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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Student Initiative voting concludes: Real whipped cream comes to the Dhall, cops stay too


By Max Fenton

The results of this semester’s student initiatives were released by Joseph Robertson ’19, Student Initiatives Fund Chair, on Monday, Dec. 3. Voting for student initiatives officially opened Nov. 2 and remained open until vote count reached the requisite 50 percent of the student body vote amount. 

Robertson said this semester’s initiatives took on three general thematic trends: environmental, political and dining-related. A wide array of initiatives were proposed by students, ranging from simple dining requests like free water at the Grill or regular grilled chicken in the dining hall to more complex concerns like the proposed demolition or renovation of Burling Library.

One particular “political” initiative that has engendered discussion was the proposal to ban guns from the dining hall, which Robertson and the Student Government Association indicated would effectively ban on-duty police officers from the dining hall. The subject has been a major discursive point on social media, with multiple discussions on police presence in Facebook groups like Current Grinnell Students 2018-19 or Grinnell Thumbs Down. 

The gun ban proposal ultimately failed. Though exact numbers were not released by SGA, Robertson believes the final tally for that particular initiative was close, and that it did not fail “by a huge margin.”

Robertson said the initiative failed because “people in the dining hall trust police officers with their guns,” but was quick to indicate he was not totally sure of students’ motivations.

Many students are disappointed in the failure of this initiative, given the perceived antagonism between the College and local police force, largely predicated on concerns about racism and potential violence.

Sayles Kasten ’19 called the failure “unfortunate,” and wished that it would have passed given the uncertainties of this relationship. 

Henry Brannan ’21 expressed similar feelings of concern in an email to The S&B.

“[T]he fact is police violence and profiling is an everyday reality for many, has a long history of targeting marginalized individuals and communities and could easily happen in our own dining hall if they are there … What implicit or explicit preformed ideas do they have about people of various identities and experiences that will influence how they handle that?” wrote Brannan.

Another proposed initiative this semester was to name the College’s unnamed ceramics studio after Jack Gustafson ’19, who passed away suddenly this March while studying abroad in Germany. 

Jasper Egge ’20 considered himself “passionate” about this initiative in particular, having known Gustafson.

“I played video games with him … he’s someone I’d consider to be a friend,” said Egge.

However, the initiative may run into trouble during its implementation. According to SGA President Myles Becker ’19, College policy dictates that it costs money to name a building or space after an individual based on its square footage. The exact dollar figure for naming the ceramics studio for Gustafson remains unclear as of yet, as do potential funding sources.

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