All Around the Liberal Arts

By Anna Waugh

Grinnell CollegeThirty-four students received hate mail with anti-queer messages in their student mailboxes at Grinnell College. The incident occurred just five days after a streak of anti-gay vandalism on campus property on Feb. 23. Most of the students who received the hate mail were active in the campus queer community.

Messages were printed on the inside of each letter in large, bold font. “Fear God, not Fags” and “You can’t stop us fag-go and get some pussy” were some of the written insults. And it appears to be an inside job.

“It was clearly somebody who had access to a directory, and it was somebody who was on campus or could come on campus,” Associate Dean and Director of Student Life Sheree Andrews told Scarlet & Black, Grinnell’s student newspaper. “It was someone who knew, who was associated the LGBTQ community.”

Students responded to the messages in force by organizing and participating in marches, rallies and open forums. Campus police are investigating the issue. There has been some interest among students to engage the wider community in the city of Grinnell because there has been little press about the issue off campus.

Don Schild, a member of the Grinnell Human Rights Commission, said that he would like to see more student involvement with the outside community, but that past attempts to engage students and community members in conversation have met with mixed results.

“What typically happens is when there’s an incident, there’s a lot of interest [in establishing a connection] and once these incidents have waned and the problem is no longer facing everyone, that interest fades. We’ve at times been kind of frustrated that we couldn’t establish a dialogue,” Schild said. “But it’s understandable because students are really busy.”

A meeting was hosted on campus just after students received the letters to respond to the messages of hate with ones of love.

“In response to the hate mail, the most beautiful thing we’ve come up with is love mail,” Philosophy Professor Bernal Meehan, said. More than 300 students attended the event and made love letters for their friends and peers with paper and art supplies supplied by the college. He also said that despite the incidents, Grinnell is an accepting community.

“If this wasn’t an accepting community,” Bernal said, “you wouldn’t have the hundreds of people … within a few hours of an e-mail.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT has joined a growing number of colleges and universities across the country and will help undergraduates whose families make less than $75,000 a year go to college. Students in this category will no longer be responsible for any tuition. The Cambridge, Mass., university will raise its financial aid budget from $7 million to $74 million, and students with work-study will no longer have to work as many hours. For those not covered under the new financial aid package, tuition and fees will go up four percent, and full tuition will be $36,390 a year.