After a months-long investigation and a student conduct hearing, the student organization Peeps O’ Kenyon (PEEPS) has been suspended from campus. The suspension, which is due to violations of school drug policy, is set to last three years, and will be followed by three additional years of probation.
The process began in January, when Dean of Campus Life Laura Kane began investigating rumors regarding PEEPS’ new member initiation practices. The investigation became more severe when the administration learned that PEEPS had been distributing the drug LSD to initiate members during certain bonding events. PEEPS Co-president Eleanor Evans-Wickberg ’21 says that the LSD was non-compulsory, and that many members chose not to partake. Nonetheless, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities began to question members of PEEPS about their initiation process.
As a result of the investigation, the administration recommended that PEEPS be suspended for four years and placed on social probation for two. PEEPS did not agree with these sanctions, and composed a 46-page document defending their case to be submitted before the Student Conduct Review Board. The final hearing took place on April 21 in a meeting held over Google Meet. In the end, the Board decided to recommend a three-year suspension, followed by three years of social probation. This means that current initiate members of PEEPS will be able to re-form the organization before they graduate. However, it also means that for most current members, their time in PEEPS is at an end. While there is an appeal process, Evans-Wickberg thinks it would be unlikely to succeed, given how hard it was for PEEPS to reduce even the initial sanctions.
While some members of PEEPS feel that the investigation was justified, many are frustrated by the school’s apparent lack of consideration for the students under scrutiny. According to Evans-Wickberg, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities tried to catch students “off-guard” so that they couldn’t “prepare” for interviews beforehand. As co-president, she found the process very stressful.
“There would be no word from them for several days, then all of the sudden three students would be called in back to back presumably so they couldn’t speak to one another in between,” Evans-Wickberg wrote in an email to the Collegian. “James Jackson would also send me emails asking to meet the day of. It felt like we were on trial. But unlike a real legal trial, we basically didn’t have any rights.”
Other PEEPS members agreed that the investigation process was arduous and unpredictable; Elias Haberberg ’22 claims he was notified just 30 minutes before he was required to give an interview. “I was in my room at 7 on a Friday,” Haberberg said. “I got a phone call from an Ohio number, which I presumed to be important so I picked it up. Casey was the [Campus Safety] agent who talked to me. She said that James Jackson wanted to meet with me at 7:30, and if I didn’t want to walk over to the campus safety cubicle where it was supposedly being held, they would be happy to send a golf cart to escort me north. Highly irregular stuff. Blatant intimidation too.”
Delilah Cravens ’21, PEEPS co-president with Evans-Wickberg, understands why the investigation happened but feels it was handled poorly.
“I want to be accountable, in the sense that we broke school policy and by no means were being investigated unjustly,” Cravens wrote in an email to the Collegian. “At the same time, the means of investigation seemed unreasonably tactical … At times, the school would intercept students going home from class to have them interrogated without notice, always in the presence of campus safety. Other times, members would have to interview with less than an hour’s notice in the middle of a school day, and have to scramble to rearrange their schedules.”
James Jackson, director of student rights and responsibilities, acknowledges that being questioned by staff members can be uncomfortable, but denies that students were given such short notice.
“Students interviewed were sent emails requesting to meet normally the day prior to the interview,” Jackson wrote in an email to the Collegian. “In those emails, students were asked to let me know if they were unable to meet at the date and time listed in the email. There were a few students who stated that they had a scheduling conflict. Students that made me aware of conflicts were either rescheduled or canceled.”
The semester-long investigation and resulting suspension have been painful for PEEPS members. Evans-Wickberg believes that PEEPS serves an important role at Kenyon, and that its loss will have a negative impact for many.
“Not only do the Peeps provide a uniquely inclusive and free space on the Kenyon campus, Peeps is also an integral part of the lives and mental wellbeing of many of its members,” Evans-Wickberg wrote. “I am happy that the conduct review board at least decided to keep the organization around.”
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Another one bites the dust! How long until the Kenyon administration liquidates all social organizations to the point of The Naz becoming a more fun party school?
This school as we know it –– weird, eccentric, fun, full of life –– is dead.
Reply to RIP
RIPKenyon is continues trying to "clean up" Kenyon - you're eliminating the special place that Kenyon is and the CHOICE to make our Kenyon experience exactly that --> OURS.
Once you eliminate all organizations that don't fit Laura R. Kane's view, what're you left with? Not the special place that Kenyon is.
I am no longer donating - nor will my partner be - and our kids will not be encouraged to attend this "new" Kenyon.
Rooting for Peeps to make a come back - you've done so in the past!
Reply to Jess
Saw this coming a mile away when Peeps left Greek Council. If you don't inculcate any form of risk management in your organization and in fact let many of your members reject responsibility as part of your "brand" then this is what you get. Love the PEEPs, hope they make a come-back. I'd lean on your alums right now since those alum $ are more and more important post-COVID.
Reply to Nick
LSD? That's not like smoking a joint in Friday night, that's a mind-bender. The group should be saying, "Thank you for not turning us over to the police."
Reply to Joe
JoeGrow up Joe.
The PEEPS has been a fantastic and wildly supportive organization for years. You sound like a racist dad with comments like that. The police? Really?
LSD and other psychoactive drugs are accepted by medical and psychiatry fields now and were a long time ago.
Get into 2020. These kids should have never have been intimidated or treated like criminals but rather highly stressed and highly intelligent adults finding their way. It’s college, not a professional sports league.
Reply to Tony
TonyI love that in the same post you compared a commenter to a "racist dad" you also reprimanded the school for treating "highly intelligent" (read: privileged) adults as "criminals." As if by being a "highly intelligent," "highly stressed" privileged person made it impossible for that person to also have to abide by the law, and the failure to do so made you a dirty criminal.
Please, get into 2020, where we know that our labeling of those who do not follow the law as "criminals" is charged and riddled with socioeconomic and race-based jargon.
Reply to Lauren
Ok have fun living in your misery
That’s not what I’m saying but you do you! You’re the type that has to pick apart every word like a political race to the finish line. I’d say that this age group, no matter where or what they have, is highly intelligent (emotionally) and deserves communication not criminal charges. That’s true of every background, no shit.
I grew up with nothing but went to Kenyon on a full ride. So you talk your talk on whatever side of the tracks you want.
Reply to Tony
TonyWhat exactly was racist about joe’s comment. I am really trying to understand why any disagreement is met with “you’re racist” by some folks. Is this a vestige of the sotero years when anyone who questioned dear leader was vilified as a racist? Honestly trying to understand how you facists see the world.
Reply to Jp
LaurenIt’s like you’re coming to the rescue with all these new and groundbreaking ideas of equality. You don’t know me at all or even what I look like which is the funniest part you just assume I’m a certain type cause I went to Kenyon. Oh how the mighty...how does it go again?
Reply to Tony
TonyI never suggested—implicitly or explicitly—to understand your background or your experiences. In any event, I’m sorry that’s how it came off to you. That was not my intention, and I apologize. My broader point is that while college, including Kenyon, can feel like a bubble where we get to have these wonderful and new experiences, thats just not the way the real world works. It’s incredibly hard to read this post as a public-interest attorney where I see clients charged with this kind of stuff every day and know that they face real-world implications (losing jobs, housing, kids, etc), and then see people here complaining about “losing” something in Kenyon. It feels, and not to berate the point, incredibly privileged.
Reply to Lauren
LaurenTo Lauren and JP-
This is why I NeVER reply to anything in an online platform.
I’m thinking of a bigger picture I guess- psychoactive drugs, even while they are schedule 1-like “weed” which technically still is -are used in medical fields very seriously. We shouldn’t criminalize this behavior in any setting, college or otherwise.
That we happen to be on a college platform speaking about a situation on a college campus, I must extend the same sympathy to this group that I could for anyone “on the street” aka not at college-with some of these in their possession, doing what they want with their body, which is also not my choice or yours. People are not dying, whether or not you feel like they have a death wish or should be punished for what they put in their bodies, is where I’m @
I was one of the PEEPS, what has been said about the diversity of minds and individuals that make up this group is true- it was our safe house when other places were not.
Also I’m taking a step back. Psychoactive drugs help traumatized people every day. It’s not for me to decide, if they are helpful to people -if people tell me they are helpful, it’s not my right to disagree with them.
It’s not the organization either-no one is ever forced to do anything by this group, that’s what safety means...but you can go out in the world and pay for therapy and receive basically LSD - and meanwhile, kids were blowing rails of Adderall off tables in the library. Also illegal, who cares?,no one should be counting. Is it dangerous? Could be. This has nothing to do with a single group of people. It’s an aesthetic quality they are trying to get rid of at the college- it’s what the group looks like- not the behavior. The behavior is what happens at every college every day, and not colleges too, duh.
People are traumatized and stressed even in their privilege. You can drown in a bathtub and the ocean. You’re still allowed to be a thinking, confused, young adult trying to make language of the political system which binds you. And you do stupid shit along the way.
I understand what you’re saying- the funny thing is you think I disagree with you. The racist quip is funny because We build mythologies about criminal types and see the need to punish or reprimand single humans (and “privatized” ones) in the same manner that happens on the other side of the coin you’ve mentioned, or so to speak, for a problem that, yes, is systematic. Yes.
We don’t fix these issues by criminalizing more folks. It’s why I mentioned both, actually. Because it’s always based on appearances, always, let’s be honest.
I said it sounded like something you’d hear a racist dad say. That’s what I hear when I read it, the “throw them in jail” mentality I’m real tired of...we see how that’s not working atm. It’s never worked. Ok, so people are still taking acid, it’s been going on 4EVR. ! Meanwhile adults with a lot of power are pushing around 19 year olds- to me, that’s creepy and wrong in any societal structure. We are responsible for holding other grown ass adults accountable for how they play into this intimidation shit and make the system worse. You protect your own sense of right, I get it.
Stay safe y’all.
Reply to Tony
JoeMy word, the children are being DOSED with LSD? Thankfully Old Kenyon doesn't have an oven to put a baby in or a swing to put your turkey in, lest these poor Peeps may have really had issues. Though a lot of 'those types' seem to wear glasses... too much staring at the sun?
Stop with the nonsensical and unhealthy attitude. While I would discourage excessive use of anything before the age of 25 on neurological grounds the Peeps have always been weirdos.
While my lifestyle at Kenyon didn't allow me to join I have met dozens of Peeps over the years at reunions, Kenyon alumni events, and the like. While I've not met a Nobel Prize winner or acclaimed star of stage and screen I have met civic minded young men and women who seem to march to have misplaced their entire marching band, much less the drummer. Lawyers, carpenters, librarians, musicians, stay at home parents, life coaches, and yes, even psychologists/psychiatrists and substance/addiction counselors.
I can say that I've not had a boring conversation with one yet, which is far more than I can say about the milquetoast groups I did belong to while on the Hill.
Be that as it may, this again sounds like the College using scary language to intimidate a group out of existence. A group that heavily leans more liberal, more LGBTQ+ friendly, and far far more inclusive than the pet projects of the current administration. It is a shame to lose a place where so many learned to let their flag fly because someone got scared that they're making new Deadheads.
Reply to Alum
JoeNo, I agree. This is an illegal substance.
Reply to Ellie
Seriously? This is a show trial, and honestly painful to observe. As a Peep friendly alumni the fact that the college found no actual harm but for possible distribution of a substance with no effective fatal dosage and little to no adverse side effects is laughable.
This is and was an obvious witch hunt for the weird kids bringing property values down. The new attempt to spruce up Kenyon's image as some form of progressive post-prep school and elimination of its eclectic student body is absurd.
Of course the Collegian is also more than willing to put paid to the administration's claims, but I won't ssy anything further on that.
Have fun without Deb Ball, Halloween, or all those alleged social activities that occur up in their division...
Reply to Alum
Rest in Peeps
Really disappointed in the administration. I find it telling that they used intimidation and tried to catch students unprepared. It feels very targeted towards a certain type of student when they go through such lengths to make them look bad during the trial, while other students in conventional Greek life or on sports teams have behavioral issues and drug use overlooked completely. The campus just got a whole lot duller, thanks Kenyon.
Reply to Rest in Peeps
Rest in PeepsAs if the Zetas don't use cocaine regularly...
Reply to Alum.
POC AT KENYON
Rest in Peeps"targeted towards a certain type a student" what you think this is fam the central park five..... relax LMFAO
Reply to POC AT KENYON
Rest in Peeps
POC AT KENYONA certain type of student, as in people who in general don't conform to conventional Greek life, who are frequently LGBT and gender non-conforming people (or at least people who express themselves in a more eccentric way). I think it's fair to say that focusing on this organization when there are significant behavior problems in Greek organizations and sports teams DOES feel targeted, but not suggesting the severity you seem to think I am. Hope that's a little more clear.
Reply to Rest in Peeps
Eli K. (Alumnus '17)
What is LSD? Is it like alcohol or tobacco? Need more context.
Reply to Eli K. (Alumnus '17)
Aaron F. (Alumnus '17)
Eli K. (Alumnus '17)Hi Eli, LSD is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act and distribution is a very serious crime that could send you straight to zon.
Reply to Aaron F. (Alumnus '17)
Eli K. (Alumnus '17)Meredith Harper knows...
Reply to Stick
Stickto answer the actual question, LSD (acid) is a moderate strength hallucinogen that lasts for around 9-12 hours
Reply to quaranteen
It's really disheartening to see the inability of nearly every person commenting here to see that which is replete in their comments: privilege.
Do any of you understand how lucky that all of these students are that this is the only punishment they received? For instance, the possession of a Schedule I narcotic is a felony. If any of these students were receiving federal student aid and had been convicted of this offense, then they would have lost their college tuition.
It's mind boggling that in all of this the only takeaway is that "the institution's bad, the students are the victim." At least Delilah Cravens noted that she wanted to be held accountable. It sounds like nearly everyone else on this thread doesn't understand the meaning of that word.
Reply to Lauren
LaurenThe unnecessary privilege conversation. If there's any major social group that speaks about checking and observing your privilege it's the Peeps. During my tenure members of the Peeps helped to found some of the first peer support for sexual misconduct, advocated for/served on the board of the newly founded and space-granted Unity House, and had the most diverse roster of students at any given meeting all united around having fun.
I remember one night finding myself in a room with two children of major celebrities, the child of a diplomat, a Mayflower daughter... and a guy who grew up homeless, an art major who would be the first to graduate from her immigrant family, a farmer's kid in leather chaps, a former ultra-conservative religious man turned music teacher, and the grandchild of sharecroppers who is, IMO, one of the best poets of our generation who no one will ever hear of.
And everyone was having fun. Enjoying each other's company, making jokes and... let's say drinking beer. We listened to music and told stories, and that night was the first of almost 4 years I'd spend with those reprobates. And I never had to join up, just enjoy my time with them.
So yes, prattle on about the evils of one of the most inclusive groups on campus.
Reply to Alum
AlumCertainly it's worth being reminded of some sense of proportion. But I think it's very possible to simultaneously recognize:
(1) the incredible privilege that comes with being at Kenyon (and being from the background most people at Kenyon come from) and appreciate how that insulates so many Kenyon kids (peeps certainly included) from the truly draconian punishments their actions could otherwise warrant and that sometimes makes us act with blithe arrogance and encourages our arrogance;
(2) That the repercussions in the U.S. for things like possession of a Schedule I narcotic are truly draconian and morally reprehensible (and something that, to reiterate, us mostly privileged Kenyon kids are largely insulated from); and
(3) that the punishment meted out here, while it perhaps hardly warrants comment when compared to the injustices doled out regularly by our "justice" system, is nonetheless unfair or undeserved in a moral ( vs. strictly legalistic) sense.
Reply to peep alum
LaurenLauren - I see your point. It is a point that is unbelievably outdated and, without a shred of doubt, exudes what some would call "boomer" energy. Your thinking is a relic of now-disregarded conservative thought -- thought that is disregarded because it's, well, fallacious. Instead of blaming COLLEGE STUDENTS for a lack of accountability and "appreciation they weren't booked on a felony charge" (something that rarely happens in this situation, as colleges are usually protective of their students nowadays), I think it is vastly more important to look at the egregious systems in place that vilify drugs that are irrefutably harmless. These students aren't lucky, far from it. They were subjected to the harsh hammer of a former legal prosecutor in a situation comparable to your standard Law & Order entrapment scenario.
Reply to Current Student
Current StudentI’m a 27 year-old public defender. But sure. “Boomer prosecutor energy.”
Reply to Lauren Toole
LaurenI think it's important to understand that, yes the rules were violated and the people interviewed were open to being held accountable, but the methods with which they conducted the trial sounded like they had already decided on an outcome. As a current student, I have PERSONALLY seen the admin give significantly less harsh consequences to students who have been found either possessing or DISTRIBUTING the same substance. I have seen this more than once, believe me. I think a lot of the outrage is not that they were given consequences, but that the rules seem to apply much more severely to Peeps, to the point it feels like targeting. And if you're taken aback by the usage of LSD, just wait until you hear about some Kenyon Greek organization's reputations for cocaine... It's difficult not to feel like Peeps is being scrutinized while a blind eye is turned to other organizations and their illegal activities (especially when there is more pressure to participate in them than there is in Peeps).
Reply to Current student
It doesn't sit well with me that these college kids were interrogated by James Jackson, a former prosecutor and trained lawyer, about activities that seem to have the potential for real legal repercussions without them having any rights or representation, especially considering the tactics of intimidation used in the course of the investigation.
Reply to hm
I was a Peep... never took any hallucinogens myself, and never felt any pressure to either. One of the presidents my freshman year didn't even drink. That's just the kind of welcoming, party-how-you-want crew it was. Quite a shame to see the history of such a unique and forward-thinking organization in danger of being erased. The Peeps began as a fraternity that decided to re-imagine itself in favor of inclusivity rather than exclusivity. Despite some substance-based transgressions not uncommon to the college experience, you'd think that Kenyon might be somewhat proud of such a legacy, especially given that being "woke" is cool and marketable now.
PS. Later on in life I did take acid. Loads of it. It was great!
Reply to Alum
For the record, Peeps tripping acid has been an open secret on campus for decades. Difference is now there are more administrators paid to police the student body. More deans, higher tuition. 71K total (w room and board, etc.) this year. More money, less fun. Glad I graduated when I did.
Reply to Anonymous alum
Peep alum '73
I guess I'll rethink my small, but steady, financial support of the college. At least for the next three years.
Reply to Peep alum '73
Hey Meredith Harper Bohnam, no way you didn’t know about this tradition when you where a theta at Kenyon.
Get over yourselves. Kenyon is neither Oberlin nor Hamilton. Let us be us.
Reply to Alum
AlumHave to agree....the Peeps O'Kenyon were definitely not my scene while I was a student at Kenyon although I had a few friends who were Peeps. This was back in the 90s - but even I knew about Peeps initiation and general affinity for dropping acid
Reply to Alumnus
Oh for heaven's sake. I don't recall ever being tied down and having illicit drugs and alcohol poured down my throat. Free thinking, free will and freedom are Peep trademarks.
Will remain a die hard Peep to the end, and drugs have nothing to do with it.
Live and let live.
Reply to Diana Paine
Bring back Dean Edwards!
Reply to Rosie
Yet another reason why I no longer support KC.
50 year anniversary of Kent State in two days. That is when KC was special and set an example to the state and the nation that was documented by the national news.
Reply to Berg
Alum of 2019
This is fairly reprehensible behavior on the part of Kenyon’s administration. And it is largely indicative of similar tactics used across organizations. Administration has been pushing for a shift from student-run organizations to faculty-run organizations under the guise of still being student-run. Compounded with threats and barriers to abilities of student-run organizations, these groups are forced to either bend to the arbitrary wills of administration or disband. This has happened with a number of similarly inclusive and community minded organizations such as Peer Counselors and Beer and Sex Advisors.
Us alum, we need to make it clear to administration that having student-run organizations is the backbone to the Kenyon experience. In an attempt to “maintain their image” these decisions have harmed the very reason why many of us went to Kenyon, to connect with our community and grow together. Why isn’t administration putting the same amount of effort they put into investigating a possible drug usage into perhaps something more constructive; perhaps like providing wider financial support or giving back to the Knox County community?
Why is Kenyon destroying rather than creating?
Reply to Alum of 2019
I can't speak for drug use on campus today, but as a Peep alum (whose initiation year (approximately when dinosaurs ruled the Earth) involved no hallucinogens, though several non-augmented efforts at mind expansion), drugs were at most an anecdotal aspect of a far deeper and more subversive bonding in that group, at Initiation and elsewhere.
Drug consumption elsewhere on campus then, and for all I know now, was equally avid as it was among Peeps. It was simply more furtive, and thus probably more acceptable - Hit it, Foucault!
[Note on the comments - The assumptions and judgments of one another's thinking and lives, based on a couple of paragraphs written in this online college newspaper, are risible.]
Reply to A Former
Wow, only a 3 year suspension and 3 year probation? You all should be ecstatic, that's a slap on the wrist compared to what a traditional Greek organization would receive. I'm curious, as I don't see it in the article, but were there any INDIVIDUAL punishments or arrests related to this? Personally, I loved the peeps that I knew, they were some of the most creative, kind and genuine people on campus. They never caused issues and they were welcoming at their parties. As a blue collar jock, I hadn't met too many people like them and they definitely changed my perspective on some things. It's sad that for a few years, others might not get that opportunity to grow from knowing that organization. Anyhow... enjoy your three years of being underground and come back bigger and stronger!
Reply to Surprised Alum
When I was the faculty advisor for the Peeps back in the early 1990's, a worried Peep came to me with a letter that she had received. It was a copy of an anonymous letter sent to the President of the College saying that Peeps gave LSD to initiates. I went to see the current President of the College, Phil Jordan, and he said, "I don't respond to anonymous letters". If only the current administration had dealt with this issue as wisely.
Reply to Arthur Leccese
Arthur LecceseDr. Leccese... 2 c’s, 3 e’s an S and an L. I recall it like it was yesterday and not 30 years ago. Also playing with the big dogs :). That place needs 100 more of you to pass through its gates.
Reply to Grateful alum
I found this thread cuz I wanted to see if there was any way the Peep reunion scheduled for this summer was still on. So much for that.
Hopefully I'll still be up for dropping acid and partying on the stoop three years from now.
Reply to Mike Grinker