JRC - Grinnell may be in the midst of summer outside, but inside the Student Affairs office the plants are withering inexplicably.
Said Student Affairs administrative Assistant Jill Farnes, “Student Affairs prides itself on accepting plants from a wide range of backgrounds, from succulents to miniature trees. These plants contribute to a diverse office ecosystem, and look great when they’re smiling on the front of recruitment magazines. Yet lately, more and more plants are withering, drooping, or displaying other unappealing traits, and it’s getting to be an inconvenience for the office.”
Jane Choi, an employee with Residence Life, expressed dismay at the current state of the plants. “We didn’t expect this when we got them,” he said. “We just wanted to get a nice garden going, not be responsible for the well-being of a bunch of ferns. I didn’t sign up for this!”
Several visitors to the suite have alleged that the issue is mediocre or non existent plant care.
Rachel Polny ’17, an amateur gardner, “Horticulturists like myself know that plants are healthiest when they’re watered regularly, given speciesappropriate amounts of sunlight, and provided with a sense of stability and a strong support network. When these needs aren’t met, plants can sicken, die, or worse, make the school look bad when rich donors come to visit. Yet it’s clear the people at the Student Affairs office aren’t aware of these basic standards.”
Farnes, responding to these allegations, said, “definitely not. Grinnell has so much money. Like, a ton of money. We could afford to hire people who are familiar with plant care if we needed to. Since we haven’t, I think that’s pretty clearly not the real issue.”
“The real issue is that the plants are just terribly ungrateful for the opportunity to decorate such a prestigious school,” continued Farnes.
Said Choi, “Plants wither all the time. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of care or resources. I think the withering plants are just a little entitled. These plants are never going to survive in the real world with an attitude like this. I mean, plant food? Grow lights? What are they going to ask for next? Accessible potting?”
Other staff members have suggested that since the plants have formed their own support groups and communities to cope with withering, there’s no need for help or intervention from the administration.
As Polny said, “What could we provide for them that they can’t provide for each other?”
However, some steps have been taken to address the issue.
Last year, the office sponsored the creation of a task force on plant health. The task force was run entirely by volunteers from the plant population. While participation was not as high as staff had hoped, they are still planning to put the information gathered by the task force to good use.
For example, the task force reported that for many plants the withering was due to environmental stressors.