I became involved with the Voicebox, the Grinnell campus activist center, my first week of school. A number of students were handing out flyers about a campaign to get Coca Cola products removed from the dining hall and stopped me:
"Do you think Grinnell could be better?"
"Uhm... I don't know, I just got here."
Those students invited me to their weekly meeting, where they planned a number of activities and events regarding major political issues both on campus and off. These students were some of the advocates that made Grinnell one of the first schools in the country to have gender-neutral floors in the dorms, and were pivotal in Grinnell's proposal for installing a windmill farm near campus. They also did work off campus, volunteering with the local community meal served weekly and the low income community group in town. They also worked with staff and faculty members to plan fundraisers for various causes: the group was not limited in scope or membership recruitment.
The Voicebox has seen many changes since my first year, many of which I had the opportunity to spearhead. Even the name has changed: the Voicebox is now the Anti-Oppression Peer Education Network (or, OPEN) and our work revolves more around the work we can do at Grinnell to start conversations about social justice and leadership training for potential activists on campus. Working with OPEN was an important experience for me, not only because of what I learned about activism and social justice, but also because of the community it gave me throughout college. I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with the students I met through this work, and I am proud of the work I have done to keep OPEN a strong organization long after I graduate. Grinnell is lucky to have an organization as diverse in its advocacy and practice as OPEN, and OPEN is lucky to have the support of a school like Grinnell.