Section: Editorial

The College needs more room for genuine dialogue

This week, we report on the creation of a new Campus Mediators (CMs) program. While the CMs could be useful for their leadership of “Kenyon Listens” events and for helping people work through minor differences, the College still lacks the proper avenues for student-staff engagement with more difficult issues affecting the broader campus community.

Campus-wide controversies in recent years have not been instances of personal conflict, but reflections of a gulf between student and administrative experiences at this school. When students coalesce to voice frustration at a division of the College, they do not do so because of personal grievance, but on behalf of their fellow students.

Though Student Council and Campus Senate exist as mediums for channeling student concerns, sometimes students concerns are self-evident and require clear and direct responses from the administration. The Task Force on Emotional Health and Well-being could prove to be an instance where student frustrations meet concrete changes and clear, coherent answers. As we have argued before, though, students in traditional leadership positions should not be the only students voices administrators hear.

While “Kenyon Listens” provides a forum for conversation and dialogue, guided discussions on campus between students and staff sometimes need to have more specific talking points to create  more concrete goals.

Perhaps, in the same sense that professors organize language tables and the Political Science Lunch Table, administrators from Cox Health and Counseling Center could organize semi-regular lunch tables to talk about campus healthcare. The Office of Student Engagement could host a table where campus clubs could come and talk about their challenges and successes. Admissions counselors could host a table to talk to current students about life at Kenyon. The list goes on and on. Facilitating productive conversations about student concerns in advance can lead to more reflective administrative policy changes. Students deserve to feel heard not only when they have been upset.

While CMs will play an important role on campus, we at the Collegian continue to implore campus administrators to make an effort to know current students, talk to current students, hear their frustrations, take them seriously and engage with us more often than when we want to file a complaint.

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 foley1@kenyon.edu, schwager1@kenyon.edu and johnson1@kenyon.edu, respectively.

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