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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

The Real JRC

Like an anthropologist observing and documenting a distant culture, Claire Reeder ’11 analyzed the way Grinnellians live in the JRC—the building in which we eat, socialize, study and even sometimes sleep—and the different spatial settings that guide our daily routines.

The Spencer Grill:
The Dweller’s Domain

After the main dining hall, the Grill buzzes as the center of the JRC. And it returns the favor, helping groggy students get their morning coffee buzz on with the never-failing Grinnell Blend. What else about this place makes it such a popular hang out spot, a place notable for its culture of “Grill Dwellers” —those people who just never seem to leave? Its social nature, bright, airy space, and, of course, the food exert a magnetic pull over all corners of campus. Or maybe it’s just the chorus of “Campus or Dining?” singing its Siren call.
At the center of the Grill culture is its function as a gathering place for students, faculty, and even little Grinnell twerps on skateboards. It acts as a common ground and, with the recently reupholstered couches wide enough for two, the furniture and layout of the space itself fosters a feeling of community.

“It’s the place where you watch interactions,” said Julia Fine ’10. “You can see everyone, or go if you’re trying to run into someone.”

Because of the inevitable socializing which seems to characterize behavior in the Grill, it is a notorious black hole for schoolwork. “I go here if I want to do work, but don’t really need to. I only get done about 60 percent of what I intend to do when I come here, ” said Zoe Schein ’12.

For those who want to get work done, headphones are a must—they are a prolific accessory for students tapping away on their laptops nestled on the couches. “I do work here, but only with headphones, and because there’s always the opportunity for a distraction with all the people,” said Mischa Ghadiri ’12.

And then there is the main attraction: the food. Long lines at lunchtime and the ten minutes between class periods mean the Grill employees have their hands full trying to feed the hungry students ordering their wheat bagel with cream cheese or Italian sub outtake.

Even though food attracts people to the Grill, some students still have suggestions about how to improve the menu selections. “How about free rice krispie treats or cheaper refills on coffee?” said Hannah Lytle ’11.

While the Grill may still have its detractors, its controversial spelling—to “e” or not to “e”?— its rather inflated prices, and its occasional annoying loud laughter, it will always at least have one thing that trumps all—the Big Cookie.

The Laurel Leaf Lounge:
Top 5 Napping Spot on Campus

There is one constant in the Laurel Leaf Lounge—nappers. Better known as the “fireplace lounge,” the pastel checkered couches with their large slouchy cushions just beg the weary to rest. While winter brought few embers to the massive black stone fireplace, its presence alone is enough to suggest the warm and calm tone students seek here.
“I like this room because there is the white noise in the background, unlike the library where it is completely silent,” Lauren O’ Hair ’12 said.

The atmosphere of the fireplace lounge starkly contrasts from the noisy lobby right outside its entranceway. On the outside, sounds of students bustling to and fro funnel through and amplify into the big circular lounge. But inside, the lounge is a cozy refuge with its soft lighting from the UFO-like chandelier and small box windows offering a peek to the outside. It is an alternative to the Grill—a place for a quiet conversation, typing away on an essay, or catching some quick shut-eye.

“It’s comfortable, quiet. The only time it kills me is when there’s someone snoring loudly during a nap.” said Jacob Reisberg ’10. “You can hear people outside, the sound kind of curves into the space.”

The Second Floor:
Atop all the Chaos, A Number of Favorable Spaces

Studying students can enjoy the background noise of the bustling center below while escaping distraction in this lesser-known but enjoyable spot atop the Grill. It still appeals to people who want the stimulation and energy of a public space, but with the treehouse perch, this second floor area has a much different feel. Tables and comfortable couches create an ideal meeting place for groups or individuals looking for a more removed location to focus.

“You can hear everyone talking in the Grill below but without the distractions,” Ellie Deal ’11 said. “If you really feel like it, you can look over the edge and creep on people.”
In the conference rooms lining the edges of the second floor, white boards and sprawling tables, as well as a lot more privacy, make these spaces a hot commodity. Massive projection screens also make the conference rooms ideal movie-watching locations when students’ work is done.

And then there are all those little nooks and crannies. Red, yellow and rainbow upholstery brighten these pockets of space in the JRC, such as the one that peers over into the fireplace lounge. At the top of the main stairway, a cradle of dark maroon cushioning offers itself as the arguably most inviting place to curl up with those 300 pages of reading on Italian Renaissance art you’ve been putting off until now. Or better yet, curling up for a little catnap.

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