Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

The Fierce Urgency of Now

photo4.JPGThe two Reed vans idled in the light snow outside 28 West as 30 Reed students readied themselves for a day of service. It was Martin Luther King Day and schools, post offices, and banks across America were closed to celebrate the birth, life, and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Every year Students for Education, Empowerment, and Direct Service (SEEDS) offers a service trip so Reedies can make a difference. This year 43 Reed students, professors, and staff joined more than 800 other college students from across the Portland area to volunteer at Roosevelt High School, explore education as a civil right, and respond to what Dr. King called "the fierce urgency of now."
Roosevelt High School hosted this year's rally and service projects. Once labeled a failed high school, the North Portland institution is on the rise. Last year 89 percent of its senior class graduated, its highest rate ever.

Anthropology major Amina Rahman '14 has been working with students in Northeast Portland this year. MLK day has traditionally been associated with service and this struck a chord with her. "I felt motivated to use the day in a productive way that would benefit kids like me, who live in my city but face different realities," she says. "School is very much about support, and the idea of bolstering a high school with the help of anonymous college students is super cool, and I think, effective."

The Joy of Cooking, (with methylcellulose)


If you're a foodie or a viewer of Bravo channel's Top Chef you're familiar with the culinary movement known as molecular gastronomy. This awkward combination of words describes an inventive way of cooking with the use of tools and food products you're not likely to find in the glossary of Irma Rombauer's cookbooks or by watching reruns of The French Chef.

These techniques and tools include mixing sodium alginate into, say, pureed peas and submersing the mixture in a bath of calcium chloride to create pea balls; using liquid nitrogen to freeze linguine into edible sculptures; and centrifuges that turn fruits into crystal clear yet still flavorful liquids.

Dr. Demento goes "Here, There and Everywhere"


"I Want to Hold Your Hand" began climbing the U.S. pop charts in January 1964, heralding the arrival of both the Beatles and the British Music Invasion. Though "Surfin' U.S.A." was the number two hit of 1963, the list was chockablock with such easy listening fare as "The End of the World," "Sukiyaki," "Blue Velvet" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon." Six of the top 20 hits of 1964 were by the Beatles and the list now included songs by the Supremes, the Dave Clark Five and the Animals. It was a seismic shift (though Louis Armstrong did ring in with the number two hit of 1964, "Hello Dolly').

But of course the Fab Four didn't exist in a vacuum. In a Paideia talk entitled "Here, There and Everywhere," Dr. Demento (Barry Hansen) '63 presented a curriculum vitae of music influences that shaped the Beatles and rock n' roll.

Skeletons and Syphilis


Many years ago, when I was a psych major hunting for a thesis topic, I ran across a slender volume in the Reed library. It concerned an obscure neurological disorder known as general paralysis, quite common in the late nineteenth century, particularly among old mariners. The disease typically began with delusions of grandeur; as it progressed, sufferers were afflicted by a peculiar stammer, and they started to walk funny. Ultimately they lapsed into paralysis, dementia, and death.

Interesting stuff, but not really what I was looking for, so I shelved the book, promptly forgetting its title and author. One thing I did remember was the surprising conclusion that the disease had nothing to do with salt water or sea biscuit. It was, in fact, late-stage neurosyphilis, presumably acquired in dockside brothels.

Owl Fight Outside Bragdon Hall


Barbed wire, fireworks, and a high-speed car chase marked the apparition of Reed's sacred idol last month, when the Doyle Owl was unveiled publicly for the first time this academic year.

On the evening of November 5, rumors of the Owl's imminent appearance prompted scores of Reedies to trade in their hipster glasses and skinny jeans for hard hats and war paint and wander through campus hoping to capture the elusive Fowl.

Two rockets went off at 9 p.m., apparently to signal its location, one on the Great Lawn and one near the Student Centre (that's the former Infirmary for you olde Reedies), but these proved to be decoys. Students thronged Winch in search of the feathered totem, when a call arose: "Why is everybody over here? The Owl's at Bragdon!"

Dashing across the Blue Bridge, the students finally found the object of their desire lying on the grass outside Bragdon Hall, covered in gold paint, mud, and barbed wire.

Parker House Featured on Holiday Tour


Geography made Reed College and Eastmoreland neighbors and—to borrow a quote from President Kennedy—history made them friends.

Grand sponsor of this year’s Duniway Holiday Home Tour, Reed College opened Parker House to the public as one of five homes on the tour. Proceeds from the annual event, which took place Dec. 2, benefit Duniway Elementary School, a mile south of the college on Reed College Place.

"Reed College and the Eastmoreland neighborhood grew up together," said Jennifer Bates, director of public affairs for the college. "The college’s centennial was an opportunity to strengthen that relationship and showcase this jewel of a house to benefit the neighborhood school."

Graduation Rate Hits 70%


Reed's four-year graduation rate has jumped to an all-time high of 70%.

Out of 337 freshlings who arrived on campus in the fall of 2007, fully 236 marched with the Class of '11, yielding the highest four-year rate in the college's history.

"This is wonderful news," says Dean of Students Mike Brody.

National Insecurity


In a lecture that might have been titled "The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men," Former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig '65 challenged the premises underlying America's policies on national security.

Speaking in Vollum lecture hall November 8 as part of the Public Policy Lecture Series (audio or video version), Danzig noted that both Reed College and the national security establishment put their eggs in a rational thought basket. This can lead to trouble as rational thought has poor predictive capabilities.

Improvements to sexual assault response

Last August, President Diver shared with the Reed community the substantive changes made to prevent and respond effectively to instances of sexual assault on campus. Since that report, further changes have been made in the areas of staffing and adjudication.

Out of the many highly qualified candidates for the position of assistant dean of students for sexual assault prevention and response, Reed was able to hire its top choice. Jyl Shaffer will be arriving on November 28 from Vanderbilt University, and Reed is delighted to have her onboard.

The goal of Jyl's position is to coordinate sexual assault prevention programs, including educational resources for students, staff, and faculty; design and implement sexual assault response protocols; gather, interpret and prepare data to inform and improve programmatic efforts; and collaborate with campus groups and committees, as well as community partners to assure the quality of Reed's sexual assault prevention and response resources.

The Belly of the Beest

The spirit of invention is alive and kicking--or at least creeping.

A band of ingenious Reedies has pulled off a engineering triumph known as the Beest, a wheelless vehicle with twelve articulated legs, which scuttles across the floor of the SU like a gargantuan headless spider.

Inspired by Danish sculptor Theo Jansen and his exotic StrandBeest, David Lansdowne '09, Michael Page '10, and their co-conspirators in the student group DxOxTxUx (Defenders of the Universe) bolted their Beest together out of particleboard and two-by-fours. Here David shows editor Chris Lydgate '90 how the creature works--and walks.

Reedies in Rwanda

What would you do to promote peace in the world? Each year, undergraduates from around the country have this opportunity through Davis Projects for Peace grants. Reedies Kirsten Mandala '11 and Skye MacDonald '10 taught nonviolent conflict resolution to youth in Rwanda last summer.

Kirsten collaborated with Shabab Mirza '13 and Chiara Packard '14 to put together this video talking about her definition of peace and what that meant in Rwanda, which witnessed brutal ethnic massacres in the 1990s.

"It's like there's a snake in the house."


Renowned psychologist Claude Steele spoke about stereotypes and social identity before a packed audience in the chapel in Eliot Hall last night for Reed's first Community Reading Project. "Our social identity comes from our group memberships and the social categories to which we belong: age, sex, religion, race, social class, mental health status, the list goes on," explained Steele, whose book Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do explores how we construct our sense of who we are.

Steele the Show


A Reed education is founded on reading: great books, research papers, poetry, prose, nonfiction, and everything in between. It's natural, then, that the first major initiative to come out of the new institutional diversity office is a Community Reading Project.

Dean Crystal Williams has invited Reed students, faculty, and staff to read social psychologist Claude Steele's seminal work Whistling Vivaldi in advance of the lecture Steele will deliver Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 4:30 p.m. in the chapel. Steele's lecture is free and open to the public.

Reed: The Documentary


"I took with me to Oregon the good and the bad of my New England heritage. Chiefly the bad, it sometimes seems. To reform the world, and quickly, I mounted my horse spear in hand and rode forth in all directions at once.

"I have mentioned the belligerent orator who shouted 'I want tax reform, I want suffrage reform, I want money reform!' And the heckler who cried, 'You want chloroform.'

"I do not blame those who felt that way about me.I hope that Reed will continue to stand staunchly, and if necessary, stand alone, for whatever Reed college considered right."

Run for the Hills

The day was muggy, the course hilly, the start time early at 8 a.m., but none of this deterred some 300 Reedies and their neighbors from tackling the challenging 5K loop around Reed's campus on Saturday morning, September 24.

At first glance, there's something incongruous about having the inaugural Reed College 5K Odyssey kick off the centennial community day celebration. Reed and athletics are hardly synonymous, after all. Yet one needn't dig too deep into the college's history to find that, despite the purposeful absence of varsity athletics, Reedies have always cherished the healthful diversion and stress relief of sporting pursuits. There was palpable energy among the the participants--many clad in our commemorative race shirts--as we waited for the race to start.

100 Years!


Reed celebrated one hundred years this weekend with a gargantuan party, complete with dancers, drummers, jugglers, mad scientists, and a massive chorus reciting lines from the Iliad in Greek.

"If Portland is a great city, it owes a great debt to Reed, and I'm here to say, 'Thank you,'" declared Portland mayor Sam Adams before a raucous crowd of students, professors, staff, and alumni beneath a massive tent on the Great Lawn. "We need the spirit and the mission of Reed now more than ever--not just in Portland, but across the state and across the nation. You have made the world a better place."

Win A Bumper Sticker


Fall is here, and the September issue of Reed is out at last, chock full of irresistible features from the epic 80s-vs-the-world rugby match to the notorious burial of the MG under the library.

What do you think of the magazine? Does it feel authentic? Does it speak to you as a graduate? As an intellectual omnivore?

We want to know. Please take advantage of our new website to add your comments. Even better, take a few moments to do our survey-- you could win a free bumper sticker. After all, what better way to celebrate autumn than bedecking your vehicle with tribal insignia?

"The Last Great Conservative College"


An article in the latest edition of Portland Monthly describes Reed as "America's Last Great Conservative College." And yes, the author is a Reedie.

Citing Reed's demanding requirements and classical curriculum, history major Ethan Epstein '10 makes a persuasive case that most Portland residents are looking at Reed through the wrong end of the microscope.

"As a Reedie, I long ago accepted that most Portlanders consider my alma mater a hybrid of Haight-Ashbury and Keith Richards's medicine cabinet," he writes.

Reed Makes #6 on "Nerdiest Colleges" List

Reed prides itself for eschewing the US News & World Report's college rankings and other questionable attempts to shoehorn education into an array of doubtful statistics. But here's one list we can't resist: Huffington Post's "Nerdiest Colleges," which ranks Reed at #6, after MIT, Caltech, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd, but ahead of Worcester Polytechnic and Carleton. Reed staples such as bike jousting and Nitrogen Day seem to have persuaded the reviewers of our nerd cred. Just as well they don't know we like reciting Homer in the original!

Defining Reed


It's been several weeks, but I'm still recovering from Reunions 2011 and its glorious aftermath. Quite apart from the epic rugby match, the spectacular musical performances, and the phenomenal chance encounters, I found myself pondering anew the question that President Colin Diver posed at his centennial address. Stripped to its elements, how do you define Reed?

To read Diver's speech, click here or watch the video.

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