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SGA releases statement of student values

By Avery Rowlison

Following up on a Joint Board resolution, SGA recently drafted a Student Statement of Values for Grinnell.

Throughout the year, an SGA committee met weekly to write the Statement of Values. They began by brainstorming values that they thought were important to students on campus.

“We found that they fell into three broad categories … community, communication and diversity,” said SGA President Ben Offenberg ’11, who led the committee.

From there, the committee carefully expanded each idea into writing.

“We didn’t rush it,” Offenberg said. “I was very cautious … because I wanted us to have time and really adjust what we wanted to get at.”

Though the document has been mostly well received, some students, such as Tom Elliott ’11, don’t think it is necessary or fair.
“By creating a document that says that these are the values of Grinnell is basically excluding any other values,” Elliott said. “I also don’t see that this is something that students really want.”

Supporters of the Statement of Values disagree, such as committee member Camila Barrios Camacho ’12.

“I think this is something that we’ve needed for a while and is something that many of our peer institutions have implemented already,” she said referring to the student statement of values at St. Olaf College, University of Colorado at Boulder and Lewis and Clark College.

Opponents contend that the statement is limiting and oppressive because it attempts to define the values of each student on campus without everyone’s input. However, the committee in charge of creating the document is very diverse and represents a wide variety of student interests in campus, according to Offenberg.

“First and foremost, this statement was written for students by students,” Offenberg said. “There will be a chance for everyone to have a say in this.”

The document acknowledges that students come from different backgrounds and come to Grinnell with different ideals. The statement includes phrases such as, “Though we are imperfect, we strive for the ideal community,” and, “We recognize everyone comes from unique experiences.”

“The Statement that we have now is really positive in that it allows for a lot of growth,” Barrios Camacho said, “And the fact that it will be reevaluated every other year makes it a flexible and malleable document.”

SGA representatives from the committee as well as Offenberg, have met with student committees around campus, including Student Staff, Multicultural Leadership Council, Joint Board and the Residence Life Committee, for feedback on the document.
“We’ve has a lot of great suggestions for how to institutionalize the document,” Barrios Camacho said.

The suggestions included trying to integrate the Statement into the tutorial curriculum or having students sign it. The committee is looking into the suggestions to determine the positives and negatives of each.

“My first priority is to make sure that the document is something students want,” Offenberg said.

Offenberg will send out an all-campus email that will call for feedback from the general student population. There will also be an open forum on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 7p.m. in JRC 209 for anyone who has questions or suggestions for the student committee and Offenberg. If the feedback continues to be positive, students will vote on the Statement of Values as a student initiative next week.

Email [sgaprez] for more information.

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