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Kenyon’s campus speaks out against sexual violence

Kenyon’s campus speaks out against sexual violence

By Kate Stephanus

Take Back the Night , an annual anti-sexual assault campaign, reminded everyone last week that nothing is sexier than enthusiastic consent. This year’s TBTN organizers said they were pleased with the turnout at the events, which ranged from discussions of the portrayal of consent in popular TV, to Speak Out, a open session in Peirce Pub where survivors of assault could tell their stories, to Light Up the Night, a carnival on Ransom Lawn.

The Business and Finance Commitee granted $4,000 for the week’s events. That money went primarily toward the carnival on Saturday, Sept. 28 in order to pay for things like balloons, the moon bounce and the dunk tank. A large portion of the budget also went toward publicity and supplies for endeavors like the “sexualitree,” an art installation in which students attached anonymous notes about their own positive sexual experiences to the “Upside-Down Tree” across from Peirce.

In the past, a significant chunk of money from the budget, granted to the Crozier Center for Women, has gone toward bringing a speaker to Kenyon. This year, however, Co-Chairs Lauren Anderson ’14 and Kelly Menzel ’15 decided to make some changes.

“We opted to put those funds towards the carnival this year, because there wasn’t anyone out there or any specific issue that we felt was important to have for the student body,” Menzel said. The co-chairs also decided, in conjuction with the organizers of queer men’s and women’s organizations on campus, to put discussion groups for queer men and women into the hands of those groups.

In years past, despite the fact that Crozier sponsored and heavily advertised these discussions, they had been under-attended and “unorganized,” according to Menzel. With this year’s changes, it was easier for people to attend the discussions anonymously, said Crozier Co-Manager Angela Bryan-Brown ’14.

Anderson believes TBTN is widely supported throughout campus, based on the number of people in attendance at Speak Out, as well as by how many clubs chose to participate in the carnival. “It’s overwhelming this year,” Anderson said. “I think we have about 23 tables of different organizations that are doing something for the carnival right now.

“That’s a lot more than in past years, and so I think that this is only becoming something that people are getting more interested in and that they care more about,” she added.

Male-oriented events, in particular, saw greater interest. “I know this year, the men’s discussion group has had the highest number of attendees that it has had in the past four years, by a large percentage,” Crozier Co-Manager Morgan McClure ’14 said.

While Kenyon generally respects the restricted party policy ラ which forbids all-campus parties ラ enacted over the weekend because of TBTN, this year there was some dissent. The College stipulated that no parties occur at the same time as Friday’s Speak Out from 7 to 9 p.m. or Saturday’s Carnival from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Outside of those times, the College permitted registered parties of fewer than 20 people. “I don’t think that [the disagreement] stems from being disrespectful or malicious in any way,” Anderson said. “I just don’t think that [people who are upset] have personally had experience with this sort of thing, or they just don’t really understand what Take Back the Night is,” Anderson said.

Menzel added, “The Greek community accepts it, and whether or not they think it makes the weekend less fun is not as important as the fact that they respect it.”

Crozier co-chairs emphasized they were ready to welcome anybody into the community who may have felt strongly about TBTN. There are weekly meetings every Sunday at 7 p.m. The next few meetings, according to Menzel, will most likely address issues or ideas brought up by TBTN. There will also be another meeting specifically geared toward volunteers with TBTN; its date and time are still to be determined.

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