An Interview On
Reed College

Background

Interview Date:January 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White
Sexual Orientation: Queer
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: N/A
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Undeclared, but looking into majors in the Humanities
Minor: Reed does not have minors
Extracurricular Activities: Theater. We have theater groups in the school, but because our Theater department is small I take part in theater more generally.

What impact has theater had on your experience?
I was a theater kid in high school, as I feel most people who do theater in college were. The theater department in my high school was very cliquey, and I don’t feel that way about the department here because Reed is so small that every club or arts department gets really tight-knit and it’s hard to exclude people because the school is so small. I also think that people don’t want to exclude anybody. So, the way I talk about theater at Reed is similar to how many other people talk about their club, it’s a positive experience in that I can meet a lot of great people and have a community. It’s hard to do an extracurricular here and no do it full on because there are so many things to do and so few people, so everything has its own little section.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for the Humanities classes you’ve taken?
The assignments are mostly essays and the bulk of what I do is reading, unless you’re doing an intro class because those can be different. Since all of our 200-300 level classes are discussion based, they’re really hard to skip. Everyone knows that you didn’t make it to class because the classes are so small. The final essays are usually 10-20 pages because we don’t usually do final exams.

Is there anything that you feel the Humanities departments do especially well or poorly?
I feel that most of the professors have a very real approach to classes and none of them are too tied with the ivory tower of academia. They all are extremely knowledgeable about what they do.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I don’t think it’s competitive. I do think that there are times when you can really tell that one specific student really wants to know a lot about one specific thing more than other students, but I don’t think that comes from a competitive nature. It’s more that this person just really likes this one specific thing and will just go off in that specific class. That’s more just people getting really excited about what they want to do. Every person has their own thing, and you get to know what everybody’s thing is after you have enough classes with a certain person.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
In terms of the general school, everyone has a very similar approach to academia in that it shouldn’t be inaccessible and that everyone should be able to find their own thing. They make it seem that everyone should be able to have access to academic texts.

On and Around Campus

How was transitioning from your hometown to Portland, OR?
It wasn’t hard. It was harder being away from my family, but I think the actual campus is very inviting. Living-wise, getting used to being in college was hard, but I think you can say that about any school.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I personally have never felt unsafe on campus. We have Community Safety Officers as opposed to police officers. Those are people who primarily concerned about safety, so that doesn’t make me feel unsafe about the safety people.

Pros and cons of being in Portland, OR?
Pros: (1) It’s a city so there are things to do.
(2) There are bus stops around Reed’s campus that can take you anywhere.
(3) It’s a very artsy city, so there are a lot of theaters and museums and stuff you can do for cultural creative outlets. There’s the Portland Art Museum and the Portland Armory is a cool theater.

Cons: (1) It’s not the biggest city, so it can feel small sometimes. After a semester you sometimes feel that you’ve exhausted all of your resources, but then you go home and come back and there is new stuff to do. You can wear out the city because it’s not that big.
(2) Reed and Portland are two very distinct places. The city is not an extension of the college or vice versa. Reed is not a campus that is engrained in the city. But, I think people find their own ways to overcome that because we have a lot of community clubs and organizations that go out into Portland. It’s not a big thing, but it’s a con for someone who wants a more fluid situation.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
Reed has a lot of dances, they happen almost every weekend. I go to all of those. They aren’t dances like prom, they’re all themed. We have a Talking Heads theme party that everybody goes crazy for. I don’t go out into Portland personally, which is why the fact that the campus is separated from the city can also be good. Most of the stuff the school offers happens is on campus, and I personally like to go to that. We have dances, comedy nights, improv shows that people go really crazy for, and open mic nights. The dances are my favorite.

What nights of the week do you regularly go out? Are there certain things you like to do on certain nights?
Dances usually happen on Saturday and comedy shows and stuff like that happen Friday. Parties usually happen on Saturdays when there’s not a dance.

Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year? How did it differ from when you are now more socially established?
Going out for me is staying on campus. What you do is you get all your friends and you get really dressed up in whatever theme the dance is and then you go to the Student Union. You see other people and you dance with them. It’s like a club where you know everyone. I feel like being less socially established doesn’t matter, at least in this context, because everyone goes to the dances.

How happy are you with the nightlife at Reed? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m happy with it. I wish that we had things happen more frequently, like, wish we did dances or parties more often. Everything will happen on one weekend, like on Halloween Weekend there will be lots of parties and then the next weekend nothing will happen.

How has being a person who identifies as Queer impacted your nightlife experience?
I don’t necessarily think it’s impacted my experience because Reed is a very open school when it comes to exploring your sexuality and exploring your gender. I’ve never felt like my sexual orientation impacted the way I do my life. In high school, I felt like I had to step around it but here I don’t have to.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
We lived in the dorm together freshman year.

How would you describe the social scene?
I don’t necessarily think Reed is cliquey, but people definitely do have their friend group and people like to stay within their friend group. I think the social life is good, but you do have to somewhat work at getting into a group if you want to be a part of one, whether that is with the people in your dorm, the clubs that you do, or the classes you take for your major. Everyone does their own little thing and then at dances or other big events we all blend together. It’s not one of those situations where you have a very fluid group of friends. People will say, “I’m going to see this person and their friends,” and you can visualize that group.

How would you describe the student body?
We’re all very passionate and we all are very focused. Students at Reed have a certain degree of civic engagement that they participate in, and they are very aware of social issues and political issues in the world and on campus. They’re very aware of what they say and what they do and how it impacts other people.

Are there a lot of student protests at Reed?
I think that’s kind of a stereotype. There were some heavy protests about two years ago about an intro level Humanities class. People try to paint Reed into this place where there are protests all the time, but that’s not true. There hasn’t been a protest so far this year. People are very passionate about what they believe, and if something harms you in any way it’s a place that is open to people saying why something harms you and for what reason. I wouldn’t say there are a lot of protests, but people are not shy about what they believe. I don’t like that people paint Reed students as kids who don’t do anything other than protest.

How do you like the size of Reed in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [There are about 1,400 students at Reed.]
I like it. It’s super small, and I bring [the size] up a lot because it does have a big impact on the experience. It’s not for everyone, but I like being able to walk down into the dining hall and basically know everyone there. I don’t know everyone by name, but I at least recognize them. I appreciate that I feel like there’s always someone there that I can talk to.

How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
Very strong. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a community or view it as a separate section of the school as a whole. People are very open with how they identify, so I wouldn’t say you divide the school into the LGBTQ community and everyone else because there’s no clear separation.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I haven’t reached out to them myself, but I know that the alumni network is particularly strong within graduate schools. People will do research into a graduate school and find a professor there who went to Reed.

Have you used the career office at all? If so, how helpful have they been?
I have not yet.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Reed before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that some of the majors have strict requirements. You can do interdisciplinary majors, like there is a joint degree in Religion and Classics, but you’re not getting a degree in both of those things it’s only one degree. You can move around majors if you want to, but when you write your thesis – we all have to write a thesis to graduate – you have to pick a [unique topic], so I think it’s a good idea to have a general idea what you want to study. I came in very much undecided, and it worked out for me and it works out for most people, but it would have benefitted me to know that it’s a good idea to know what you want to study because I would have thought about it more.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I don’t know if they show it on tours, but I really like the Thesis Tower, which is in the library. It’s where all the hard copies of peoples’ theses are stored. I also think the Gray Campus Center is a good place to check out because it has a pool hall, the dining hall, and the campus bookstore. There are lots of posters and things to sign up for that happen that make it worth paying attention to when you visit.

Reasons to attend Reed College:
1) Anything you study here you will study very in-depth. Everything you learn is very focused and very driven. It’s a good place to come if you know what you want to study, but also it can be good if you’re undecided.
2) If you want to go to graduate school. Reed is very much a school that’s built for people to go to graduate school. There are so many research opportunities and writing a thesis is really good for applying to Master’s and Ph.D. programs
3) I love how ridiculous some things about Reed are. We have dances, Renn Fayre, Hum Play, which is when freshmen act out a play at the end of the semester, and many others. If you like dumb traditions that are very much so Reed specific, it’s fun.

Reasons to not attend Reed College:
1) If you want a big school, it’s not a school for you.
2) If you want a school where you can have fun and party and not really focus on academics, I wouldn’t come. We do have fun and party, but Reed is very much focused on academics and that is the number one priority for everyone.

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