By Grace Hitzeman
Student Council members are readying to meet with the Board of Trustees when the latter visit campus from April 25 to 27 to discuss how students and Student Council will relate to the new president, and how to to keep staff salaries commensurate and competitive.
Senior Class Representative to Student Council Jen Vihon ’13 said Kenyon has “extremely capable staff members and extremely caring staff members and we want to make sure that we keep them around Kenyon because we believe they are central to Kenyon’s growth and to Kenyon’s culture,” she said.
“We don’t want to lose these staff members to other schools that offer more competitive salaries.”
“The discussion of staff salaries not only relates to administrators; ﾅ it also extends to maintenance, it extends to safety, it extends to plenty of other workers on campus,” Vihon said. “They should absolutely be paid a salary that respects the purpose of their job.”
At their last meeting in February, the trustees raised salaries by two percent for non-faculty and non-unionized employees.
Other students who have been offered the opportunity to meet with the trustees include Greek Council President Andrew Tint ’13, Senior Class President Ryan Liegner ’13 and Kenny Fedorko ’13. Fedorko attributes his invitation to his role as a Community Advisor (CA), his high level of involvement on campus and “greater understanding of this community.”
Tint said that invitees tend to be Student Council leaders, prominent CAs and “bright students.”
Many members of Dean of Students Hank Toutain’s advisory council are invited to meet and speak with trustees. Trustees are typically “trying to get a better handle on what’s going on amongst the students”, said Tint. “I think they take in as much [of students’ opinions] as they can,” he said.
Fedorko has discussed top-down and bottom-up issues with the trustees. Top-down issues are those in which trustees “want to check and see if there’s a problem with the community, so they check with students,” said Fedorko.
For example, the College’s deacon left a few years ago and trustees were concerned that he left a spiritual hole on campus. Bottom-up problems include issues with communication: between students and student council, and students and trustees.
During the presidential search, trustees asked Tint what he would like to see in the next president. In the meeting this April, Tint anticipates discussing the maintenance contracts with the trustees.
Though most of the student body is not actively involved in offering suggestions or feedback during official meetings, it is not uncommon for trustees to sit and talk with students in Peirce. Vihon spoke with one trustee when he approached her and her Relay for Life co-chair in Peirce. “He seemed receptive to our feedback and truly excited to be talking to real students,” said Vihon.
Liegner said his impression of the trustees’ role is that they “are the primary decision-maker for large, college strategic initiatives.”
He also believes that they play an important role in providing Student Council with a “bird’s eye view of the institution, that we can better direct our actions.”
“They’re community members too, so I think it’s important to listen to their concerns, even though they don’t live here,” Fedorko said.
Fedorko suggested opening meetings in order to make the trustees more tangible figures. It’s a recommendation he hopes to bring up at the upcoming meeting.
“The trustees do really seem interested in what the students have to say and they do seem very student-oriented, despite the fact they’re only on campus a couple times a year,” Vihon said.