The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Staff Editorial: Class Matters

We need to address class issues on our campus and in our world. It is no longer enough to limit our discussions of class struggles that occur in what some inexplicably continue to call the “real world,” when there are so many things we can and should be doing on our campus to address the growing class inequities right here. Grinnell has and continues to engage in dialogue about many issues prevalent in society, we have had important conversations about race, sex, gender, alcohol and more throughout the years. Those conversations are nowhere near complete, but it is time that the college as a whole begins to discuss class.

Class can be an awkward, scary thing to talk about openly, but as Grinnellians we accept the challenge of pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones every day.  Class needs to be a bigger part of Grinnell’s culture.

Many of us are here at Grinnell because of the financial aid policies. Such policies not only gave many Grinnellians the financial opportunity to attend college, they also provided an indicator of the kind of community Grinnell valued. Grinnell was billed as a place where students of all economic and social backgrounds would surround us. Many of us could have attended similar small, isolated liberal arts colleges, but chose Grinnell because of its commitment to diversity

We must work to remove the “taboo” of discussing class. We should strive to create a culture where students do not feel compelled to hide their privilege, rather than accept and discuss it. Though we cannot influence previous factors that may contribute to individuals’ class, we can focus on working on how we react to it. We must continue the openness that we pride ourselves on to permeate issues of class, while maintaining mutual respect as the baseline for such conversations. Let us embrace the diversity of our community by appreciating the spectrum of class at our school.

It is encouraging that Grinnell as a whole is committed to remaining need-blind for domestic students. This is an important and positive step in the right direction, but the dialogue must move forward.

Class discrepancies become noticeable with fines in the residence halls. Perhaps the 40 dollar end-of-year damage fine is hardly noticed by one student, while another student may not have the means to cover a fine for damage they may not have been a part of. Additionally, it is difficult to reconcile the principles of social justice with the often blatant disrespect we show to College staff, for example in the treatment of College residential facilities. These issues can be addressed with basic respect, applying principles of social justice to issues within our own campus.

While class issues and the reluctance to address class are by no means unique to Grinnell, that does not excuse our hesitation to confront the issue on campus. However, because of our small size, Grinnell has the opportunity to address these issues. Grinnell teaches us how to check our privilege and we should feel empowered to do so even with regards to what can be a touchy subject. Even if the class discrepancies at Grinnell are far from fixed, we have the tools to work towards positive change.

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