Planning a Multicultural Alumni Weekend

Planning a Multicultural Alumni Weekend
Rhonda Stuart ’86

Rhonda Stuart

Diversity and inclusion have long been core values of Grinnell College. Today, 26 percent of the College’s students are domestic students of color, 18 percent international students, nearly 17 percent are first-generation students, and many are students who openly identify as LGBTQIA+. Yet Grinnell has not always been able to meet its goals of inclusiveness, which has caused some alumni to feel disconnected from the College, both during their studies and after graduation.

In the summer of 2016, the Alumni Council created a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which hopes to play its part in rebuilding and strengthening relationships between the College, alumni of color, LGBTQIA+ alumni, alumni with disabilities, international alumni, and first-generation alumni. One result of this new committee has been a collaborative effort to organize and host the College’s first ever Multicultural Alumni Weekend Nov. 10–12. A planning committee of students and alumni is developing a program for the event.  

The Multicultural Alumni Weekend is an opportunity to build on the collaborative relationships happening within the Multicultural Leadership Council, comprised of leadership from many of its cultural affinity student organizations (see below). Although some alumni may not recognize the names of these groups based on their own experiences at the College, the Multicultural Alumni Weekend Planning Committee and I, as chair, invite all alumni who currently identify with any of these groups to join us for an excellent weekend of connecting with other alumni and the College’s current faculty, students, and staff. Carlos Andrés Gómez, an award-winning poet, actor, speaker, and writer, will be our keynote speaker. He is the author of the coming-of-age memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood and was named 2016 Best Diversity Artist by Campus Activities Magazine

We are working hard to make this historic gathering enjoyable and memorable. Our planning committee is itself diverse, consisting of persons who identify with one or more cultural affinity groups on campus and who span decades from the 1960s to the 2010s. The oldest alumni committee member of the group is Ed Atkins ’66, who was one of just four African American students in his class: and the youngest alumni committee member is Dan Davis ’16, who was a QuestBridge Scholar and served as president of the Student Government Association. 

The planning committee is hopeful that this Multicultural Alumni Weekend will be welcoming and engaging for both current students and alumni and will either rekindle or strengthen a love for Grinnell College. We promise tons of fun, good food and drink, interactive learning opportunities, and some promising updates about the College’s current priorities and plans as they relate to diversity and inclusion. In all, we are very excited for this opportunity and hope to see hundreds of alumni back on campus for a fun-filled weekend of positive engagement. 

Student groups

Grinnell boasts a number of religious and cultural affinity groups, including but not limited to:

  • African and Caribbean Student Union (ACSU)
  • Asian and Asian American Association (AAA)
  • South Asian Student Organization (SASO)
  • Concerned Black Students (CBS)
  • Chalutzim
  • Chinese Student Association
  • Crecemos Unidos
  • Project Pengyou
  • Queer Athletes and Allies (QAA)
  • Student Organization of Latinxs (SOL) 
  • Stonewall Resource Center, which houses several LGBTQIA+ groups 
  • Young Muslim Sisters 
  • Yes We Can (centered around student health and disabilities)

The Alumni Council is a group of 26 Grinnell alumni and two student representatives working with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. 

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