Section: News

Kenyon announces the cancellation of all its summer programs

Kenyon announces the cancellation of all its summer programs

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Kenyon has chosen to cancel all campus-based summer programs through the end of July. The decision, announced on April 13 in an email sent through the Office of Communications, hinged on the fact that the number of cases has yet to peak in Ohio, suggesting that the quarantine is unlikely to be lifted until late into the summer. Some of the suspended programs include the Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program (KEEP), the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshops, all campus-based student research and the 2020 Alumni Reunion Weekend.

“The question about what to do about the summer has been in the air ever since we made the decision to go remote teaching for the rest of the semester,” President Sean Decatur said. “It’s pretty clear that even if [social distancing requirements] were removed towards the end of May, it really doesn’t give much time to actually start getting the campus ready for the summer. It feels like the right thing to do is to just call off summer programs.”

The announcement brings disappointment to students and organizers alike. While the Kenyon Review normally hosts hundreds of students at its annual Young Writers Workshops, this year its only classes will be online. Tory Weber, associate director of programs at the Kenyon Review, claims that she’s already received plenty of emails from devastated Young Writers applicants.

“I will really miss the energy and creativity that summer programs bring to campus,” Weber wrote in an email to the Collegian. “But we are looking to brighter days ahead and have already set the dates for a robust slate of workshops in 2021.”

Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ted Mason is disappointed by the suspension of KEEP, but acknowledges how difficult it would be to hold such a program in the current climate.

“Consider the questions one would need to think about,” Mason wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Among them might be: Has the ‘stay at home’ order from the State of Ohio been lifted? Can students travel from their homes to Ohio? Once here, will they be required to quarantine? It makes little sense to proceed without that information.”

According to Director of Student Research Drew Kerkhoff, both faculty and student researchers will have the option to postpone their projects to the summer of 2021. However, Kerkhoff noted that many students will be able to continue their research from home by connecting with faculty mentors online.

“The students and mentors involved will be supported to the same level they would’ve been on campus,” Kerkhoff wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Many projects, however, require laboratory equipment or access to field sites, or are otherwise incompatible with remote work. Some research simply requires social interactions and engagement with the physical world!”

While the changes will disrupt the schedules of students, faculty and alumni alike, the College is doing what it can to mitigate the effects. Several of the interrupted programs have been rescheduled to later dates: The 2020 Reunion Weekend has been moved to May 2021, while the KEEP summer classes will be replaced with a pre-orientation program, with additional curricula to be held during the school year. While Mason does not yet know what this curriculum will look like, he expects it will retain features of the original program, such as “an intensive classroom experience and the building of a cohort.”

The changes will also impact students who had hoped to hold jobs on campus this summer. Dozens of students had planned to work for summer programs such as the Young Writers Workshops, in addition to those who would have been employed on campus while conducting research. In order to fill the void left by the missing student workers, the College is opening up employment opportunities to the few students who remain on campus. However, students looking to earn summer income might not have many options.

“We’re still navigating what the remote working world looks like for this summer,” Decatur said. “For summer employment, if the jobs can’t be done remotely or the students aren’t among the students who are here on campus already, then yeah, those students will need to find other summer work.”

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