You may or may not (if you refrain from email, social media, and casual conversation) have heard that Grinnell College is ending its relationship with the Posse Foundation. This editorial is not about whether or not Grinnell should have cancelled Posse. In large part, this is because whether or not I agree or disagree with Grinnell’s arguments for ending Posse, I have no faith that the arguments relayed to students in any way reflect the concerns of administrators. In addition, I do not think I will ever know what will happen to the resources previously used for Posse, whether or not Grinnell does use them to further diversity like the email we all received claims.
The issue I want to talk about is the administrations use of surprise emails and the lack of transparency overall. (Disclaimer: if you were looking forward to a new or innovative opinion that countless students haven’t voiced before, sorry!)
The recent Posse announcement is-yet another example in a long list: the emails about the New Orleans Posse and LA Posses, the Community Advisor job description, SHACS decisions, the golf course, etc. Some of these decisions were likely very reasonable, and some were certainly not. Regardless, it’s very hard not assume there is dishonest intent in decisions made without the chance for general student input.
This lack of a chance for input in decisions, coupled with the lack of transparency about what decisions are underway ad how, is frustrating in that administrators must know how much dissatisfaction decisions like this cause. It seems administrators think student opinion isn’t valid information and that we do not have enough stake in our college education to deserve substantial influence.
To me, this reflects the belief that administrative decisions “don’t involve” students, and that we should focus on studying. Perhaps administrative staff forget that just because they work at Grinnell and may view Grinnell as just another step in their career, we are not simply employees and Grinnell is not simply a place will be for four years. We do not work at Grinnell; we live here. Our role cannot be simply to attend classes even if we wanted to be unaffected by administrative decisions (I can’t imagine why).
In addition, most students and/or their families are investing a large amount of our money in Grinnell. Even if this isn’t the case, everyone is at least forgoing the opportunity to go somewhere else or to be making money working full time. Thus it makes sense that we care about every aspect of our college experience, and deserve more control.
Finally, Grinnell is not just a place we existed at for four years. I (and I don’t think I’m the only one) was really looking forward to identifying with and being proud to have gone to a college during and after I attended. But that isn’t going to happen if we feel ignored and uninvolved, or if we decide we no longer like the direction the college is going in. That’s disappointing; but perhaps more importantly (at least using the logic administrative staff seem to like) it is not a sound long term financial strategy. Alumns who feel screwed over are probably not going to be alumns who donate significant amounts money.