By Conrad Dahm

JRC—The Grinnell College Department of Student Affairs has created a new tradition for the 2023-2024 school year: Spirit Week. Designed to boost morale, students were encouraged to dress according to different themes such as “opposite day” and “anything but a backpack day.” However, the fate of Spirit Week is unknown, pending a decision from the US Supreme Court on the legality of the week. The B&S decided to write an exposé on the biggest controversy Grinnell College has ever seen: the case of bringing a keg to your sociology class. 

It all started when Ben Tinker ‘24 wanted to participate in Spirit Week. “I saw the email DSA sent and thought, ‘This seems fun,” so for anything but a backpack day I brought my home to class. You see, I live in a keg, and I like to carry it on my back like a hermit crab. I got it through Special Room Draw.”

Tinker brought his keg to his class, SOC 395: Inebriated Systems of Hierarchy. Everything was fine until his professor, who wished to remain anonymous, saw the keg and decided to give him detention and confiscate his P-card. The professor stands by his decision, writing that “his midterm paper was in that keg which still had Old Milwaukee in it! I mean, who even drinks that shit?”

Tinker was outraged by the detention. “I know my rights! I took high school civics!” he recalls protesting. He then appealed the detention to the Dean of Students who sided with the professor, writing in an email to the B&S that “the College handbook clearly states students cannot bring kegs of alcohol to class. Furthermore, Grinnell College firmly stands against the joys of alcohol and marijuana.” 

Tinker’s claim rests on the fact that Spirit Week called for “anything but a backpack,” and a keg is not a backpack. Tinker then filed suit against the College, saying that his First Amendment rights had been violated. He currently is refusing to serve his detention and has not gone back to class since the incident. 

Following litigation, the Department of Student Affairs, in an effort to promote Spirit Week, filed an amicus curiae in support of Tinker, saying, “We at DSA are outraged that a Professor and the administration of this school are trampling on students god given right to get shit faced!” DSA has promised lawyers, funding, and even Spirit Years in response to the controversy. This has placed them at odds with the rest of the school. 

President Anne Harris responded to this split with a plea for peace. “I am asking all parties to cease tensions immediately! There are more important things to worry about. I mean, mole people have been spotted in the basement of Noyce. Also, my fucking nutcrackers still have not been returned!”

Student reactions to the controversy have been mixed. Some students have sympathy for Tinker, organizing protests by bringing more kegs to class. While doing a keg stand in her CS-151 class, Joann Fredrick ‘25 said to the B&S, “We cannot allow admin to kill self gov! Kegs are a cherished tradition at Grinnell!” Students then cheered when their professor joined in their keg stand, who claimed that, “Back at Ohio State, our keg stands made your Grinnell ones look like nothing!” 

As both sides prepare for a lengthy legal battle, the fate of Grinnell College’s Spirit Week hangs in the balance. 

The B&S reached out to some other students but got the same response: “Grinnell has a Spirit Week? What’s that?”