Section: Opinion

Alum weighs in on Sendoff, StuCo

I realize it’s a predictable trap to lament the latest generation. I will risk coming across as a bitter old fart to express an unpopular opinion about my peers.

My Facebook feed has been inundated with professed outrage from current and former Kenyon students over a scheduling change to Summer Sendoff, and a policy requiring alcohol on event premises be purchased by those 21 and over from a designated vendor.

The principal gripe is that these changes were an affront to the student body because Student Council, ostensibly the students’ elected representatives, was not consulted beforehand.

I agree administrators could have better handled the (now-aborted) scheduling change, at least from a public relations perspective. But I am reminded of one fact: Only 30 students voted in the last Student Council election.

Because of this fact, the assertion that the College has violated democratic principles rings hollow.

If you are one of the 30 students who voted or one of the handful of students who serves on Council or Campus Senate, by all means, express your righteous indignation.

But if you never cared about student government in the past, I can’t help but suspect this is really about what you view as your god-given right to stumble around drunk all weekend after a concert paid for by the College. (Paid for by “the College,” means paid for by your tuition dollars, which will soon exceed $63,000 a year).

I commend those who, rather than complaining on Yik Yak, actually serve on student government and try to enact change. If you’re upset about Sendoff, run for StuCo next term. At Kenyon, many people run unopposed, so you have a good chance of being elected.

When I was a rookie Collegian reporter, I fought to stay awake as I covered countless Council meetings. I was usually the only member of the student body not involved with Council in attendance. In fact, people who were actually on Council didn’t show, either.

I’m heartened to read that “about 100” students attended a recent meeting to air their concerns over Sendoff, but I can’t help but note 100 is significantly more than 30.

Likewise, I’m glad to know of the engaged students who participated in a sit-in this fall to address racial inequality, and of the small but dedicated minority who pushed for carbon neutrality, but it makes me sad to observe how demands for partying and public intoxication continue to garner, by far, the most vocal support. I’d love to see students be as passionate about issues like the sexual misconduct policy, financial aid, the 2020 Plan or faculty pay.

Additionally, I find it odd to read posts alleging changes to Sendoff, Extendoff or the Cove are an assault on the “tradition” or “culture” of Kenyon itself. For college students, a sense of “tradition” spans four years and no more.

When I was a sophomore, Kenyon announced a series of minor rule changes for Sendoff/Extendoff. The backlash was swift and infantile. Despite an onslaught of angry (and sometimes mean) emails directed at AVI workers (responsible for wristband enforcement and a picnic) and administrators, the College stuck to its guns. That year, I had a great time at Sendoff/Extendoff, just as I did as a freshman, and noticed no discernible differences.

Debauchery proceeded as usual.

Sarah Lehr ’15 is a reporter for the Vindicator of Youngstown, Ohio, and was editor-in-chief of the Collegian from 2014-2015. Contact her at sarahglehr@gmail.com.

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