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Statement Regarding Resolution to Condemn Actions of Grinnell College Administrators Regarding Yik Yak

The statement below is from the 2014-2015 SGA Cabinet

5/8/2015- During the Wednesday, May 5th session of Joint Board, the Senators of the Grinnell Student Government Association voted to approve a resolution introduced by Alex Mitchell ’17 that condemned recent actions of several administrators of the college who made the decision to block access to the social media application “Yik Yak” through the college network. The vote was as follows: 10 in the affirmative, 2 in the negative, and 3 abstentions. The 2014-2015 SGA Cabinet abstained in this vote because we were ourselves divided, and our vote is meant to reflect unity.

Since the passage of the resolution, we have brought the issue to the attention of relevant administrations.

For some, Yik Yak has been a platform of community building. For others, it has been an avenue of hate and bullying. While the SGA Cabinet strongly supports principles of free speech and Self-Governance, we in no way endorse or condone this resolution, nor does this resolution represent the views of the more than 1,600 other students on campus. We believe it is misguided to condemn the administrators, but take the resolution as a call to action to engage the administration regarding control of the Grinnell College network. As Vice President for Communications Jim Reische stated in a follow-up Campus Memo, ” The College vigorously defends free speech, and at the same time state and federal laws, campus policies, and our own values require us to intervene whenever one of our people is attacked based on their gender, race, victim status, or other protected identity.” We hope that the input and feedback from all parties involved in this discussion will lead to a better self-governing community, and that the Administration will consult the student body before making similar decisions in the future.

Let us be very clear – we do not take this issue lightly, and just because the semester is coming to a close does not mean we will forget to pursue the matter after the summer break.

The resolution is available on our downloads page and reads as follows:

Resolution to Condemn Actions of Grinnell College Administrators regarding Yik Yak

Whereas, Yik Yak has acted as an anonymous community for students and faculty at Grinnell College, and

Whereas, Yik Yak’s anonymity has been abused by a small population of local users, and

Whereas, certain Grinnell administrators have ordered explicit restrictions on outbound TCP connections to Yik Yak’s servers in response to such abuse, and

Whereas, this action is clear and blatant censorship, which does not solve the underlying problem of hateful behavior, and

Whereas, the decision was made without public student input, and enacted at such a time that student response could not be published in the student newspaper in reasonable time, now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Student Government Association of Grinnell College, That the Joint Board of the Student Government Association officially condemns the actions of Vice President for Communications Jim Reische, Title IX Coordinator Angela Voos, President Raynard Kington, Dean Michael Latham, and Grinnell police chief Dennis Reilly in blocking Yik Yak on Grinnell College’s campus.


5.5.2015

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SGA will represent, serve and engage the student body in an accountable and open manner. By taking proactive measures and seeking substantive results, we aim to improve the Grinnell experience for current and future students.