With Peirce Dining Hall closed and a ban on large, in-person gatherings, the social scene at Kenyon has changed and students are seeking new ways to stay connected. In-person and virtual programs at the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) have provided students with ways to socialize while still following social distancing guidelines and other COVID-19 protocols.
Through these programs, BFEC Student Managers Sarah Pazen ’22 and Cecily King ’22 hope to create a place where Kenyon students can relax and socialize while connecting with nature. “Engaging Kenyon students with the resources and trails at the BFEC is our goal,” Pazen said. Her focus has been on planning in-person events, where groups of up to nine students can explore the BFEC’s nature trails and other resources. Additionally, Pazen, who is also a service co-chair of The Archon Society, coordinated with the organization to hold the River Rally, an event in which students volunteered to help clean up the portion of the Kokosing River that flows through the BFEC.
King, on the other hand, spends most of her time planning virtual programs. “I’ve been hosting virtual scavenger hunts,” she said, which have been popular. “People have emailed us at the BFEC account to thank us for how grateful they are for the events we planned,” she said.
However, planning these programs has not been easy: both Pazen and King have been working diligently with administrators to plan their programs and to make sure that they follow Kenyon’s safety protocols. In addition, they have had to restructure some events to accommodate demand and, due to changes in protocol, have had to reschedule other programs for later dates.
The need for BFEC managers to be flexible in programming has become more important during the recently imposed quiet period. While the quiet period was in effect, Pazen explained that both of the programs she was supposed to run have been cancelled by the College. “Right now our programs are in limbo,” Pazen said.
Both Pazen and King say the setbacks have been difficult, but they are working with administrators to make sure their programs will be able to be held once the quiet period has been lifted, especially since the BFEC is one of the few places where students on campus can safely socialize. “There’s not much on campus that we can do safely, but there’s space to spread out at the BFEC,” said Pazen. “The BFEC has really been one of the biggest saving graces at the moment,” King agreed.
Ultimately, both Pazen and King hope that their programs will help increase student interest and use of the BFEC. They also hope that their events will reinforce a sense of community and provide a social outlet for Kenyon students, especially during this time of isolation.