I am delighted to have been a part of the planning of Kenyon’s first Pride Weekend, a reunion for alumni and visit day for prospective students. This event is dedicated to bringing LGBTQIA (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/Questioning Intersex Asexual) alumni back to campus, connecting them with current students, investigating the history of Kenyon in this domain and showing prospective students the resources that Kenyon has to offer, including the various student groups on campus. Kenyon has had an LGBTQIA alumni association for several years, but hasn’t had an event in over a decade. We want them to be able to reconnect with each other, with Kenyon and with its current students and to see how Kenyon currently treats LGBTQIA issues and explore where we can go in the future.
The last meeting of LGBTQIA alumni was at the dedication of Unity House in 2003. Did you know that one source of Unity House’s funding is set to expire next June, after same-sex marriage has been legal for a year? It happened a lot faster than anyone expected and we’re working on extending that fund. Now we want to discuss why same-sex marriage was held as the capstone, and what the focus of Kenyon’s LGBTQIA associations should be, because trans, queer racial minority, intersex, asexual and pansexual issues often are unsupported and under-acknowledged. We want to explore how the Kenyon community, with our history as a predominantly white, upper-class institution, can acknowledge our history and work to spotlight and support communities that are underrepresented both at Kenyon and in the world at large.
As for prospective students, we want them to know that they are welcome at Kenyon, no matter how they identify. LGBTQIA students are celebrated and involved in the campus community. Because queer life isn’t something prospective students are always comfortable asking about, just advertising this event can be comforting for students worried about how they will fit in at college. By giving them a chance to get to know Kenyon students who identify as they do, and experiencing the campus environment for themselves, we hope they will leave knowing Kenyon is a place where they can feel at home.
When all three groups (alumni, current students and prospective students) are on campus together, it presents us with a unique opportunity to connect the past, present and future of Kenyon. By unifying as a community we can talk about where we have come from and where we want to go. I hope that you will come and add your voice to the conversation — we want everyone’s involvement to make Kenyon the best it can be.
Madeline Thompson ’16 is a psychology major from St. Louis. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.