The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black


Dear Grinnell,

We have something to say. Are you listening?

It’s 11:57 a.m. and you are walking into the Dining Hall with a couple hundred other students, who loop in a single-file line around a pile of disbanded backpacks on the floor of the JRC lobby. Someone bumps someone else. Marie greets you with a smile as you enter the dining hall and walk into the main dining space. What do you hear? Clinking silverware, ringtones, laughs, whispers, conversations and screams—the deafening roar of students, attempting to eat and escape before their next class or errand. What do you see? Tables upon tables of students sitting with students who sit with those students they’ve sat with before. Now, what are you thinking? Perhaps your friends are running late, or told you they’d meet you on the left, the right or in intimate dining. Now, think harder, look closer, and listen carefully.

Of the many students, faculty, staff who live and/or work in this residential community, how many do you know? How many do you want to know? How many will you get to know? What do you think they talk about during lunch? What are their life histories? And what do they think of you?

All too often at Grinnell, critical discussions regarding campus climate are avoided to make time for our many commitments or are more heavily concentrated among certain organizations, spaces, and social groups. In fact, as many upperclassmen can testify, significant and campus-wide conversations between various fragments of our community have only been provoked and fostered in response to bias or hate-motivated incidents—periods during which the social divisions that undoubtedly exist on campus become more easily perceptible and exaggerated. For some, the familiarity of belonging to a social group can be a source of comfort and strength. Just the same, such organization fosters exclusion, miscommunication, stress, tension, and aggression.

We’ve therefore identified a need to design a venue in which students, faculty, staff and, perhaps, alumnae can voice their perspective of the college, without any form of censorship, whether self-imposed or enforced. Enter The Voices Project—an anonymous, weekly, uncensored S&B interview column, for Grinnellians to share their experiences of Grinnell College, its diversity and their place within the community. Ideally, The Voices Project will be a space—a true “safe space”—for students to articulate opinions that they may feel uncomfortable voicing publically. And circulating these perspectives (which will be selected from a wide a variety of people associated with the College, such as first-gen students, athletes, social justice leaders, wage-earning staff, faculty-of-color and individuals with conservative and radical political positions, to name a few of many), we hope to foster a critical and ongoing dialogue regarding campus climate through Grinnell’s most widely read publication.

So here’s your chance Grinnellians.

Have something you’ve been itching to say? Email [voices] to set up a confidential interview with one of our staff members.

(The Voices Project was created by Elliot Karl ’12, Sivan Philo ’13, and Adrian Rodriguez ’15, who will hopefully be the first of many to get involved in the project.)

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