As a usually proud alum of Grinnell College, class of 1984, I was shocked and appalled to read [in The Des Moines Register] that the College is fighting the unionization efforts of its students and potentially threatening the organizing rights of college students across the United States. Such action couldn’t be further from Grinnell’s proudest traditions of promoting social justice. When Debra Lukehart, a Grinnell spokesperson, argues that unionization undermines the College’s core educational mission and inserts priorities that are “economic, not educational, into learning outside the classroom,” she misses the boat. To paraphrase the U.S. Supreme Court in its Tinker v. Des Moines School Board decision from 50 years ago, students don’t shed their rights to economic justice at the schoolhouse gate. On a practical matter, less than two percent of Grinnell’s operating expenses go toward student salaries. Is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in opposing unionization really worth the risk of alienating donors and alumni who expect more from our alma mater
Editor’s note: For context, for the 2016–17 school year, institutional grant aid to students comprised about 27 percent of Grinnell’s operational budget.