By Ian Round
Lunch may be one of the harder parts of the day for Pieter Stougaard ’13.
“A lot of the time I eat lunch alone,” he said.
As a recent graduate, many of his friends are still students, but he’s an admissions counselor with an office in Stephens Hall. But as an employee, he’s much younger and less experienced than his coworkers. That makes it hard to find someone to eat with.
“It’s weird being in that gray zone,” he said.
Herb Page ’13 said, as a graduate, “You don’t have that safety net of walking into Peirce” and seeing a friend.
Recent graduates working on campus walk a fine line between student life and employment.
Stougaard and Page both used the word “weird” to describe their place.
“It’s definitely weird,” said Page, AVI’s assistant sustainability director. “It’s nice because I have friends here and I know people. I also recognize that I’m not a student.”
Stougaard said some students were confused to see him on campus in the fall. “It was an awkward conversation to have,” he said.
Page, who majored in religious studies, said some of his friends asked him, “Didn’t you graduate?”
Both discussed the boundaries of their social lives. “An Old Kenyon party is definitely off limits,” Stougaard said.
Although they are not allowed to attend all-campus parties, neither expressed great remorse because they recognize fewer people each year. Stougaard said he saw the band Poor Remy perform on campus because he knew the members, who graduated from Kenyon a couple years earlier.
“I’ve gone to some parties, but only when I’ve specifically been invited,” Page said. “I’m known as Grandpa Herb in some circles.”
Page said he spends his weekends brewing, woodworking and hanging out with friends. He said he leaves campus every few weeks to see friends in Columbus or Cleveland.
Stougaard, an art history major, has many friends in the Art Department. Will Udell ’13, his closest friend on campus, works in the sculpture shop. “When I can’t find [friends] in the dining hall that’s sort of the next option, to go try the sculpture shop, which sounds strange but it’s kind of a go-to meeting place.”
Stougaard said he finds talking to students easier than talking to professors. He said he feels uncomfortable at faculty/staff mixers at the Gund Gallery with “people that were once your superiors that now you’re supposed to have a casual beer with. . . I gotta be more comfortable talking to professors in a context outside of ﾑI am taking a class and you’re my professor.'”
He also mentioned those lunch events in the Peirce basement that make it hard to find a place to eat. “I’m now in that dining room rather than looking into it,” he said. “And that’s a really strange situation. That part is far stranger than my interactions with students.”
Stougaard said talking to professors since graduating has made him realize that the student/professor dichotomy “was self-imposed.”
“Now that I’m outside of that it’s clear that the professors didn’t view me as below them,” he said. “I have a better understanding of why our interactions don’t change post-graduation.”
Page and Stougaard will be done working on campus at the end of the academic year. “Then it’ll be time for me to get out of here,” said Page, who named about five classmates who are working on campus, all for only one year.
Stougaard said he’s looking for jobs at travel companies or at commercial art galleries in Seattle, Portland and San Diego, his hometown. Page said he will be looking for more jobs related to sustainable, local foods.
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