Back in April, I started a document called “Best of Macalester” in which I collected some of my favorite things at Macalester. Now, leaving for Brown, I found myself reflecting on them and searching for equivalents at Brown.
I am attracted to ventures that are, no matter how small, born of an individual’s ardor and devotion.1
Here are a few.
One of the only emails from Macalester I consistently opened, it made me feel connected to campus. This semester, it arrived every morning in COMP 221 where my table group and I would read it together.
Mac Daily and the events calendar were a custom Django app, and while an off-the-shelf product would be perfectly fine for something as rigid as a calendar, I appreciate that someone went above and beyond.
Macalester College Archives
The Macalester College Archives was one of my favorite places on campus. Everyone who worked in the Archives seemed to genuinely enjoy their job and were nerdy in best way most librarians are. I enjoyed discovering student creations, architectural renderings, and college apparel.
Brown has its own archives, and I can only hope its staff are as warm and passionate as Macalester’s. I used to think of archives as stuffy and off-limits, but now realize that archivists are often overjoyed when someone expresses interest in their collections. It is an archivist’s torment that realistically 95% of materials will never reëmerge from their climate-controlled, acid-free boxes.
The Dev Garden is a come-one-come-all space for students with questions about software development. Run by computer science professor Paul Cantrell, I attended all but a handful of the twice-weekly sessions for the entire time I was at Macalester.
Paul would often wheel over a whiteboard from the back of the library, drag students out of their code, and turn “How do I solve this one problem?” into “How do I solve problems like this one?”
Digital Resource Center
The Digital Resource Center has cameras, computers, cables, 3D printers, and recording booths in the basement of the library for students to use. It’s open 84 hours a week and staffed entirely by students. I was always impressed by how knowledgeable the staff were, and I wouldn’t have dabbled in 3D printing if it wasn’t for the DRC and the help of its staff.
Onesies are notebooks made by the Macalester Library (a lot of library on this list) from discarded prints that still have one blank side. The half-page version is the perfect size and its spiral binding allows it to lie flat.
When writing in a brand new Moleskine notebook, I feel a tremendous pressure to fill them with fully-formed thoughts in beautiful handwriting, accompanied by ink sketches and precise diagrams; to tear out a page would be to tear the limbs from my last-born child. Nothing short of the Vitruvian Man—discovered in Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks—is worthy of those thick creamy pages.
I accumulate and resent these notebooks. With Onesies, I feel no such pressure. I keep one in my backpack and use it for all manner of things, and I am happy.
Finally, while not unique to Macalester, I am consistently enamored of the posters on college campuses. Each poster is a colorful representation of someone’s passion. They’re lively, enduring, and timeless and have an analog weight that an Instagram post cannot.
I’m a big fan of posters and have put up—according to Macalester’s printing service—hundreds in the last semester alone. A shame Brown doesn’t have free printing!