On Sunday, Student Council met to elect a new Safety and Wellness Committee chairperson, speak with President Julie Kornfeld and approve the Business and Finance Committee (BFC) allocations following the recent semesterly hearing.
Because Safety and Wellness Chair Madelin Vandeberg ’25 is going abroad for the spring semester, the Council began the meeting by approving a new chairperson who had been put forward for consideration by the Safety and Wellness Committee. Leah Kessler ’24, a member of the committee since her freshman year, was unanimously approved by Student Council. In moving forward with the position, Kessler spoke about her hopes for increasing student interactions with the Office of Campus Safety and bridging the gap between administration and the student body.
Student Council then invited Kornfeld to speak, and she answered questions regarding issues on campus such as environmentalism, increased student enrollment and engagement with diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. Though Kornfeld noted that she is still new to campus and has not yet developed a specific vision for her tenure, she has appreciated the time spent listening and learning about campus culture. In particular, she praised how Kenyon reacted to international crises throughout the fall semester. “I’ve frankly been impressed with this community, and the connections and the commitment to respectful communication and dialogue,” Kornfeld said. “It’s not perfect everywhere, but it’s certainly better here than I’ve seen on many other campuses.”
Dean of Students Brian Janssen took the opportunity to ask Kornfeld about Kenyon’s response to the Supreme Court decision over the summer, which declared the use of affirmative action in college admissions unconstitutional. Kornfeld responded that the College will continue to holistically evaluate applicants, and encourage diverse admissions outreach. Although application readers cannot consider race as a factor in admissions, Kornfeld stressed that the College is committed to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. “We can continue to do things that are mission-aligned and we will continue to do so,” she said.
Vice President for Facilities, Planning and Sustainability Ian Smith spoke about construction for the new roundabout, which will be established at the intersection of state Route 229 (Newcastle Road) and state Route 308 (W Wiggin Street). The roundabout, which has had construction planned since this past April, will begin construction in summer 2024. Smith clarified that construction is intended to take five months, and will result in increased traffic throughout the Village of Gambier.
He answered further questions from the Council regarding traffic detours, potential delays to construction and pedestrian safety. Though Smith believes the construction will be completed within the five-month timespan, he did acknowledge that delays may result in heavy traffic and difficulties for Gambier.
“My biggest concern would be if it went pretty late, say up and around the December and January holiday season. If it’s not paved, that’s when asphalt plants shut down for the winter,” Smith said. “What it might mean is that we basically have to deal with a gravel-surfaced intersection for a few months.”
Student Council then approved the BFC semesterly allocations, which provide funding to student organizations for the spring 2024 semester. Vice President of the Business and Finance Committee Daniel Kowalczyk ’24 said that this was the largest request for funding in BFC history, with an overwhelming number of organizations who showed up to the hearing. “If we were to fund everything, we would not have enough funding to do so,” Kowalczyk said.
As a result, out of 46 student organizations, only 24 received a recommendation for both funding. The other 22 organizations were recommended either to be funded in part or with conditional approval. Kowalczyk also noted that this was the first year that Greek organizations, particularly Theta Delta Phi (Thetas) and Alpha Sigma Tau (AST), had requested funding from the BFC instead of Greek Council. Both organizations requested money for spring recruitment, with Thetas receiving partial funding of $320 and AST receiving full funding of $100.
Only two organizations were denied funding entirely. Disabled and Chronically Ill Student Organization (DISCO) was denied funding due to interference from BFC bylaws for their request, and Women’s Rugby did not attend the semesterly allocation, thus receiving no funding. Student Council unanimously voted to approve all funding allocations for the spring semester.
During officer reports, Senior Class President Rachel Chen ’24 reminded members of the senior class to vote for their baccalaureate speaker, and that Senior Soiree photos have been released via Google Drive. Though Vandeberg was not present for the later half of the meeting, she also thanked the student body for their participation in events including “Caught You In The Act (Of Kindness),” and expressed her excitement about the impact that the Safety and Wellness Committee had on campus over the fall semester. She also reminded students to get their required vaccinations over winter break if they have not done so already. Student Council President Marissa Sun ’25 reminded students to submit proposals for the Bicentennial celebrations, which will begin on Jan. 8, 2024 (1/8/24 or 1824, the year of Kenyon’s founding).
The next Student Council meeting will be on Jan. 21 in Chalmers Library room 302 at 7 p.m. All students are welcome to attend either in person or remotely.