COVID-19 Open Letter to President Kington

On Wednesday, April 8th, the UGSDW Executive Board sent an open letter to President Raynard Kington detailing concerns about Grinnell Colleges response to the coronavirus crisis. Read the letter below:

Dear President Kington,

The global spread of COVID-19 has drastically changed the Grinnell College landscape. While we appreciate the necessity of distant learning, it has opened novel issues that, if left unaddressed, are highly detrimental to student workers’ health and well-being. UGSDW reached out to student workers to understand what their concerns are in this unprecedented time. Many expressed concerns over their health working on campus, financial stability, and job accessibility. As the situation progresses and we all have to adjust to this unusual circumstance, we demand that the College takes action to adapt to all student and non-student workers’ needs. We are writing this letter and issuing these demands to speak up for all workers in the Grinnell College community.

We demand that any further policies address the following pressing issues:

Health and safety: To ensure the health of not only workers themselves but also the larger Grinnell community, Grinnell College must have workplace health protections for all on-campus workers, including but not limited to paid sick leave and, when appropriate, personal protective gear.

Financial security: Disruptions in work schedules have financially destabilized student workers, who depended on their jobs to fulfill their work-study and other financial needs. Grinnell College must ensure the financial stability of student workers by instituting policies, including but not limited to expanding on-campus and remote job opportunities and offering sufficient financial grant to replace lost income due to COVID-19-related disruptions.

Equitable employment practices: Grinnell College must ensure that all policy changes are applied equitably. For example, new job opportunities must be publicly accessible to every student worker (e.g. on Handshake), and include clear expectations for qualification, hours, tasks, and compensation.

Transparency from administration: We understand that the situation is changing daily, but all student workers expect to be kept up-to-date during the decision-making process on any student work arrangement for adequate student worker input.

Now more than ever, it is clear how student and non-student workers are essential to the College’s functioning. We truly appreciate that Grinnell College has taken swift action to protect Grinnell College students and the community at large, but unfortunately, student workers’ voices have not been fully heard and their urgent concerns not addressed. True solutions that work for all will only come when the decision-making process includes the workers most affected.


UGSDW Executive Board

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