By Carter Ottele

JRC SIDEWALK– Between the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and frigid temperatures, Grinnell’s campus has reached record levels of inactivity. The pandemic restricts time inside, while the weather limits time outside. The conditions have left students wondering when, or if, the college will rebound from its current low.

To combat the campus’ lack of activity, I propose a simple solution: encouraging the presence of inflammatory groups. September’s appearance of Sister Cindy—a TikTok-famous zealot who positioned herself outside the JRC and screamed some sort of of misogynistic, homophobic slam poetry—incited controversy. Yet the event also provided entertainment. Sister Cindy’s diatribe attracted scores of spectators. The administration’s response, in turn, offered further amusement to the community. For days, the incident was the hot topic at Grinnell. How many other events have enlivened campus like Sister Cindy? In retrospect, other notable affairs were less positive. The windstorm of December 15, while novel, interrupted finals and had little impact on school culture. Collective frustration over the broken ice cream machine may have united students, but at the same time, the ice cream machine was broken. And much of 10/10 is worth forgetting.

In these bleak times—with Covid-inclusive restrooms and lines forming at the dining hall salad bar—the school should return to a tested and true form of entertainment. I call upon the administration to invite inflammatory speakers to campus.

Thus, the presence of an extremist group offered the greatest benefit to the Grinnell campus. In these bleak times—with Covid-inclusive restrooms and lines forming at the dining hall salad bar—the school should return to a tested and true form of entertainment. I call upon the administration to invite inflammatory speakers to campus. Selecting speakers as outlandish as Sister Cindy would unify students. All students, regardless of class year, residence, or major, would share a common experience to laugh and bond over. In uniting against certain individuals from outside the school, those inside would build a greater community. Following Sister Cindy’s visit, only one student reported dropping out and traveling the country to preach a hateful misinterpretation of the Bible. One student is inconsequential. If the school loses a single person to Ho No Mo and simultaneously gains entertainment, it will have benefited. To understand public opinion on the issue, I interviewed several students on their thoughts regarding extremist groups. Their concurrence shows the universal popularity of the proposal.

“That sounds fun,” said Vernonia Smythewick, a third-year English major. “Most of my friends are studying abroad and seeing places like Prague and Tokyo, and I’m here at Grinnell, where nothing happens. Yesterday, I got really excited because the blackboard by the northeast end of the HSSC changed.”

Lancelot Hogben, a first-year who is “thinking of majoring in contemporary Polish sculpture” agreed. “There are so few events on campus,” they added. “I want to feel connected. And if we connect through making fun of someone, then that’s great”.

Germaine Randolph, a second-year computer science major, initially expressed uncertainty. “It just seems too risky,” they explained. At that moment, the interviewee was interrupted by a shuffling sound. They turned around to see a senior trudging through the halls of the Noyce basement, muttering about institutional memory. “But I see your point,” Randolph  conceded.

Lastly, this proposal would boost the college psychologically. Higher education exacts a heavy mental toll on its participants, subjecting students to constant stress and frequent evaluations of worth. To address mental health concerns, the college has in the past implemented resources Working Differently days, and the sludge behind Norris that, when ingested, reportedly causes giddiness. Still, students feel pressure to live up to the high expectations set by great Grinnellian role models, from the technological achievements of Robert Noyce to the glistening abs of Kumail Nanjiani. What if we instead put our student body face-to-face with the depths to which humanity can sink? When Grinnellians see the most secret, evil urges of their own souls reflected back at them in the eyes of a frantic TikTok homophobe, how will they rise above?