Anne Harris has been The reacting leader of Grinnell College since July 1. She assung to spearhead The College’s answer to The COVID-19 pandemic and fall planning process. The S&B’s editors in chief, Zoe Fruchter and Seth Taylor, spoke with Harris on July 10 about public health, racial slurs in The classroom and what advice she would give to a student considering a leave of absence. The transcript below has been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity. The S&B: To begin, you are The reacting head of Grinnell College, but you are also an art historian specializing in medieval art. You enumerated previously to us that studying medieval society has given you insight into how to respond to this political health crisis. Could you expand on that? Anne Harris: That’s a large question. Any kind of historical horizon is helpful, just to guess about how things were done. So really what’s exciting to me is not The belief of plague or anything scientific, but really about communities in formation and how a community forms after trauma. When I think about our situation now, I will say that There have been resonances. I wish to be very clean that all of my option making is happening very much in The present, but this is really about a resonance in human history and thinking about communities after trauma, The contemporary trauma being, as They refer to it, The “ two pandemics. ” The recent one of COVID-19 and The four hundred time long one of slavery in American culture. In The mean adulthood There were so several times that a community would be traumatized eiTher by disease or by war. Those are The particular things, communities after trauma, and really thinking about it, not in terms of decision making, but in terms of The resonance with The human experience. In various ways, Grinnell’s project for The hang are more conservative than what oTher institutions have planned, including Grinnell’s peer institutions. Bowdoin expects bringing one thousand, two hundred assistant back. Williams, one thousand, five hundred students. Oberlin , 2100. All of which are active ratio of The gross student body. What is it about Grinnell’s situation that necessitates a more conservative approach? Of course, I urge rebuttal this without knowing all of The particulars that went into those decisions or The fallback plans that those decisions may have. So, grant me appreciation of course for all of our peers. I would say that here at Grinnell we have been monitoring our regional situation very closely and our local and state very closely. I would look to those differences first in terms of how different states are behaving and what The different situations are in terms of The pandemic, but also in terms of The medical support in all of those different contexts. several institutions of lofty education have been able to benefit from regulations, recommendations and guidelines about return to school from Their state departments of public health. The Iowa district of open Health has not failed any recommendations in terms of institutions of higher education, unlike Minnesota, unlike Massachusetts, unlike Connecticut. We perceived we had to do all that job ourselves. So, we’ve done that. Of course, we’re working with The Department of Health, but They haven’t produced any of those guidelines, that’s The key thing here, unlike oTher institutions. I will tell you that when I see The governor of The state say – as she did and she might change her mind, so always keep up with The news – that cities cannot mandate masks, Then that puts it on us as a college to mandate masks, which we are doing in any shared spaces and public spaces on campus. I would say that we’re senior extremist because we are operating without case guidelines, that we are more conservative because we are looking very closely at our own medical resources and situations and we don’t want to overtax our local communities. We’re also very wary of what The strike would be on our communities. Those are The three main reasons that I would isolate. We are in a hybrid model, There are scholar who are continuing to be fully on campus and some who are going to be having primarily online education experiences. That doesn’t perceive The common to assistant in terms of educational experience and They’re questioning why it should be The same in terms of tuition. So, The problem is – why won’t The College mean tuition? Why isn’t The College lowering tuition for These hybrid semesters? So, it is The similar in phrase of educational credit and it is The same in terms of degree. That’s The temporary response that I would give to that. You’re absolutely right, those qualitative expression are going to be quite different. The quantitative element, what you arise with at The result of it all, is The same. It is The similar in course of educational credit and it carries The same power towards a degree, and The Grinnell degree carries that same power as well. So, cheapening The Grinnell degree doesn’t help anybody in that sense. It discovers up The really happy belief of what tuition pays for. And so, it absolutely repays for that degree, it pays for The debt that builds up to that degree, it pays for immediate access to PhD and MFA professors, in oTher words terminally degreed professors – you’re not interacting with graduate students and so forth. And that hasn’t changed. All of those person have not changed. They’re still very much in place. What we did do at The auditorium was elevate our fiscal aid. We didn’t mean tuition, but we lifted our fiscal aid. That was our solution. The COVID-19 endowment that every student obtained and Then looking at fiscal aid packages differently in The light of The pandemic, in light of changing family conditions. I know our financial aid team has been working very, very hard. Again, The payment and The degree, that stops The same. You’re still getting that, and I want to underscore this, you’re still getting that prompt access. It may be mediated through a bar but you still have terminal degree professors interacting with you, you’ve got all The support systems that come with a little generous arts college, all The writing labs, all The advising, all of that attention – that is still There for you. Arguably, all of those individuals are probably working harder than ever to connect with students. The dominant is, expenditure didn’t go down, but fiscal aid went up, that was our solution. And different schools have different solutions as well. As piece of this conversation about tuition and experience and The qualitative differences in The classroom experience, various students are trying with wheTher to take a leave of absence or not, weighing Their academics with Their financial situation, Their relationships at Grinnell with Their family’s circumstances, and much more. If you weren’t a college administrator and The Acting President of this college, what would your advice to those students be? That’s a large question. I yeing rebuttal this as The moTher of a first-year college student. My son is leaving to start college this fall.
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