In her keynote address during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Dialogue on Monday, Northwestern University Professor of History Leslie Harris discussed the challenges and necessity of making institutions of higher education more equitable. One issue she raised seems particularly poignant for Kenyon: How do we sustain a conversation about equity and progress over multiple years, as cohorts of students quickly pass in and out of Kenyon?
Last spring, Kenyon saw debate and protest over the offensive stereotype of a Latinx teenager in The Good Samaritan, the use of the n-word by white students and anti-Black Lives Matter vandalism in the Caples Hall elevator. This year, if those conversations have continued, they have not been anywhere near as public or visible. Kenyon Listens, the series of campus-wide dialogues organized by the College Ombudperson Carrie Knell, is the most obvious effort to carry this conversation forward, but it can’t be the only step.
We like to use the word “community” liberally at Kenyon, but as Harris reminds us, building community takes active work from us all. Showing up to Kenyon Listens is one way to contribute to that work. Leading similar intra-departmental or intra-office conversations is another. Campus publications — including the Collegian — can make a concerted effort to keep interrogating these issues instead of letting them drop at the end of every school year. As Michaela Jenkins ’19 said in the panel following Harris’ talk, we are all here because we chose Kenyon. Now it’s time we choose to make Kenyon better.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Cameron Messinides ’19 and Devon Musgrave-Johnson ’19, managing editor Grant Miner ’19 and executive director Matt Mandel ’19. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.