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Students to host “funeral for self-gov?”

Funeral for Self-Gov Graphic


While ‘Self-Gov is dead’ has been proclaimed by many students and faculty at Grinnell College this year, Clark Student Advisor, Dylan Ambrosoli ’18 is the first to arrange its funeral. Ambrosoli will host ‘The Funeral for Self-Gov?’ with sparkling apple cider and formal wear this Friday at 7:15 p.m. in JRC 101. Students can bring and read their own eulogies in memory of self-governance.

The idea came to Ambrosoli after witnessing the ‘marriage’ of two students in Langan Pit. He thought the event proved to be uniting and fun for the members of that floor.

“It got me thinking I wanted to do something like that, and I leaped from that to funeral,” Ambrosoli said.

The event, hosted by Ambrosoli and fellow SAs, is not trying to take the stance that self-governance is dead at Grinnell. Instead, they hope the event can be a conversation between students on how self-governance has changed on campus and what changes, if any, students would like to see moving forward.

While there have been similar events hosted by the College, Ambrosoli hopes that the humorous spirit and student-led aspect of the event will make people more comfortable coming forward and sharing their thoughts and opinions on what self-gov should be or was in their previous residence life experience at the College.

“We need to make sure that self-gov is being correctly defined and that it is still the inspiration for policies moving forward,” Ambrosli said. “I don’t think we should pretend self-gov is a thing if the administration ultimately restricts personal freedoms in such a way that it is no longer a genuine label for Grinnell’s residence policies.”

Ambrosli defines self-gov as a respect for others and your environment while being aware of your own actions and being cognizant of how they affect everyone else around you.

“Self-gov is thinking before you act, but being given the freedom to make your own decisions without having other people tell you what to do,” Ambrosoli said. “It would be something you support and not something you are forced into.”

Ambrosoli faced hesitation from administrators and residence life, who take the official stance that self-gov is not dead or dying. The event title requires the question mark after funeral to make clear that this is not a conclusive statement on self-gov’s status.

“They specifically threatened that if that was the message [that self-gov is dead], they would withhold the funding and not allow the event to happen,” Ambrosoli said.

Beyond residence life policies, fellow host and SA Jeff Li ’18, said it is necessary to redefine and address self-gov in resident to resident interactions.

“Self-gov is dead in the terms of everyone holding themselves accountable for their actions and being responsible with other people’s spaces,” Li said. “I think it is not dead in terms of active bystanderism, which is such a huge part of self-gov that not many other schools have.”

When considering events like eggs thrown on North Campus Loggias or leaving lounges overturned after a weekend, Ambrosoli notes the idea of self-governance between students is also something that needs to be addressed, but also might be tied back to lacking resources or knowledge of resources from the administration’s end.

“The proposed policy changes come from a point of liability and concern for a sizeable number of students, and administration is trying to solve those concerns,” Ambrosoli said. “If you’re upset with people binge drinking, just preventing them from doing it in dorm lounges or out in public isn’t going to solve the problem — people will binge drink in their rooms, which I argue has a worse outcome. We really need to say: ‘Why are students binge drinking, and what resources do they need?’”

He believes that the confusion about self-governance means that students should be open to discussing it. Li hopes that moving forward, students will continue to look out for one another even in the questionable absence of self-governance.

“The funeral is meant to be fun and enlightening — both retrospectively and looking forward to the future,” Li said.

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