By Madeline Thompson
For the past few months, a group of students, faculty and staff have been meeting to discuss the campus climate at Kenyon. After the supplies for Take Back the Night were stolen from Crozier last semester, a community advisor, responding to her resident’s concerns about safety, began this group to bring together the community in discussion. Many students expressed a common theme: we don’t believe that enough action was taken to respond and act back against these incidents.
Our group, the ProKenyon Committee, broadened our scope to look at many hurtful acts on campus. This year, our campus doubled the amount of vandalism that we had last year. Also, in the most recent years for which statistics are available there were eight stalking incidents, three hate crimes and 13 sexual misconduct offenses. And in the first semester of this year, 38 reports were made to Kenyon’s Title IX office or the Sexual Misconduct Advisors. We believe these issues continue to happen because we talk about them when they happen, and then let them fade away; we never record our conclusions in a meaningful fashion.
When brainstorming ways to combat these issues, we found that we lacked language to talk about what Kenyon actually believes in to guide our discussions. How could we talk about what we did and did not want the community to look like if we don’t even have words for what Kenyon is? How do we know where we as a community are headed if we don’t have any guidelines? We agreed that we would like to have a common language that could be used in classrooms, in residence halls and in extracurricular activities when talking about expectations. Through our discussion we have listed communication, passion, commitment, responsibility, acceptance, education, citizenship and empathy as characteristics that are important to the Kenyon community. By forming a statement of beliefs, we can more clearly outline student expectations, and therefore take quicker action when discrimination, vandalism, sexual misconduct and other incidents arise.
Therefore we have turned our attention toward producing a sort of community statement of beliefs, and we want your input. Students will be the ones who translate this message from year to year, and so having as many student opinions involved as possible is very important. Kenyon needs to respond to incidents in a way that shows we are serious about stopping this behavior. And to do this, we need a statement of beliefs. So now we ask you: “What does Kenyon believe in? What does being a student at Kenyon mean? What does the Kenyon community stand for? What are our shared values?”
To answer these questions, or if you are interested in joining these discussions in person, please fill out the survey being sent out through email, or go to ow.ly/LgVEr. You are a part of the Kenyon community and we value your input. With your involvement, Kenyon can move forward.
Madeline Thompson ’16 is a neuroscience and psychology double major from Floraissant, Mo. Contact her at email@example.com.