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10/10 (aka Ten Ten, Fall Festival, and Fall Fest)

An alum told me that they found my series of essays useful because it helped them understand some of the things that are happening on campus. That inspired this essay, on 10/10 and the changes to 10/10.

Warning! Some part of this essay is likely to irk or upset you, whether you are a parent, a student, a faculty member, someone from student affairs, or someone else.

Grinnell has a variety of interesting traditions, from Titular Head to Block Party to Drag to ISO Food Bazaar. Some are old, some are new, some have been destroyed by students or by the administration since I’ve come to Grinnell [1]. One of the moderately new traditions is 10/10, which started since I arrived at Grinnell.

10/10 is a party [2] that is traditionally celebrated on the Saturday closest to October 10. I try not to know too much about student-run parties. But there are things about the party that sounded positive when I first heard about it. Ten divided by ten is one (as is two divided by two, for those of you who read in binary), so it’s clear that 10/10 is intended to be a party about campus unity. And, I was told, unlike other parties, 10/10 provided rescue dogs, which I took to be students who would regularly check in on the health and welfare of other students.

My colleague John Stone also notes that 10/10 is a clever pun because 1010 base two is ten base ten. My student Larry Boateng Asante notes that 10/10 is one of the few unambiguous dates, as it is clearly 10 October. In contrast 10/8 is either October 8 or 10 August [3].

Unfortunately, those probably aren’t good ways to think about 10/10. It appears that (a) like too many events on Grinnell’s campus, 10/10 focused on alcohol consumption; (b) 10/10 grew from a relatively private affair to a relatively broad affair, but has seen narrowing participation in recent years; and (c) 10/10 rescue dogs bring alcohol to people [4].

Given that we have alcohol problems on campus, the College is necessarily considering how to address those problems, including how we respond to traditions that focus primarily on alcohol consumption. Grinnell’s emphasis on self governance would suggest that students should be responsible for addressing the problem. However, as I suggest in a separate essay, students have not done a sufficiently good job of addressing alcohol issues on campus. Hence, the administration has taken over, forbidden the party called 10/10, and worked with both our student government association (SGA) and the Ultimate [5] teams (who hosted the former 10/10) to design a replacement, which they now mostly call Fall Festival.

What are they including? There are the normal Saturday sports events, which this weekend are American Football and both men’s and women’s Unamerican Football (aka Soccer). We have a fair on Mac field with, laser tag, fair foods, inflatables, and even therapy dogs [6]. There’s Fall Fest in the DHall, which I don’t quite understand, but might try to visit. There have three simultaneous post-dinner events: a dance party with DJs, a board game extravaganza (which I think should last longer than two hours), and a Pub quiz. After that, they have options for Karaoke or a Harris party with live bands [8]. And they cap it off at 1am, when students should already be in bed, with pizza.

I expect that the three post-dinner events are intended to make sure that students have something to do before Karaoke or Harris, so that they don’t decide to go back to their dorm rooms (or High Street) and drink. I don’t know how successful that will be. Given the general attitude of Grinnell students, and some students’ clear opposition to the changes in policy on campus, I very much worry that there will be an increase in student-run parties. But we’ll see. There are many fun things planned for Saturday, and I hope that students will take advantage of them.

Where does this all lead? I’m glad to see that we’re thinking of ways to provide events that do not focus on the consumption of alcohol. I’m glad that board games are part of the new Fall Fest [9], but it would be nice if they went on for more than two hours. I’d also like to see more events that focus on reasonable consumption of alcohol [10]. And I’d like to see new traditions that aren’t just the same inflatables plus Harris. I look forward to seeing an even better Fall Fest next year.

What else? It’s Friday. If you choose to consume alcohol, please do so within reason. If you choose to be intimate with another person, plan your intimacy together and remember that consent is still absolutely necessary.

[1] Yes, I’m planning an essay on Grinnell traditions I miss.

[2] Perhaps it’s more important to say 10/10 was a party.

[3] At some point, I’ll write a rant about date and time formats.

[4] Presumably, after checking that those people are permitted to drink alcohol.

[5] Ultimate is a sport that involves flying discs that resemble the Frisbees made by Wham-O corporation. I believe that Grinnell has three teams: The Grinnelleanor Roosevelts, The Sticky Tongue Frogs, and the Grinnellephants [6].

[6] One of these things is not like the others [7].

[7] Isn’t it awesome that I can use the same footnote for two different statements?

[8] They call it 10/10 Harris, which I find myself reading as binary Harris. But that name seems inappropriate for Grinnell.

[9] Before we realized that Fall Fest included a game night, I had students request that I host a game night as an alternative to Fall Fest.

[10] Given federal laws, it is difficult to have any event that helps students under the age of 21 think about the reasonable consumption of alcohol. I don’t know how to deal with that issue.

Version 1.1 of 2016-10-06.