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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Mistrusting our current students

Recently I’ve noticed the influx of emails sent to the College-at-large by various officials in the College system, urging us to be respectful to visitors on campus—whether parents, prospective students or, most recently, a Meta marketing team.

While I have no problem with the notifications that we are receiving as students that there will be some visitors to our college, I do take issues with statements like the following, after the Office of Admission let us know that we will receive regular reminders about our visitors, “as part of a comprehensive effort to improve the experience of these campus visitors.”

“Perhaps ask what brings them to campus. Find out if they need help with directions. Hold a door open. Say hello. Simply smile, nod, or wave.” – Email 9/30/2013

“These students are checking us out, along with the campus. I hope you give them the traditional Grinnell greeting. Say hello.” – Email 10/7/2013

I hope they aren’t actually checking us out, because that would be awkward in broad daylight. But more importantly, I find the idea of a “traditional Grinnell greeting” a bit condescending because 1) if it is so traditional, why do you have to encourage us to do it? Or 2) Do you mean the greeting where two students, buried in their work, or more often their cell phone, make brief, awkward eye contact, an awkward smile—if that—and then continue trying to figure out how they can get their work done and have fun this 10/10.

“ … a project to help us understand, define, and express the College’s authentic institutional identity in ways that will be attractive to prospective students, faculty, and staff—while also staying true to the best aspects of our alumni legacy.” – Email 10/8/2013

I get it; you’re trying to make the College look good. While I appreciate the Oxford comma, I look at this and see one blatant thing missing: What about the current students, faculty and staff? Yes, we need money, which means pleasing prospies and alums, but what about us, the future alums, the prospie hosts, the ex-prospies? We want to make the College attractive to members of the future and members of the past. But what about now?

Don’t worry, we’re getting our slice of recognition later in the email:

“Thank you in advance to the dozens of people participating this week. If you see our guests wandering about, please be sure to say hello.” – Email 10/8/2013

I’ll try to remember that when I feel that every guest to the College is viewed as more important than me. I’ll definitely make sure to take a moment out of my busy life, identify that this person is going to get the College more money, and then suck up to them in order to better our College image.

Note to everyone: I’m here at Grinnell College without having my hosts getting emailed to be nice to me. Actually, I’m really glad that they weren’t, because then I know that the students who were did it out of the goodness of their hearts and the culture itself, not due to an email. Another way to look at it: any student who does not feel like being friendly towards prospies will not change due to your email.

I get it, I do. Being a prospective student is really important. But so are the students here. Why aren’t we addressing the problems happening now? I don’t get weekly reminders about mental health, or about the state of the economy or even what is going on in SGA. I don’t get notifications to “Say hello to that kid in your class who looks like she was just crying” or “simply smile at a professor whose personal life is going to pieces” or “hold a door open for the next FM worker you see.” Why don’t we get these reminders?

Because that is part of campus culture. So is treating prospies and visitors well.

Respect my email, my time, my culture and my presence at this College enough to trust me.

—Andrea Lakiotis ’15

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