Self-governance is the organizing principle on which the Grinnell College community is based. It is difficult to create a hard and fast definition of what “self-governance” means, because by its very nature, self-governance is constantly being modified to changing situations. It has adapted over the decades to accommodate changes in campus culture and evolved to meet the needs of its practitioners. However, the goal of self-governance remains steady: to give Grinnellians the tools they need to build a community based on respect and accountability.
Self-governance is grounded in responsibility and respect for others. It gives Grinnell College community members a framework to resolve conflict. Community members take responsibility for their actions and respect the rights of others, and trust that their fellow Grinnellians will do the same.
Self-governance only works if everyone is committed to it. With such a large degree of freedom comes immense responsibility. Participants must actively work to maintain the quality of their community. Self-governance requires maturity and being aware of the consequences of our actions. Community members must be willing to actively listen and compromise with people of different perspectives.
The Concept of Self-Governance
Those engaged in a liberal arts education create a community based on freedom of choice. By making individual choices, students meet the challenges of a rigorous academic and rich out-of-classroom experience. Self-governance encourages students to become responsible, respectful, and accountable members of the campus, town, and global community.
Principles of Self-Governance
- You are responsible for your community. This means engaging in a variety of levels to build, maintain, and contribute to the campus, local, and global community.
- You are accountable for your choices. Accountability means taking ownership for your actions, opinions, and beliefs.
- You are accountable for preventing your actions from infringing or violating others' rights.
- You are responsible for speaking and listening to others to reach shared understandings.
- You are responsible for addressing situations and communicating concerns about issues that undermine community or individual rights – whether it be your own or others.
These principles of self-governance are supported through:
- an administrative structure intentionally designed to challenge and support students to govern themselves.
- an academic structure encouraging choice through an individually advised curriculum.
- a campus community committed to social consciousness and community involvement.