We needed to talk… and listen. So we did!
Following is a brief summary of the first campus Town Halls of the year, held this Tuesday, September 24. The meetings were a big success. Attendance was strong: 150+ at noon, about 110 at night. Your support and participation is truly appreciated.
Our main topics were Harm Reduction (alcohol / drug use); Sexual Assault (Title IX); and Diversity. Thank you to all three speakers, President Kington, and the College staff and faculty who helped answer many good and thoughtful questions.
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;
- the potential effect 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; and
- the right of the police to enforce laws on campus, including in campus buildings.
The next Town Halls will be on Wednesday, November 13, at noon and 7:30. Please save the date!
We also want to make future Town Halls even better: We'll look for ways to respond more effectively to people using the Twitter hashtag #gctownhall. And we'll roll out a Town Hall section of the new grinnell.edu after it launches, where additional questions and comments can be posted publicly. In a future message you'll also be invited to suggest topics for upcoming sessions, including our planned session focused entirely on diversity.
We on the planning committee felt very proud of the community we saw in action Tuesday. There are few schools that can hold such challenging discussions in a thoughtful and respectful manner. Now we urge you to take the next step: Contact the speakers (Jen Jacobsen on alcohol and wellness; Angela Voos on Title IX; Poonam Arora on diversity). Join a committee. Volunteer. Get involved. We have important work to do together.
Hey, Grinnellians! We need to talk. And listen. And then act.
From your colleagues on the Grinnell Town Hall planning committee,
Opeyemi Awe '15, SGA Vice President for Student Affairs
W. Houston Dougharty, Vice President for Student Affairs
Jim Reische, Vice President for Communications
Carlie Van Willigen, Staff Council Chair
Eliza Willis, Professor of Political Science