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The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Unsupported students provides support

Dear Grinnell,

President Kington recently announced changes regarding the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the institution’s commitment to diversity. He mentioned that he met with the group Unsupported Students (US) before implementing these changes. To honor our commitment to transparency, we are writing to let you know what we stand for.

Issues about diversity and inclusion have pervaded discussions on Grinnell’s campus for many years. In some areas, such as greater curricular diversity, we have made progress. In other areas, such as supporting the success of its diverse (broadly defined) students, Grinnell has fallen short. For many students, academia is a novel experience. We do not know how to develop relationships with our faculty advisors, how to have sensitive conversations about financial aid, how to address biases and microagressions that we face daily or how to access and utilize the resources available on campus. Many of these struggles happen outside the classroom but directly impact what happens inside. Over the course of the year, we used countless listening sessions, meetings with administration and specific offices and town halls to voice our concerns that Grinnell has broken its promises of inclusivity, support, social justice and diversity. We found that nothing was being done to address the needs that we had identified.

In response, we created The Real Office of Diversity for Unsupported Students. Our objective is simple; we seek to provide academic, social, moral and experiential support for all of Grinnell’s diverse students. By genuinely listening to student concerns, serving as advocates, offering career and scholarship advice and connecting students to necessary on-campus resources, we hope to help students have a more wholesome, safe, inclusive and complete collegiate experience. We, the students, hope to keep the promises Grinnell College has failed to keep.

On Tuesday, April 1, US asked Grinnellians to share experiences about how the College has kept or failed to keep its promises of inclusivity, support, social justice and diversity. You all spoke about your frustrations with the ways in which your experiences were minimized, the offensive and ignorant comments made by peers and professors and the unwillingness of the administration to make real changes concerning issues of diversity. First generation and low income students also shared experiences about not understanding how to navigate academia and feeling like they were being abandoned in an unfamiliar terrain. These experiences represent a failure of the institution to provide the support to all of Grinnell’s students.

We recognize and appreciate the efforts of faculty and staff members who provide support and encourage students to seek out their assistance. However, the support that is required for student success should be consistent, sustained and provided by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Our frustrations led us to reach out to the President and to seek more substantive steps to address our concerns.

Over the past few weeks we have heard a series of critiques about our objectives and methods. We want to assure you all that we are not acting out of blind anger. Our fight is not born from a disdain for Grinnell. We love this institution and hope to make it the best it can be. We formed as a group to give voice to the complaints of many students who are overlooked. We represent students who feel that their needs have been cast aside to uphold the perceptions of Grinnell’s dedication to social justice and diversity, even if students’ lived experiences suggest otherwise.

We are currently working with President Kington, Associate Dean Maria Tapias and other administrators to make sure all students receive the support that we are promised. We are particularly concerned about students as we move into this incredibly busy time of the year and we encourage you to reach out to US or Maria Tapias should you have any academic, personal or social concerns. We are here to support you and help you thrive while here at Grinnell. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to listen and respond to our concerns. We truly hope that we are on the right path to receiving stable and institutionalized support.


UnSupported Students

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