Members of our Grinnell student community find themselves around the world as we approach the start of a new, and most unusual, year. Throughout the College, staff, faculty, and students are devising new ways of providing support and community connection across time and distance. Of course, students will maintain connection and engagement through courses that will feature synchronous meetings and other activities. Students will also be able to maintain connection and access to essential College-sponsored forms of support and community that are not tied to the curriculum, but that are just as important to their academic identities and overall health and wellbeing.
Planning for engagement, support, and connection beyond core curricular experiences is proceeding quickly, with new, impressive possibilities emerging each day. To highlight some of the plans that are emerging or are already in place, we have collected examples from across the institution to share with students, their families, and to help make further connections right here on campus. Our efforts to maintain community and maintain support are truly College wide.
Programs will be created for students living on campus, those living off-campus, and those living away from Grinnell. They will be designed to create an experience of belonging and connection within and across constituencies at the individual and group level. We are actively considering a range of initiatives. We are planning to pair upper-class students and incoming first years together for relationship building. Scurry groups may hold competitions of various kinds while on campus events are live-streamed to promote participation of students all over the world. Students in other countries could connect with scurry groups formed where they live. The virtual world offers us creative opportunities to run into each other, perhaps within gaming platforms or with the creation of activity groups that meet for a cooking class, guitar lesson, book club, or open mic night. There will still be concerts, poetry slams, and even busy lunches together. SGA will continue to support student clubs and organizations that may hold virtual events as they work to build connections across the community.
Diversity and Inclusion
Additionally, diversity and inclusion professionals are working on ways to sustain the important resources and programs that serve the diversity of Grinnellians who will be located throughout the world. The Stonewall Resource Center will host community hours and opportunities for engagement, and will still provide gender-affirming supplies to those who need them. The Conney M. Kimbo Black Cultural Center will host a speaker series as well as engagements for the Men of Color Empowered and Engaged and Womxn of Color groups. Important partnerships with the Faculty and Staff of Color Caucus and the Museum of Art will continue while a new partnership with Writers@Grinnell will launch. There will also be coalitions on confronting whiteness and racial justice as the College continues to invest in critical anti-racist work.
Religious and spiritual programs will be offered virtually including weekly Christian Bible study, text study of Hebrew Scriptures, Torah study, Gumaa, and Kabbalat Shabbat services and Havdalah. There will also be weekly and monthly offerings for meditation, first-gen lunches and programs, and advocates training and programming. The food pantry will remain open for those who need it and the low income lending library will remain operational. International student programs will touch multiple time zones and cater to those residing within and outside of the United States. Appointments for counseling, academic advising, student assistance, and general support will be open and available throughout the Division of Student Affairs.
- The Bear will be open as early in Fall Term 1 as our testing protocol will allow, with priority access going to students who are part of our very low-density residency program.
- Our coaches will be spending a lot of time working closely with athletes to maintain team cohesion and identity—and to build healthier and more inclusive team cultures. Coaches are planning programming that will:
- Help athletes actively and intentionally draw on mental strength built through training and competition to work through our incredibly challenging contemporary moment.
- Build and maintain networks of support and community, including new initiatives with alumni—an area with rich possibilities for collaboration between Athletics and CLS.
- Deepen cultural competencies, in part by connecting sport to pressing social and cultural issues.
- Provide virtual opportunities for athletes and other students to develop or maintain practices connected to fitness, physical health, and general wellbeing.
Careers, Life, and Service (CLS)
- CLS staff will continue to provide core support activities from a distance, including Tutorial advising partnerships and appointments with the wide range of advisors and career counselors available on staff.
- CLS will continue to support virtual/distance internships and service-learning opportunities.
- CLS staff are also developing a raft of new programs with the goal of expanding services to meet the particular needs arising from living and learning at a distance. They include:
- Career Community leaders are spearheading a “Day in the Life,” a multi-media initiative to demonstrate the incredible range of professional paths among Grinnell’s alumni community—and to connect current students with alumni
- Creating a virtual recruiting and career fair
- “Next Steps,” a series of group-advising crash courses to help students imagine goals and pursue opportunities, including Building Your Network, Resume Writing, and Securing an Internship
- Staff educators in Intercultural Affairs will continue to work with the student centers and organizations dedicated to creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive community/communities.
- Stonewall Resource Center: Focused community hours, gender affirming supplies, art-related creative engagement (possible connection with Center for the Humanities)
- Black Cultural Center: Continued support for Men Color Empowered and Engaged and Womxn of Color Group, a young alumni spotlight series
- Multicultural Leadership Council: developing virtual trainings, working together to actively build a governance structure and board
- Intercultural affairs will partner with programs and groups across the institution in support of its mission. These collaborators will include Writers@Grinnell, the Grinnell College Museum of Art, and the Faculty and Staff of Color Caucus.
- Intercultural affairs will continue to offer core support services to students, including:
- Academic Advising
- On-Call Rotations
- Partnerships with SHAW
Music ensembles are a part of the music department’s curriculum, but they are also an important element of many students’ academic identities beyond their chosen area(s) of study. Ensemble directors will provide a range of experiences from a distance—likely a mixture of musical practice and activities meant to foster communal engagement with music among Grinnellians and beyond.
Student Government Association (SGA)
- SGA will continue to fulfill a range of functions relating to community and student support
- SGA leaders will continue to advocate for student concerns in the context of Grinnell’s shared governance, holding open hours, contributing to campus-wide governance committees, and coordinating the College’s Student Educational Policy Committees (SEPCs).
- SGA leaders will support community among Grinnell students by facilitating the work of a range of student groups and organizations and connecting students to co-curricular programming across campus.
Student Health and Wellness (SHAW)
- In general, the staff of SHAW will continue supporting all students in a variety of ways. What support they can offer will depend on where students are located.
- SHAW will be supporting students in residence at the College in a variety of ways, including by offering typical medical and mental health services as well as being key managers of and contributors to the campus testing program.
- Students who are part of the College’s student insurance program will continue to have access to the care and support this program provides.
- From a distance, SHAW staff hope to be able to provide general support to students with questions relating to medical care, but they will not be able to offer direct services to those outside of Iowa. The direct support related to medical care they will be able to provide to those outside of Iowa include emergency fund support and navigating insurance claims
- Through a partnership with the Virtual Care Group, SHAW will be able to offer robust support to students outside of Iowa, but inside the United States, who are not part of the College insurance program, providing quick access to medical doctors, psychologists, and other counselors, with up to three counseling sessions available to students at no cost
- More generally, SHAW is developing a variety of programming to support health and wellness in community, including weekly content and virtual gatherings around mindfulness practices and workshops to support health and wellness
- Mindfulness for Mental Health, a four-part workshop (variable times for different time zones)
- Anti-anxiety workshop
- Substance use psychoeducational workshop
- First-gen/first-year student workshop
- International student workshop and support group