Section: Editorial

Staff Editorial: A generous Board must also listen

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” goes the famous line from the movie Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman ’49 H’61.

During their winter meeting this weekend, the Board of Trustees will almost certainly vote to raise Kenyon’s annual tuition by three to four percent. This increase will surely be met by student outrage and criticism. While this increase is inevitable, perhaps students will react so negatively because they don’t feel that this increase will solve their problems — and they don’t feel that their problems are even heard. Students receive a dictum announcing an increase in their bills, but they do not see the Board directly addressing their wishes.

With our endowment just over $200 million and 78 percent of our operating budget covered by tuition and fees, we are heavily reliant on alumni donations and full tuition students. The increase is necessary, as are the high numbers of one percenters paying full tuition, if Kenyon is to succeed and grow. And yet every time tuition goes up, or the name “Graham Gund” is mentioned, there is a chorus of groans from students. Gund and many alumni have donated their time and money to this school to improve it and ensure its survival. This is a great service and many of us would not be here if it were not for these generous gifts. The Board and alumni donors clearly care about the College, so why are they so heavily criticized? Perhaps it is because there is a failure to communicate between the donors and the students.

If their work is not appreciated, it should be the responsibility of Board to find out why this is. There is a litany of demands from students: more scholarships and grants, a more diverse student body, accessibility to food and to outdated buildings, better housing options, more counselors and the list goes on. Yes, the Board of Trustees is comprised of professionals who know how to make a budget, raise money and run a business; students should trust them up to a point. It is great to build for the future of the College and of Kenyon students. But the Board of Trustees should also exist for the students who are on campus now.

If the Board is listening, they should make a point of communicating directly with students — not just relying on the Office of Communications to issue press releases. As students, we also should be more direct to ensure that our ideas are known, not just posted in statuses to our friends on Facebook. We accept this responsibility, but we also ask that the Board listen to how we want to spend money.

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