A Cow in Old Main

My informant is a student at Macalester College, and on campus, there is a story that everyone knows. Around 1900, the president of Macalester had a son who attended the school. His son didn’t like to go to class, but instead liked to play pranks on everyone: his classmates, his professors, and especially his father, driving him crazy. There used to be a conference room on the fourth floor of the building known as Old Main, where the president would hold his important meetings.One day he was in a meeting when a cow wandered into the boardroom. The President immediately knew it was his son’s doing. So when his son’s GPA fell below a 2.8, his father kicked him out of Macalester, as a way of getting revenge. That rule (you’ll be expelled if your GPA falls below a 2.8) has been in place at Macalester ever since.

My informant is a tour guide at Macalester, and always tells this story to prospective freshman. “I first heard it during orientation right before freshman year,” he tells me. “It’s a funny story and I think it gives people on my tours a break from all the info for something cheesy. I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s just a device I’m using to poke fun at the school, but I also think it helps people realize that not all admissions offices see themselves as the gatekeepers in every single sense. I think it’s good to recognize we don’t take ourselves that seriously, and it helps build a relationship with prospective students.”