As the months get colder and the days shorter, Student Council is looking to focus more on kindness across campus. The Safety and Wellness Committee has launched the trial run of a new program called Caught You in the Act (of Kindness). The program is funded by Fun Funds, and is intended to recognize students for their kind acts through a Google form. The form and instructions for submission were first emailed to the student body on Oct. 30.
The program entails a nomination process, during which students can submit the name of another student and a description of their act of kindness. The Safety and Wellness Committee will then review the form, let recipients know they have been recognized and offer a “token of appreciation for their kindness,” according to an email from Student Council.
“This program came out of a desire to create the space to encourage and recognize kindness on Kenyon’s campus,” Safety and Wellness Committee Chairperson Madelin Vandeberg ’25 wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I think there is already kindness here, but it is important to take a moment to reflect on that and recognize others for what they have done for you and the community.”
According to Vandeberg, the program’s origins lie with other successful past initiatives on the Hill that have raised awareness or inspired students to emphasize positivity in their lives. “It came to be because of a suggestion from Dean [of Student Development] Robin Hart Ruthenbeck,” Vandeberg explained. “She and I were talking when working the door for the Sex in the Dark event when she mentioned that it would be nice to have a program that allows people to recognize others for kindness. She said it could be like catching someone being kind, and that is where the name came from! From there, it was just up to my committee and me to implement it.”
For Vandeberg, the program has been easy to implement, as the preliminary stages have mainly involved spreading the word and monitoring the form. “I anticipate the more difficult part will be getting a surprise ready for everyone who has been submitted,” Vandeberg wrote. In rewarding one act of kindness with another, students will hopefully continue to choose kindness in their day to day lives.
The student body has been engaged with the program so far, already submitting more responses than the Safety and Wellness Committee had projected for its initial trial run. Other students have also noticed kindness around them more because of it. “We only anticipated getting about 20 responses, and have already surpassed that goal!” Vandeberg wrote. “Otherwise, even students who haven’t submitted have still talked to me about how they appreciate a space they could use to recognize someone. I’ve been told by peers that the program has made them think about the kindness of those around them more!”
The form is open until Monday for any students who have noticed an act of kindness in the Kenyon community that they wish to recognize.