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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

A deep dive into comps studies on students

It’s sometimes a challenge to get through a day at Carleton without being asked to participate in some lonely senior’s Comps project. Turn a corner in Anderson, and there’s a poster. Check your phone at night, and there’s a campus announcement email. “Earn $15 to sleep!” some of them say. “Help two students with their psychology Comps,” others plead. Given the prevalence of such requests in our lives today, We at the Bald Spot thought it pertinent to dig into the rich history of student participation in Comps projects. Find below a few highlights from over a century and a half of graduating seniors.

  1. Geology department asks students to eat rocks – back in the early days of Carleton, the world of science still didn’t know exactly what rocks were made of. Three class of 1881 geology majors, John Igneous, John Sedimentary, and John von Johnson de la Valle San Sebastianovich, undertook to improve our understanding of minerals of all sorts by paying students to ingest rocks of various shapes and colors for one nickel apiece. The winner, having consumed 51 rocks, was crowned The Rock, a title he holds to this day.
  2. Bio department asks students to eat rocks – back in the early days of Carleton, three geology majors recklessly fed their classmates heaps and mounds of rocks with no regard for the safety of such an endeavor, resulting in the deaths of all students besides the winner. A biology Comps project of 1882 sought to prevent this from happening again by feeding students rocks in order to study their effects on the body. The Rock having already graduated, all participating students died. 
  3. Anthropology department asks students to die in a field and be dug up in a few thousand years – they’re playing the long game with this one, but all anthropologically-inclined Carls eagerly anticipate the day when the eight freshman volunteers reemerge from the ground and tell their stories to the class of 4429. 
  4. Culinary department asks students to eat rocks – back in the early days of Carleton, a pair of related incidents involving students dying from consuming rocks inspired the culinary department to study possible improvements on the nutritional value of these rocks in the hope of saving future lives. Robert Food’s 1883 Culinary Sciences Comps resulted in the deaths of all 14 volunteers.
  5. Dance department asks students to come in and be tickled – Pierre Ouette’s 1991 project resulted in the discovery of four new dance moves learned by observing the student volunteers as they were tickled.
  6. PEAR department ties students to treadmills and leaves – the 1921 invention of the treadmill took Carleton by storm. For her 1924 Comps, Belinda Muskrat sought to understand this new machine with the help of student volunteers. All volunteers died and the Physical Education major was removed from the catalog.
  7. Biology department asks student to eat the mystery item from the back of the fridge and see what happens – said Gunk Spatula of their 2017 Comps, “We think it was some sort of cheese.” 
  8. Goat department asks students to eat rocks – back in the early days of Carleton, the goat department grew concerned with the quantity of students who died while eating rocks. In an effort to study how the digestive system of human students could more closely resemble that of goats, whose knack for digesting rocks brings them worldwide acclaim, Bernard Goat fed six students and four goats one dozen rocks each in 1884, resulting in the deaths of all six students. 


All Comps projects, no matter their field, are an enormous undertaking, and so is ingesting rocks. We at the Bald Spot applaud any students attempting such an endeavor this year and wish you, and your digestive systems, the best of luck.

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About the Contributor
Ben Ellis
Ben Ellis, Bald Spot Editor
There are two things I like: eating grapes and lying in the newspaper. Also, general happiness and joy. Plus, I've been known to enjoy a good LDC Reuben. Ben (he/him) is a sophomore and started as a Bald Spot editor last year.

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