On March 7, members of Campus Senate sent out an email poll to the Kenyon student body asking for input as to whether or not the current Kenyon mascot reflects the College’s values.
The poll is the latest development in the debate that began at a Campus Senate meeting on Feb. 4, during which President Sean Decatur charged the Senate to determine if the current Kenyon mascot, the Lords and Ladies, aligns with the College’s values. At that meeting, some students and professors voiced the opinion that the current mascot is classist, transphobic and sexist and should be changed.
Campus Senate’s semester-long investigation comes at a time when a number of professional and collegiate sports teams have changed their mascots to be more culturally sensitive.
Zach Sclar ’22, the junior class representative, explained that he pushed for the poll in order to ensure that the Senate included student voices in its investigation. He emphasized that the Senate hopes to determine whether the mascot reflects Kenyon’s values of intellectual empowerment, creativity, kindness, respect, integrity and enduring connections to the people and place.
“The mascot of Kenyon is a symbol for our entire school and it was important to me to directly ask my fellow students what they think so I could better represent them and their interests,” Sclar wrote to the Collegian.
In addition, President Decatur said the charge is less of a specific question about whether or not the mascot would be changed but rather more of a question about what the importance and the meaning of Kenyon’s mascot is to the community. He also noted that the Senate investigation was an important factor in a deeper understanding of what the mascot means to people on campus.
“The views of current and future students matters a lot here, because those are the students who are here now competing under the name or the representation of the mascot,” he said.
Decatur also noted the importance that Kenyon places on history and tradition, and that some of the weight placed in the mascot is rooted in that same history and tradition.
This poll is the first step in a likely lengthy conversation about the future of the mascot and does not necessarily mean that the mascot will be changed any time soon.
“Although the current charge does not directly ask the question whether we should change the mascot, I imagine the results of our semester-long investigation will likely be the catalyst of a greater effort down the road,” Sclar said.