Section: News

Student handbook redraft sparked by shift in goals, not policy changes

A committee of six students and staff members is updating Kenyon’s student handbook. Though no major policy changes are forthcoming, the group is rewording and reorganizing the handbook to cut the 50-page document down to a leaner 24 pages.

The revision process began last spring, when Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92 recommended that Student Council review the handbook. She and Student Council President George Costanzo ’19 agreed to start a new version from scratch instead of sending the old handbook to the committee.

Over the summer, Dean of Students Robin Hart Ruthenbeck wrote a draft, which the group has been editing line by line in biweekly meetings since early September.

Once they are satisfied with the working draft, they will share it with Student Council and open it up to the students for comment. The College would then officially adopt the handbook if it is accepted.  The committee aims to put the new version into effect by Jan. 1, 2019.

The committee consists of Ruthenbeck, Bonham, Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities James Jackson, Costanzo, Sriya Chadalavada ’19 and Nathan Grosh ’19.

“Frankly, since I arrived back at Kenyon over three years ago, I’ve been wanting to revise the student handbook for the sake of clarity,” said Bonham, who describes the handbook as a contract between students and administrators. “We owe it to students to really have very clear and easily digestible language about what is allowed and what isn’t, so that you’re making an informed choice when you engage in a behavior of any type.”

Bonham and Grosh list microwave wattage limits, bicycle policies and even bow-and-arrow storage options among the articles that they are cutting out of the handbook.

Those regulations will move onto Kenyon’s departmental websites, accessible through links in the online handbook. “Most of what we’re doing — I would say 90 percent — is we’re making sure that all the articles are in the right place,” Grosh said.

Bonham does not believe that the handbook is widely read, although all Kenyon students are expected to be familiar with it. “We used to print it and hand it out to students at the beginning of every year, but I think it was probably used more as a doorstop than it was as any reference document,” she said. Bonham and the other committee members hope that the new version will be less intimidating.

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