As the Board of Trustees comes to campus this week, we encourage them to take the concerns of students seriously. We always ask this, but in the course of our reporting, we find it challenging to understand why the College is digging inconvenient holes in the ground and replacing the library when we clearly have even more difficulty in negotiating how we treat each other.
How can we barrel full-force into the future — advertising an innovative new library and state-of-the-art research facilities to entice the best and brightest to invest their time and money here — without undoing the legacies of structural oppression that underpin this campus? There seems to be a pervading attitude that the College does not always need to change because students will just pass through on a four-year cycle, and so will their concerns.
Students have real needs and recently they have expressed these needs at a level the three of us have not seen since we started here in 2014. Students are worried about the future of support systems like the Peer Counselors and the Sexual Misconduct Advisors because of recent moves to redefine the role these groups play on campus, for example.
Given the current climate, it’s hard to understand why we need a new library. Is it more than simply because we have the money to do so? The donor wanted a new library. In the long run, we are sure it will be a beautiful building that students will use with pride. But is it really what the College needs in this moment?
In good faith, we understand that the trustees want what they think will make the Kenyon community better. But we wonder if a question of perspective is in order. It is hard to understand the complexities of this community if you’re not here full-time, and it is easy to brush off students’ concerns about where this campus is going if you only jet in and jet out, or meet in San Francisco or New York.
We wholeheartedly support Juliette Moffroid ’18’s Dec. 7 op-ed that suggested the College adopt a student trustee with full voting power — who would raise these important issues in serious forums. We also hope that the trustees will take the time to know students outside of brief encounters, like lunches, organized by the College. It should be the responsibility of the trustees to seek out the voices that they aren’t hearing.
The staff editorial was written this week by editors-in-chief Bailey Blaker ’18 and Gabrielle Healy ’18 and managing editor Lauren Eller ’18. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.