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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Dag talks battles, clothing, Field Day and rumors

Without a doubt, most Grinnellians are familiar with the term “Dag.” Students hear about Dag parties or see an influx of Dag alums on campus or notice the table of Dag members in the back of the dining hall. Despite this, it is safe to say that to many Grinnellians, Dagorhir—Dag for short—has remained somewhat of a mystery.

Raghav Malik '13 lands a crippling blow on Alicia Alexander '13 at the DAG Night Fight on Tuesday evening - Aaron Barker

Dag is only loosely defined as a sport. The team does not compete against other schools and they do not take themselves too seriously. The members get together two to three times a week for “fight sessions” in which they participate in giant foam-weapon battles either on Mac Field or in Harris. Anyone is welcome to attend the fight sessions, whether for ten minutes or for the full two hours.

“Its a wonderful break to a stressful day. You’re all worked up by a bunch of homework, and you go and vent it all by swinging foam swords at people. Its also a reasonable physical workout,” said Raghav Malik ’13.

Malik also serves as one of the two Field Masters on the Dag team. He is responsible for vocally leading the fight sessions and keeping energy up during battles.

The team hierarchy also includes Master of the Sword, Master of the Bow and Master of the Axe, all three of which are responsible for checking the safety of their respective weapons. “I’ve been Master of the Axe since spring of 2008, so I safety check all of the large weapons that get used on the field thrice a week,” said Molly Kennedy ’11.

But Dag is more than just a group of students who enjoy hitting each other with homemade weapons.  “We’re friends first and ferocious foam warriors second,” said Kennedy.  One of Dag’s most distinct features is the relationship between current Dag members and Dag alumni. “Dag is an inter-generational social circle,” said Kennedy. This strong relationship culminates each year in Field Day. “Field day is the time when all of the alums get to come back and it’s just this intense weekend where we have this huge fight session,” said Alicia Alexander ’13. Last spring they even had one member travel all the way from Switzerland to participate in the battle. “We come from all over the world just to see each other and have fun,” Alexander said.

Dag even has an oral tradition so that they preserve stories from previous generations. “Alicia is our big story teller right now,” said Eric Tjossem ’13. Tjossem explained how the stories revealed some pretty shocking facts about Dag’s past social reputation. “This is hilarious to think about now, but Dag was animal house in the early days. They had huge parties. The people in Dag were the Zac Ellingtons of Campus. Seriously, this is what’s in the oral tradition,” he said.

Although Dag has mellowed over time, they still hold parties occasionally, and they encourage all students on campus to attend. “Everybody is invited to a Dag party, we don’t care, come hang out with us!” Alexander said.

However, the team was disappointed to lose Dag house this year. “This is the first year in seven years that we haven’t had a Dag house,” Alexander said. Dag members usually use the house not only to store their materials, but also as a social gathering spot. “Dag is like a family and the house would become like a giant lounge for everyone,” she said. They are hoping to reinstate Dag house next year and Alexander plans to act as the House Master.

Many rumors about Dag circulate through campus and Kennedy worries that some of them give the team negative reputation. “[They] may have made us come off as insular, if not slightly cultish,” she said. Alexander was quick to dispel one of the most prominent rumors about Dag. “I hear that we are the weird group that may or may not have orgies,” she said. “For the record, we don’t have orgies.” Additionally, Kennedy wants to dissuade students from being put off by rumors about Dag’s intense initiation rituals. “The only initiation we have is optional and gives the older members an excuse to dump ice water on new fighters,” she said.

Dag members also hold a reputation for having unique clothing choices, but members are not required to dress up. “Grinnell is a giant spectrum of geeky. No, we do not require silly costumes, but yes, if you want to come to Dag dressed as a zombie pirate shark Velociraptor, we’re not going to stop you,” said Kennedy. When asked about capes in particular, Alexander explained that such attire is by no means a Dag requirement. “I’ve been in Dag for a long time and I’ve never worn a cape,” she said.

Essentially, Dag is all about having fun and enjoying yourself “I like big battles, when there are tons of people, and you just get these huge armies rushing at each other and it’s awesome. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s glorious,” Tjossem said. Alexander emphasized that each person can approach Dag in their own way “You can be really hardcore and intense about it or you can use it as a stress reliever and go have fun and hit people with foam weapons,” she said. Everyone is welcome to attend the Dag fight sessions, which are held Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Dag members encourage new people to give it a try. As Tjossem says, “It’s the greatest study break ever!”

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