February 25, 2014: Diversity
(Updated as of March 14, 2014)
Following is a brief summary of the Town Hall meetings on diversity, held Tuesday, Feb. 25. Attendance was strong — around 100 at noon, and about 70 at night. Your support and participation is truly appreciated.
Thank you to Randy Stiles, Poonam Arora, President Raynard S. Kington, and others who helped answer many good and thoughtful questions.
Discussions were overwhelmingly respectful. Among the topics mentioned:
- The College has issues to address, but has made progress. Work on next steps continues; you’ll hear more soon.
- The difference between institutional diversity, which divides people into categories, and diversity in lived experience.
- Issues of implicit bias — a prejudice or stereotype that people can hold outside of conscious awareness or control.
- The tension between the desire to avoid self-segregation and the need for safe spaces for diverse or minority groups.
- Disability concerns.
- The need for a greater examination and understanding of socioeconomic diversity at Grinnell.
- The need for a designated physical space where we can address diversity issues.
- The need to reach out to students, faculty, and staff who wouldn’t attend a Town Hall.
- The pressure placed on student leaders and on diverse individuals to carry the conversation and act as resources.
- The meaning of Grinnell’s commitment to diversity and what it looks like in practice.
- The division of labor between the administration and the student body to improve diversity and experiences for diverse students.
- Specific programs the College has put in place for first-generation college students, international students, low-income students, and disabled students.
- The need to blend preorientation programs to prevent self-segregation later.
- The frustration of students — particularly third-years and seniors — dealing with staff changes, especially in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
- Classism between faculty and staff.
- The need to consciously seek out diverse faculty and staff and work to retain them.
- The need to discuss political and religious diversity on this campus.
Nov. 13, 2013: Technology and Learning
The latest Town Hall sessions were held Nov. 13, 2013, with discussion focusing on Technology and Learning. The noon session nearly filled JRC 101. The evening gathering drew about half that many.
Among the points discussed by President Raynard S. Kington, Interim Dean David Lopatto, staff members, and students, were:
- The College’s Ad Hoc Committee on Technology-Rich Learning is trying to understand technology’s impact on liberal learning, residence life, and a Grinnell degree.
- Additional staff and infrastructure would be needed to support future technology initiatives.
- Many are debating how professors will think creatively about incorporating technology into their courses, while not substituting technology for teaching.
- There is a trend on campus away from lectures in the classroom. Studies in education and learning indicate that an interactive environment in the classroom is far more useful.
- Grinnell uses both open-source and proprietary software.
- There is interest in making sure current technology on campus works before expanding into new areas.
The Ad Hoc Committee wishes to thank the many members of campus who participated in the town halls on technology and learning. The ideas and concerns will be incorporated into committee discussions.
September 24, 2013: Harm Reduction, Title IX, and Diversity
Discussions were overwhelmingly respectful and revealed a number of concerns, even anxieties, about campus issues, including:
- The College's commitment to racial, ethnic, religious, political, and socioeconomic diversity.
- Potential effects of changes in Grinnell’s enrollment policies on students of various backgrounds and levels of need.
- The role of the Black Cultural Center within the present-day context of a diverse campus.
- Implications of Title IX for students engaging in sexual activity under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The need to help students manage the stress of being involved in campus conduct hearings.
- Perceived racial and gender biases in the conduct process.
- The right of police to enforce laws on campus, including in campus buildings.