Two unique, seemingly unrelated, scenarios that evoke the same sense of awkwardness: Passing a group of teenagers at the mall and cutting across the res quad only to find your usual shortcut to Main overtaken by geese. Like teenagers, geese tend to get exponentially noisier and rowdier when surrounded by their peers. In both cases, I am slightly intimidated by all parties and try to avoid any sudden movements. While passing either group, it seems as if I inevitably end up in a staring contest to see who makes the first move, running the risk of getting either honked or snickered at if I choose incorrectly.
When James Mannix ’24 finds himself in a similar stalemate with these boisterous birds, he too engages in a heated staredown until one of them surrenders to let the other pass. As of this past Friday, none of these confrontations have turned physical, but if it did, Mannix wouldn’t take it very personally. “Although I’m pretty sure [geese] attack people a lot, we also kinda deserve it,” he admitted.
As for their recent domination of the quad, Shanya Galbokke Hewage ’23, who has had a front row seat to the Great Goose Takeover of 2021 from her room in Davison, finds the geese and their awkward interactions with students to be charming. Like many of us this year, these waterfowl have adapted to a changing world. The geese have decided to mark their territory on the quad this winter instead of their usual spot on Graduation Hill during the spring and summer months. Although most students are confined to the four walls of their dorm room, at least Vassar’s newest additions are taking this time to expand their horizons and explore campus.
While their campus takeover only lasted a week or two, the geese surely made themselves comfortable on the quad, leaving their mark on frazzled students desperate to get their first Crafted Kup fix of the semester without having a chorus of honks following them all the way to the Shiva Theater. They also left many, many presents behind for students to step in for days on end, or even worse, to end up in the middle of a snowball being launched at an unassuming classmate on their way to their biweekly COVID-19 test.
As of late, it appears the typical Canada Goose diet of seeds, stems and berries, has expanded to include snow. With each attempt to peck through the thick, white blanket covering the quad, the geese instead end up with their very own snow cones—but ones drenched in mud, not bright red cherry syrup. Either these creatures thoroughly enjoy taking up their new role as Vassar’s official snowblowing team or this mud-flavored treat hits the spot, because the geese are clearing the res quad of its snowy coat faster than the sun can melt it or maintenance can shovel it.
However, to some people’s dismay and others’ relief, the goose population on campus has been slowly dwindling as workloads begin to grow. With students trading in late night rendezvous in Rocky for study sessions in their dorm’s MPR, there is no one left to heckle. Understandably, with their job completed, our feathered friends have departed.
Or, perhaps their leisurely exodus has to do with a Campus Security run-in, like many currently sitting in the Hampton Inn have experienced firsthand. “My guess is that the campo [campus police] caught them gathering outside of campus, strictly breaking the no-leaving policy. At some point Vassar had to tell them to go remote,” Mannix inferred. Either way, with the weather getting warmer and students reclaiming their quad, I expect a return of the geese soon and a turf war to promptly follow. Who will win? My money is on the geese.