I started the Alternative Senior Fund to provide an outlet to those who feel that student concerns are neglected or ignored by the Kenyon College administration. I announced this fund over email to demonstrate that students are willing to give money, but do not desire to give to the Kenyon Senior Fund. It functions as a tangible protest.
Several students have asked what issues inspired the creation of the fund. I highlight a few of these complaints below, which include misrepresenting student opinions, telling different organizations different pieces of information and a lack of equitable representation on committees.
The faults I find with the administration are not comprehensive. There are important issues of which I am unaware. I would encourage others to point those out, whether it be in an email, an editorial or through other means.
I attended the initial K-Card policy focus group meetings over the summer of 2016. The reports from these focus groups were used as the basis for the formation of the new K-Card policy, but students such as myself feel the report didn’t accurately reflect student consensus. The report reads like students had mixed views regarding the new K-Card policy, when most students present were against the proposed changes. Administrators frequently cite poor attendance at policy related meetings, though low attendance may be due to the sentiment that our opinions are misrepresented.
When the Office of Housing and Residential Life (ResLife) and the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) made changes to the lounge policy last year, Greek organizations were invited to individual meetings with ResLife and the OSE, one of which I attended as the president of Alpha Delta Phi. Following these meetings, the leaders of various Greek organizations met and felt that OSE and ResLife gave each organization different information regarding lounge policy. The fact that students felt that they were being divided and presented with different information is frankly unprofessional and unacceptable.
Policy committees such as the Alcohol Task Force (ATF) are dominated by administrators. The ATF is currently comprised of two students, six administrators and zero faculty members. This means students have no true control over many policies. Student representation on committees and other policy making groups must be at least equal to administrative representation to have a fair representation of students.
Administrators only work here. Students live here. We need stronger representation for those decisions that affect us most. Frequently, the handful of students on committees are selected by administrators or smaller groups on campus. Access to committees needs to be advertised and open to the whole student body.
Administrators need to recognize that they can and have had negative effects on campus. Administrators should make policies that help the student body. Kenyon is full of well-educated students. If the administration can’t provide an explanation acceptable to a majority of the student body, then there is an issue with the policy.
Administrators need to stop cherry-picking representatives and need to be more deliberate and open when making policies. Faculty also need to recognize that administrative decisions affect students and the classroom. A student that is worried about their views being misrepresented, focused on sifting through misleading information or stressed because administrators who don’t have to live under their own policies control major facets of our lives isn’t going to be able to put the same effort into discussions or classwork as they could otherwise. Faculty need to step up and push for more intelligent, thoroughly researched and openly discussed decisions on campus.
These specific issues only begin to cover negative administrative actions I have seen in my time here. This doesn’t touch on many other issues, such as the booked schedule of the Health and Counseling Center, the financial barriers present at Kenyon or poor accessibility. We need to make clear how we feel about issues and we need to be given a true voice because it affects our lives significantly. We need to hold the administration accountable. The Alternative Senior Fund attempts to do so by having a quantifiable effect on the Kenyon Senior fund. I will continue to run the Alternative Senior Fund until I see real changes and responses from the administration.
Samuel Troper ’18 is an economics major from Worthington, Ohio. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.