By Seth Taylor
On Monday night, an activist summit hosted by Morgane Garnier ’19 and Evan Feldberg-Bannatyne ’20 brought together activists representing various interests, backgrounds and issues to form a coalition of Grinnell College students implementing change. It marked the year’s first meeting of Grinnell Student Resistance. Those in attendance heard from Austin Frerick ’12, a Democratic congressional candidate for Iowa’s 3rd district, before sharing their own thoughts on activism in Grinnell and helping to shape some guiding principles for the Grinnell Student Resistance.
“[The activist community] has been very elusive at Grinnell and just kind of fluctuates based on who’s here and what issues people care about,” Garnier said. “So I think [Grinnell Student Resistance] is striving for institutional memory, and it’s also partially striving for being more effective together.”
The coalition consists of activists from well-established groups on campus as well as individuals with specific interests, broad social justice goals and varying degrees of experience. Narz Diane ’20 attended the meeting on a whim but came away enthusiastic.
“There are so many more people who really care and who are willing to be open-minded and discuss different options and opinions with you,” Diane said. “The coalition is really important because it shows us that even though we may be activists within our identity-based groups we can extend those beliefs … so we can connect with other people and sort of strengthen … bonds between communities.”
Feldberg-Bannatyne is the caretaker for the Voicebox, an activist center at the College and a host of the summit. “You don’t need to join a group, get on board with the group’s agenda, get on board with their theories of activism … [to] then be able to, as an upperclassman, be an established activist,” Feldberg-Bannatyne said.
“You get to care about what you want to care about, and then you’re going to have people who have experience who are going to help you manifest what you want to do,” Garnier added.
Both Garnier and Feldberg-Bannatyne identified similar goals for this year’s activists, citing the divide between Grinnell the College and Grinnell the City.
“My goal is to push beyond this community and to think about the real people that live here every day that aren’t here for just four years and that are going to be affected by the work that we don’t do,” Garnier said. While Garnier recognizes the unique stresses of the Grinnell environment, she has a message for students.
“Show up,” she said. “Manage your time so you can make space for this.”
Diane had some advice for beginning activists as well.
“Activism can be as much as printing a poster and putting it on your dorm door. It can be signing a petition. It doesn’t have to be radical,” Diane said. “Activism shouldn’t be called activism. It should just be called common sense.”
The next meeting of the Grinnell Student Resistance will be held on Sept. 16.