50 Things We Love About Carleton

By Teresa Scalzo

Spring 2009: Friday FlowersIn no particular order, here’s what you told us you love best about Carleton.

A brutal winter, watching our 401(k)s hemorrhage, and months of being one senator short in Washington added up to just a little more than we in the Voice office could bear. We wanted to think happy thoughts, so we asked alumni, students, and faculty and staff members to tell us some of their favorite things about Carleton. It certainly cheered us up, but we make no claim to having compiled a definitive list of all things wonderful about Carleton. Tell us who or what we forgot, and we’ll compile a second list and post it on the Voice Web site. After all, when it comes to love, the more you give, the more you get.

1: The Carleton staff

Because where would we be without them?

“Custodian Kass Cork takes good care of us. She is friendly and hilariously sarcastic. She’s given me advice on my love life, and she goes out of her way to do extra favors for profs and students. She taught students in a really messy house how to clean up after themselves.”—Alyssa Hartel ’11 (Clayton, Mo.)

2: Dancing

Because it’s a very Carleton thing to do.

“I never danced before I came to Carleton. Now I dance my way down to the library to study without the slightest embarrassment. Dancing opens minds.”—Adam Anderson ’11 (Glenview, Ill.)

Skinner Chapel3: Skinner Memorial Chapel

Because everyone can appreciate the quiet solemnity of the chapel. Because when Mrs. Skinner donated the money to build the chapel in memory of her husband, Miron, a trustee, she insisted that it face the town as a symbol of friendship between Carleton and Northfield.

4: Cowling Arboretum and McKnight Prairie

Because President Donald Cowling and botany professor Harvey Stork were right when they designated the Arb a sacred space in 1926. Because under the stewardship of current faculty and staff members, the Arb continues to stand as a model of why some places should stay green forever.

“One of my favorite things at Carleton has always been strolling in the upper Arb when it’s raining in the fall. The sound of the rain on the leaves and the absence of crowds make it a nice place to hide out for a time.”—Charlie Cogan ’82,
Associate Dean of Admissions

Chapel piano5: The pianos in Great Hall and the chapel

Because you have to love the spontaneous playing of music.

“The chapel is never locked, and I can head over there to unwind and lose myself in improvisation. The piano keys are light and springy, and I can run up and down the keyboard so fast that I feel sort of professional.”
—Adam Anderson ’11 (Glenview, Ill.)

6: Dacie Moses House

Because Dacie’s door was always open to students and now that she’s gone, it remains that way still.

“It’s possible to bake cookies whenever the impulse strikes, even at three in the
—Emily Kelly ’11 (Cherry Hill, N.J.)

Students7: The Carleton students

Because they are consistently smart and funny without being pretentious and annoying.

“I love that the students here are intellectually engaged, work hard, and don’t whine (much!).”
—psychology professor Kathleen Galotti

8: Weekly Convo

Because Ben and Jerry brought ice cream, John Updike talked Rabbit, and the New York City Ballet danced.

Water Tower9: Water Tower

Because for years Carleton students expressed themselves by painting the tower.

“Carleton’s Everest! I still plan to climb it.”
—French professor Cathy Yandell

10: English professor Pierre Hecker’s exams

Because sometimes college is all about the blue book.

“Professor Hecker’s exams give you a chance to express your point of view, which is sometimes hard to do in a class where everyone has a strong opinion. His tests really excite me, which I know is not a normal reaction to a test.”
—Morgan Holmes ’11 (Helotes, Texas)

Rob Oden11: Rob Oden’s friendliness

Because if you want to be the president of a small liberal arts college in the Midwest, you have to get the friendliness factor down, and President Oden has it down.

“Rob Oden always smiles and says hello when I pass him on the sidewalk. He has a knack for walking by when I’m giving campus tours and taking time to talk with prospective students and their families, often asking where they’re from or what they’re interested in.”
—Allie Morgan ’09 (Fort Collins, Colo.)

12: Chili Nights at Stimson House

Because breaking bread together is still one of the best ways to break stereotypes.

“It’s where we learned to listen.”
—Lev Rickards ’03

Malt-O-Meal13: Malt-O-Meal

Because on the day they make Coco Roos, it smells as if the whole town is baking cookies.

14: The Bald Spot

Because it’s a great place to throw ’bees in nice weather, chase balls with brooms in winter, and hang out year round.

“Schools in the east spend thousands of dollars to ensure that their lawns look pristine for visitors and view books, but Carleton understands that students need to have a good time along with receiving a great education.”
—Nina Whitney ’12 (Bowdoinham, Maine)

Spring 2009: 50 Things15: The trains

Because there’s something impossibly romantic about the sound of a train whistle—except maybe at 2:30 in the morning.

16: Goodsell Observatory

Because on the first Friday of every month, the astronomy faculty invites everyone to come up and have a look.

17: Aaron Chaput and Mikki Showers

Because without Mikki (the director) and Aaron (the assistant director), the Rec Center would be just another outpost of Life Time Fitness.

Spring 2009: 50 Things18: Lyman Lakes and the Islands

Because it’s only right that Carleton should have at least two of Minnesota’s 10,000. Because the lakes offer beauty, respite, recreation, and a link to many of Carleton’s best traditions (think Mai Fête).

19: The Carleton faculty

Because where would we be without them?

“Whether the subject is English literature or Russian history or geology or art history, it
is taught with enthusiasm, effectiveness, respect—and, often, an endearing sense
of humor.”
—Georgia Hesse ’55

Spring 2009: 50 Things20: Sayles-Hill

Because every college needs a student center, and Sayles-Hill is our place to buy books and sweatshirts, eat giant burritos, shoot pool, and watch big-screen TV.

21: Snow

Because it snows in Minnesota many, many months out of the year and you’d better either embrace it or move somewhere else.

“Snow in April! Snow in October!”
—Brigid Vance ’00

Spring 2009: 50 Things22: Frisbees

Because . . . well, really? You gotta ask?

23: Sense of humor

Because we all get the same jokes.

“My Carleton friends say the most absurd and ridiculous things. We’re never short of laughter.
—Carmen Ross ’10 (Welch, Minn.)

24: Trimesters

Because it just makes sense.

“It’s nice not to have to deal with going home for Thanksgiving, then coming back for two weeks before going home again for winter break. And I get to lord it over my friends at other schools.”
—Emily Foster ’12 (Salem, Ore.)

Spring 2009: 50 Things25: Laurence M. Gould Library

Because librarian Sam Demas and his staff understand that a library is more than a repository for books—it’s equal parts church basement, family room, and nightclub.

“There’s a penguin in our library and our reference librarians have trading cards.”
—Grace Russell ’11 (Keller, Texas)

26: The Carleton smokestack

Because it’s just a cool landmark.

“The smokestack has a lonely but elegant presence on the campus.”
—psychology professor Neil Lutsky

Spring 2009: Clinton + Schiller27: Schiller

Because our college mascot is a dead German poet. Because the plaster bust’s whereabouts is a secret as closely guarded as KFC’s original recipe. Because President Bill Clinton played along when he visited campus.

28: The Carleton Singing Knights

Because they’re an institution, and they deserve to be.

29: Silent Dance Party

Because it combines the ingenuity of Carleton students with their unique sense of fun and their “everyone is welcome to play” mentality.

“The organizer sends out an e-mail on the day of the party. You click on the music download in the e-mail, put it in your iPod, go down to first Libe at the designated time (usually late at night during reading days), and press play. We all move upstairs, silently dance on the tables and bookshelves, and then run outside. It is a very popular event and super fun!”
—Anna Wada ’11 (Tokyo)

Spring 2009: 50 Things30: The prairie and the sky

Because they make us feel like hopping in a convertible, cranking Springsteen, and chasing the horizon.

31. Friday flowers—because flowers still say it best.
32. Wind turbine—because Carleton was the first college to get one.
33. Broomball—because winter gets really long if you stay inside the entire time.
34. Sand volleyball behind the Libe—because eventually winter is over.
35. Northfield—because it’s a quintessential Midwestern small town.
36. The Japanese Garden—because it’s another example of Carleton getting something right the first time.
37. Bell Field/Hill of Three Oaks—because there’s nothing better than playing soccer on the field while your fans cheer from the hill.
38. Farm House—because vegan hippie farmers are hot.
39. Division street—because for a small-town main street, Division has got to be among the best architecturally, gastronomically, and commercially.
40. The NNB—because it always makes us laugh.
41. KRLX—because the student DJs fill the airwaves 24 hours a day with music, news, and lots of entertainment.
42. The Cave—because it’s our very own First Avenue, Five Spot, Copacabana, and Viper Room.
43. The Carleton colors—because we love the maize and blue.
44. The chapel bells—because they remind us when it’s time to eat lunch.
45. Rotblatt—because it’s an excuse to play baseball all day long.
46. The Carletonian—because it’s irreverent without being irritating.
47. Late Night Breakfast—because Mom always said a good breakfast was a critical way to start the day, especially when you’re taking final exams.
48. Great Hall—because it’s the closest thing we have to Hogwarts.
49. A capella groups—because you get to make your own playlist.
50. Varsity, club, and intramural sports—because smart kids still love to play.

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