With an extremely high COVID-19 vaccination rate and a currently low case count, more and more students are feeling comfortable spending time in larger groups. In the last several weeks, we have finally been able to think about non-pandemic-related life in Gambier. For many students, this is their first glimpse at the Kenyon social life that the seniors and juniors know well.
We did not choose this school so that we could tailgate at football games, or explore Gambier’s vibrant nightlife; we came here for more than that. We came to watch our friends perform in eccentric plays, show off their stellar artwork or showcase their athletic talents. In the last few weeks, Kenyon has really started to feel like the school we know again. After a successful rendition of Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday, for which masses of students waited in line for hours to witness, coupled with a fun-filled Family Weekend that included a performance of Oedipus Rex — the first mainstage production in two years — the lively arts scene is making a comeback.
While a sense of normalcy may be returning to Kenyon’s campus, it would be remiss to neglect the unique kind of social life that existed before the pandemic began. The current senior and junior classes fondly remember all-campus events, which provided an inclusive feel to the partying scene at Kenyon. Most of these events took place in the basement of Old Kenyon, the entire building booming with sound. These events provided an opportunity for all students to come together in one safe (but sweaty) space, and spend quality time with one another –– regardless of class year, academic interest or other school affiliations.
Now, though, these kinds of events cease to exist, and it is unclear when — if at all — they may make their return. Events like the PEEPS’ Deb Ball, Inaugural Ball and Halloween are no longer. Larger Greek life gatherings, too, exist primarily in North Campus Apartments and respective lodging sites, with limited capacity and private invitations.
While we miss these open events, simply waiting around for large gatherings to resume would be a mistake. As we have seen in the last several weeks, the current vacuum serves as an opportunity to reinvent Kenyon student life. In addition to COVID-19 protocols having wide-ranging effects on Kenyon’s social scene, the campus is currently experiencing other shifts in campus dynamics. Over the last several years there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of large campus groups –– including Delta Phi, Phi Kappa Sigma and PEEPS. This concerns many Greek life organizations, but also serves as an opportunity for Kenyon students to reinvent our campus’ social identity. Now is the time for us to embrace the College’s changing culture and reshape it in a way that best suits our needs and desires. Now is the time for students to come together in a safe environment and help redetermine Kenyon’s social identity for years to come.