On Saturday, March 13, Campus Safety broke up a gathering of several unauthorized visitors taking wedding photos on South campus, in front of Samuel Mather Hall and Ascension Hall.
Reports of the event circulated on social media, leading many to initially believe that it was sanctioned by Kenyon. However, College administrators have asserted that they had no knowledge of the event before it was reported.
“A wedding party came to campus to have photos taken – as many have done in the past,” Director of Campus Safety Michael Sweazey wrote to the Collegian. “[Campus Safety] Officers informed them that the campus was closed to such activities due to COVID-19, and they were very cooperative and left the campus.”
The photoshoot happened at a time of heightened concern about on-campus events involving visitors. Spring semester traditionally sees outdoor events like photoshoots, tours, sporting events and campus visits from locals. Notably, the College recently announced that it would be restricting attendance of the 2021 Commencement ceremony to students and faculty. In addition, the increasing number of students who have been vaccinated against the virus could potentially have implications for College policy going forward.
The event led many students to voice concern about the campus policy for in-person events. Some questioned how effectively or quickly the College has acted in preventing unauthorized events from happening. Others, who held the initial belief that the College had anticipated the event, discussed an incongruence within the enforcement between student-run events and events involving visitors.
However, Director of Campus Events Howard Grier stated that campus policies regarding external events have remained consistent with COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“Kenyon only allows external client events when classes are not in session, so no events are being allowed this semester,” Grier told the Collegian. “All campus events are required to follow the established event guidance.”
The guidance lays out specific restrictions on gatherings. Given that external groups are not allowed to have events on campus, the rules primarily apply to groups on campus. He also stated that officially sanctioned events will always have a faculty member or a student compliance officer present.
“The College will continue to be vigilant about COVID-19 protocols for all authorized events,” Grier said. “Anyone who witnesses an unauthorized event should report the incident to Campus Safety to help ensure the health and safety of everyone on the Hill.”