Section: News

K-SWOC rally raises awareness for health and safety issues

K-SWOC rally raises awareness for health and safety issues


On Oct. 28, the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K-SWOC) held a “Rally for Health and Dignity” outside of Gund Gallery. According to K-SWOC, 95 people attended the event, many of whom held signs with statistics regarding sexual assault and rates of depression on Kenyon’s campus.

In an email advertising the rally to the student body, as well as in their recently released “Health & Safety Addendum” to “Brackett’s Path,” K-SWOC claims that since Brackett B. Denniston III started his tenure, Kenyon has removed multiple peer support services, such as Peer Counselors, Sexual Misconduct Advisors, Sexual Respect Peer Alliance and Beer and Sex Advisors. The results of a 2019 HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey indicated that the percentage of Kenyon students who have been sexually assaulted increased from 9.8% in 2015 to 18% in 2019. The addendum says that in that same 2019 survey, “the number of students that had been assaulted at Kenyon was 80% greater than [the number] at comparable, small peer institutions.” The addendum also argues that there is a lack of mental health resources available to students, including limited staff at the Cox Health and Counseling Center. The lack of resources has corresponded with a jump in the prevalence of mental health problems on campus, so much so that, according to the results of the 2021 Healthy Minds Survey, 19% of Kenyon students experienced suicidal ideation in the year prior. K-SWOC also claims in the email that Kenyon has yet to spend 22% or $470,783.88 of its student portion of federal funds provided as part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.  

Anabel Barnett ’23 spoke at the rally about her personal experience with the Title IX office and how the College has continuously failed to support her. “Kenyon did and has done nothing to assure my safety nor my health throughout my entire four years here. I am gravely disappointed in the College for failing to protect me and failing to protect the people I love that surround me, the people that have gone through the same thing and are going through the same thing as I,” she said. “I’ve never felt more disrespected and dehumanized than I did in the midst of [the Title IX] process.” She further condemned the College for prioritizing its own interests over student safety and wellbeing. “Students know that the people employed under the guise of helping us here are really only hired to protect the College.”

Former Kenyon student Gavin Trautman reiterated Barnett’s notion that the College does not care about its students. At the rally, he spoke about his experience as a first year at Kenyon during the 2021-22 school year.  He shared how the College failed to support or demonstrate concern for his health during his year at Kenyon, noting that he was unable to get into any of the classes he wanted besides those early in the morning, experienced persistent sleep deprivation as a result and constantly felt ill from mold in McBride. “Kenyon would have ruined my life if I had come back as a sophomore,” he said. 

Although he did not attend the rally, Acting President Jeff Bowman acknowledged that K-SWOC is raising awareness of important issues on campus. “I think the addendum gets it right that people should be paying attention to this and that there are things to be concerned about with regard to the mental health of students on campus and with regard to sexual assault,” he said. He claimed the College is taking action regarding these issues. “[The statistics cited in the addendum are] one of the reasons that wellness is one of the priorities of the Strategic Plan.” Priority II of the College’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan is to better support student health and wellness, specifically to recognize and address the mental health challenges many students have faced in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

K-SWOC will share information about their plans to address student health and well-being this Friday, 12-1 p.m., when they will host a hybrid, public webinar with two doctors from Signature Primary Care & Wellness, a direct primary care provider based in Hilliard, Ohio, just outside Columbus. The webinar will be held over Zoom; participants can go to Chalmers 302 to watch the webinar in person.


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