Oberlin Blogs

We are Gryffindor. fearless

October 16, 2009

Tess Yanisch ’13

An amusing anecdote

Over the summer, one of my oldest friends came to visit and gave me two graduation/college presents. One of the presents was a long, knitted, red-and-gold scarf. I'd seen scarves similar to this before. My geeky instincts being always on the alert, I quickly made the connection and squealed "Oh boy! Gryffindor!" She looked at me and laughed. "Um...I guess, but..." She unfolded the scarf and I saw that it had OBERLIN ATHLETICS sewn into it. And that was how I learned what my school colors are.

Now, this morning, I was out on a walk. It's getting pretty chilly here, so I was wearing gloves and the scarf and listening to my iPod. One of my friends ran into me and asked if I was excited for fall break. We chatted for a while. Then he pointed at my scarf and--I bet you can guess what comes next--asked, "Gryffindor?"

"No, Oberlin, actually."

"No way!"

I flipped the end of the scarf over and showed him. He shook his head, grinning. "Well, I guess that's another reason why Oberlin is the best school."

I laughed. "Yeah. We are Gryffindor: fearless!"

_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _

That's a pretty good taste of Oberlin's student body, at least as I have experienced it: we don't know our own school colors, although we do know the admissions motto (and I suspect most of us know the real motto, too, Learning and Labor). Make of that what you will.

_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _

The real meat of the entry

I live in Substance-Free Housing, Barnard House--not to be confused with Barrows (first-year experience), Burton (four-year dorm), Bailey (French House), Old Barrows (now a co-op, I think), or Baldwin (Women's Collective). The College appears to have some odd metaphysical fascination with the letter B.

I have a class in fifteen minutes, so I'll simply say this: I've met so many strange and funny people since I've come here, and I don't know when I'll have the time to get to know them all. There are the Sunshine Scouts--we had our first show last night and I will blog about that later--some of them are amazing actors and actresses and all so funny. There's the staff of SPIRAL, the genre fiction magazine here--basically, the residents of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Hall. I think I will have to live there some year. There are the people in my seminar, the people from the UUs--and then there are the people in Barnard House.

Barnard is Substance-Free Housing. That doesn't mean it's lame.

I came here, not to help me resist peer pressure to drink or do drugs or anything like that--I'm good at standing firm on my own--but because I've never been around that and didn't know how I would deal with it. Besides, Barnard is a nice, quiet base of operations--you can always study here, or sleep whenever. As my roommate put it, "You don't have to worry about drunk people wandering down the hallways yelling at people." Also, it's small: we only have about 45 people here total. So it's quiet, the people are more focused and mature (we have an unusually high concentration of double-degree students), you can get to know almost everyone, and there is yet another unintended benefit.

We have, most likely, the highest concentration of geeks outside of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Hall.

The captain of the Starcraft team (competitive video gaming), the captain of the Quidditch team (yep, we have a Quidditch team), the founder of Unmasqued, a LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) group, and the captain of the bowling team all live here. I'm sure there are others. When we came back from the marathon of the Extended Edition Lord of the Rings movies, one girl told me that (a) she loved my cloak and (b) that was the best Saturday night she'd had in all her college years. This is a senior speaking.

We also have at least two hard-core Trekkies, almost certainly more; we've had intense games of Munchkin and Catchphrase; and a group of us gather in the lounge to watch Stargate: Universe on Friday nights.

What could be cooler than that?

Live Long and Prosper.

Responses to this Entry

I think the coolest thing about Oberlin is that most of the geeks on campus have social skills.

Also, it means that no form of nerdiness is really weird. Music nerds, bike nerds, cooking nerds, geography nerds, trekkies, science majors, russian lit nerds... all together. And there's a lot of cross-over.

Last year, I became friends with some really cool folks. Like crazy-cool, loiter in front of the library, big glasses, classy clothes cool. And they were all nerds too. We talked about old-skool gaming a lot.

Posted by: Aries on October 16, 2009 4:44 PM

I would also totally wear a "We are Gryffindor. Fearless." shirt. FYI.

Posted by: Aries on October 16, 2009 4:45 PM

There is one online that says "We are Oberlin. Awkward" but it costs $25 or something.

Posted by: Tess on October 17, 2009 8:47 PM

Yo! You did an AMAZING job at the Scouts show! I have so many great photos! (I'll send some over to you later so you can add them in your post, too.)

Posted by: Ma'ayan on October 17, 2009 11:42 PM

I have the exact same problem! I love my red-and-gold striped Oberlin gloves, and whenever I wear them - despite the prominent school logo - people assume it's a statement of Harry Potter pride. You'd think the Oberlin students, at least, would know better. It's pretty funny, but it also means I can't wear my blue-and-silver Ravenclaw scarf without feeling like a traitor.

Also, it's great to see Barnard getting some love. Oberlin is definitely a place that makes geeks feel warm and fuzzy inside. I've spent many a Friday night debating linguistics, watching old sci-fi B movies, or singing sea shanties...

Posted by: Eli on October 18, 2009 5:37 PM

Thanks, Ma'ayan!

Eli: Aaah, the joys and difficulties of Oberlin life. Y'know, Peters does look Hogwartsian sometimes....we should have some school rally there, in red and gold, and put it in the Admissions pamphlets, and people would think Hogwarts was sending them stuff! :D

BARNARD SUBSTANCE-FREE SHANTY! I wonder where the lyrics got to in the end... Also: MUNCHKIN. That is all. Munchkin and Catchphrase and other epics of game night.

Posted by: Tess on October 18, 2009 9:59 PM

Why couldn't I attend an awesome school like this. I went to school is the heart of Mississippi. Looks like you have some very cool, but nerdy stuff to do. I went to school with people who wanted to go out to the middle of the woods, start a bonfire, and shoot guns. I'm not trying to stereotype the south, but sometimes they have a bad habit of doing themselves in. These events seem right up my alley. Dang, I chose the wrong school.

Posted by: Social Skills on October 2, 2010 10:59 PM

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