Tag: Deep Springs

Some Thoughts on Deep Springs Becoming Coed

by on Sep.18, 2011, under Uncategorized

Deep Springs emailed its alumni this evening that the DS board of trustees decided to make the institution coeducational. I know many of my fellow-students from my era are ecstatic (they’re announcing their happiness on Facebook, that’s how I know). Some alumni, I think a minority by now, are probably angry. Me, it mainly makes me wistful.

When I was at Deep Springs I was in a minority of the student body who favored remaining all-male. Most of the arguments in favor of that position I disliked, since they mainly had to do with how romantic relationships would tear apart DS’s tight-knit community. So I developed my own argument, derived from half-understood Simone de Beauvoir, about how removing the Other from a group of men could destabilize gender for them, and that would be a good thing.

After I left Deep Springs, though, I came to half understand Luce Irigaray and Emmanuel Levinas, and decided that justice required making DS coed. I became strongly in favor of the change.

Years went by, though, and I found that I no longer passionately felt either way about it, or at least was no longer willing to make any kind of rigorous argument for either side, which I guess is not really the same thing. But I still do have disordered feelings about it, which I’ll try to list in no particular shape.

1. I do think the all-male Deep Springs allowed young men to step outside of the tight strictures of masculinity for a little while. For many of us, me included, that was a meaningful experience. Young straight men at Deep Springs were more physically affectionate with each other in a non-sexual way than I have ever seen them elsewhere, more free to be casually feminine in lots of ways. Insecurity about masculinity is basically a non-issue for Deep Springs alumni. We may be insecure about a lot of things, but I’ve noticed it very rarely about that.

2. I am sad that Deep Springs will be significantly different from the way it was when I went there. It will make me feel a little less close to a place that was highly important to me.

3. I don’t expect anyone to care about my experience of 1 or 2. I wouldn’t have wanted such considerations to make any difference to the trustees.

4. I hope the trustees took current students’ position seriously, whatever it was.

5. After some time in the real world, I have come to realize that my dismissal of the potential complications of romance at Deep Springs was probably naive. In particular, one argument people kept making was that “it would be good for kids to have to learn how to live and work closely with their exes. After all, they have to in the real world.” That is bullshit. The right thing to do with exes in the real world is get the hell away and have nothing to do with them for at least a year. After a year of non-contact, you can be good friends. Learning to limp along while half entangled in a relationship you should really sever completely is not healthy at all.

6. I have heard the idea floated that Deep Springs might double its student body to implement the coed transition. Even if the place could afford it, that would be a big, big mistake, and would upset me exponentially more than coeducation ever could.

7. There will probably be a lot more showering going on. I am concerned about Deep Springs’ water usage, especially since I found out the upper reservoir is filled from a well, not Wyman Creek. Is anybody monitoring the valley aquifer?

8. Basically I think Deep Springs will be fine as a coed institution, and I will continue to cherish it. I hope everyone else who felt ambivalently about coeducation or even opposed it continues to as well.

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How to Visit the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes (and hear them sing)

by on Sep.08, 2009, under Travel

Back in college, on full moons in summer, we would drive to the next valley down, take off all our clothes, and slide down the sand dunes to hear them sing.

I’ve returned to the dunes nearly every summer that I’ve lived in Los Angeles. It’s a long haul, but it’s awesome to introduce new visitors to the dunes. And the experience holds up in its own right.

The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are good for a visit any time of day or year, with the caveat that in the winter, the rain may wash out the roads. This is my method…
(continue reading…)

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