The Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K-SWOC) is organizing a boycott of alumni donations to Kenyon. K-SWOC has unveiled an open letter in support of the alumni boycott, which has garnered about 150 signatures thus far, according to K-SWOC organizing committee member Sigal Felber ’21. K-SWOC made the boycott effort public at a text bank event last Wednesday.
This comes after the Board of Trustees rejected K-SWOC’s request for recognition in mid-December, after which over 400 alumni signed an open letter expressing their support for the recognition of the student union.
The letter indicates an intent to withhold donations to the Kenyon Fund until the College recognizes K-SWOC. This is a general fund that goes toward, among other things, balancing the budget, funding building projects, according to the Kenyon website. It does not go toward specific scholarships or special interest projects, which need fo be specified in a donation, but does contribute to financial aid for students.
Jake Griffith-Rosenberger ’16, a former student worker who was involved with the organizing efforts of the Kenyon Community Alliance while at Kenyon, believes that alumni should play a key role in K-SWOC’s fight for union recognition. “The College is dependent on alumni for financial support, so it falls on us as alumni supporters of K-SWOC to hit the College where it hurts with a donation boycott,” he said.
According to Felber, the intention of the boycott is to continue advocating for K-SWOC’s recognition, and it will not end until Kenyon recognizes the student union.
“It is not necessarily about stopping the next $100 million donation from happening, but actually about mobilizing the working and middle class as a collective to put a dent in Kenyon’s financial structure as a whole,” Felber said.
President Sean Decatur said that he is aware of K-SWOC’s efforts to boycott alumni donations. He remarked that he has received around five emails from alumni expressing disappointment at the College’s decision regarding recognition and asserting that it will impact their donations to the Kenyon Fund.
“All of us make decisions about support that are based on a range of personal considerations and perspectives,” Decatur said. “And so I do understand the folks who’ve made that decision.”
Griffith-Rosenberger says that recognizing K-SWOC would be a historic opportunity for the College and a moment to demonstrate its early support for undergraduate unions, which he believes will soon become widespread. “Recognizing this union is as essential for student workers as it is for establishing Kenyon as a pro-labor and pro-social justice institution,” he said.
This article has been edited to reflect updated information on the distribution of funds within the Kenyon Fund.