As of 8 May 06, editing of this proposal has ended, and it has been taken offline. To download the final compiled proposal, please click here! Please help to distribute a copy of the shortened version to whomever may want to hear about the Center!

If you would like to endorse the proposal, please email Linn

Thank you to everyone who took the time to look at, edit and endorse this proposal. We'll keep you posted!

Please also see
>> These are documents related to the planning of the Center, including meeting minutes, emails and a copy of the email list.

This site is a wiki—like Wikipedia—which means that anyone who wishes to edit things here is free to do so. All changes will be tracked, and past versions of the proposal can be seen by clicking on the "history" tab (above).

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The Proposal

Proposal to Create an Activism Center on the Grinnell College Campus

To: VP for Student Services Tom Crady, President Russell K. Osgood, SGA President-Elect Chris Hall
CC: Everyone!
From: (please see below)
Contact: Until we get an email account, email is informally being directed through Linn at and Latona Other email contacts include Ben and Adam

This proposal is the result of about a month of work by 2+ dozen students, staff and faculty. It is a work in progress by all means, but after two brainstorming meetings and several smaller working group meetings, these are some of the things we've come up with.

The sections labeled "Structure," "Location," "Funding" and "Networking" are based upon the meetings of working groups organized on each of those topics.

Through a recent email vote, we have decided to name the Activism Center "the VoiceBox," although it will still be referred to as "the Center" in this proposal.


The purpose of the Center would be to provide a physical space that would support and coordinate the activities of activist groups and individuals on the Grinnell College campus and in town. The Center would encourage and support activism of any kind at Grinnell, and it would act as a symbol of the College community's ongoing commitment to social, political, economic and environmental action.

We see the Center as addressing several problems at Grinnell:

  • a lack of visibility of activism
  • a lack of knowledge about activist opportunities and groups
  • no central, all-inclusive physical space for supporting activism
  • difficulty, particularly for students, in sustaining projects and groups over many years, after prominant activists graduate
  • nonexistant, widely dispersed or inaccessable records of past activist projects and groups
  • no central source for generic activist materials or books, or support for student groups interested in co-sponsoring generic activist events
  • a lack of communication about activist issues between students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and students at other colleges/universities, even though many share common interests and goals
  • difficulty in learning of and participating in activism opportunities initiated by others

We foresee the Center as a hub for activity, rather than as a typical group. Its mission would include coordinating, tracking and advertising events as well as supporting organizing efforts. This also might include support for groups or individuals bringing special programs to campus, such as trainings, for which there is no group already established.

The Center would help to manage material resources as well as an activism library and central record-keeping system for activist groups and would help to sustain projects and groups over many years.

In order to make the Center connected to the wider Grinnell community and the outside world, we plan to include networking as a central feature of the Center. We would work to coordinate and publicize the activities of students, faculty, staff and the Grinnell community, as well as maintain connections with alumni and activists at other schools.

Because an integral part of coordinating activism across campus is giving activists a space to find and interact with one another, we seek to make the Center a comfortable space for activists to spend time together.

We envision an open and welcoming community, and we believe that an "activist" group or person is self-defined. Therefore, we encourage anyone who defines her/himself as an activist to be involved in the Center and make use of the resources available there.


We believe in creating a system of governance that is feasible, sustainable and as non-hierarchical as possible. We do not want to see the Center run by one or two people, but we recognize that the Center needs some sort of organizational structure in order take care of its basic needs and function smoothly.


This is neither a comprehensive nor a fully agreed upon list of potential components of the Center. These are simply ideas of things we would like to see in a future Center.

  • Public bulletin board
  • Large, well-maintained event calendar
  • Activist library
  • Filing cabinet and online access to centralized activist group/project records
  • Email address and office space for centralized communication
  • Fax machine, printer and copier nearby, as well as a dedicated computer and phone
  • Well-maintained lists of Grinnell activists, media contacts and activist groups at other colleges
  • Couch, comfy chairs and/or sitting cushions §
  • Banner-making materials §
  • Check-out materials including such things as megaphones, clipboards, flag poles, etc. §
  • To-Do list of all the stuff we mean to do

§ Offerings that are lowest priorities, particularly in the first year of the Center
(Please see discussion here.)

The Coordinating Committee

Governance of the Center would be by a Coordinating Committee with representatives from as many groups as would like to participate, as well as others. We would recommend that each group only send one representative, but if a group wants to send zero or two representatives, that is fine as well. The Committee would also be open to any interested individuals, including staff, faculty and community members. We foresee the Committee being somewhat self-selecting, although keeping the number of committee members to around 10 or 12 would be advisable. If the number of people on the Committee becomes overwhelming, this would be an issue for the Committee to address.

Administrative Assistants
The Committee would include two part-time paid administrative assistants, who would maintain the daily, mundane operations of the Center. However, they would serve at the pleasure of the Committee as a whole. (Significant decisions would be left to the Committee, and the administrative assistants would participate in these decisions as Committee members, rather than on their own.) The duties of the administrative assistants (or "Mundane People," as they were once termed) would include the following:

  • Maintain email account and be a sort of "switchboard" through which email contact would be coordinated
  • Assist in caring for the Center's physical space (e.g. clean up, stock paper)
  • Coordinate volunteer monitors of the Center (see below)
  • Coordinate reservations for the use of Center space for meetings and other activities
  • Maintain and solicit contributions to the large events calendar in the Center, so that it is current and well-used
  • Budget
    • Secure funding for Center operations and purchases, preferably from more than one source
    • Track all purchases and regularly report to the group
    • Draft future itemized budgets, based upon the Committee's decisions
    • Assist groups and individuals in finding funding for their activities
  • (perhaps) Work with Liason person (see below) to track events and help promote them among other activists and the campus

Unpaid Positions on Committee
The Committee also would include several defined volunteer positions divided among its members. There has been disagreement about the specific nature of these, but several possible positions are listed below. We expect them to become more solidified as the Committee begins meeting.

All positions on the Committee would be rotated by semester. One idea is to make them yearlong positions but offset by a semester, so there would be overlap. This could help create more continuity from semester to semester.

As aforementioned, this is a list of ideas, not solidified positions.

  • Liason
    • Maintain contact with groups at other schools
    • Promote contact/sharing/coordination between students, faculty, staff and community
  • Librarian/Check-Out
    • Manage check-out system for books, videos, megaphones and whatever else is available for checking-out to students
    • Track overdue materials
    • Solicit donations and manage purchasing of new materials, based on input from the Committee and greater activist community
  • Historian(s)/Historian Group
    • Gather past records of Grinnell activist groups and project in a central filing cabinet and/or online
    • Continue to collect records from current activist activities
    • Keep records organized and available for use
    • Release a semesterly publication recording events in activism at Grinnell

Volunteer Monitors

Volunteer monitors, similar to those who monitor the SRC, would be solicited from groups and individuals who use the Center. Although the Center would remain open throughout the day, a volunteers would monitor the Center during peak hours (likely afternoon and evening).

In order to cut down on lost items, the library and other check-out materials would only be available while a monitor is on hand. Monitors would be responsible for properly recording all check-outs, so that they could be easily maintained by the administrative assistants.

>> Structure group organized by Caitlin


After two meetings with Tom Crady, we are encouraged that the administration is open to allowing us space on the east side of the third floor of the Campus Center. We believe this demonstrates the College's commitment to activism on campus. Currently, we have been offered the small group meeting space (unknown dimensions) near the north/middle of the building. According to Mr. Crady, such a space would be outfitted with a desk, computer, book shelves and filing cabinets. A library would be feasible, he said. There is a very large meeting space just south of this room, which would include a copier, fax, printer, butcher paper and so on.

All four rooms on this east side of the 3rd floor were originally slated to be student group space. The northernmost room (the smallest) will be the Stonewall Resource Center library. The southernmost room (one of the largest) will be used for storage lockers open to all student groups. Of the two middle rooms, we would like the dedicated use of the smaller of these, with the potential to spill over into the larger room. The larger room would be open to all individuals and groups, and we foresee it being used as both working and meeting space. According to Mr. Crady, there is currently no plan for managing reservations, copier use or general maintainance (e.g. supplies purchasing) of the larger working room. We believe the Center could be a caretaker for this room, due to its close proximity (next door). We cannot foresee exactly how the larger room will be used, but we believe the Center would manage it well and assure that it remain open to everyone on campus, without bias.

(To be removed later:) In the course of planning for the Center, we have considered a number of potential physical locations, including,

  • An off-campus house
  • A currently vacant pit room/lounge
  • The student group space in the Campus Center

Disadvantages of the Campus Center space included its lack of character, its lack of privacy. However, the other options would not allow anyone but students to access the Center and have other accessibility disadvantages. A Campus Center space, on the other hand, would provide more visibility, allow easy access and be near the highest concentration of campus activity.

(A controversial point:) Another item on the table has been to request an additional satellite space wherein materials could be stored and more "underground" activities could be undertaken. The idea last on the table was to recognize this as a need but push for one public space at the start rather than two.

(Please feel free to discuss this topic here.)

>> Location group organized by Christina


We are determined to find sufficient funding in order to accomplish two goals,

  • to get the Center off to a strong start with all the necessary materials, and
  • to preserve the continuity of the Center and expand the resources available to activist groups, the student body and interested faculty/staff.

Initially, we expect to need money to cover the costs of various supplies, such as paper and ink for banners, posters, letters, calendars, tape, envelopes and stamps. We hope to fund these items, as well as others indeterminable in these planning stages, with money from the SGA "slush fund," as well as other sources, such as the Student Activities Fund and grants.

Future expenses will include, but not be limited to,

  • Two paid student positions
  • Continuing to build library offerings and restocking expended office-supply items as needed
  • Any other miscellaneous costs

After establishing the Center as a viable resource, we hope to receive more stable funding from Student Affairs and/or SGA. Additional financial support may come from fundraising efforts designed to fill the additional need of spreading the word for our cause (t-shirt sales, benefit concerts, dry Harris parties, etc.).

Itemized Budget

Fill in the prices for whatever you can and adjust the totals as necessary.

General/Office Supplies

  • Startup
    • Stapler (x2): 20.00 (40.00)
    • Scissors (x3-4): 2.50 (10.00)
    • Dry Erase Boards (x2): 43.00 (86.00)
    • Board Erasers (x2): 2.00 (4.00)
    • Clipboards (x3): 3.00 (9.00)
    • Texas Markers-12 colors: 299.50 [159 for 6 colors]
      • Subtotal:448.50
  • Yearly
    • Copy Paper (5000 sheets) (x4): 25.99 (104.00)
    • Butcher (banner) Paper (24" x 150') (x2): 20.99 (42.00)
    • Legal, misc. Paper (100 sheets) (x10): 2.59 (25.90)
    • Ink (x4): 20.00 (80.00)
    • Toner: 100.00
    • Texas Marker Refills-12 colors: 2.99
    • Tape (masking, scotch, duct): 40.00
    • Dry Erase Markers (2x8-packs): 9.00 (18.00)
    • 3-Ring Binders (x5): 2.00 to 6.00 (20.00)
    • Page Protectors (5x10-pack): 4.00 (20.00)
    • Folders (100): 5.99
    • Paperclips: 1.00
    • Staples: 3.00
    • Envelopes-commercial size (500): 5.99
    • Envelopes-catalog size (2x50): 11.98
    • Stamps (250): 95.00
    • Tacks (200) 1.98
    • Long Distance Phone Acct.
      • Subtotal:577.83+ phone acct
        • TOTAL:1026.33+ phone acct


  • Startup
    • Books, Videos, Posters
      • Subtotal: 3,000
  • Yearly
    • Books, Videos, Posters
      • Subtotal: 300
        • TOTAL: 3,300


  • Yearly
    • Student Administrators (x2)
      • Per hour: 6.95 (13.90)
      • Five Hours per week: 34.75 (69.50)
      • 16 weeks per semester: 556.00 (1,112)
      • Two semesters: 1,112 (2,224)
        • TOTAL: $2,224


        • TOTAL:


Miscellaneous notes:

  • We want to set up an account through Student Affairs as soon as possible so that money from the SGA slush fund can be easily diverted when necessary. We also need to talk to President Osgood about the "slush funds" he's in charge of.
  • Items we may want in the budget in the future:
  1. Publishing costs for an end-of-the-year report
  2. Communication & Events for speakers, symposiums, etc.
  3. Event Attendance Supplies or Action Resources for event attendance

Please add any more budgetary concerns you may have -- all suggestions welcome!

>> Funding group organized by Emily


The aim of the Center's networking would be to supplement material resources with the ability to contact a wide array of activists and media sources. These would include students at other schools, alumni, faculty and community members. With these open lines of communication, the sharing of information, advice and coordination of events can be made easier and more effective. Optimally, our network will become a way for activists all over the region to organize. This would make it possible to connect Grinnell activism with activism beyond the boundaries of the campus.

The implementation of an activist network includes compiling a list of contacts that could be accessed by a multitude of Grinnell organizers. The list could be utilized when sending out emails and newsletters regarding events and programs, both within Iowa and without. The list may include,

  • students at other schools who are organizing around similar issues or have experience in activism
  • faculty who are knowledgeable and interested in specific subjects
  • alumni
  • Student-faculty coordinating committees such as the Rosenfield Program Committee, Peace Studies Program Committee and the Center for Prarie Studies
  • Other Grinnell community members
    • Grinnell College staff
    • high school students and faculty
    • local government leaders
    • and more!

Beyond this ally contact list, there is the possibility for an array of different methods of networking including,

  • creating ties with local media
  • writing for various Grinnell publications

Through networking, we hope to help activists think and organize both on a larger scale, as well as on a campus-based scale and provide them with the means to do so.

>> Networking group organized by Dayna


In an effort to show broad support for this idea, we're trying to collect as many names of groups and individuals as possible. If you like the ideas described in this proposal, we'd love to have your support, as well as information so we may contact you in the future.

To add your endorsement, please click here.

It's true that this proposal is editable, so the details may be revised, but the general ideas of the Center won't change.

Please include the following:

#) Group name ~ Contact info
1) Poverty Action Now -

2) Conscious Consumer Coalition ~

3) Free the Planet ~

4) Latin American Solidarity Group ~

5) Students for Choice and Sexual Education ~

6) STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) ~

7) Peace Walk ~

8) Habitat for Humanity ~

9) Queer People of Color ~

10) The members of Amnesty International's Grinnell Chapter ~

11) The Salad ~

12) Student Organization of Latino/as ~

Please include as much of the following as you're willing:

#) Name ~ Relationship to Grinnell Col. ~ Contact info/Location
Groups involved in ~ Interest in activism and this center
a) Ben Howvya '75 ~ alum ~; 900.474.6635; SF, CA
Alumni Council ~ I sell birdseed out of my car...1900 miles from Grinnell, so I won't be able to offer you any of my talents. That said, I wish you the best, and I'm putting 15 pounds of birdseed in the mail tomorrow.

1) Ben Weyl '07 ~
Free The Planet, Campus Democrats

2) Adam Barrett '08 ~ student ~
FTP, Amnesty

3) Cat Pierro '08 ~

4) Latona Giwa '09 ~

5) Linn Davis '08 ~ student ~
Peace Studies, EcoCampus, formerly SCIPE, SGA

6) George Drake '56 ~ Professor and President Emeritus

7) Clare Patterson '08 ~ Patterso [at] grinnell [dot] edu
STAND, SCIPE & SGA (Election Board)

8) Caroline Rodriguez '08 ~ student ~
Students for Choice and Sexual Education, formerly FTP

9) Emily Reiersgaard '08 ~

10) Mark Root-Wiley '09 ~

11) Theresa Bruckner '06 ~
Feminist Action Coalition (FAC)

12) Jamie Zwiebel '08 ~
The Salad, Amnesty, GCCF

13) Maurie Kathan '08 ~
Free the Planet

14) Christina Reynolds '08 ~

15) Chris Neubert '08 ~
Amnesty, Student Staff

16) Megan Straughan '07 ~
Social Justice Action Group (SJAG), Poverty Action Now

17) Fiona M. Martin '08 ~ martinfi [at]
Free the Planet, and formerly Grinnellians for Economic and Social Diversity

18) Erica Garrecht-Williams '08 ~
Free the Planet, Student Staff, Prison Writers Workshop, Alternative Break

19) Jon Henry '07 ~
Free the Planet

20) Laura LaBedz '06 ~ Student ~
Former member of Free the Planet and the Campus Democrats and former co-leader of Feminist Action Coalition. Once wrote an article for the Salad.

21) Caitlin Carmody '08 ~ student ~

22)Rebecca McLaughlin '08 ~ student ~
Alternative Break, Social Justice Action Group, Poverty Action Now

23) Spencer Green '08 ~ student ~
Conscious Consumer Coalition, sometime member of FAC, SOL, and the now-defunct Pro-Life group

24) Jeffrey Raderstrong '09 ~ student ~

25) Allison Amphlett '08 ~ student ~
Free the Planet, STAND

26) Amy Drake '08 ~ student ~

27) Nora Skelly '08 ~ student ~
SGA senator, sometime Latin American Solidarity and Students for Choice & Sexual Education

28) Erin Sindewald '08 ~

29) Ben Klooster '08 ~
SJAG, Big Brothers/Big Sisters

30) Daniel Letchinger '07 ~
Palestinian Solidarity Group, B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society)

31) Alex Brooks '08 ~
SGA Senator, Alt-Brk leader

32) Vicki Foss '08 ~ student ~
Alternative Break, Alternative Happy Hour, formerly Davis Buddies

33) Christine Wang '08 ~

34) Brad Bishop '08 ~
GCCF, SGA Cabinet, Cross Country, DestiNation ImagiNation, FBLA-PBL, TC Corps, Campus Bikes

35) Junayd Mahmood '09
Rosenfield Committee, Palestinian Solidarity Group

36) Laura Deavers '08 ~
Campus Dems, Students for Fallon, Grinnell Sewers

37) Nicholas Blencowe '08 ~ student ~
SGA (Senator and Cabinet), Stoneco, SJAG, SAA, Alumni Council 2006-2007

38) Eric Nost '09 ~
SCIPE, Debating Union, Students for Fallon

39) Wil M. Contreras '08 ~ contrer1[at]grinnell[dot]edu
TC Corps, East Campus Senator

40) Ian Orr '08 ~

41) Will Flagle '09 ~ flaglewi[at]grinnell[dot]edu

42) Julia Edwards '07 ~
East Campus Hall Social Life Coordinator, SGA Student Services Coordinator 2006-2007, Habitat for Humanity

43) Michael Tran '08 ~
AAC, GMA, MC Intern

44) Sidonie Straughn-Morse '08 ~ straughn[at]grinnell[dot]edu

45) Kirby Ramstad '08 ~
Students for Choice and Sexual Education

46) Anna Prescott '07 ~

47) Rebecca Jacobson '07 ~ student ~ jacobso1 at grinnell dot edu
Student Staff

48) Emily Willborn '08 ~ student ~
Conscious Consumer Coalition

49) Alisha Saville '09 ~

50) Emily Kugisaki '09 ~
Peace Walk, Alternative Break, ESL Tutoring, Free The Planet

51) Katie McMullen '09 ~student ~
Habitat for Humanity, Student Staff '06/07

52) Jenny Dale '06 ~ student ~
Latin American Solidarity Group

53) Bob Cadmus ~ Professor of Physics

54) Sarah Mirk '08 ~ student ~
Prison classes, Alt Break, Publications

55) Ben King '07 ~ student ~ kingbenj[at]grinnell[dot]edu
Poverty Action Now, STAND, former ESL tutoring

56) Luis Fernandez ~ Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

57) Heather Craig '09 ~
The Salad, GMA, QPOC

58) Lindsay Robinson '09 ~
MC Intern, QPOC, CBS

59) Sara Cowan '08 ~
Students for Choice and Sexual Education, Chalutzim

60) Lorelei Kelly '08 ~
Amnesty International

61) Mallory Inman '09 ~

62) Freeda Brook '07 ~
FTP, Campus Democrats, STAND, Debrief

63) Phoebe Souza '08 ~
Conscious Consumer Coalition

64) Flor Revolorio '08 ~ student ~
Co-leader of SOL




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