Owl Fever Returns to Reed

Rugby Team, Russian House Claim Victories In Battle

Photo by Sabrina Blasik

At 3:30 PM last Friday, violence broke out on the Great Lawn. But not just any kind of violence — this was an Owl Fight, the first to be held since before the Pandemic. Friday’s thunderdome saw dozens of Reedies in a handful of teams wrestling, pulling, shoving, and biting for two straight hours to get their hands on one of two 300-lb concrete Doyle Owls.

THE VIOLENCE BEGINS

The first Doyle Owl — painted with rainbow stripes and possessing rebar handles that were too old and rusted to be useful, henceforth called the “Gay Owl” — was dropped off early. By 3:30, there were already a dozen muddy Reedies wrestling on top of it, and multiple people had backed cars onto the Lawn for ferrying away the coveted Owl. A sizable crowd was gathered to witness the carnage; spectators cheered and took pictures, gazing with glee upon the modern-day gladiatorial fight before them.

The two main combatants of this fight were an alliance between the Rugby team and Beer Nation (Mostly Rugby team; reportedly there was only one Beer Nation person on the team) and a group of freshmen identified only by the number “103.” Although Rugby team had greater manpower — evidenced by the Owl’s slow, steady movement in the direction of their car — the 103 Freshmen deployed numerous weapons of warfare, such as buckets of water and paint, to tire out the opposition. 

One cape-wearing freshman waved an anarcha-feminist flag and had to be shooed off of Rugby’s Jeep. Some freshmen even had fake riot shields made out of cardboard. But did they work? “Nope!” said one shieldsman. “I was expecting this to be more like a military skirmish, and less like a mosh pit.”

Other, non-frosh students deployed bubbles, ketchup, mayonnaise, flour, eggs, and water balloons filled with lube. While these items were aimed at the combatants, spectators would often be caught in the crossfire. The flour, it was reported, was particularly agonizing, and the use of foodstuffs raised concerns about allergies. 

There were moments when the violence went too far. According to Russian House’s driver, at one point they had to tell someone not to put a chain on their body. They also noted, “Some white men not on our team brought whips,” though the whips thankfully never saw any use in battle. These instances made them very uncomfortable, especially as a Black individual. 

With or without weapons, however, the Reedies were quite skilled at inflicting pain upon each other. One person taking a break from the fight remarked, “Something’s bleeding but I don’t know what,” before immediately returning to the tussle. 

One student informed the Quest that someone bit him in the mud wrestle, and implored his fellow Reedies not to bite each other. But another student had a different idea: “I like school-sanctioned violence,” she said. “I think we should bite.”

THE SECOND OWL APPEARS

As the first battle raged on, a second Doyle Owl has dropped on the field some distance away. (It is not clear which of the two is the “real” Owl, and likely never will be.) This Owl was painted mostly a dull navy blue, henceforth called the “Gray Owl,” and was immediately pounced upon by fevered Reedies. The crowd was split — half went to the Gray Owl fight, the other half remained with the Gay Owl. 

This scrimmage was just as frenzied as the last. Quickly, the main combatants of this battle emerged: Russian House, Paradox, and the Reed Reactor. All three had droves of warriors at their behest, and getaway cars with drivers prepared to hit the gas. 

RUGBY WINS THE MATCH

The violence of both fights continued for some time with little movement. But at 4:15, a cheer rose up from the crowd of the first Owl Fight as Rugby, at long last, managed to shove the Owl into the back of their Jeep. They sped off from the battle, nearly running over spectators and shedding desperate freshmen who were still trying in vain to recover the coveted Owl. The jeep stopped for a short moment to kick out any remaining freshie tagalongs and to slam the trunk door, then, at last, sped off with the Owl. The Rugby team’s Jeep was followed by other cars for some time. Reportedly, the owl bearing Jeep had to pull over and confront the tailing freshmen, asserting that they were not going to show them where they lived.

In the aftermath of Rugby’s victory, the cape-wearing, flag-wielding 103 Freshman was not deterred. “We have not yet lost,” he told the Quest. Nevertheless, at press time the Rugby Team possessed the Gay Owl.

STALEMATE

But the Gray Owl was still free for grabs, and Reedies were doing their best to grab it. “Reclaim your god!” someone shouted as the warfare continued. Paradox subsumed the smaller Reactor team as they joined their forces against the real enemy: Russian House. Arguably the closest thing Reed has to a fraternity on campus, the party-happy house brought out the big guns: lots of shirtless men, a tow cable they didn’t use, and — allegedly— hired senior muscle to help lift the 300 lb owl. 

With this shift of alliances, the violent battle entered a stalemate that would last for nearly an hour. During this time, the Owl sat, unmoving, directly in front of the trunk to the Paradox Mini Cooper. But given how close the new alliance was to an Owl Touchdown, Paradox’s victory seemed to be a foregone conclusion. There was even joking speculation that Paradox would ransom off the Owl to repay their debts.

Although people still had tools — chains, ropes, a package trolley — few saw any use. Even the mayonnaise menaces seemed to have departed. This fight was nothing but bodies, muscles, and sheer force of will, all watched over by a ring of silent, sentinel CSOs. The smell was heinous.

Amidst the carnage, Groundskeeper Zac Perry looked on in despair at the swathes of muddy, torn-up grass left behind by the wrestling Reedies. In the past, he said, Owl Fight organizers have coordinated with Facilities to make sure that the battle is hosted somewhere that won’t disrupt the grounds. But such communication did not occur this year; since the Great Lawn is Reed’s most public-facing field, there’s pressure on the grounds crew to make sure any damage is fixed ASAP, taking time and energy away from their normal duties. “I don’t wanna ruin the fun, but this’ll be rough on Monday and Tuesday,” Perry lamented. 

But the Reedies present were unbothered with such moral concerns. One combatant said of the fight, “It’s great. I’m gonna have dreams of it for years to come.”

The crowd was just as energetic as they had been before. When two men began wrestling outside the main mud pile — presumably just for the hell of it — spectators shouted, “Gay sex! Let’s go gay sex!” But the pleas fell on deaf ears, and there was no gay sex. And when one combatant lost an acrylic nail in the slaughter, the crowd cried, “NOOOOO!”

Then, once more, two men wrestling outside the fray took the crowd’s attention: “Kiss, kiss, kiss,” chanted the crowd. There were disappointed “awws” when the two men broke their fight without the steamy tongue-sesh the crowd desired. 

THE CAR KEY KERFUFFLE

Amid the chaos, there was suddenly a change. The Gray Owl, which had long sat stationary in front of the Paradox mini cooper, moved towards Russian House’s car. It seemed that Russian House’s fortunes had shifted. They were making ground! But soon word of a terrible, wicked deed perpetrated by an unknown assailant swept across the crowd: someone had stolen the keys to Russian House’s getaway car, as they had apparently been laying unmonitored in the open, unlocked vehicle.

The mood turned sour as Russian House members decried the theft. But the battle continued — the Owl even lurched closer to the now-marooned Russian House car. Amidst this chaos, in perfect accordance with the Rule of Three, two wrestling, shirtless white guys locked lips in a long-awaited gay kiss. The crowd went wild as the two men, entwined together, fell gracefully back into the fray.

The fighting, however, would soon stall out as time passed and Russian House’s car keys failed to materialize. As confusion descended upon the distressed Reedies, two members of Russian House sat over the Doyle Owl — one huddled on top of it and the other kneeling next to him, cradling them like Mary cradling Jesus in the Pietà. CSOs were involved.

The owner of Russian House’s getaway car told the Quest that the situation was “absolutely fucked up,” and vowed to “beat” whoever was responsible. 

Luckily, the car keys were soon discovered lying on the field, and Russian House fought with renewed vigor. In a grand struggle, the Doyle Owl was successfully lifted and shoved through the side door of Russian House’s car. They hit the gas and for a few seconds the car’s wheels spun out in the mud, but at last, they gained traction and the car careened off the field, trunk still open. It was 5:30. The battle was over.

AFTERMATH

In the aftermath, members of the Paradox team gathered to mourn their lost Owl and the ending of the battle. One member of the gathered group informed the Quest that they’d seen evidence that the stolen car keys were nothing more than a dirty, underhanded false flag operation. According to this individual, prior to the keys’ discovery a woman with Russian House attempted to return the stolen car keys only for the owner of Russian House’s getaway car to turn her away and tell her, “not yet.”

After the battle, an independent source close to the Quest confirmed that the thief was an ally of Paradox, though it is unknown if the thief worked with the awareness of other Paradox members. Allegedly, during the search for the car keys, they were found lying on the ground, presumably having been placed there by the thief. Said a source from Russian House, “Someone did steal [the car owner’s] keys but it wasn’t any of us.” The same individual later added, “We know who stole the keys.”

According to the woman described in Paradox’s allegation, “If it was faked I definitely was not in the loop. I know the keys got passed around and I gave them back because [the owner of Russian House’s getaway car] seemed really angry and I didn’t want anyone in Paradox to get accused of stealing.”

Said Russian House’s driver, “When my friend got his keys back he also apologized to Paradox for his outburst when he was panicking at possibly not ever getting them back again. Because he recognized that while he’s a queer Latinx person he’s still a man.”

There was suspicion of Russian House’s very participation in the battle. “Most Paradox baristas are low-SES BIPOC,” one individual told the Quest, whereas Russian House was, according to those gathered, “mostly straight cis white men.” One group member referred to Russian House’s participation as “definitely some weird white power stuff,” and all decried the involvement of CSOs in searching for the stolen keys. 

This characterization of Russian House as a den of “weird white power stuff” is markedly inaccurate. Russian House’s driver noted that they are “a POC who is also in the low-SES category,” and added, “Russian House was not all white cis het men. Many of us were in fact not white not cis and not men.”

As members of Russian House returned to the battlefield and began speaking with CSOs about the car keys, they received jeers from the gathered Paradox group. “Boo fucking hoo, get over yourselves!” one person shouted. This mockery almost sparked another fight, no Owl needed, but ultimately no blows were exchanged.

At last, after two hours of Owl Carnage, the last stragglers dispersed to eat dinner and prepare for Rowdy Ball. All combatants sustained casualties such as lacerations, bruises, and bloody noses; all would be sore for days to come. In the aftermath was left nothing but two ugly, garbage-laden patches of mud, no Doyle Owls insight. 

Correction, Friday, March 18: The individual identified in the original article as “Russian House’s getaway driver” was actually the owner of Russian House’s getaway car. Russian House’s driver was a different individual. We apologize to both individuals for this mistake. The article has also been updated to include comments from Russian House’s driver, and to emphasize the inaccuracy of statements by individuals associated with Paradox regarding Russian House. 

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Rebekah Spencer
Rebekah Spencer
11 months ago

JFC. Reminds me why I never wanted to get mixed up in a fight like this.