Last Friday, Grinnell students packed into ARH 102 to listen to Rob Lewis, History, present his dissertation on Parisian stadium culture.
Though an obscure topic, on a Friday afternoon no less, upwards of 50 students showed up to support Lewis, who seeks to secure a tenure-track position as a Modern European History professor. Though maybe it’s a stretch to claim that every student in that room is interested in Parisian stadium culture, it isn’t a stretch to claim that many students like having Lewis teach at Grinnell College.
While the large number of students, both History and other majors, that attended this event is far from disheartening, the fact that the turnout is considered somewhat extraordinary is disheartening.
Though the turnout for Lewis was impressive, there are other positions in the English, Spanish, Math, Religious Studies, and other departments that are going to be filled in the very near future. In order to keep the faculty that makes Grinnell classes engaging, as students we should show a greater interest and enthusiasm in attending candidate presentations and getting feedback to members of SEPCs and faculty chairs.
The benefits of larger student involvement manifest themselves insofar as maintaining or ameliorating the quality of professors at Grinnell and candidates that see student enthusiasm might be more willing to come to the tundra of Iowa.
Increased student participation is not only necessary in the search for new faculty, but also in the search for new RLCs. Greater student involvement means ensuring that we gain RLCs who we can turn to, and gain RLCs who want to be involved in the Grinnell College community, thus hopefully avoiding the kind of turnover that has become typical in recent memory.