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The Scarlet & Black

Read: “Board of Trustees Union Expansion Deliberations”

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Editor’s Note: This memo, written by Board Chair David Maxwell `66, was sent to current students, faculty and staff on December 2, 2019, shortly before a UGSDW demonstration calling for immediate expansion. We’re publishing it in the S&B so that community members and alumni have a chance to read.

Dear Grinnellians,

In October, the Board of Trustees invited students, faculty, staff, and alumni to share thoughts they wanted the President and Trustees to consider as they continue their deliberations on possible expansion of the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers. The Trustees also met with the Faculty Executive Council and the Staff Council and held a listening session with UGSDW representatives, as well as an open listening session for all students. In addition, the Trustees also sought input from the alumni community through the submission of online comments

We engaged in this process to gather input from the relevant stakeholders to ensure that we are considering all possible options and their impact on the student experience. We also saw this as an opportunity to hear directly from students about their concerns and to use that information as a basis for the President and Trustees to more fully consider the Trustees’ role in helping to address and solve problems that may be hindering students from achieving the Grinnell education they want and deserve.

We are grateful to all who took the time to share their thoughts with us and for engaging with thoughtfulness and respect for each other. In the interest of maintaining our commitment to transparency, when the President and Trustees are finished processing the information gathered we will provide an overview of what we heard. We understand and appreciate your eagerness to learn of a decision by the President and Trustees on partial expansion of the union. Ultimately, we want to ensure that we arrive at a decision and take actions that are in the best interests of Grinnell’s current and future students.

The Trustees also are mindful of other College problem-solving initiatives focused on access and equity that are taking place concurrent to the Trustees’ work, and that are examining some of the same issues that we are considering. For instance, the Task Force on Student Financial Support and Success is working to assess whether the College’s financial aid packages are providing enrolled students with equitable access to all aspects of a Grinnell education. Although separate, that work has important implications for helping to address some of the concerns we heard raised and want to solve.

A number of Trustees have been meeting regularly since our last formal meeting in October to move forward with our process of reviewing the information gathered. We have scheduled a special meeting of the full Board of Trustees in December to consider this and other important agenda items carried over from our fall meeting. Special meetings of the Board of Trustees may be called at any time, and this meeting will be held off campus at a convenient location to ease managing winter travel logistics.

Although the Trustees will move forward with our deliberations, a final decision related to potential union expansion is not expected before the end of the calendar year. Given the complexity of the issues, we do not believe it would be prudent to rush our decision. Consideration of possible union expansion at Grinnell deserves thoughtful and informed deliberation. We expect to provide another update on our deliberations after the winter break.

David Maxwell ’66
Chair, Grinnell College Board of Trustees

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    Sharyn ObsatzDec 5, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for posting this. We appreciate all the information we can get.