Hillsdale students have rediscovered an old way to resolve their differences — at point blank range.
“Of course, we don’t always fight with pistols,” laughed Hillsdale Gentleman’s Dueling Club President Andrew Slang. “We rotate weapons every week so no one gets bored. Just last week we borrowed some of the college’s horses for jousting.”
The club meets every Wednesday to learn about different dueling techniques, followed by an hour long free-for-all. While the club initially began as a small circle of nemeses who endorsed different schools of economic thought, it has since expanded.
“I would say the club really took off during the last election cycle,” Slang said. “Especially once Trump pulled ahead. The controversy swelled our numbers quite a bit.”
Following the increase in participation, Slang and his fellow duelists have had to relocate several times as they outgrew their space. Though the Hillsdale campus is notably spacious, they chose the quad for its strategic location. However, since construction on the chapel began, they have moved to the Student Union.
“Yes, they started meeting in the dining hall a short while ago,” a member of the kitchen staff said. “It was a little disconcerting at first, really, but they had so many weapons we couldn’t say no. And now we’re used to it.”
Slang said he started the club because of Hillsdale’s famously contentious academic community.
“I grew up in a very sheltered home,” Slang said. “And then I got to Hillsdale, and there were so many diverse opinions. No matter where I went, everyone wanted to debate me. I was so overwhelmed, I felt I had no manly recourse for my honor except the field of battle.”
For some, the contention is political. For others, it may be one of the finer points of Protestant or Catholic religious doctrine.
“I never would have engaged in something like this,” said one beard enthusiast. “But then someone challenged my philosophy on facial hair, and that was totally unacceptable. I’m sorry, but a goatee just doesn’t count, and if you don’t like it, you’ll have to face me like a man next Wednesday.”
Others join for academic reasons.
“Mostly, I just joined because my friends were into it,” sophomore Jesse Failing said. “But then I got totally hooked. People fighting everywhere, blood, gore, unbridled rage — it’s like straight out of the Iliad, you know?”
Even science majors have found something to love. Chemistry major Stephen Noose joined because of his passion for physics.
“Personally, the club is a great practical application of my studies,” said Noose. “The battlefield is all about impulse, momentum, and torque.”
The club’s officers have formed a tightly knit, dislike-minded band through their dedication to the club’s activities.
“It’s a great outlet for stress, I think,” club Historian Chris Cornucopia said. “We’re all under so much pressure at a college like this, so it’s good to have somewhere you can go to just like… totally murder somebody. I think it’s very psychologically healthy.”
Junior Sam Filipe, the club’s armorer, felt that he finally found a place where he belonged.
“I really found my niche as the club’s armorer,” said Filipe. “I’ve always had this fascination with sharp, shiny things. And now I supply the club with daggers and battle-axes, so my hobby is finally useful.”
On the other hand, not everyone has benefited from the club’s activities.
“There have been a few injuries so far, no fatalities,” says Micah Funfsieben, resident field medic. “But that’s only to be expected, of course, since most of our members are only beginners.”
Since duelists are encouraged to go all-out during their battles, the damage to Grewcock has often been severe.
“I would be lying if I said they didn’t make a lot of trouble for us,” commented a member of the maintenance staff. “If you can’t find a seat at lunch, thank the Dueling Club. They keep smashing the tables and we can’t keep up with the repairs.”
Whichever side you’re on in any debate, the club invites you to join them this Wednesday to press your case — with a rapier, that is. After all, dueling has always been a large and bloody part of the Western tradition.
“I think what we do is very liberal,” said Club Vice President J. Accuracy James. “The sword is mightier than the pen, you know. Somebody really famous said that.”