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The Scarlet & Black

Making out the history of 100 Days

When one thinks of 100 Days, many things may come to mind. But despite what one might think of this acclaimed, senior-exclusive party, in the past, 100 Days provoked vastly different associations than it does today. Students, not so long ago would be surprised to see what the party has become. There is more history that most may be unaware of behind this free-love phenomenon.

100 Days has always been a party held for the senior class, theoretically on the Saturday closest to the date 100 days before graduation. But what exactly is the purpose of this party? Possibly a senior’s last chance or best time to confess hidden romantic feelings? That’s exactly what 100 Days entailed prior to 2000 or so, which is when this extended to include more than just feelings.

Rachel Bly ’93 described her 100 Days experience as being vastly different from what she expects these recent ones have been like.

“I have to say that one of the things that surprised me most when I started working more with students was [that] we didn’t have the kissing part of it,” Bly recalled.

100 days

Bly, who has worked at Grinnell for 18 years, has had the chance to see the party change over time. Though many of the intentions behind 100 Days have stayed the same, it is the party’s activities that have amplified. The College has made attempts in the past to uncover the true history behind the lip-locking becoming the primary association with 100 Days. A few years ago, there was a panel of alumni sharing their respective 100 Days experiences, trying to uncover the mystery of years past.

“We figured out it changed in about 2001 to 2002 … It was a little bit of a gradual thing … [The idea was] this was your last chance to tell somebody you liked them, then it moved into kissing that one person you’ve always wanted to kiss to what it is now which is … kissing everybody,” Bly explained. “So it’s an interesting switch.”

Despite all the health and safety concerns, Bly is glad to see that, since last year when they assumed responsibility for hosting the party, the student body has managed to make this party possible and, in most respects, successful.

“I think it got to a point where there was a little too much involvement with the staff of this office and of the committee, and that needed to step away a little bit and go back to being a completely student-run party,” she said. “I think the students have done a fabulous job of that over the past few years.”

Despite being put back into the hands of the senior class, one concern that Bly had was the effect that the expectations of the party may discourage some students from attending. If this is the case, it eliminates the purpose of the party being one of the few chances a Grinnell class has to be together in its entirety.

“You know, if you’ve got people who aren’t going because they’re not comfortable with that aspect of it, then you lose that class bonding that happens.” Bly said.

A new approach being introduced to this year’s 100 Days to address this exact issue is to include a live band performance. 100 Days will include a performance by the band formerly known as Funk Yourself. Band member Micah Nelson ’14 explained the intention behind this is to lessen the emphasis on kissing and more on class bonding.

“It’s still a seniors-only party, but the band helps to make it better from a wellness stance and more open to seniors who don’t want to participate in the ‘hook-up culture’,” Nelson wrote to the S&B.

However, despite having a band consisting of all senior students perform at the only event solely dedicated to their class, Nelson does not believe that taking time to perform would eliminate from the overall experience.

“I can’t imagine a better way for us to celebrate being seniors than playing at 100 Days,” Nelson wrote.

The party itself is also a nice reminder to alumni, who have seen traditions come and go, that some will be around for the long haul.

“Grinnell isn’t always that great at traditions, and so this is one that has lasted a long time and I think that that’s important: having those things that are constant, but yet a little different, depending on the class,” Bly said. “I think it’s great that there are some things still going on. What it looks like is going to change every year and will continue to evolve.”

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    jackMar 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Never had them in1981