The Collegian published an article in its Nov. 7 issue featuring some heartbreaking facts, including that 18 percent of students report having been sexually assaulted while at Kenyon.
Unsurprisingly, students do not have faith in the people responsible for ensuring campus safety: Fewer than half of those surveyed felt that the Kenyon administration contributes to a positive, supportive campus climate.
This is unacceptable and displays an institution long overdue for significant change. Several years ago, 497 Kenyon alumni wrote an open letter asking President Decatur to, among other things, “foster a community in which victims can receive explicit and implicit support from all levels (staff, faculty, and peers).”
Yet, today, nearly four years later, we have the Vice President of Student Affairs openly expressing doubt over whether the administration can make a greater impact.
In the article, Meredith Harper Bonham ’92 is quoted as saying that “maybe there’s more we can do” to create a more supportive environment (emphasis added), but that students are misdirecting blame onto the administration: “It’s more convenient to blame an entity … as opposed to any one individual.”
Her message is loud and clear. It’s more convenient for Kenyon to attribute overwhelming student discomfort to “mistrust in general in the world right now” than it is to develop a campus culture that reduces violence and supports survivors.
I ask the Collegian to focus more of its reporting on the administration’s role in preventing sexual assault. If we as students, staff, faculty and alumni don’t insist that the administration accept its responsibility to keep students safe, then rape culture will continue to find an accommodating home at Kenyon.
Janet Wlody ’13
This letter was edited for length and clarity.