When word spread of Marc Lamont Hill, a Palestinian human rights advocate, coming to campus a month ago, Kenyon Students for Israel (KSFI), expressed concerns about Hill’s controversial speech at the United Nations for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people in the fall of 2018. Their concerns, conveyed in an all-student email, prompted a series of heated conversations, in person and online, between KSFI and Kenyon Students for Justice in Palestine (KSJP).
Due to the tension between KSFI and KSJP, the Kenyon Concerns Coalition (KCC), which deals with issues that require quick deliberative action, expressed a desire to have someone from Campus Safety present at the event. With the approval of KSJP and Hill, and, after asking KSFI about a potential protest, an officer was sent to oversee the event.
After Hill left campus, the question of who would pay for the extra security remained. The College will now draft a policy to decide how security officers will be paid for their requested presence at any campus event, which will then be discussed at Student Council.
“I feel like [KSJP] did not know that [having a Safety officer at the event] was an option until Michael Sweazey reached out,” Student Council President and KCC member Delaney Barker noted. “And so it’s a lot easier to budget for those things if you know they might be a concern.”
If additional security at events becomes a part of the form for Business and Finance Committee (BFC) funding, then the BFC will be the ones to deliberate whether that security is necessary. Barker does not feel this will be an unduly limiting factor.
“I can’t imagine a member of the BFC saying, ‘that’s not a good enough reason,’ because at the end of the day it’s about safety, and about perceived safety as well,” she said.
The criteria has yet to be determined for when Safety officers attend events, and whether or not the hosts of said events will absorb the cost of security.
“[We are] just trying to be more proactive and more intentional about how we prepare for any potentially divisive event on campus,” Meredith Bonham ’92, vice president of student affairs, said.