This article is also available in print: Quaker Campus, Volume 19 – Issue 5, dated Oct. 28, 2021, on the Whittier College campus.
While it might seem a little cliche for a college with a poet as its mascot to have a raven quickly making themself a symbol of campus, ‘Edgar Allan Crowe’ has swooped into the hearts of the Whittier College community. Crowe is, in fact, not a crow, but a raven. (They refused to elaborate.) Crowe spends most of their time in lower campus; favoring their right wing, they flit between the lower branches of trees and the expansive green lawns. Ravens are commonly considered a bad omen (and also frequently confused with the smaller crow), but Crowe is trying their best to break that stereotype.
Squirrels rule this campus, perhaps as a tribute to John Greenleaf Whittier’s pet squirrel, Friday (or, perhaps, just because we are in California), but Crowe has found a home among the exclusive (and straight-up aggressive) clique. While the squirrels are not too picky about where they get their food, Crowe usually sticks to scavenging the lawns by the Rock, The Walkers, and the Wardman Library. Ravens usually look for food in pairs, but Crowe is rarely seen with other ravens. When there are other ravens around, they usually hang out in the trees, but Crowe, with their bad wing, rarely leaves the ground for the trees.
However, Crowe is a little shy. If you get too close to them, they will fly into the lower branch of the trees. That does not mean that Crowe does not want to make friends. Ravens like snacks such as unseasoned nuts, fruits, and seeds. They also like shiny objects (but Crowe discourages littering or unnecessary use of plastic). Crowe would love tokens of appreciation so long as you respect their boundaries and do not make the wild animals of campus reliant on human food.
The most famous representation of ravens is probably Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” and while Crowe may share most of a name with the poet (no relation, however), he does not share the bleak symbolism or outlook of life that many people associate with ravens. Crowe maintains an air of mystery regarding their injured wing, but it does not hold them back. Crowe enjoys frolicking around The Walkers and walking beside students to their classes. They may not be able to partake in all the raven games, but they have made their own with the squirrels and other flightless creatures.
For Crowe, the best part of being on campus is seeing life return to campus. Ravens are very social birds, and, while it cannot be encouraged for everyone to feed the campus wildlife, Crowe wants everyone to remember that they are a part of campus life as well. Do not taunt the birds and squirrels, but acknowledge that they need their space.
Ravens may be solitary birds at times, but they also tend to form small flocks, particularly for feeding. They are a highly intelligent bird, and Crowe probably knows more about this campus than we even want them to know. As a socially savvy bird aware of changes in social dynamics, Crowe is one step ahead of us in knowing drama and gossip on our campus so . . . do not cross them.
However, Crowe enjoys a simple life of scavenging for some delectable bugs in our over-watered lawns and hopping around with the squirrels (who do enjoy terrorizing students). Midterms, COVID-19, and the change in seasons may be bringing your stress up right now, but Crowe is a reminder to step back and enjoy the simple things when you have a moment to. Edgar Allan Crowe is not the “grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous” bird that Poe poeticized, but instead a resilient, clever bird. Whittier College may be the Poets but, right now, maybe our spirit is more captured in Crowe.
To quoth the raven: live, laugh, love.