Withholding donations is key to finally making current and future students’ voices heard
Here in life post-Kenyon, I have been busy with the usual amusements of an English major: reading and nostalgia. To save time, I combine these two on Thursdays, reading in the Collegian about the latest inconvenient building to fall into the Master Plan’s maw. I find these physical reminders of the change from college community to college administration especially unsettling, maybe because I live in the area during summer, when all that really remains of Kenyon are its quiet buildings. It is selfish to feel this way — I am thinking of Kenyon only as it was for me. But I suggest you do, too. This letter, addressed chiefly to this year’s seniors but also future seniors, concerns your final chance to have the ear of the College on the changes you truly wish to see made, or stopped: Do not give to the Kenyon fund.
Various offices have no doubt offered to buy you a drink and public recognition on the website if you donate a dollar to this year’s class fund (to be matched by $20.16 of the trustees’!): A very good deal for what will be advertised as your unilateral approval (“participation rate”) of the College in next year’s brochures. My genuine thanks to those seniors who have already given, but I propose this to the 200 or so who haven’t: Make this a dismal year for the numbers. Leave it at 50 percent, a generous overestimation of how many students — much less members of the Kenyon community — have any real influence on the College’s future.
I know that change itself is no stranger to the Hill. Kenyon has always been in a bit of a flux; there is permanent ethos of “this will do” that drives us forward. But recent changes have outright ignored many vociferous “this won’t do!”s from citizens, professors and students. Class of 2016: You are the group most capably poised to do more to the College’s image than to bluster it with editorials. For a few more weeks, that is.
The Class of 2024 will not mind that there is no Black Box Theater, homely Village Market or Cove. It is only you, reading this now, who cares. This is the great advantage of Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman, of the trustees, of most administrative bodies: They will be here longer than four years. You, the Class of 2016 — and 2017, 2018 and 2019 — will be relegated to copies of the Reveille with the Black Box, John Crowe Ransom’s former home and the old cafeteria in Gund Commons (soon to be bulldozed, bulldozed again and, worse yet, turned into more administrative offices).
The brute force with which so many recent changes have been forced down the College’s throat would not be so effective were it not for the College’s useful amnesia. And between requests for increased financial aid, protests of the Master Plan and cries for accessibility, Sendoff was an easy bone to throw you.
Take a good look at Kenyon these next few weeks, “yours” for only a little while longer. That view down Middle Path, the market on your left and the Black Box on your right, and a student body supposedly free enough to preserve both if it so desires, is a Kenyon all the alumni-matched funds cannot buy. Tell the administration so in the language they apparently best understand: dollars and participation rates.
Matthew Eley ’15 is from Howard, Ohio and currently lives in Beirut, Lebanon. Contact him at email@example.com.