,” added Pete Zahut ’26. “A flock is sort of similar to a frat, you know? I’d love to know that, no matter how bad I flunked my OChem exam, or no matter how many people saw my d-hall dinner date walk out on me, the crows would still be waiting.” Zahut wiped a tear from his eye. “I can already imagine the camaraderie.”

While some speculated about the benefits of joining Sigma Phi Crow, others expressed skepticism. In particular, several have criticized Grinnell College for its lack of transparency.

“If we’re only learning about the policy just now, who are the people who’ve already been transformed into crows?” demands a message on the ceiling next to the original manifesto, written in pink highlighter.

History professor Barry Paille wrote in an email that the College experimented with similar techniques in the past—if the rumors are to be believed.

“In 1986, the student body was embroiled in the Iran-Contra Affair. Thirteen outspoken students tried to burn down Norris Hall as a protest against the Reagan administration. Dubbed the ‘Grinnell Baker’s Dozen’ they were caught, tried in court, then never seen again.”

Yet, according to Paille, turkey vultures first appeared in the trees of South Campus a few weeks after the trial. Students at the time widely believed that the Grinnell Baker’s Dozen had been imprisoned within the bodies of the turkey vultures. That could indicate that the first batch of crows were involuntarily transformed.

The crows did not respond to an interview request.