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Community Hour to bring campus together

Jordan Brooks, Vice President of Intercultural Affairs participated in this week’s Community Hours. Photo by Sarah Ruiz.

The creation of a new campus event, Community Hour, was announced last Friday, Aug. 25 in a special campus memo. This new series will bring the campus together at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays, when no classes or meetings are held. Although this time slot has previous been used for lectures held in Joe Rosenfield Center (JRC) 101, Community Hour intends to provide predictable, organized events that students can schedule into their weekly calendars. Not only will SGA President Summer White ’18, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Andrea Connor and Vice President of Communications Debra Lukehart plan events for this time, but so will members of the Grinnell College community.

To inaugurate the Community Hour series, Connor, Lukehart and Erica Erickson, sociology, held an event called “Healing from Hate.” The discussion focused on the tensions that have arisen in the wake of the summer incidents in Charlottesville. Attendees spoke intimately in small groups about identities and how the campus can cope with hate. The discussion explored how each College community member can effectively respond to hate. The community event provided new perspectives of individuals in the context of racism, anti-Semitism and LGBTQ-phobia, hoping to inspire attendees with the confidence to take steps towards recognizing hate and appropriately encounter hate.   

Students, faculty and staff will soon have the opportunity to submit a formal request to organize a Community Hour event. This process is supposed to increase community engagement, as well as encourage diverse topics that are “relevant and timely,” according to White. 

“The intent of the Community Hour is to provide our community a platform for having important conversations … and maybe even inspire people to act upon something they feel passionate about,” White explained. 

The diversity of perspectives intends to fulfill student expectations about these events.

“Some people prefer an administrator and some people prefer small groups tackling a problem, and some prefer hearing updates from campus committees,” Connor said. “We realized there wasn’t necessarily a way to meet all preferences all the time. Instead, what was more important was to do a variety of things and publicize what’s going to happen at them, so people can make a decision about what they want to attend.”     

Community Hour intends to facilitate student engagement by providing members of the community with a say in the organization of these events.

“Hopefully one day we’ll get other people organizing it. … It would be great if the community embraced it in a way that they want to be involved more with the planning and the organization,” Lukehart said. 

“Our hope is that Community Hour becomes a tradition, something people look forward to and participate in,” White said. “I expect the Community Hour events to create a stronger sense of belonging for members of the community.”

Connor also described how Community Hour intends to “create an avenue for issues of importance for our community to discuss.” According to her, topics will likely include climate, diversity and inclusion, personal storytelling narratives about identity and subjects on student life such as mental health and policing, as well as whatever else students may choose to present in Community Hour.

“There’s a good mix here of not just conversations but events that promote institutional values,” Lukehart said. “Presentations, stimulating conversation and reinforcing service are all good things for us to be doing as a community.”

There are plenty of open time slots after fall break, and Community Hours will be more successful if members of the community take the initiative to hold events and use this time as a stage to communicate topics with the rest of the community.

“We see it as an experiment. Right now it’s just some of us who wanted to make it happen.  If it succeeds, we’ll probably make some kind of committee and regular work flow,” Connor said.

Please contact SGA President Summer White at to submit a request to hold or suggest a Community Hour event, or provide comments or questions regarding the Community Hour. 

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