The first weekends of each school year establish the tone of the relationship between Campus Safety and the first-year class. When I was a first year, Campus Safety was especially vigilant during the first weekend upperclassmen returned to campus. I had no expectation that this year would be any different.
Recently, I’ve found Safety’s extra vigilance to extend beyond the opening weeks of school. On Saturday, Sept. 9th, I noticed three parties get shut down in Old Kenyon Residence Hall before midnight. Admittedly one of these parties was over capacity, but the other two were both small gatherings.
I found these shut downs unusual because, in my past experience, Campus Safety tends to intervene only in extreme situations. Most people I know would feel comfortable calling Safety in an emergency because they know they will be dealing with reasonable and helpful people.
Kenyon is a small community, and as a result, relationships and trust are especially important. If the student body trusts Campus Safety, the campus becomes safer for everyone. If students fear Safety officers and feel Safety will respond punitively, they’ll be less likely to call for help in emergencies.
Because of the new K-Card policy and an apparent increase in Campus Safety intervention, it’s hard not to feel threatened. The K-Card policy on its own felt like it was created with the thinly-veiled intent of preventing parties, and this already created distrust between returning students and the administration. Restricting access to fraternity and sorority divisions seems like the administration’s way of trying to contain parties. This wouldn’t be that bad on its own, but the fact that Campus Safety officers continue to shut down parties they would’ve left alone in previous years only furthers this theory. I hope this new approach to parties is temporary, because it’s beginning to feel like Kenyon’s administration is fighting a war against weekends.
Chris Pelletier ’20 is undeclared from Stowe, V.T. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.