On April 15, Campus Senate submitted a report to President Sean Decatur reviewing the College’s Lords and Ladies athletic monikers. Ultimately, the Senate report concluded that the current monikers do not align with the values of the College and its community, and set forth a timeline that aims to revise the titles by the late fall, when students will vote for the new moniker through a ranked-choice vote.
In recent years, Kenyon’s monikers have sparked debate for their sexist, classist and transphobic connotations. In light of this debate, Decatur charged the Senate with the review of the monikers at a Campus Senate meeting on Feb. 4. After this meeting, the body consulted many different voices across campus and conducted a student-wide poll to determine whether the current monikers align with the College’s recently updated mission and values statement.
In the report, Campus Senate outlined their process of the moniker review: First, they consulted College Historian and Keeper of Kenyoniana Thomas Stamp ’73 to gather historical context regarding the gendered monikers. The Senate then consulted Associate Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Timothy Bussey, as well as Director of Athletics, Fitness and Recreation Jill McCartney and Director of Athletics Communications Marty Fuller to discuss the monikers’ impacts on students — both athletes and non-athletes.
In addition to seeking advice from staff members, the student representatives of the Senate sent out a survey to the student body asking if they felt that the Lords and Ladies monikers represented Kenyon’s values. The report stated that 38% of students replied with a “strong no,” 24.4% with “no,” 20.3% with “yes” and 14.9% with a “strong yes.” After the survey, the Senate consulted the Advancement Division to consider the effects of a moniker change on former as well as incoming students.
All in all, the Senate considered their collected feedback enough to suggest a change.
Campus Senate Student Co-chair Delaney Gallagher ’23 agreed that a change is necessary. “Lords and Ladies are a long standing part of [Kenyon] history, but it is not the only part of our history and does not reflect the Kenyon we have now,” she said. “That is what has driven our recommendations, and as a female athlete who has directly felt some of [the] effects [of] these names… I am nothing but proud of the work we have done.”
The moniker change process will begin in the fall, as outlined on the last two pages of the report. The Senate co-chairs will meet on Aug. 26 to develop guidelines for new moniker suggestions and an online submission form for students, faculty and staff.
At the first Senate meeting of the fall semester on Sept. 2, new Senate members will be informed of the selection process, and just before midnight on Sept. 13, the submission form will close. Later that day, the Senate co-chairs will pare down the submissions to 25 options, based on their merit in terms of Kenyon tradition, connections and community values, such as inclusivity, pride, loyalty and strength. At the next Senate meeting on Sept. 16, the members will reduce the 25 moniker options to 15, and by the third Senate meeting on Sept. 30, they will select the top five.
From Oct. 1 until Oct. 15, students will use ranked-choice voting to voice their opinions on the final selection, and on Oct. 18, the Senate co-chairs will formalize the election results. On Oct. 28, Campus Senate will vote on the final report, and, if they vote to approve, will submit it to Decatur.