When Lexi Bollis ’17, treasurer of the Kenyon College Ballroom Dance Club (KBDC), presented their budget to the Business and Finance Committee (BFC) last semester, she was surprised to learn that the club must sleep only one person per bed for off-campus overnight trips.
Bollis was told by the BFC that this was a new requirement implemented under the College’s Title IX policy. She said that KBDC had not been notified of this change before their budget hearing.
But according to Kim Blank, associate director of student activities, this rule is not official College policy and does not fall under Title IX, which comes from a 1972 law that bans sex-based discrimination in education. During the budget allocation process at the end of last semester, BFC co-chairs Alejandro Henao ’16 and Guillermo García Montenegro ’17 were under the impression that this policy was related to Title IX, the two wrote in an email to the Collegian.
According to Blank, the practice of having one student per bed was first discussed last semester, in part inspired by the policy change recently made in varsity athletics to not require students to share beds.
One student per bed is designed “to mirror the best practices employed in the Athletic Department when students travel,” Blank wrote in a follow-up email to the Collegian.
Assistant Athletic Director Amy Williams ’88 wrote in an email to the Collegian that the Athletic Department instituted this policy about three years ago and is still “struggling with the financial implications.”
Laura Kane, director of student activities and Greek life, said that regulating student lodging is being encouraged as a risk management move.
Requiring one student to a bed is not covered under Title IX policies, according to Deputy Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator Linda Smolak and Andrea Goldblum, civil rights and Title IX coordinator. Kenyon’s policy, Smolak and Goldblum said, is modeled on the federal policy, which does not have any specific regulations for student lodging off campus.
Smolak was unaware of the confusion and first learned this semester when, during a discussion with a student group about Title IX, a student raised the issue of prohibiting bed-sharing as a concern. Neither she nor Goldblum knew exactly how the confusion arose.
Goldblum said she had had a conversation with Tacci Smith, former associate dean of students, about potentially implementing a similar policy and had communicated to Smith that such a policy would not fall under Title IX. Any policy mandating student lodging off campus would be separate from Title IX policy but could be implemented by the Student Activities Office (SAO) as a risk management policy, according to Goldblum and Smolak.
Henao said he was not aware the policy was associated with Title IX, but it was introduced to him and Montenegro “in a rhetoric that made it seem as if it were Title IX policy.”
As a potential policy was discussed, the BFC and the SAO allocated an additional $1,324.51 to various student groups for the spring semester, according to Kane, who worked with the BFC last semester to increase allocations for lodging requests. The BFC’s lodging funds can cover up to two-thirds of cost, Kane said, and that the additional funding went to only a few additional hotel rooms and that the additional monies did not come out of the budgets for other groups or activities.
KBDC, according to Bollis, received a little under $100 more than they had requested for lodging, in order to finance additional rooms; despite the increase, Bollis worried that the club would still not have been able to afford one bed per student.
KBDC will usually bring more than 20 students to competitions and and will sleep about five people per room. Bollis said that if the College were to mandate that each student have his or her own bed, it would be difficult to afford and also hard to find a hotel with that many open rooms. According to Henao and Montenegro, the College will count sleeping bags as individual sleeping spaces, which would limit impact on groups’ budgets.
Prior to her interview with the Collegian, Bollis was not aware that the BFC had miscommunicated the policy to her. “We had no idea that that was something we were going to have to look out for,” Bollis said, “and it was just sort of confusing for us because we knew that Title IX has been around for a while already, and it was just sort of like, all of a sudden now this is something we have to calculate for, even though we’ve gone to competitions for years and put five or six people in a room.”
Rachel Mitchell contributed reporting.