On Feb. 24, Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ted Mason sent out an interim report about the College’s anti-racism initiatives that began last summer. The report included updates on educational programs for faculty and students, the creation of the Anti-Racism Resource Advisory Committee and its subsequent proposal funding, and other anti-racism events open to all members of the Kenyon community.
Preparations for the anti-racism initiatives began in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police in May. “One of the many noteworthy things about Kenyon’s situation is that our Board of Trustees has taken a lead on this issue,” Mason told the Collegian. The Board of Trustees, as well as Kenyon faculty, staff and students, have been actively involved in funding and supporting these projects during and outside of their meetings.
The Anti-Racism Resource Advisory Committee — composed of faculty, staff and students — has also been active throughout the past school year. The Committee has evaluated and funded four anti-racism proposals from the fall semester, submitted by members of the Kenyon community, and is anticipating at least two more in the near future. They are actively encouraging more project proposals, which may include educational activities or funding toward research projects. “I would encourage any individual or group with a project in mind to contact me and discuss the possibility of submitting a proposal,” Mason said.
As the name of these projects suggest, Kenyon’s efforts towards creating an anti-racist institution have been largely focused on education. In the 2019-2020 academic year, one proposal brought in Dr. Tanya Williams of Authentic Coaching & Consulting to conduct sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion for faculty, staff and students. Williams has continued holding workshops during the 2020-21 academic year as well, with an additional focus on “building the knowledge and the capacities of the Kenyon community,” according to the report.
According to Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92, due to the numerous and intensive characteristics of these workshops, “it’s a pretty significant logistical challenge to get all of these scheduled and planned.” So far, the Committee has conducted two sessions with students, which included student leaders from Student Council, Kenyon Student Workers Organizing Committee (K-SWOC), athletic teams and Greek Council.
Kenyon has also worked towards improving specific areas of student life regarding racial inequality. The Cox Health and Counseling Center developed and organized a set of resources specifically designed for students who are Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), and various productions, panel discussions and screenings to discuss racism in a variety of settings.
“The most important thing, I believe, is to fulfill our commitment to anti-racism through our central mission, which is education,” Mason explained. “Education takes many forms and happens in many places — the classroom, the theater, lecture spaces, residence halls, athletic fields etc.” Kenyon hopes to expand its anti-racism programs and initiatives in the coming semesters.