On Feb. 22, the Kenyon Alumni Student Collective (KASC), an advocacy group and mutual aid fund formed to support the efforts of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students at Kenyon, announced on Instagram that it is currently speaking with President Sean Decatur and other administrators about its three-part plan to increase support for students.
KASC aims to increase the yearly budget for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI). The group wrote in its announcement that ODEI’s annual budget of $10,000 is inadequate to fulfill the needs of students and that financial support of students has been supplementing this issue. As of Dec. 28, 2021, with the help of alumni, KASC has donated a total of $20,000 to Kenyon students since their formation in summer 2020.
KASC also announced that it is working alongside the Office of Alumni Engagement to create a way for alumni to donate directly to students through ODEI’s support fund. Finally, KASC plans to lower the costs of course materials for students. To do so, they are encouraging professors to find and utilize free versions of the texts in their syllabi, forge greater connections between professors and library staff and create a book exchange. The book exchange program would consist of used books students donate at the end of their semesters for students in the future to use.
Angus MacDonell, the general manager of the Kenyon Bookstore, was not concerned with the potential loss of revenue the Bookstore may face if these programs move forward. “The Bookstore supports any ethical effort that lowers the price of course materials. A student-run book exchange or donation program would be commendable and would be beneficial to lowering costs for students,” he said. He also said the Bookstore has supported similar efforts in the past, like encouraging faculty to use open educational resources.
KASC has not specified what a large increase to the ODEI budget would be or elaborated on the details of their other proposed programs, and declined to comment, citing ongoing talks with the College when the Collegian reached out for clarification. In their announcement, KASC was optimistic about these talks, saying that Decatur and other administrators have been supportive of their plan. However, Decatur claimed that he hasn’t been involved in these discussions. “I haven’t seen or heard of this plan,” he said. “Those details are news to me.”
In their Instagram post, KASC encouraged their followers to stay tuned for more information about the timeline of this process.