Petition in Support of No Limits Project
March 13th, 2009 No Limits Project Grinnell College TO: President Osgood, Vice Presidents of the College, and the Board of Trustees, We, the No Limits Project, formally submit to you a list of student demands. We are over 200 students from all class years, academic disciplines, and a wide range of student groups that have joined together over our common concerns about our college community. We are frustrated by the diminishing power of student voice at this institution. Students have become the last group to find out about major changes at the school and representatives of students have become marginalized in decision-making processes. A shift away from student power was made all too apparent this academic year as we have found ourselves being simultaneously ignored and intimidated by the administration. We reject these new power dynamics and seek to put student voices back at the center of the public discourse at this college. We stand in solidarity with staff and faculty who have also been disenfranchised by this new power arrangement, and we reach out to our staff, faculty, and administrative allies who seek to work with us, instead of against or around us. Collectively, we are angered by the general failure on the part of the Board of Trustees and the Administration to act in a manner that is consistent with our professed values, as well as the very real threat that the College will cut programs essential to these commitments in the name of economic caution in the near future. The College successfully markets itself using an image of social responsibility and commitment to social justice. While the College profits from that image by attracting students, the commitments that the College has made with respect to social justice remain largely unfulfilled. We commend the College for the work that has been done to meet our commitments to social responsibility and justice (to list a few, the implementation of the Apparel Purchasing Policy; the public disclosure of most of the Collegeâï¿½ï¿½s endowment holdings by the College Treasurer; the commitment to meet the full financial need of domestic students and the $2,000 loan cap policy; the inclusion of gender identity and expression in the Non-Discrimination Policy). However, there are many changes that are long over due. Broadly, what we seek is a reorientation of the College towards social responsibility and social justice. These principles have ceased to inform the actions of the Board and the Administration in many areas, and we demand that the College take concrete steps immediately to amend that discrepancy. Specifically, we ask that the Administration and the Board of Trustees implement all of our demands for action. Our demands are by no means an exhaustive list of prescriptions to make Grinnell a socially responsible or just institution. Rather they are drawn from a wide range of projects and proposals that have not been carried out by Trustees and Administrators. Additionally, they include urgent matters that can be rectified with little effort to address circumstances that have arisen in this academic year. The issues presented here deserve the highest priority of this college. We request a thorough reply directly from President Osgood by March 30th, 2009. Said reply should clearly state the Collegeâï¿½ï¿½s willingness and commitment to meet all of these demands within our set time frame. Failure to respond to our demands by this date will force us to seek other avenues to express our discontent and bring about institutional change. The response can be mailed to the campus boxes of No Limits Project student contacts listed below; all progress on these demands must be be made public via the Scarlet and Black. Sincerely, The No Limits Project ------ We, the No Limits Project, demand that the following actions be taken: RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY 1) We demand that the job description of the Lilly Religious Life Intern remain separate from any other responsibilities, and that a new job description be posted for the 2009-2010 position by April 6th, 2009. A JUST GRINNELL 2) We demand a written commitment from the College to fully fund AJust Grinnell programming, including an evaluation of the pilot program, wages for student facilitators and program costs by April 6th, 2009. CONFLICT RESOLUTION 3) We demand that mediation be made a mandatory first step in Judicial Council or College Board Hearing proceedings in which both parties feel safe, and that these bodies be empowered to recommend restorative justice processes in response to complaints by April 6th, 2009. DIVERSITY 4) We demand the implementation of policies and programs to increase the number of faculty of color at the College, including (1) an independent, external review of retention of faculty of color at the College to be convened by May 4th, 2009; the reviewers will also (2) publish and disseminate a written plan to increase retention, as well as recruitment, support, and promotion of faculty of color by October 26th, 2009. 5) We demand an expansion of diversity and intercultural programming, to include the formation a fully-staffed and funded Office for Campus-Wide Diversity. Plans for the funding of the Office for Campus-Wide Diversity must be finalized by April 20th, 2009 and approved at the meeting of the Board of Trustees the weekend of April 23rd, 2009. 6) We demand the reversal of admission policies that disadvantage low-income international students in the admissions process, including a return to need-blind admissions policies and a guarantee to meet the full financial need of international students. This policy must be adopted at the meeting of the Board of Trustees the weekend of April 23rd, 2009. SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING 7) We demand the adoption of complete transparency of our investment holdings and the creation of a Responsible Investment Committee with students, staff, faculty, and trustees at the meeting of the Board of Trustee the weekend of April 23rd, 2009. We demand that this policy and that this committee be in place by the October 2009 meeting of the Board of Trustees. MENTAL HEALTH 8) We demand that Student Affairs immediately fully fund and implement all the reccomendations of the external review of mental health services that was conducted in the Spring of 2008, most notably the establishment of an in-house counseling center. These must be re-introduced into the budget for the 2009-2010 Fiscal Year to be approved at the meeting of the Board of Trustee the weekend of April 23rd, 2009. STAFF HIRING AND FIRING 9) We demand a full and independent review of staff hiring and firing procedures in order to establish more transparency, more equitable dispute resolution and a greater sense of job security for staff to be convened by April 20th, 2009 and completed by June 1st, 2009. SOCIAL COMMITMENT AND COMMUNITY SERVICE 10) We demand a fully funded and fully staffed Community Service Center that is able to provide enough money, resources and training to enable all students, regardless of socioeconomic background, to participate in experiential community service and social justice activism. A plan for the expansion of the CSC should be included in the budget to be adopted at the meeting of the Board of Trustees the weekend of April 23rd, 2009. 11) We demand more resources in the Career Development Office that specifically encourage and fund internships and experiences in the field of social justice or social entrepreneurship. A plan for increasing such resources should be announced by of these resources should be announced by May 1st, 2009. HATE CRIMES RESPONSE POLICY 12) We demand an official and comprehensive Hate Crimes Response Policy for Grinnell College that includes both response procedures and ongoing preventative action be written with extensive student input, to be implemented by May 1st, 2009. COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY 13) We demand that students be guaranteed increased representation on (1) all Trustee commitees, (2) the Executive Council of the Faculty, and (3) the Budget Steering Committee. These positions must be filled by at-large elections of the student body. These committees must approve student representation by May 1st, 2009. Student representatives will be allowed to publish the agenda and minutes of these meetings, and must be seated by the October 2009 meeting of the Board of Trustees. ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT 14) We demand a reevaluation of our current Emissions Reduction Commitment that would (1) include more aggressive carbon emission reduction goals, (2) set actual deadlines for meeting these goals, and (3) specify comprehensive metrics to evaluate the college’s progress. The new Emissions Reduction Commitment must include student membership on the writing committee, and be adopted at the October 2009 meeting of the Board of Trustees.