Update on Security Measures to Address Safety for Black Students, Faculty and Staff

October 12, 2022

 Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

This semester, campus signs and vehicles have been targeted with racist and white supremacist graffiti and community members have been harassed by unknown individuals screaming slurs from moving vehicles. We also know that additional incidents may not have been reported.  Staff from the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in partnership with SGA have reached out to known affected students.

Anti-Black speech and actions cause harm to Black students, faculty, and staff, and directly challenge Grinnell College’s values. They spread division, fear, and hate and damage the culture we strive to create on campus, one that supports, includes, and fosters a feeling of safety and belonging. Black students, faculty and staff are justifiably feeling and expressing anger, outrage, frustration, emotional exhaustion, disappointment, fear, and sadness.  Many are concerned about their personal safety. Others face daily challenges in the form of surveillance and microaggressions. 

As our campus community continues be a target of aggressive racism from unknown individuals, this update – with thanks to the many campus partners who have mobilized to put actions in place - provides an overview of initial steps to address the harm that is being caused to Black colleagues, friends, and students.  These include:

  • Neighborhood Watch
  • Transportation, Escorts, and Personal Safety
  • Increased Outdoor Lighting
  • Safety Resources
  • Installing Cameras
  • Community Partnership
  • Report Bias Incidents
  • Opportunities for Learning and Action

Neighborhood Watch

The Division of Student Affairs is seeking faculty, staff, and student volunteers to enhance campus safety in a Neighborhood Watch program. Volunteers (teams of 2) are asked to check in at Campus Safety located at Mears Cottage prior to their shift for instructions. Golf carts will be available for each of 6 locations and should be returned to Campus Safety at the conclusion of each shift. Please sign up to participate using this form. Shifts begin tonight at 8:00 p.m. 

Transportation, Escorts and Personal Safety

Effective immediately, the Local Shuttle is adding the Conney M. Kimbo Black Cultural Center (BCC) as a regular stop. Until the beginning of fall break and starting at 10:00 p.m., the shuttle will be stationed at the BCC until 2:00 a.m.  The shuttle is available for on-call transportation anywhere on campus, to off campus residences or from off campus residences to campus, and to Kum and Go and can be contacted through Campus Safety dispatch (4600 on campus or 641-269-4600). The shuttle driver will serve as another set of eyes to monitor activity on campus. As a reminder, Campus Safety escorts are available 24/7 and can also be requested by calling Campus Safety.

The City of Grinnell has approved the temporary closure of 8th Ave. between Park and East St. effective Thursday, October 13th at 8:00 p.m.  Through traffic will be limited and barricades will be moved during the day for deliveries only. The road will be closed in the evening and overnight to all traffic.

Increased Outdoor Lighting

The College is working to immediately install additional temporary lighting in locations where many of these incidents have occurred.  Two large construction lighting units have been procured and Facilities Management is working to obtain additional units. The lighting units will produce a significant amount of light and some generator noise.

Lighting locations will be assessed daily. Temporary lighting will be located at:

  • Park and 10th between BCC and Norris Parking lot
  • East and 8th outside of Lazier Hall

The College will also accelerate the 2022 Proposed Outdoor Lighting Project, based on the Safety and Outdoor Lighting Committee’s previous recommendation. This work has been delayed by long lead times for the purchase of electrical supplies and lighting projects due to supply chain disruption.  We have asked Facilities Management to make this work a top priority.  In addition, the Outdoor Safety and Lighting Committee is reconvening and will continue to review and recommend additional outdoor lighting to improve areas that the community has identified as a source of safety concerns.

Safety Resources

The College is taking immediate steps to roll out the Informacast Safety App. When installed on a phone, the app provides a “panic button” feature that immediately calls for assistance. When this feature is available, we will be sending out instructions for access.

If you have changed your phone number or are not enrolled in Informacast Alerts from the College, please take action to ensure that you are receiving alerts.

The Division of Student Affairs and The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have ordered flashlights and whistles. They will be here and available after fall break. Distribution instructions will be forthcoming upon return from break. Student staying on campus for fall break can pick them up from the Student Affairs Office during business hours in JRC 310 or Campus Safety beginning Monday, October 17th.

Installing Cameras

We are working to install outdoor security cameras.  When a timeline is available, we will communicate the details.  With the input of students, faculty, and staff, a policy will be created to outline parameters for the use of camera footage that complies with legal and regulatory parameters.  Camera feeds will not be actively monitored or used for random surveillance and will be used only in cases where harassment or a crime has been reported.

Community Partnership

Campus and community leaders met earlier this semester and have again connected to continue regular dialogue.  The goal of this effort is to enhance communication between the City of Grinnell and the College in the face of these racist acts, share information and witness accounts, and enact collective action to address racism.  Updates will be shared in the monthly Grinnell College Community Connections email newsletter.

Report Bias Incidents

Any Grinnell College student, staff, or faculty who has knowledge of, or has experienced a bias incident, on or off campus, can report it to the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT). The reporting person has the option to remain anonymous.  Reports may come from the target of racist or discriminatory behavior, bystanders, witnesses, or someone who has heard about the incident from another member of the campus community.

BIRT members will work with the College officials and other individuals, groups, or organizations as appropriate to provide care, outreach and/or investigations associated with a given occurrence. Incidents that may be considered criminal will be investigated by the City of Grinnell Police Department or other appropriate law enforcement agencies. 

Opportunities for Learning and Action

The College offers multiple opportunities each semester to learn about issues in diversity, equity, and inclusion, racial justice, anti-racist interventions, and restorative practices. It is the responsibility of the entire Grinnell community, not only individuals affected, to engage in these opportunities to learn and act.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, international speaker, author and advocate for racial healing and justice, Jodie Geddes, will present a Scholars Convocation 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. in JRC 101.  Geddes, author of The Little Book of Racial Healing:  Coming to the Table for Truth-Telling, Liberation and Transformation, will also give a book talk at 3 p.m. Registered participants who are experienced in the topic or are just beginning are welcome to join and will receive a copy of the book.  RSVP is required by Oct. 21.

As new information is available, we will communicate with the entire campus community.

Anne Harris, President
Marc Reed, Interim Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion


Resources specifically for Students

Cultural and trauma informed support: 

Resources for All

Cultural and trauma informed support:

Anonymous Reporting 

Grinnell College Title IX Coordinator

  • Grinnell Police (24 hrs), 911 or 641-236-2670 
  • Campus Safety (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue.) (24 hrs), 641-269-4600

Grinnell College Ombuds (JRC)  


  • Dean of Students (JRC) Ben Newhouse, 641-269-3702 or newhouse@grinnell.edu 
  • Vice President for Human Resources (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue) Jana Grimes, 641-269-4818 or grimesjana@grinnell.edu  
  • Associate Dean of the College (Nollen House) 641-269-3100  

Resources specifically for Faculty and Staff 

  • You, and your family members, can access counseling support through Employee and Family Resources.   
  • University of Iowa Telepsychology Training Clinic (TPTC) is open to employees Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Counseling appointments can be scheduled by calling and leaving a voicemail at 319-535-0437 or email scheduling@uitptc.com


We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and how to opt out, please refer to our website privacy policy.