By Carter Ottele

Last semester, Grinnell College joined an exchange program designed to foster intercollegiate community. Last week saw the first participan: Chad Hughes, from the University of Alabama, who spent seven days on Grinnell’s campus. The B&S caught up with him for his reflections on the experience.

Chad, now a senior, explained that he joined the Omega Rho Rho fraternity in his first year. He credits the organization as being his favorite part of the University of Alabama, and when he arrived at Grinnell, he immediately sought a replacement.

“It didn’t take long to figure out, y’all have no frats,” he said. “But that’s chill. I respect that.” Without access to Greek life, Chad slept in Read Hall, which he described as “forgettable”. His first morning, he attended a statistics course. 

“I pulled up at 10 AM and there were like fifteen people there,” Chad told the B&S. As he explained, his time at a large university prepared him for the amount of people present when class started. He did not expect, however, for nobody else to arrive. “It was…  small. I felt like the professor could stare right into my soul. I was so obvious all class. It was a lot harder to hit my vape without him seeing me.”

Chad’s first meal at the dining hall—expired hotdogs and raw chicken labeled as “kielbasa and sashimi poultry”—convinced him to seek other options. To his dismay, though, he found few alternatives. And after ordering a full meal at Relish, Chad found his debit card declined. “My dad cut me off from his bank account last month after the beer pong incident, so I had to live off my meal swipes and those free dum-dums they have at the library.”  He eventually ate every meal at the dining hall, growing to appreciate it like a true Grinnellian over the course of the week. “That chicken parm was fire,” he admitted.

Chad eagerly anticipated Friday night. When some new friends invited him to drink, he felt ready to let loose and party. Instead, he discovered that their beverage of choice was chardonnay. Dismayed, he found another group, only to discover that they preferred blackberry tea (uncaffeinated).

Eventually, Chad happened upon some like-minded fans of traditional party beverages. He downed a six-pack of Budweiser and stepped outside, ready to relive the experiences he so fondly remembered from Alabama. “I was finally fucked up. And that’s when I thought to myself,” he told the B&S, forlorn, “now what?” Chad was expelled from Nerf at Noyce for bringing a super soaker filled with human urine, a move he defended as “a totally normal prank me and the boys would have pulled back home.” He spent a few minutes dancing at a house party, but was reportedly kicked out by the house residents after attempting to lead a charge to egg the neighbor’s porch. “They said a biology professor and her family lived next door, not a rival frat. I was like, that’s even better. Fuck the mitochondria, am I right?” His other new acquaintances had settled in for a night of tipsy poetry reading and table-top roleplaying games. Without other options, Chad decided to study in the HSSC.

Overall, Chad considers his time at Grinnell a mixed bag. “It’s better than that hazing shit we had to go through as freshmen,” he said. “But not as fun as hazing the freshmen.” He is happy to return to Alabama to finish his senior year.