The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Staff ed: The No Limits Project is potentially harmful

Given the recent series of events on campus regarding discussions between members of the No Limits Project (NLP) group and the administration, we must try to remember that this is a campus that fosters open discussions and cooperation. While some might believe that activism is the most powerful and effective display of campus unity, care must be taken to ensure that the actions of these activist groups truly act in the best interest of the campus as a whole.

Many students felt betrayed by the No Limits Project and their implication that, as they had collected a great deal of signatures from students and faculty, they were representing the interests of the student body. As discussions and plans for ameliorating the discord on campus move forward, attention must be paid to who is really the source of the desired changes.

Another matter that many individuals on campus have taken issue with in NLP’s demands is the antagonistic and unyielding way in which they have been presented to the administration. Grinnell is a place where the free exchange of ideas amongst equals extends far beyond the classroom. While some would argue that the use of the term “demand” is purely semantics, it is hard to ignore the obvious implications of a word so combative and divisive. It doesn’t feel as though this escalatory action by an activist group on campus will move discussion forward, but will rather place further pressure on already strained student-administration relations.

In purely pragmatic terms, the completion of the extensive list of “demands” directed at the administration in the desired timeframe would be nothing short of a massive administrative undertaking. The NLP posted and e-mailed their list of demands on March 13—just before the student body’s departure for spring break—requesting a clearly focused response from the administration by April 6. The amount of time that goes into the budgetary accounting and evaluation of a program as influential as A Just Grinnell is not something that can be wedged into a matter of a few weeks. Despite some of our greatest aspirations for the betterment of the College, several items on the list are fiscally complicated in the current economic climate. A full, independent review of hiring and firing practices at the College is clearly a necessary item to be undertaken, but is not something that can be easily created in the matter of a month, regardless of the obvious cost associated with a review of that magnitude.

This editorial is not designed to discourage campus activism. Rather, it is designed to remind students involved in groups such as the No Limits Project that they must guard against purporting to represent the campus as a whole. Furthermore, escalating open discussion into combative exchanges with the administration could very likely damage the open environment we have created on this campus.

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