HARRIS CENTER – With the newest wave of first years starting at Grinnell, another year commences–but this time with a twist. Students piled into Harris Center at the start NSO for the first ever Sorting Ceremony. Not a sound could be heard as President Aynardray Ingtonkay placed a crocheted and shabby beanie upon a stool positioned in the middle of the stage.
Stringently divided up into their separate campuses by seating section, returning students began to whisper as the first years standing in line glanced fervently around them–some trembling, others wearing looks of terror on their faces. Silence returned to the building as the hat opened its mouth to speak in haiku:
I see all your thoughts
I will sort you fair and square
Dividing your school
Those of North Campus
Nothing less than the mighty
Tough athletes abound
Those of South Campus
How many beers can you chug?
Constant parties there
Those of East Campus
Lovers of a sterile home
Often found in Noyce
The poem’s conclusion was followed by a rousing applause, and the first years began to try on the beanie one by one. As each student was sorted they were met with cheers and shouts from their new sections of campus.
According to Residence Life Coordinator Jeremy Yu, “After years of discourse Grinnell College has finally instituted an accurate way in which to divide students into the residence halls. The hope is that the newly developed Sorting Hat will systematically place first years into the section of campus most suited for their specific personality traits.”
Devon Rite, Student Affairs staff, added, “Since the campus you live in becomes your family, Grinnell’s administration finds it crucial that students are placed near people similar to them and are able to create a community segregated from the other sections of campus. How can are students grow and develop if they are forced to share the same spaces with others dissimilar from themselves? Grinnell is dedicated to safe spaces and supporting students, and what can be safer than a space surrounded by people just like you?”
The process did not work out for all involved.
Kyle Sterk ’19 said, “The entire time the beanie was on my head, I was whispering, ‘Not Norris. Not Norris. Anything but Norris.’ I was told that I would have a choice, you know, that if I was really sure the Sorting Hat would respect it. But it totally didn’t work, and now I am on Norris fourth.”
On the other hand, some students were very positive about the change.
Anya Mathews ’17 said, “As a first year, I was placed in East Campus. I found this to be a very hostile environment for a person of my temperament. I received dirty looks for blasting my music at 1 am on a Tuesday, for throwing my beer cans in the hall, and for smoking cigarettes in the lounge. After suffering through a year of this I was finally able to live in my rightful home, South Campus. Finally I’m around people who are like me and won’t judge me for my choices. I’m hopeful that this new system will save future students from experiencing the same horrors I did.”