An Introduction

Well hey there, internets. You might recognize me from a few guest posts, but from now on I’ll be blogging regularly for Voices from Reed. So, I figured an introduction might be appropriate. See below Fig. 1, me at a Reed College holiday party:


My given name is Katherine Cassidy Hilts, but don’t call me anything other than Kate (especially Katie– there’s already a Katie who works in the Admission office). I hail from Boston most recently, but was born in Maryland, and lived for a year and a half in Gaborone, Botswana (due south of Zambia, if you don’t know your African geography).

Extracurricularly, I dabble in theater. Curricularly, I’m an Environmental Studies major with a focus in Political Science, which means I take/have taken/will take classes in eight or nine different departments– Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Political Science, Humanities, German literature, Mathematics, French.

Outside of Reed, a few of my favorite things include reading, crafting, vegan food, feminism, flora, thrifting, and cats. I freaking love Portland, and would love even more to tell you all about it (and Reed too, duh).

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The Endowment for Student Body Autonomy

As fall semester drew to a close, Reed’s student senate made the (mostly symbolic) choice to rename the student body endowment the “Endowment for Student Body Autonomy.” Although autonomy is a lofty, and perhaps unachievable, goal, striving to actualize student agency is arguably worthwhile. The definition of student body autonomy at Reed is fraught both on conceptual and practical levels. Are we defining autonomy on a macro level–as our collective ability to enact change–or on a micro level–as our individual capacities to make choices? As a question of self-governance, can autonomy be measured in honor council and judicial board cases and student senate meetings? As a question of personal choice-making, can autonomy be measured in creative solutions conceived of and authority flouted? I would argue that it is to the credit of the idea of student body autonomy that it can accommodate such a breadth of thought; however, it does make impossible precise measurement. In light of this confusion, Reed establishes itself as a special institution: one that is comfortable discussing and contesting complex ideological questions.

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Purple Snow

“You have to purify yourself in [Crystal Springs Creek].”

Reedies oh-wee-oh-wee-ohed like it’s 1999 at the Prince Rogers Nelson dance party, Prince Ball, this past weekend.

At 12am, right around when doves cry, the 2014 Renn Fayre theme was revealed. This year’s Renn Fayre will be “Close Encounters.” As of now, I plan to dress up as Alf.

He always returns your calls.

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Dances at Reed

A 1945 Reed Formal.

A 1945 Reed Formal.

This past weekend was “Prince Ball,” a dance devoted to Prince’s music and the place where this year’s Renn Fayre (Reed’s annual end-of-the-year festival) theme was revealed.

There are all kinds of dances at Reed, and they certainly do not only serve as a location for theme reveals. Stop Making Sense and Daft Ball are yearly dances devoted to Talking Heads and Daft Punk, respectively. There is also a yearly Winter Formal, organized by an appointed Winter Formal Czar.

It’s easy to organize your own dance at Reed. Last year, I was Winter Formal Czar and I also created my own dance earlier in the year; This Is Happening was a LCD Soundsystem dance complete with a balloon drop we bought with student funds. It was awesome.

I think the reason why we have so many dances is that we have the perfect space for it: the Student Union. The “SU” is totally student-run, complete with a SU student manager who actually lives in an apartment on top of it. It is an old building, built in 1965, and is the latest incarnation in a series of SUs.

1920s dance at Reed in the old SU.

Dances are one of my favorite parts of being a student here. Despite how progressive Reed is in any other sense, it is an old-school trait that sets us apart.

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Cha Cha Chaucer!

In honor of my new English class on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the following blog post about the first week of the spring semester will be written in Middle English, to the best of my ability.

WHAN that Januaryy with his shoures soote
And bathed every veyne in syllabuses and office hour information
Of which vertue engendred is the flour
Thanne longen Reedie folk to goon to classes
Wel a thousande and four hundred in a compaignye
Of sondry folk with sundry thoughte and passyongea and creatyvty
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle
Ech of hem readyy and excitedd to larne
A BIO MAJOR ther was and that a worthy man
A FRENCH one toooo,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie
We ryden forth oure weye
And bigan the semestre with right a myrie cheer.

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Guest Post: Kate Hilts vol.2

This past week, I came down with a notorious flu that’s been insidiously making its rounds all over campus.

With a high fever and a store throat, I reluctantly dragged myself over to our Health and Counseling Center for a proper diagnosis. The sympathetic nurses I saw confirmed my fears of the flu, gave me a care package of tylenol and disposable thermometers, and forbade me from going to class (or even the dining hall). I was instructed to wait a full twenty-four hours until symptoms abated before leaving my dorm, lest I infect more unsuspecting community members.

Now, it was the first week of classes, and I’d been lamenting the end of my lengthy winter vacation to any friend who would listen. So you would think I’d be rejoicing at the opportunity to keep pleasure-reading and watching old episodes of the West Wing. And for a few hours, I was content to play computer games and sleep off the fever.

But pretty quickly, the comfort of my sick leave wore off. I felt deflated. I wanted to go to my German lit class. I ached for my bagel-and-coffee morning routine at Commons. And as my symptoms began to subside, I became especially antsy, eager to reenter the campus world. I had auditioned for the spring faculty show, Julius Caesar, just before getting sick and desperately wanted to attend the read-through later in the week.

Another discovery I made during those days was the depth of empathy and accommodation each professor and supervisor of mine is capable of. My inbox was flooded with get-well notes within the first day of my absence. When I told the director of Julius Caesar I wouldn’t be able to make the callback, he arranged a Skype callback for me, when it would have been totally understandable to just cut me from the running.
So at 7:15 on Friday morning, the first day I was allowed to breach my dorm room bubble, I bounded out of bed, ready for work at 8:30am and bio lecture at 10:00am. My smile may have looked a little crazed to all other sleepy Reedies I met on the way toward the dining hall that morning, but I knew one thing they didn’t: Sick days are overrated.


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Lunar New Year Celebration

Commons celebrated the Year of the Horse by preparing a variety of dishes representing the four primary culinary regions of China. In addition to the flavorful Chinese dishes, there were prize drawings and lion dancing by NW Dragon & Lion Dancing Association.


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First Week of Classes

We did it! We are triumphant! We are gods the likes of which have not been seen since Zeus of old!

By “it” I mean us Reedies have officially completed the first week of Spring semester. This might seem trivial, but getting adjusted to a new schedule, new professors, and homework all over again is no small feat. Especially so for me and my friends who also studied abroad.

It’s all worth it, though. I think my classes are going to be really interesting this semester, which is definitely one of the perks of being an upperclassmen. I am taking “Research Methods” (a statistics course all junior Sociology majors must take), “Sociology of Finance” (the sociological study of financial institutions such as Wall Street), “Making Race” (a historical study of how the concept of race was constructed), and “Introduction to Art History.”

Aside from the joys of taking courses other than Arabic (I was in an Arabic Immersion program abroad), it’s just incredibly lovely to see my friends again. Friends are both what get me through college and the best part of being here at Reed. And there has been nothing nicer than being able to see my comrades in glory–such as the glory of getting through the first week of school–again.

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Activities Fair

At the outset of each semester, Reed’s clubs and groups congregate in and around the student union (SU) to beseech their peers for support. With characteristic enthusiasm, student organizations come to the Activities Fair to recruit new membership and advertise their presence on campus.

Reed clubs are funded primarily by the student body, with appropriations determined by the club’s popular support as measured by “funding poll” — A survey conducted by the student senate. The democratic and self-determined nature of club funding underscores the spirit of clubs and activities at Reed. In the coming week, Reed clubs will be drafting and submitting their budgets, in hopes of turning their ambitions into realities.

Though the somewhat bureaucratic nature of senate appropriations can seem daunting, I find myself continually impressed and inspired by the eager support the senate and finance committee offer to student organizations. It may seem rather minor, but the network of support that grows between Reed’s clubs and student senate does a surprising amount to build community on campus.

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Open Space Cafe

photo copy

I landed back in Portland last Friday, picked up my car the next morning, and the first place I went was the Open Space Cafe. Up the street from Reed, Open Space Cafe and its $3 grilled cheese has been there with me for every step of my Reed experience. I came here the first day I visited Reed–the day I handed in my enrollment form to the Admissions Office in person–and the day I moved onto campus my freshman year. I know I’ll be here with my family the day I graduate.

Therefore, it is fitting I would begin my life in Portland again in this most perfect coffee shop. And I know I’ll be coming here a lot this semester, as I moved into an apartment just up the street.

As I sat there listening to the dulcet sounds of some indie song and and watching the Portlanders do whatever it is Portlanders do in coffee shops all the time I have one thought: It’s certainly good to be back.


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