Dear Ms. Bromberg,
As a Kenyon alumnus, Knox Countian and fellow author of op-eds that foment the public ire (though mostly that of non-IPHS concentrators and Collegian advisor P.F. Kluge), there is not much new that I can add to the discussion stirred up last week by your op-ed.
Publishing something divisive, perhaps even unintentionally, is a brave thing and a far braver thing than what I was doing when I was a first year at another university, pining for Knox County and making plans to drop out and marry my high school sweetheart. It is true that there is something about this place that ill-prepares its citizenry for being “worldly,” and even now I am constantly mired in the tension between my goals of travel and my love of home. There are few displaced Knox Countians who do not have that homeward longing that you mistook for insularity.
As you will find in the many coherent, if not a bit vehement, things told to you by residents of Knox County, we are rather fond of this place; it is world enough for many and holds wealth that differs from the usual currency remarked upon by the Ohio Poverty Report. I can only reiterate the sentiment already present on the Collegian’s website, which is that you have missed the county for the Hill; but I must add that you have missed the Hill as well.
You noted correctly that there are things here that lifetime residents would change but have not — and one of those things is Kenyon. We have come to terms with being different from one another, yet sharing the same space; and thus we contentedly do not try to change you, though the lifestyle of Girls may strike us as outlandish. But it’s a false dichotomy you have driven between the Hill and surrounding hills, and in doing so you have lost the true nature of both. It is for that reason you feel unsettled when at East Knox and like you are in New England when on the Hill; you have not arrived at Kenyon.
There is in fact a very real Kenyon beneath your feet that has successfully combined the academic and rustic. It is an intimate place that renders Princeton, Harvard and all the other New England stomping grounds cheap replicas to be purchased at the U.S. News and World Report’s gift shop. I envy you the challenge of finding it, and may perhaps save you some time: it is in Knox County.
Matthew Eley ’15 is from Howard, Ohio and currently resides in France. Contact him at email@example.com.