Editorial: can you guess what this editorial is about?
Nina Galanter '18
It’s weird to come back to Grinnell after studying abroad last spring. My whole worldview has really changed…but you probably wouldn’t understand so instead I will just write about my favorite topic, the administration.
In the past I felt bad about using the term, “the administration” because it I’ve heard others (mainly administrators) mock it as a way to make what is actually just a collection of college employees sound sinister. However, recently I’ve realized the administration is the best term to describe the result of a group of people, who all have seemed fairly competent and well-intentioned when I’ve interacted with or listened to them individually, combine their efforts and end up with decisions that are hard to describe as anything but malicious and/or very poorly thought out.
The most recent example is the closure of Bob’s and Lyle’s, of course. On one hand I’m angry because of the obvious lack of regard for trying to make attending Grinnell a positive experience and the importance of places like Bob’s and Lyle’s in that experience. On the other hand, I’m just really pissed that I won’t be able to regularly hang out at Bob’s, or go to Pub Quiz, which were both goals I had to make the most of my last year at Grinnell.
Another example which bugs me in part just because of its sheer tackiness is the construction and location of the new admissions building, which is central to campus in a way that no college admission building I’ve visited in the past was, and is a pretty clear statement about the relative importance of future and current students in the eyes off the administration in my opinion (as I wrote about last year).
As was true in the decision to cancel Posse and the change in alcohol policies, the new admissions building and the closure of Bob’s and Lyle’s came without much discussion with the student body at large. I believe, and again this is something I and other people have said plenty of times before, that the lack of communication is the main issue. More than not listening to students, it seems like the administration’s strategy is to quiet and shut down the student body in order to benefit it. For one thing, this sends a horrible message about the importance of advocating for oneself and for others. For another thing, judging by attitudes towards the administration and its decisions,, it’s not an effective strategy.
Of course, there are good things the administration has done. For example, standards and language about accommodations has improved a lot since I’ve been a student. Also, despite expecting to hate it, in all seriousness I love the crane and the way it unifies campus by looming over the horizon nearly everywhere you look. And there are the things that have finally improved after a lot of shouting, such as mental health services at SHACS and the revised plans for the new CRSSJ (with it’s large spaces for Hindu and Muslim students).
I think there might be a sense that it is inevitable that students will complain whenever the administration makes a decision. I do not believe this is the case. As the above examples show, when there is finally a dialogue between the student body at large and the administration, positive changes are possible. It would go a lot better in the long run to listen to us, as opposed to trying to figure out how to outwit us.