As current Student Council President George Costanzo ‘19 prepares to graduate, Kenyon welcomes a new student body president: Delaney Barker ’20, a political science major with concentrations in law and society and public policy. Barker currently serves on the Council as the Vice President of Academic Affairs. In addition to Student Council, Barker serves as President of Two Drink Minimum, the College’s stand-up comedy group.
Barker was first elected to Student Council when, after serving on Campus Senate as a sophomore, she decided to run for Vice President of Academic Affairs. “I just thought it was really cool that a bunch of students were getting together and talking about these issues, and I felt like [Student Council] was the place to be for decisions,” Barker said.
While leading the Academic Affairs Committee, Barker built relationships with administrators and was struck by the level of miscommunication between the administration and the student body. “I think that a lot of students … tend to only see the bad part[s] about administrators, when the [administrators] that I know are really nice and care about students.” Barker said. “Do they do everything perfectly? No, but they try.”
Barker was motivated to run for Student Council President to create more transparency between students and the administration. She plans on having her own “office hours” that would allow students to express their complaints to her, which she would relay to Student Council. She believes that this would help make the administration more accessible to students and cultivate unity between the two groups. “At the end of the day, administrators do things because they care about students and they want to make the process better,” Barker said. “I think if I could get students to realize that, there would be a much better feeling on campus overall.”
Barker noted a number of current issues on campus, including blacklisting at all-campus parties. She acknowledged that blacklisting is a complex issue, but ultimately feels that it is necessary in some situations. “At a certain point, it’s necessary [to blacklist]. If some person has repeatedly assaulted people … you need to keep this person out of the space, but that’s a far line. Where do you draw the line in the sand with that?” Barker said. However, she emphasized the need to inform blacklisted people of why they are denied entrance to a party. “I think part of trying to get people to change is telling them what the problem is,” she said. “I think by pushing people away into a corner of Kenyon society without knowing why, there’s no way they can come back if they don’t know how to change.”
Though acknowledging that Kenyon’s lack of diversity is out of her control, Barker also wants to elevate underrepresented voices on campus. She believes Student Council should work with student groups such as the Black Student Union, Unity House and ¡Adelante! to make low-income and minority students feel more welcome and more involved in college decisions. “I think Kenyon affinity groups are very strong and I think these groups of people … are organized and they’re here, and it would be so easy to reach out to them. I think that the fact that that doesn’t happen as often as it should is a crime,” said Barker.
Barker seeks to foster efficiency, community and diversity at Kenyon. With her keen sense of the complexity of Kenyon bureaucracy and campus politics, Barker is prepared to change the student body for the better.