NOLLEN HOUSE - Yesterday evening, mentors around Grinnell campus walked out of their mentor sessions and abstained from their mentoring duties, in what is believed to be the biggest mentorstrike action in the history of Grinnell. Hundreds of students were left dumbfounded as their mentors, acting like one, stormed out of classrooms, commons, and mentor sessions to rally in front of house Nollen house, as a sign of protest at what mentors see as subpar treatment of workers.
“We’re here because we want decent wages and decent treatment” Chloe Jones ’16, head of Mentors United said, addressing the crowd of that convened outside of Nollen house.
“We are here because we are sick of mentees slacking off until the last minute and then harassing us for answers. We are here because we are sick of teachers teaching their class so inefficiently and explaining the content of the final so poorly that we are the ones who have to explain what is going on. We are here because we are sick of the examination system, the stress being placed on students, and how it always finds a way to affect mentors. But above all, we are here because we are mentors!” Chloe shouted, to tumultuous applause.
The move comes at a strategic moment, with finals occurring next week and student stress mounting. Mentors form an important part of the Grinnell ecosystem, able to give advice to students on how to succeed in a class whilst acting as a ‘sponge’ to mop up any material the students have not learned in class. Experts predict that the sudden lack of mentors will have drastic effects on the school which could disrupt the whole system.
“The movement is very well organized” said Jane Orphell, head of the sociology department and expert on social activism. “The timing could not have been better: with finals just around the corner, the pressure is on the administration to do something about this, or else risk a sudden and drastic fall in academic success.” The student body is mixed about the decision. Some are supportive.
Ursula Rede ’18, said, “I am totally for this call to action by our mentors. They deserve to be treated as human beings! Also, I sincerely hope it is clear to the professors that due to the high importance of the mentor system, it is completely unreasonable to expect us as students to still be able to take our finals. Mentors are essential to our success, as is shown by the high attendance rate for mentor sessions.”
Whilst some students, like Rede, recognize the dire situation of mentors and accept their actions, others are angry.
“What about me?” asks Joseph Smith, ’17 “Does no one care about my needs? Sure, the mentors are fighting for what they believe in and are passionate about, but really, this is a huge inconvenience for us students. If the mentors truly cared about this issue, they should protest about their problems the right way: so that the protests don’t affect me, and I can keep on perpetrating and profiting from their misery whilst being able to ignore their plight.”
Other student workers have contemplated joining in on these protests. According to several sources, many graders have voiced a desire to undertake similar strikes. Preliminary polling of the student body suggests that students are overwhelmingly in support of this action.
The administration has so far declined to comment on these recent protests. Meanwhile, mentors claim they will not back down, and will only return to mentoring if basic demands are met, including the right to unionize and for Grinnell College to pay courses teaching mentors how to avoid being guilt-tripped into staying for an extra hour after the mentor session is over. Whether issues will be resolved in time for finals, only time will tell.