As we’ve reiterated over the past several weeks, there is a problem with communication on this campus.
It is a problem that goes beyond the Cove, beyond Sendoff, beyond the Master Plan and invades the more mundane operations of the College.
We are referring to the recent discovery that, at the end of last semester, the Business and Finance Committee (BFC) allocated money to students for a policy which they believed to be tied to Title IX. In fact, the policy they were instructed to help implement — one that would require student groups to procure one bed for each student when traveling off campus — was not a policy at all, mere “best practice,” and not in fact related to Title IX.
It is unclear how and why this miscommunication occurred, but the fact remains that it did. Officials in the Student Activities Office (SAO) led the BFC co-chairs to believe that this was a policy, a falsehood then passed on to student groups. The BFC co-chairs did not learn until this semester of the miscommunication, and neither did Kenyon’s Title IX coordinators. One student group’s treasurer still did not know the policy she had been surprised by during a budgetary hearing, was not in fact a real policy and not associated with Title IX.
Why did this miscommunication occur? Why did the SAO not announce that it was recommending this policy? Surely students would have been able to comment on whether or not this would truly be a “best practice.” And why now, over a month into this semester, has this mistake not been corrected and the information shared with the students which it affected?
Time and again, administrators at this school fail to communicate with students, fail to inform them of the how and the why of their decisions. This is a private college and, as such, is not required to make its decisions public. But Kenyon prides itself on community. Withholding plans or actions in order to control their narrative or stifle possible backlash should not necessitate the level of secrecy we have experienced not only as Collegian reporters, but also as students.
At a college where the president lives in the heart of campus, he runs an administration that appears either incapable or unwilling to communicate with each other and perhaps more importantly, with students.
We acknowledge steps are being taken to improve this and the recent community forum and new working group seem to promise open dialogue. We look forward to seeing the list of proposals on how to improve transparency that the working group will send to the president by April 15. A reevaluation of how Campus Senate functions, too, is an encouraging sign.
Still, the fact that the elected student chairs of the BFC were either misinformed or left confused about the College’s new “best practices” policy suggest there is much more work to be done.