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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Spencer Grill Vandalism is Disrespectful

Every time I come to campus for a trustee meeting I have a little ritual the first time in the JRC: I stop and salute the sign for the Spencer Grill. I do this to honor the memory of the late Kappie Spencer ’47, for her many contributions to Grinnell, as well as her personal kindness to me. I first met Kappie in person when she welcomed me to the Board in 2001, but in addition, I admired her enormously because of her many contributions to the College and for being the role model she was. It is so very fitting that the Grill was named for her, with the quality sign proclaiming her name.

Imagine my dismay, then, when I arrived at Grinnell last Friday morning (Feb. 21), and the sign for Spencer Grill was gone—clearly ripped away—presumably by some prankster or as a souvenir for a dorm room. I felt sick and had to fight back tears.

Funny—Kappie’s own reaction might have been just to laugh. She never took herself too seriously or sought recognition for her many gifts to the College. But then again, Kappie took being a Grinnellian and even more so a trustee of the Grinnell tradition very, very seriously.  So I think this senseless act of vandalism would have saddened her as it did me and so many others.

You who did this: you may think it was a harmless prank, but that sign cost enough that your theft is actually a felony—not to mention the staff time to deal with the theft. But more to the point, it represents such a betrayal of Kappie’s—and Grinnell’s—values. In addition to all the money she donated, including a scholarship to encourage women and minorities in the sciences, and the funds for the Grill itself, Kappie displayed throughout her life a passion for social change, especially as it affected women. Very few examples include founding and directing the National Gender Balance Project, being a pioneer member of Planned Parenthood and carrying out a campaign for 30 years to equalize trust law for women.

I am already looking forward to my next visit to campus and the chance to once again follow my simple little ritual and salute my friend Kappie Spencer. In the meantime, may I suggest that the next time each of you wander into the JRC, take a renewed look at the sign for the Spencer Grill and give a little thought to what being a Grinnellian means to you. I know Kappie would like that.

M. Anne Spence ’66


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