Last Thursday, Campus Senate hosted an “Ask Me Anything” event with six Kenyon administrators as panelists who answered a series of questions in front of a live audience. Next Thursday, another forum of the same format will be held with different questions for different administrators. The questions are preselected and provided to the panelists prior to these events, and at these events, audience members have no opportunity to speak. We at the Collegian are critical of this approach and have concerns about the lack of transparency this format represents.
With questions preselected in an undisclosed manner, the event’s integrity was compromised before it began. Though the questions were submitted to Campus Senate through an online form sent via Student-Info email months prior to the forum, the community has been left in the dark about who is responsible for deciding which questions are answered when and who will answer them. It was not until further investigation by the Collegian that we learned the questions were selected by subcommittees within Campus Senate. It is the bare minimum that the selection process be made transparent so the community can be assured there is no bias.
Better yet, audience members should be able to ask questions in the moment. While we appreciate that the questions were collected ahead of time so they could be provided to the panelists one day in advance — allowing administrators to prepare cohesive and data-backed responses — we are disappointed at the lack of opportunity for any live audience engagement. Time allocated to live questions, or simply follow-up questions, would allow for a much more transparent and community-centered forum.
Finally, it was highly publicized that the event would not be livestreamed or recorded. We do not see any substantial reasoning behind this decision. While it makes sense for reasons of encouraging attendance, the attendees were unable to participate anyway. All it seems to do is exclude community members who were not able to attend the event for one reason or another. Are parents, donors and alumni not major stakeholders in this institution? The event should be accessible to all parties, not just those who are on campus.
Kenyon administrators have said they will participate in future sessions. We strongly encourage that these are true open forums; otherwise, the events should stop being advertised as bringing any sort of transparency.
Reid, Salvatore and Amelia
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Amelia Carnell ’23 and Salvatore Macchione ’23 and executive director Reid Stautberg ’23. You can contact them at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, respectively.