(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.