This week’s opinions pages feature two stories debating student political activity in Gambier. During election season, stories and commentary on voting, its merits and where and why you should vote seem to spring up like weeds. These debates, while important, should not be limited to the first Tuesday of November. Politics isn’t seasonal; local issues can have national and sometimes global ramifications.
Over the past few weeks and indeed over the past semester, Kenyon students have demonstrated that politics, from the exceedingly local to the existentially global, matters.
Take September: Students and faculty not only led teach-ins, gatherings and demonstrations as part of the nationwide climate strike, but students also demanded that their voices be heard when it comes to the important local and political issue of on-campus mental healthcare. Administrative policies form out of campus politics. Our administrators enact policies that affect our lives. Therefore, making our voices heard matters.
But we have not stopped there. Just this past week, 17 students travelled to New York City in support of Marco Saavedra ’11, a passionate alumnus who demonstrates that fighting for justice only grows more important once you leave the Hill. Their activism was only possible because of the groundwork other alumni have laid. Marco’s ongoing battle for asylum in the United States has only just begun and students should continue to stand in solidarity with him.
The battle for migrant justice affects Kenyon, not just in New York but in our backyard. Active Students Helping the Earth Survive (ASHES) will poignantly demonstrate that this weekend when they protest the Morrow County Jail’s contract with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. During our four years here, we are not only students at Kenyon and citizens of Gambier, but Ohio residents who have a role to play in shaping Ohio’s policies.
In addition to Saavedra, other Kenyon alumni across the country also demonstrate the importance of political engagement: Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher ’97 fought her way onto Capitol Hill a year ago, and last week a Kenyon alumnus was elected mayor of Gambier — so much for Kenyon needing to stay out of local politics. Kenyon graduates are young leaders, looking to shape the future that we will all have to live in.
Politics, whether administrative policy, local legislation, national injustice or global crisis, affects everyone. And fighting for what’s right pays off. The 50th anniversaries of coeducation and of the Black Student Union demonstrate that it takes hard work to make a home for yourself. The “Finding Jewish at Kenyon” presentation last Thursday hit this message home by demonstrating that having spiritual life and a worship space on a historically Christian campus is not a given—you have to fight for it.
Kenyon students should continue to fight to make our campus and our world a better place.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Becca Foley ’20 and Adam Schwager ’20, and executive director Tommy Johnson ’20. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.