Grinnell College Threatens Union Members in Latest Blow to Civil Discourse
Administration sanctions future activism using threats of potential suspensions and other disciplinary action
GRINNELL, IOWA — On Friday, November 30, UGSDW held a demonstration calling for Grinnell College to bargain in good faith and to refrain from appealing our effort to unionize to the Trump National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). During this action, student activists walked Dean of the College Mike Latham and Chief of Staff and Vice President Angela Voos from a meeting in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center to the Nollen House, the College’s primary administrative building. Throughout, participants chanted, held signs, and cheered, but maintained their distance from Latham and Voos. In fact, before the action, organizers asked each participant to respect the personal space of any administrator involved, for UGSDW members, like any Grinnellian, are dedicated to upholding respect and dignity during any action.
Later in the day, the administration e-mailed the student body a threat. They called our action “clearly intended to harass and intimidate,” citing the fact that participants “[screamed] within close proximity” of administrators and “otherwise violat[ed]” their physical space as evidence. They went on to state that in the future, protesters using similar tactics could be subject to suspension or other disciplinary action for such allegations.
Again, this is yet another threat from an administration that refuses to uphold its long tradition of civil discourse and respect the overwhelming, democratic election results. They’ve threatened financial aid, student jobs, and more. Now, they are trying to scare student activists and community members who support working students into silence. We won’t stand for it.
Federal labor law protects workers’ rights to engage in concerted activities. Any attempt from the employer to intimidate or to coerce workers engaging in such activities is unlawful. Therefore, UGSDW plans to file another unfair labor practice charge for alleged violation of federal labor law. This will put the College under four separate investigations into violations of a similar nature. We will not allow them to silence us using scare tactics like this one.
One thing remains abundantly clear: We are stronger together, and we will not allow these baseless threats to stand unchallenged. You may protest. It’s the law. Nothing – especially not threats that erode our College’s commitment to democracy and open, civil discourse – will stop our voices from being heard. Fight on!