Last week, Kenyon’s Title IX office released updated statistics regarding sexual misconduct on campus this academic year. It was the first mid-year release of these informal statistics, as far as Interim Title IX Coordinator Linda Smolak is aware, and certainly represents a step in the right direction. We would like to see more of these periodic updates and more of this kind of transparency, especially given the confusion surrounding Kenyon’s compliance with the Clery and Violence Against Women Reauthorization Acts this October. The updated numbers — 33 reports of sexual misconduct last semester — laudably includes cases beyond those that the federal Clery Act requires the College to report.
What is concerning about Smolak’s email containing the updated numbers is that it refers to a Title IX “office,” of which Smolak is the only designated employee. It’s true that there are numerous people on campus to whom students can report incidents and appeal for help, but that network of support should be larger and more concentrated in one department, rather than spread across the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the Counseling Center and the Office of Campus Safety. We hope the current search concludes swiftly and results in someone who shares Smolak’s commitment to transparency. We must acknowledge the reality of sexual assault on this campus.