Students build community at Kenyon in many different ways, as the nominees for Kenyon’s highest extracurricular honor, the Anderson Cup, demonstrate. This year’s nominees are Vineeta Chauhan ’21, Sigal Felber ’21, Jonathan Hernández ’21, Miriam Hyman ’21, Ryan Nader ’21 and Noelle O’Neal ’21.
The College awards the E. Malcolm Anderson Cup annually to the graduating student who faculty and the student body judge to have contributed the most to the College during their time at Kenyon. The honor was created in 1935 by E. Malcolm Anderson, class of 1914, who spent two years on the Board of Trustees. According to a list of all honorees supplied by College Historian and Keeper of Kenyoniana Tom Stamp ’73, recent honorees have pursued various careers, including in human rights, public health and STEM education.
Every spring, students and faculty members are invited to submit nominations. Dean of Campus Life Laura Kane sent this year’s ballot, a Google Form with personal statements written by the nominees, to faculty and students on March 10. Voting closed two days later. This year’s process is shorter than in 2019, when 18 students were nominated and two rounds of voting took place.
Some of this year’s nominees have enhanced academic life at Kenyon with their leadership. During her sophomore year, Hyman founded Kenyon’s scientific literary magazine Lyceum and has contributed to the Biology Student Advisory Group. She is also a lead tutor for students in the College’s introductory biology courses, BIOL 115 and BIOL 116.
In her personal statement, O’Neal attributes her nomination to her work with the Philosophy Symposium, which began holding philosophic talks open to Kenyon students and faculty in 2019.
Some nominees’ efforts have enhanced Kenyon’s connection to the local community. Nader was a volunteer EMT for the College Township Fire Department, a Community Advisor (CA) and this year, the student Campus Safety and Wellness Chair. In that role, Nader represented the student perspective to the Cox Health and Counseling Center throughout the pandemic and communicated the Center’s guidance with student government. “I actually ran right before COVID was underway, but it’s been a really great experience,” Nadar said. “I got to learn a lot. I got to do a lot. So I’m grateful.”
Felber believes her nomination stemmed from her efforts to increase worker solidarity on campus. She founded and is on the steering committee of the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K-SWOC). Felber also previously worked to strengthen student relationships with existing unions of maintenance and custodial workers at the College, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 712 and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers 2794. “It’s really hard for the students here to genuinely get to know the maintenance and custodial staff,” said Felber. “I think, especially through K-SWOC and their unions, our connections are strengthened because we have this shared goal of workplace democracy at Kenyon.”
Though the impact of a leadership position is easier to quantify, Hernández’s personal statement cites his friendly attitude as a contribution equal in importance to his leadership of the Queer Masculine Society and work as a CA for several years as the reason for his nomination.
Chauhan cites her presidency of Sisterhood, an organization that connects and supports femme-identifying people of color on campus. Sisterhood has hosted events in the past year to highlight their experiences, such as their Femme Monologues event on March 13, part of their Women’s History Month programming. “In my opinion, supporting students of color inevitably impacts the entire Kenyon campus because it provides an endless amount of diversity and creates a rich cultural basis on which everyone here can learn from,” Chauhan wrote in her personal statement. Additionally, Chauhan is a Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program (KEEP) scholar and works for the Career Development Office.
While all nominees the Collegian spoke to felt that receiving the honor would be meaningful, their reasons varied. Felber views it as a sign of support for student workers on campus. “It’d be really nice to see that students and faculty and staff appreciate the work that maybe hasn’t been officially recognized by the Board of Trustees and senior staff,” said Felber.
For Hyman, the award takes on a unique meaning after feeling disconnected from campus while studying remotely in the fall. “Knowing that, despite feeling distant, I’m still having an impact, would be a big comfort,” said Hyman.
In Nader’s view, the Cup would affirm his Kenyon years as a time he can reflect on with pride in the future. “It’s a little extra reminder — ‘Hey, you know, you did something and you made a difference,’” said Nader.
The winner will be announced at Honors Day, which this year will take place virtually on April 13.