Earlier this week, President Decatur invited the Kenyon community to submit suggestions for a new moniker. This invitation follows a yearlong review process, which has involved a deep dive into the history of the “Lords” and “Ladies” monikers and their connotations. We support this change, and are looking forward to seeing a new moniker develop into a symbol that represents all members of the Kenyon community.
There are many reasons why it was time to change Kenyon’s monikers. For one, “Lords” and “Ladies” reinforce a gender binary that excludes nonbinary and agender students. In forcing students to choose within this binary, the monikers also ask students to prioritize their gender above their connection to their school or team.
Not only are the monikers perpetuating a rigid gender binary, but they are also prone to mockery by other colleges and universities on the athletic field due to its elitist undertones. In recent years, Kenyon athletes have reported being teased about the monikers, and subsequently their “snobbish” connotations.
Some argue that the monikers represent a preservation of the College’s history, as “Lords” refers to the role of Lords Kenyon and Gambier in the College’s founding. But if that is the case, then we are preserving a time in which Kenyon’s student body consisted exclusively of wealthy, white men. Is this the perception of the College really one that we want to be conveying to the NCAC community and beyond?
A few applicable moniker alternatives come to mind, for which many Kenyon students have advocated. One is the Crows, honoring Kenyon’s literary history by giving a nod to John Crowe Ransom — a former professor of English and a co-founder of the Kenyon Review — and complementing the crow statues atop Ransom Hall. Crows are also known for their high intelligence and live in close-knit, social communities, similar to students here on the Hill. Not to mention, wherever you go around campus, there’s bound to be a crow in sight.
Owls are another type of bird that are important to the Kenyon community. The Delaware language word “Kokosing” translates to “place of owls” in English. With the Kokosing River running through the south end of Kenyon’s campus, the Owls would be a fitting name for Kenyon’s teams that all those affiliated with the College could rally around.
It is important to note that while the choice of a new moniker is crucial in promoting Kenyon’s inclusiveness, the change should not affect the preservation of the school’s history and reputation. These claims, often cited in arguments against a moniker change, seem to assert that an abandonment of the current monikers would lead to some abandonment of the Kenyon spirit and experience. Such arguments fail to take into account the most crucial values of our community: the importance of progressiveness, diversity of thought and inclusion of our entire student body. While changing the monikers does push us into a new era of Kenyon’s history, it does not remove us from tradition but instead moves us closer to what we as an institution value most.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Jordy Fee-Platt ’22 and Linnea Mumma ’22, managing editor Amanda Pyne ’22 and executive director Joe Wint ’22. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.