Early last semester I found myself knee-deep in a classic Kenyon existential crisis: I had picked up more responsibilities than ever before and one day, when I stopped to look around, I decided that I didn’t know who I was anymore. In the midst of my crisis, a friend told me that asking “Who am I?” is stupid and a waste of my time. Rather, I should be honest with myself and ask what I am proud of, whom I love to be with and what my priorities are. If you can break down “Who am I?” and approach the question from the millions of different angles that make a person, you just might find yourself. I gave it a try, and you know what? It worked. In starting the year, I made a habit of assessing Kenyon from its angles, the different things that make it whole.
The way I see it, Kenyon is made up of many different people from many different backgrounds; for us to understand what makes up Kenyon, we need to be honest and transparent about what each of us is made of. We need to stop striving for individual, private success and instead strive to succeed as a group of people — as a family, mish-mashed together by some unknown combination of serendipity and admissions office luck. What if transparency and honesty weren’t questions or goals but reality? What if students could vote on the board of trustees? What if we could help decide how funds are allocated? What if all doors to information were open and there were no hushed meetings, no unanswered questions?
Here’s the important piece: if we want transparency and honesty, we need to earn it. No more whining about problems and refusing to be The Person Who Acts. Your thermostat doesn’t work? Submit a work order. It doesn’t get fixed? Follow up. Find the problem and solve it. Alternately, come to a Student Council meeting and we’ll work to solve it together.
Insist on being included. Speak your mind. Explain why issues are important to you and don’t take no for an answer, but don’t be stupid. The reality of Kenyon is that the size of our school (and the size of our endowment) only allows for so much change. We will have to negotiate, we will have to concede, but with respect, I am confident all voices will be heard. Let’s be open and kind and honest with each other; let’s be open and kind and honest with our community. Let’s strive to communicate and work in unison to build our Kenyon. Let’s not waste a second, let’s not waste a day, let’s stand up, let’s stand together, and work, strive and fight until this teeny slice of the earth is the best it can possibly be.
Phoebe Roe ’16 is a psychology major from Pittsburgh and the president of the Student Council. She invites you to email firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas, or attend a Student Council meeting in the Chadeayne Dining Room (lower Peirce) on Sundays at 1 p.m.