Student sound technicians were rehired at the Horn Gallery at the beginning of this year, after being abruptly laid off from their positions in September of 2020.
According to former Horn sound technician Sajara Magdaleno Urquieta ’22, the sound technicians advocated to be rehired during the fall semester of last year, after working to make Horn events virtually accessible. Urquieta expressed disappointment in the lack of transparency and communication between the technicians and their supervisors.
“With the constant changes in the status of who our supervisor was, if/when we were going to be rehired, and the possible switch of departments of who will be overlooking the Horn Sound Technicians, I felt like we were being left in the dark again,” Urquieta wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Even after expressing that we wanted to be kept in the loop of things, we had to consistently reach out to our supervisor to be told what was happening and what their next steps were.”
Feeling frustrated by a lack of support for their work, Urquieta and other sound technicians turned to the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K-SWOC). They also asked for members of the community to sign a petition, and ran an email drive in October of 2020 to organize support.
“The support we received showed our supervisor and higher-ups that not only were our grievances being heard by everyone (but them) but also showed them that people supported us in our struggle to find clarity in our job position,” Urquieta said.
According to Urquieta, however, the College pushed back on this support by limiting meetings with supervisors to only allow two or three students, paring down an already small group of student workers. Wondering what the position would look like in spring of 2020, the sound technicians sent an email to their supervisors knowing that there was a possibility of hosting in-person shows.
They also reached out to LBIS, aware that management of the position would likely be switched over from the Office of Student Engagement. Despite being able to hold an in-person event in April 2021, the College did not rehire the technicians. According to Urquieta, the College’s event policy at the time stated that technical support would instead need to be arranged through the Kenyon reservation system and supported by LBIS.
In an attempt to be rehired for the 2021-22 academic year, Urquieta says that the sound technicians planned a meeting with new Director of Student Engagement Mick Steiner.
“We had all accepted the urgency to get rehired and be provided training for the job, but it was still unclear where the sound technicians would be rehired. Both Steiner and Kane had assured us that they would keep in contact with us over the summer about the status of our jobs,” she said.
According to Steiner, he sent an email out over the summer to the former sound technicians to gauge interest about returning to their positions in the present academic year. He said that he went on to discuss the details of the position with them, as is customary for returning student workers.
Urquieta is glad that sound technicians were able to be successfully rehired for the current academic year. However, they hope that there will be greater communication and transparency from their supervisors moving forward.
“I hope that there is follow-through with the training of the sound technicians because I have been promised the same in the past but it was always canceled last minute. I hope that there is a continued discussion on hiring and paying the Horn managers for their work instead of hiring them as sound technicians to allow them to be paid,” Urquieta said. “Finally, I hope that there are no more attempts to try to separate or prevent coworkers from advocating for and with one another because each person’s voice is important, not just a select few.”