Athletes sit in Old Side. Non-athletes sit in New Side. For Nicole Horita ’18, a softball player and co-president of Kenyon College Athletes for Equality (KCAE), this is emblematic of a greater social divide at Kenyon.
“By virtue of the way you’re spending your time at Kenyon, you’re going to form small social circles of people who do the same things as you,” she said.
Through bringing about greater awareness of LGTBQ+ issues in athletics, KCAE wants to bridge the gap not only between the LGBTQ+ community and the athletic community but also between athletes and non-athletes.
“I think that there is a lot of misconception among members of both [athletes and non-athletes],” Masen Colucci ’19, a former softball player and current co-president of KCAE, wrote in an email to the Collegian.
For its programming, KCAE takes a broad approach that engages a wide range of students.
“We host events that are meant for and accessible to both [athletes and non-athletes],” Horita said.
This year, KCAE has been a model for collaboration and involvement on campus. Nearly all of its events were cosponsored by other groups.
At the beginning of the year, they co-hosted a viewing of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight with Men of Color. In October they co-hosted Shocktober Fest with Epsilon Delta Mu and raised proceeds for Kaleidoscope, a center for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies in Columbus. Recently, they brought a film festival exclusively featuring woman-identifying athletes called No Man’s Land to campus with Outdoors Club.
KCAE also co-sponsored The Gala, a formal thrown to “open up spaces on this campus that have been historically denied to overlooked and marginalized communities,” according to an email sent from the event’s organizers to the student body. Other sponsors included Kenyon Greeks for Equality, Black Student Union, Q-Dubs and the Archons Society.
But KCAE’s biggest event this year was bringing Schuyler Bailar, a Harvard University swimmer who was the first openly transgender athlete to compete on an NCAA Division I Men’s Team, to campus on March 25. Bailar spoke on gender identity, mental health and LGBTQ+ issues in athletics, but he also led a discussion with an intimate crowd at Rosse Hall.
Sam Scali ’20, a softball player who will be the co-president of KCAE next year, said that the atmosphere Bailar nurtured was particularly productive. “Having the Q&A so that everyone could ask questions that they weren’t necessarily comfortable asking in another setting was really important,” she said.
In the future, KCAE wishes to expand its impact on campus. “While our organization has focused on [the] LGBTQ+ community in athletics, I think we would like to branch out and work on tackling all types of identities within athletics,” Colucci wrote. “I think a lot of our branching out will be achieved by collaborating with other groups on campus that focus on identity.”
Horita noted a video the organization put together featuring athletes, coaches and athletic staff speaking about diversity in athletics at Kenyon. She said that LGBTQ+ issues are a unifier at Kenyon.
“[The video] showed that this kind of advocacy benefits people who are directly within our community,” Horita said. “This work impacts people who are your friends, your teammates and your classmates. It connects everyone.”