Section: News

Administrators answer students’ questions in public forum

On Tuesday, Campus Senate hosted an “Ask Me Anything” forum, “Kenyon Asked — Now For Answers,” with a panel featuring six staff members who answered a handful of pre-submitted questions relating to student life. The questions touched on topics including staffing levels in student services, College policies on underage drinking and support for students of color on campus.

The Senate had sent out a form to students in November, inviting students to submit any questions they might have about the College’s policy decisions, and selected 10 questions for administrators to address at the panel. The panelists included Vice President of Student Affairs Celestino Limas; Senior Director of Campus Life James Jackson; Senior Director of Wellness Chris Smith; Professor of English, Special Advisor to the President and Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ted Mason; Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chris Kennerly and Dean of Students Brian Janssen. 

The panel was held in Rosse Hall, with about 30 students and faculty members in attendance. First-Year Senate Representative Cooper Bertschi ’26 moderated the discussion, introducing each of the panelists and clarifying that Campus Senate neither endorsed nor denied the premises of any of the questions. He kicked off the discussion with a question for Limas, asking about the plans in place to ensure that the staffing levels of student services reflected the increasing student population. Limas pointed to the newest strategic plan, which includes scaling up resources to match the additional students, and he encouraged students to attend candidate search events for new staff members. 

A similar question was posed to Smith asking for data on the Cox Health and Counseling Center, which students have criticized in the past for insufficient staffing and limited resources. Smith explained the advantages of the Health Center when compared to many other colleges and universities, which often place limits on the number of times a student can receive counseling. Kenyon, by contrast, has no such limits. Smith also explained that although access to the Health Center is restricted to College business hours, students have 24/7 access to My Student Support Program, which allows students to call or message trained counselors, and can seek support from Kenyon’s off-campus partnerships in obtaining referrals and navigating health insurance.

Smith said that in addition to the 3,331 clinical appointments the Center has completed since August, there have been over 400 cases of students not showing up to their scheduled appointments, which prevented other students from receiving assistance.

“We’ve got openings every day,” Smith said. “It’s just as simple as scheduling an appointment and showing up for that appointment.”

Two of the questions touched on the College’s policies regarding alcohol. One of them, which was directed at Jackson, asked about the reasoning behind the College’s approach to underage drinking, which the student who submitted the question perceived as overly lenient. Jackson responded by explaining that the College viewed it as an educational approach that aimed to give students the opportunity to learn from their mistakes rather than punishing them with probations. “It’s a way for you to reflect on your actions,” Jackson said. “Who do you want to be seen as by your fellow peers, or by administrators?”

Another question took the opposite approach, asking why the Office of Campus Safety focused on monitoring students’ drinking habits rather than monitoring student cars, which have been stolen and broken into in the past. Limas answered that Campus Safety is not interested in constantly tracking underage drinking, but may choose to get involved if intoxicated students draw attention to themselves with inappropriate behavior. He also emphasized that although Campus Safety is heavily invested in student safety and regularly patrols campus, there are limits to Campus Safety officers’ ability to monitor vehicles considering the lack of cameras on campus.

“I think all of you understand that the presence of cameras on campus is not something that Kenyon has ever pursued. Historically, if that ever were to change in the future, that is a bigger conversation we would have to have,” Limas said.

Mason responded to a question that asked who a student of color should seek out if classroom activities make them feel uncomfortable. He said that although students are free to go to the department chair or to Mason himself, he encouraged students to first speak to the professor. “I acknowledge the power differentiation that is there between the student and the faculty member. But I would also say, very quickly, that one of the things that may well be useful coming out of this is engaging your own agency with the idea of speaking to someone who has some authority over you — which is something you will assuredly do not simply here, but assuredly beyond here,” he said.

Bertschi ended the panel with a round of applause for the panelists, the students who helped to set up the event and the audience. Although the discussion lasted less than 40 minutes, he said that Campus Senate will be holding another session of questions and answers at a future date.


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