By Grace Hitzeman
The Humanist Association at Kenyon
The Humanist Association at Kenyon is a new group that plans to provide a place for humanists and those who want to discuss a variety of social and philosophical issues. “A humanist can cover a really broad range of categories. A basic definition would be someone who pursues a secular morality,” President Holly Anderson ’13 said. “Humanists tend to have faith in people more so than God. It’s an alternative to religion. However, there can also be religious humanists.”
Professor of Asian Studies Joseph Adler provided the impetus for the organization, saying he was inspired to found one at Kenyon after he attended a conference in San Francisco on non-theistic beliefs in the West. “One of the speakers [at the conference] was the humanist chaplain at Harvard, and I talked with him and got the idea that there might be enough interest at Kenyon to establish a humanist group,” Adler said. The group has met twice so far this semester, focusing on planning future service projects and potential speakers.
62nd City is a new improv comedy group on campus, started by Mike Jest ’15. Jest felt Kenyon needed a new comedy group because at the auditions for Fools on the Hill, Kenyon’s largest improvisational comedy group, many students – about 67 – tried out, but only three were accepted. Both were upperclassmen. Jest saw the need for another comedy outlet on campus to supplement the large number of aspiring comedians.
Jest hopes to focus on long-form improv, as the Fools also focus on long-form. Jest plans to use the “Herald” form of improv structure, in which a large group remains in a huddle onstage and smaller groups break off and create sequential scenes based on a theme.
In addition to the long-form improvisation, Jest also plans to do some scripted sketches, much like the group’s namesake, Chicago’s Second City Comedy. The new group’s name is “a semi-clever play off Chicago’s Second City. If Chicago is the Second City, Gambier is about 62nd City,” Jest said.
Jest hopes to attract members for his troupe from all class years, so that the turnover rate is even. He does not want an identical troupe for all four years. Fifteen people came to the first night of auditions.
Jest views his duties as president not as dictatorial but as “more organizational. Improv is all about working together,” he said.
Jest hopes to have 62nd City’s first performance in mid- to late April. While it is impossible to practice for improvisation, “there are techniques you can use, you can establish a scene, build a character, while improvising, and you learn how to fill in details that make the scene funnier and more believable,” Jest said.
To Write Love on Her Arms
To Write Love on Her Arms officially launched last semester, but founder Gina Rickert ’14 said they are “more on their feet” this semester. To Write Love on Her Arms is a national organization that promotes awareness for mental health issues, mainly focusing on depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide,” Rickert said.
The group was formed this year because Rickert said she has “always been extremely invested in spreading awareness about mental health issues, and my freshman year I ran into a lot of people who were uneducated about mental health issues.” The group provides an important service to the Kenyon community because “the Counseling Center doesn’t focus on awareness, they focus on, once you’re aware of an issue you can go to them and get help,” Rickert said.
While TWLOHA is a national entity, the national organization has not yet recognized the Kenyon chapter because members could not attend the national convention, which occurred in Florida during Kenyon’s finals week. The group plans to send a delegate to this convention next year to receive national recognition.
Meanwhile, TWLOHA is focusing on spreading awareness of mental health issues on this campus. The group currently has between nine and 10 active members and a distribution list consisting of about 60 students. To gain name recognition, TWLOHA is working on co-sponsoring events on campus; for example, the group would like to team up with The Crozier Center for Women to produce an information session on women’s mental health issues. TWLOHA hopes to have a monthly newsletter with articles from students and counselors along with scholarly articles that can be reprinted without copyright infringement.
TWLOHA’s main goal for the semester is “to get people involved and [make] a name on campus,” Rickert said. One proposed event would involve distributing Sharpies onto tables in Peirce to allow people to literally write “love” on their arms.
For next year, the group hopes to hold concerts and host speakers, aided by the national branch of the organization. To learn more about TWLOHA, visit the group’s OrgSync page, where they will be posting most of their new information.