MICHAEL CUMMINGS, Staff Writer
Grinnell recently announced a new policy change that will make it easier to regulate and protect minors on campus, according to a campus memo sent out on Nov. 10. According to the memo, the goal of the program is to “protect the safety of children when they are on campus or participating in a program sponsored by the College.”
Previously, each department which dealt with children determined its own minor protection policy. College officials say that a uniform policy reduces inconsistency and makes the College’s dealings with minors easier.
“This policy will create campus-wide standards for how to work with minors so that everyone is clear and consistent about expectations for working with minors,” wrote Ashley Schaefer, Director of Careers in Education Professions and Rachel Bly, Director of Conference Operations and Events in an email to The S&B. “The new policy change requests that program directors provide full background checks on themselves, that students receive training about how to work with minors and that we have signed waivers on the parts of parents and students.”
The reasons for this new policy include making everyone involved feel more comfortable and adding levels of trust and understanding to interactions between minors and the Grinnell community.
“This policy was implemented to ensure that everyone on campus has a shared understanding of expectations when working with minors,” Schaefer and Bly wrote. “We want students to be safe on campus and we want their parents to feel safe leaving their children with us as well. It’s in everyone’s best interests to have a consistent expectation for working with children.”
The policy is intended to protect minors of any kind on campus, including prospective students, Grinnell High School students taking classes at the College and children at the Preschool.
Schaefer and Bly explained that the policy covers all minors, “whether they are here visiting on a weekend to learn about Grinnell College, or whether they are participating in a sports activity sponsored by an athletic group on campus, or whether they are taking a class as a dual-credit offering.”
They added that the policy will also benefit Grinnell College students.
“It also protects the college students who are working with those minors to feel comfortable knowing what to do when their minor students need to do something as simple as use the restroom.”
This will help to ensure that students, faculty and staff members who interact with minors have had the proper training prior to their interactions.
“All students who work with minors during an activity should receive some sort of training to prepare them for the rules and regulations of working with minors. It should also make them more aware of ratios of adults to minors. For example, it’s not okay to have 20 minors with only two college students as leaders if the minors are age 6,” Schaefer and Bly wrote.
Overall, Bly and Schaefer emphasized that this standardization was necessary and extremely beneficial to the College.
“Most colleges have policies like this and the goal is safety for everyone involved,” they wrote.