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2004-06-19 - 4:29 p.m.

The Reed Experience- Part 1

by Joan Campbell Snodgrass Callaway

A surprise in my mailbox today Ė a book of my Reed í54 reunion, which I did not attend. I didnít even send in the answers to the questionnaire. Iím not sure why. I just kept putting it aside, thinking Iíd get to it. I never seriously considered going to the reunion. The only person from my class Iíve seen in the past fifty years is Lila Field JacobsÖand that must have been in San Francisco sometime in 1972, as I recall. Going to a 50th reunion at Reed without Glen would have been like eating cereal without milk.

I took courses at the University of Washington for two quarters after high school graduation, but found the big campus and the introductory courses less than I would have hoped. No journalism courses available to me Ė how disappointing. Living at home and not being part of the campus community probably contributed to my dissatisfaction, but I suspect it was more the separation from Glen, the love of my life and soul mate, who was at Reed College in Portland, that played a bigger role. Several times I visited him and the Reed campus, sometimes staying in one of the womenís dorms with Fay Abrams, one of Glenís classmates. At each visit I became more and more convinced that a small stimulating campus, such as Reed, was more to my liking than the large impersonal U.W. Here was a place where ideas were cherished, not ignored, and where people were individuals, not groups. Honesty and passion for learning was the norm, classes were small, and the coffee shop was a vibrant environment where ideas of substance were shared. Here was an environment where diversity was taken for granted, where ideas and excitement for discovery and knowledge could barely be contained. No one was narrow-minded, sports were for fun, leisure didnít necessarily imply getting smashed, students were encouraged to color outside the linesÖand Glen was there. I applied, was accepted, and enrolled at Reed the following September.

Fay Abrams, who had entered Reed as a sixteen-year old, was my roommate on the second floor of Kerr Hall across the hall from Lila Field, who was to become one of my best friends. Lou Burke, another one of Glenís classmates, a life-long friend, lived there, too. Our room on the second floor was actually two rooms Ė a living room with a fireplace, two desks, bookcases, and a daybed, and a sleeping room with twin beds and dressers. Fay and Lou were now a year ahead of me in Humanities; Lila and I were freshman, studying the same material, because I had opted to start over as a freshman, taking Humanities I. Humanities was an integrated two-year course at Reed, in which art, religion, philosophy, music, literature, geography, and history were studied simultaneously and chronologically beginning with Homerís Odyssey and finishing at the end of the second year with current times. For the first time in my academic career, the relationships between all of the subjects and how each influenced the other became clear. It seemed such an obvious way to teach and to learn. One can only wonder why all education is not taught in this manner. Suddenly the literature, the art, and the music all made sense when studied in the context of the times.

The reading and writing load were extremely heavy, the discussions stimulating. We would study after dinner each night in the Dorm, the library or at Anna Mann Cottage until 9 p.m. at which time we would trudge over to the basement coffee shop to gather with friends, rain or shine. Lively, often philosophical, discussions would close the place down leaving us often too stimulated to sleep; a walk across the canyon bridge might provide needed tranquility before heading back to the dorm. If you were late getting back to the dorm, which was locked up at 11 p.m., it meant a trip to Anna Mann Cottage, another womenís dorm with a large lounge-study area, where the custodian with the keys could be found to let you into your dorm. He would wait discreetly while you said goodnight, checking later to be sure the door was locked.

(to be continued)

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