“That Grinnellian je ne sais quoi”

That's So Grinnellian Winter 2016I find the use of the phrase “That’s so Grinnellian” in your regular photo feature a bit off mark. While my fellow Grinnell friends and I do use this phrase somewhat regularly and I certainly understand trying to tap into that vernacular, using it on a photo simply depicting the Grinnell campus isn’t the proper use of the phrase. The feature as it is currently curated would be more appropriately titled the somewhat less inspired but more accurate: “That’s Grinnell.”

The phrase “That’s so Grinnellian” describes that Grinnellian je ne sais quoi — the charming actions or appearance of a lovable nerd, or maybe in a more serious way, someone who is living out the social justice mission. And it should refer to a person and/or their actions — not a place. A view of the dining hall? That’s Grinnell. Taking the time to write a letter to the editor, nit-picking over the proper use of a colloquialism? That’s so Grinnellian.

 
Author Info: 
Thomas Agran ’09
Iowa City, IA
United States
Issue: 

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