The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the editor: An alum on current student involvement

I read the recent Scarlet and Black article “Perception of SGA Changes with Executive Election” by Maxwell Fenton with increasing anxiety and bewilderment. I read The S&B regularly online and am aware of both the passion and involvement of students in the topical issues of the day. Student activity, agitation and involvement is a Grinnell tradition and one that should generate great pride.

Imagine then, my total confusion at reading that campus turnout of the most recent SGA election was near 45 percent.  Based on my estimates of the student body count, that is close to a 20 percentage-point drop in only two years. The explanations for this precipitous drop are given as a) bad timing, as in there were other events to attend; b) half the candidates were white men, thus uninteresting to large portions of the student body; c) it was a Friday; d) students are really busy people; e) general distrust in government and organizations; f) it is just politics-as-usual; and, finally, g) students are less passionate about current events on campus.

While I am more than ready to admit that the content of The S&B may not reflect the student body attitudes perfectly, I have always believed it was at least representative. I find none of the apathy used to describe the low voter turn-out in the articles, columns, opinions, and editorials of The S&B. With that, then, I must ask, what is happening to overall student activism and involvement?

Perhaps it is time to scare the current student body into action by indicating that points a) through f) above could easily be edited to explain what happened in the 2016 elections. Low turnout, apathetic voting, politics-as-usual, nothing changes, lesser-of-two-evils (i.e., politicians are all the same) thinking got us the current administration. Self-governance only succeeds if the willingness to govern exists. Without exercising that will, there is either no governance or governance not to your liking.

Most students abhor the idea that they will become their parents. The recent SGA election indicates that Grinnell students are behaving just like their parents, at least when it comes to voter involvement. Is that really the result the student body is seeking?

— Dan Finkelman ’77

Note: Dan’s spouse, Patricia Jipp Finkelman ’80, currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Grinnell College. This letter does not necessarily represent her perspective and does not reflect the thinking of the Board of Trustees.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (1)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    StudentMay 17, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    It’s almost as if people don’t want to participate in systems of power when those systems of power show an absolute neglect for listening to their voices and addressing their concerns (eg. racism, fossil fuels, rape, etc.)… Big shocker that the spouse of a Board member assumes that this is the students’ fault