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Bound: Film Screening and Discussion

The College will present Bound: African versus African Americans (AVAA) — a hard-hitting documentary that addresses the tension that exists between Africans and African-Americans — at noon Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. The film screening will be followed by a highly interactive discussion opportunity; refreshments provided.

AVAA uses personal testimonials to expose the rift between Africans and African-Americans, then it takes us on a journey through the corridors of their historical experiences as it illuminates the moments that divide and bind them.

The event is sponsored by the Cultural Films Committee, Department of American Studies, and Office of Student Affairs.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

A Community of Care

If you talk to Grinnell students about their experiences on campus, it’s likely that the term “self-governance” will be mentioned more than once. The concept of “self-gov” is integral to the Grinnell experience, but what does it really mean?

When Dixon Romeo ’16 arrived on campus in 2012, he could see that not everyone agreed about what self-governance meant. Was it about being a responsible member of the community, or did it have to do with individual student rights? After nearly four years at Grinnell, Romeo has developed a clearer idea of what self-governance really is.

We Versus Me

“I think the longer you’re at Grinnell, the more you tend to lean toward the idea of community governance and away from the idea that self-gov means you can do whatever you want,” says Romeo.

For him, the “me-first” mentality is a big misunderstanding of the importance of self-gov on campus. Creating a culture of respect in which individuals look out for each other and think about how their actions might affect the community as a whole is an integral part of the learning that takes place during college. Offering a study break to a friend who looks stressed, sitting with someone who’s alone in the dining hall, or helping to solve a conflict on your dorm floor — all of these are ways that Grinnell students enact self-gov and create a community of care and respect.

In addition to these daily examples of self-gov, working in the Student Government Association (SGA) helped Romeo develop an even deeper understanding of self-gov. As SGA vice president, Romeo interacts with many different students, staff, and faculty and has realized the importance of self-governance on such a diverse campus.

“While you’re here in this community, you need to have an opportunity to learn, both by making mistakes and by doing great things,” Romeo says. “But you can’t do that if it’s everyone for themselves. We have these self-governing tenets in order to make this a safe space in which everyone can learn and develop into the kind of person they want to be.”

Self-Gov at Parties

One example — many campus parties and events are watched over by student security.

“The idea that we, as students, become responsible for one another, go through training and sacrifice our Friday and Saturday nights so that the rest of the community can have a fun time in a safe way, that’s pretty amazing,” Romeo says. “If something goes wrong or there’s a conflict or someone needs help, I think it’s really important that you’re able to turn to your peers for help, because it’s about responsibility rather than authority.”

Evolving Definitions of Self-Gov

Romeo also acknowledges that the nature of self-governance will be different for each generation of Grinnellians. The issues that were important for the community during the 1970s are not the same concerns of the current student body, and the way self-gov is manifested reflects that change.

“Issues of identity are at the forefront of our current culture,” Romeo explains. “Ten, or even 15 years ago, no one would stand up in a crowd and announce whether they prefer female, male, or any other pronouns, because that wasn’t a part of the conversation.”

Another misconception: Self-governance only applies to situations outside of the classroom. Romeo feels that students need to extend that thinking to their academic activities as well.

“Learning how to state your case, disagree respectfully, and struggle to really understand other people’s opinions in the classroom is a big part of self-gov and of the liberal arts as a whole,” Romeo says.

Dixon Romeo ’16 is an economics major from Chicago.

 

Our Microbial Neighbors

Adina HoweCome join in an interactive discussion of microbiology and how novel technologies have created opportunities to access and learn about our microbial neighbors and how they influence our lives.

Adina Howe, Iowa State University assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, will present the free, public biology seminar "Our Microbial Neighbors" at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, in Robert N. Noyce ’49 Science Center, Room 2022. 

She will lead participants to explore how our gut microbes change with our diets, the importance and challenges of soil microbiology, and how microbes can help us monitor and understand water quality in Iowa lakes.

Howe is an expert in microbial ecology, soil health, water quality, big data, and metagenomics. She has had broad, interdisciplinary training, including microbiology, sustainable development, and engineering, and has been a staff scientist at Argonne National Laboratory where she continued studying microbial communities in environments such as the soil and gut.

Up From the Roots

Musicians Randye Jones of Grinnell College and Damani Phillips of the University of Iowa will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by sharing the rich history of the music of the African-American tradition.

The 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery in America, was ratified by the states on Dec. 6, 1865, eight months after the Civil War ended.

To mark this milestone, Jones and Phillips will present a free public lecture, "Up From the Roots," and a musical performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in Herrick Chapel.

They will explore the development of music from the end of the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, including spirituals, gospel, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues.

The Office of Intercultural Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are sponsoring the event.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Randye Jones

Randye JonesJones, a soprano and researcher, is a doctoral student in vocal literature at the University of Iowa. She also serves as media room supervisor in Burling Library at Grinnell College.

Jones has gained recognition for her writings on African-American vocalists and composers, and as a performer and lecturer through her projects, "The Art of the Negro Spiritual, Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music," and the recently published "The Spirituals Database."

She regularly presents lecture-recitals and concerts, and serves as a panelist at events such as the Research, Education, Activism, and Performance (REAP) National Conference on Spirituals, African American Art Song Alliance Conference, and the National Association of Negro Musicians conference.  

Damani Phillips

Damani PhillipsPhillips, formerly on the music faculty at Grinnell College, is an assistant professor of jazz studies and African-American studies at the University of Iowa.

An active saxophone player, pedagogue, and composer, Phillips has taught and performed throughout the United States, England, and Japan, and is actively sought as a guest artist, clinician and adjudicator. Phillips has performed with artists/groups such as Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, the touring Dave Matthews cover band "Crush," and many others. He has released five albums of his own, including his most recent recording project, "Duality," a double album featuring a unique synergy between straight-ahead jazz and hip hop music.

Campus Climate Solidarity—Call to Action

In recent weeks, many historically underrepresented students have been deeply affected by events highlighting racism and inequity occurring across the country at various colleges and universities. In this timely moment, we have an opportunity to be proactive about the campus climate at Grinnell College and take time come together in solidarity towards long-term change in a sustainable way.

Concerned students, staff, and faculty have gathered and have co-created a list of recommendations that highlight key areas of campus life—inside and outside the classroom—that should remain in our collective consciousness and be addressed in order for sustainable change towards a more inclusive environment for all at Grinnell College. The following is a small part of an ongoing conversation, understanding not only that we must all work collectively across all levels of the college both interpersonally and structurally, but also that this is an ongoing commitment that we are invested in order to live out the college’s mission of social justice.

President Kington, Dean Latham, and the College administration strongly support the creation of a more inclusive and equitable campus climate. College staff are currently reviewing the proposed steps in detail and the plan is likely to include many of the items listed here. We will post progress updates on a quarterly basis, and will offer clear explanations of the status of recommendations to indicate which may be immediately accomplished, which will require further discussion and planning, and which may be impossible for regulatory or other reasons.

Policy Review and Implementation

  • Education to develop clarity around Bias-Motivated Incident Protocols
  • Overall improvement of our data collection and ongoing assessment of diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • Review of work-study regulations and the implications on students coming from a lower SES
  • Publish the results of reviews and consultant visits
  • Implement a class-free day of programming for faculty, staff, and students to discuss social identities, power, and privilege
  • Divestment from for-profit prisons

Curricular Recommendations

  • Time devoted in every tutorial class to discussing –isms in contemporary society
  • Additional curricular offerings that directly address –isms in contemporary society
  • Creation of African-American Studies Major and Concentration

Co-Curricular Recommendations

  • Raising awareness around contemporary issues of Indigenous Peoples
  • Programming around knowing your rights when faced with discrimination
  • Portion of the Innovation Fund dedicated to projects focused on Diversity and Inclusion
  • Student Advisors in the Residence Halls expanding their programming to include diversity and inclusion dialogue
  • Bringing in more speakers of color through the Rosenfield, Wilson, Departmental programs (also curricular)
  • Continuing to raise awareness on Title IX, Race-Related issues, individually and their intersectionality
  • Provide funding for opportunities to connect to schools, regional and national organizations who are involved in diversity and inclusion work full-time

City of Grinnell-Grinnell College Relations

  • Partnership with City Officials to develop protocols around responses to bias-motivated incidents that occur in the city of Grinnell
  • Create community relations and mentor programs to facilitate increased meaningful connection between the college and the City of Grinnell
  • Partner with Grinnell Police Department to educate around issues of bias related to students

Training and Development Opportunities

  • Ongoing and regular diversity and inclusion training for staff, faculty, and students that address the curricular and co-curricular experience
  • Expanding diversity and inclusion programs during and beyond New Student Orientation for all students
  • Fall and Spring semester diversity and inclusion training for student leaders and student groups that includes how to have hard conversations, implicit bias, microaggressions, privilege, and power
  • Address the cultural appropriation in menu nomenclature and theme nights in the dining hall
  • Providing additional information and context to our international students of color about the history of U.S. racism and training on how to navigate their identities in that space

Recruitment and Retention Strategies

  • Increase recruitment of faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds
  • Increase recruitment of students from diverse backgrounds
  • Increase retention efforts for students, staff, and faculty of color, including exit interviews for underrepresented staff, faculty, and students who leave
  • Departmental review to examine successes and failures at retaining underrepresented faculty and staff
  • Increase the number of shuttles to cities across the state (Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids)
  • Provide a concerted effort to ensure that students, staff, and faculty have access to mental health providers from diverse backgrounds who are trained to work with diverse populations

Alumni Connections

  • Developing a focused mentoring program for alumni and students
  • Establishing an intercultural alumni weekend so that current students can network with underrepresented alumni

Physical Spaces

  • Decorating spaces (art, murals, etc.) that reflect the various identities on our campus

Updates

Our School: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Watch a free public screening of Our School, followed by a panel discussion, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, in the Community Room of the Drake Community Library, 930 Park St., Grinnell, Iowa.

This award-winning documentary follows the lives of three Roma (“Gypsy”) children who participate in a project to desegregate the local school in their Transylvanian town in Romania. With parallels to the Little Rock Nine and the history of desegregation in the U.S., this film uncovers an abhorrent civil rights issue in Europe but also provokes recognition of similar, ongoing racial inequities in U.S. education. Shot over four years, this poignant story captures how racism, poverty, language differences, and special education labels work to disenfranchise Roma children from equitable schooling. It is a captivating, human story wrought with humor, beauty, and tragedy.

Snacks will be provided. Film time is 94 minutes, followed by discussion.

The event is sponsored by Grinnell College's Cultural Films Committee and the Department of Education.

 

 

Reducing Political Polarization

Jacob Hess and Phil Neisser Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, political opposites and co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative will host two Iowa caucus-related events Nov. 19 and 20.

Their workshop, "How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise," will teach strategies for engaging in more civil and productive political conversations. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Neisser and Hess will also give a free public lecture, titled "Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus," at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. The workshop and lecture cosponsors are the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, President Raynard S. Kington, and the Ombuds Office.

For two years, Neisser, a leftist; and Hess, a conservative; have been engaging in difficult and in-depth conversations about controversial political issues, including sexuality, race, big government, and big business. Working to reduce polarization by both pressing each other and listening to each other, the two compiled highlights of their conversations into their book, You're Not as Crazy as I Thought. The book was featured on the popular public radio show This American Life.

Neisser is a professor of political theory at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he also serves as the associate dean of Arts and Sciences. A gifted teacher, he received the SUNY Potsdam Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000. Neisser is also the author of United We Fall: Ending America’s Love Affair with the Political Center, as well as several acclaimed essays in various political science books.

Hess, a psychologist, is research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children in the Rocky Mountain region. In 2009, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation research on long-term depression treatments. He has written 13 peer-reviewed articles and two books. A teacher of mindfulness-based stress reduction, Hess co-founded All of Life, a nonprofit that educates people about scientific discoveries in brain science and how these findings can be used to help overcome mental and emotional challenges.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can make accommodation requests to Conference Operations and Events.

Scholars' Convo: Cosmic Secrets

Asif SiddiqiFordham University Professor of History Asif Siddiqi will discuss the history of the Soviet space program during the free, public Scholars' Convocation at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Much of Siddiqi's interests are focused on the history of science and technology, postcolonial science, and its intersections with popular culture. He is a recent winner of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, has held an endowed visiting chair at the Smithsonian Institution, and is a leading expert in the history of modern science and technology.

A prolific writer and speaker on Soviet history, Siddiqi serves on the National Research Council Committee on the Future of Human Spaceflight, and is a contributing editor of the journal Technology and Culture. He has written several books, including The Rockets' Red Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857–1957," Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, and The Soviet Space Race with Apollo. His upcoming book from Oxford University Press is titled Soviet Science and the Gulag.

Siddiqi also has been quoted by numerous national media outlets about topics ranging from accidents in space to engineering disasters to the Russian Space Program. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's degree in economics from Texas A&M University, as well as an M.B.A from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Ph.D. in history from Carnegie Mellon University.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Story Time Study Break

With a backdrop of children’s book illustrations from African artists (courtesy of Grinnell Prize winner Golden Baobab), come listen to children’s stories from around the world at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, in Burling Gallery.

We will share a story or two, then have books available to read together in small groups.

Bring your friends from everywhere. We especially welcome Big Brothers and Big Sisters to bring their Littles, and International Students to bring their host siblings. 

Milk, cider, and cookies for all. 

Hosted by Friends of Faulconer Gallery.