Self-Governance

“It is 10,000 times better that young people should learn to govern themselves, than that they should be governed in any best way whatsoever,” wrote Grinnell College President George Gates in 1887. Then and today, self-governance means Grinnell students are accountable to each other and the wider world for speaking and acting with integrity, honesty, and responsibility.

One of the hallmarks of a Grinnell education is its dedication to self-governance. It’s a concept that can be difficult to articulate in a few sentences, but it boils down to giving students real responsibility and accountability for their actions, rather than imposing arbitrary rules from above.

Self-governance starts with these beliefs:

• As an adult, you’re capable of making good decisions.

• You can address problems with others with maturity and openness.

• You will work to make the campus community the best it can be.

This philosophy applies to both academics and student life. It is supported both formally and informally by:

• the College’s innovative individually-advised curriculum,

• an administrative structure that intentionally supports self-governance,

• a campus community committed to social responsibility and justice,

Although self-governance is not always the easiest or most efficient way to do things, it’s an approach we believe encourages thoughtful actions, deliberate decisions, and real personal growth