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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Student Initiatives nearly fail from low turnout

Despite almost not getting enough votes, student initiatives elections reached the 50 percent voter turnout needed for the election to be legitimate and the Stifund committee began their work on putting the initiatives into action this week.  Among the passing resolutions are two amendments to the SGA Constitution, a plan for more student feedback for the dining hall, reusable mugs, and a plan to create a space more conducive to concerts in Gardner.

Every year, there is a chance that every initiative could fail because of low voter turnout, but this last election came down to mere hours. As long as the election is legitimate, in order to pass, an initiative must garner two-thirds of the vote.

“We were worried especially last Thursday afternoon.  We had probably four hours left in the election and we [realized] that we still needed one or two hundred more people to vote.  But we made it,” said SGA Administrative Coordinator, Alex White ’12.

One initiative, the “Dry Hands” initiative aims to implement either paper towels or hand dryers in all dorm bathrooms.  The initiative’s approval struck White as unusual, as he saw the initiative as not in line with Grinnell’s tendency toward environmentally sound practices.

“I’m not necessarily against hand dryers or paper towels,” said White. “I’m guessing this initiative came up a long time ago and it didn’t pass.  It’s interesting to note now that it did.”

Ron Chiu, chair of the Student Initiatives Committee and co-writer of the “Dry Hands” proposal, claims that the process would simply match the hand dryers and paper towels in academic and public buildings.

“We do have hand dryers and paper towels in places other than residence halls that are eco-friendly,” claimed Chiu.

A new initiative, proposed by Noah Most ’13, is to create a resource at Grinnell termed a “human library”.  In taking advantage of the myriad of identities on campus and in the community, Most hopes to connect people who are interested in talking to fascinating members of our community to satisfying conversations through an organized web-based platform.

“I heard about this on a BBC radio broadcast years ago, thought it was cool, and later found that the project had been successfully emulated elsewhere,” Most wrote in an email. “The idea seemed to complement other initiatives on campus to promote dialogue and give context to interesting conversations that might not otherwise occur.”

Noticeably missing from the student initiatives election this semester was a proposal for a foam machine for Harris.  In anticipation of this proposal, an anonymous group of students created a campaign against the passing of the machine.  With posters saying, “Soapy Beer,” and “Vote No, It’s a Tradition,” the efforts of students making the signs were ultimately futile. Proponents of the initiative for the foam machine did not collect enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

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