Letter: No Limits response to RKO letter

Thank you, President Osgood, for your timely response, which demonstrates your understanding of the value of student voice. Your letter reaffirms that we share many of the same interests and concerns. We too see the need for “a community sense of restraint and commitment to [the College’s] key priorities.” It is this that draws us to action: the failure of the College to act in a manner that is consistent with our key priorities—in particular our commitment to social responsibility.
A point-by-point response to your letter can be found at nolimitsgrinnell.wordpress.com. Here, we would like to focus on a few key points.
We would first like to address your concerns regarding the fiscal state of the college. To those who suggest that this is an inopportune or irresponsible time to undertake this project, we assert that this is exactly the moment in which we must reaffirm our commitment to social responsibility. While we agree that there is a need for restraint and responsible spending, our commitment to social responsibility—one of our three core values—cannot be compromised in the name of economic caution. If we only put our words into actions when the market is good, this is not a core value—it becomes a secondary consideration at best. Furthermore, let us be very clear: most of our demands would be effectively cost-neutral.
We appreciate your recognition of students’ “unique voice,” and the integral role students have played in enacting change on campus. The No Limits Project is a natural extension of the work that student activists have done in an effort to promote our professed values. However, students cannot be the sole agents of institutional change. Efforts must also be made at the administrative level to demonstrate a genuine commitment to social responsibility. We have presented you with fourteen specific actions that deserve your immediate attention. We are eager to collaborate once we have a sincere commitment to implement these projects, many of which the administration has historically claimed to support. Unfortunately, you have thus far engaged with our demands inadequately by merely rehashing the college’s marketing rhetoric.
Finally, because the president is “ not the sole decision maker at Grinnell,” we continue to hold accountable not only you, but also your administrative colleagues and the Board of Trustees for failing to follow through on projects put forth by members of the College community. As we have documented, the extensive history of student activism through traditional channels has produced insufficient results. All too often, administrative support has been merely superficial. Consequently, we again demand that you respond to our initial letter and specific demands with a comprehensive plan for action, including a timeline, formulated with input and collaboration from all those initially addressed by Monday, April 13, 2009.
[Note—Quotations in this letter are taken from President Osgood’s response to the No Limits demands on March 24, 2009 (a copy of which can be found on the No Limits Project website). This letter was drafted by a subcommittee of 12 students chosen at an open meeting. Over 200 students had the opportunity to suggest revisions and attend an editing session.]