In response to campus-wide outcry for greater transparency from the Grinnell College administration, President Raynard Kington has turned to Kickstarter, a crowdsourcing platform that helps creators reach a community of financial and social backers. Giving money to a Kickstarter will unlock different rewards for the backers, while the total amount of funds collected will unlock “stretch goals,” additions to campaign as a whole.
“Using Kickstarter,” Kington explained, “we can gauge how interested the campus is in transparency [through their financial contributions] and respond accordingly.” Kington and his team are confident that Kickstarter is the best way to address student concerns while engaging “the youths” in a meaningful way.
“Kickstarter is really indicative of what people, particularly young people, care about,” said admin Jessie Stevenson. “If people can fund sequels to beloved movies, they should be able to fund administrative transparency if they really want it.” According to the “Make Grinnell Transparent For Once” campaign page, students have managed to reach the first stretch goal, after what effectively amounts to two years of effort, of “we will give students affected by major administrative decisions 13 minutes to process said decisions before we inform the entire campus.”
Student response to has been mixed, especially in light of the recently announced decision to end Grinnell’s relationship with the Posse Foundation. “We did get those 13 minutes this time,” said Ahmet Cruz ’17. “That’s more than we got before decision to end the relationship with L.A. Posse announcement. And it’s probably more than the incoming New Orleans scholars got before they were told they couldn’t come here so…thanks…?” Others are more critical. “My feelings about the decision aside for a second, I’m frustrated that we have to pry information out of the administration or they just won’t tell us anything,” said Alexa Choi ’16. “Literally, the top stretch goal is just ‘Kington will re-emphasize how important students are through a cool poster campaign.’”
Faculty have also expressed frustration. “I work here and I have no idea what the [frick] is going on,” said Professor Geoffrey Butlers. “We’ve been told that Grinnell is working to deepen its commitment to diversity and increase support for students, but you only get to learn what that means if you reach the ‘True Pioneer’ reward tier.” Indeed, individuals who donate 1.3 million dollars will be rewarded with “a special, hand-typed e-mail from Kington himself emphasizing how committed we have been to diversity and supporting our students (45 minutes before said e-mail would be sent to the campus).” Butlers and other faculty have confirmed that there is no information on when such an e-mail would even be sent out to the campus.
Kington has been unavailable for comment, as the stretch goal for “a sincere response to student, alumni, and faculty concerns” has not been reached yet, let alone established.