Section: Opinion

Kenyon’s administration fails to follow through on support for student ideas

Kenyon College is a special place: from its dedicated community, to its world-renowned professors, to the intentionality of its location. At Kenyon, the Class of 2023 has evolved, matured and transformed as individuals. We have collectively made it our goal to leave the Kenyon community better than when we arrived here. However, we have faced significant challenges in attempting to meet this goal. Chief among these is Kenyon administrators continually signing onto an idea, pledging their support and then abandoning their commitment.

Although it is difficult to encompass four years of projects in a single opinion piece, I will provide some examples. In addition to FLATS, I have focused on two large projects for the past two years: the Kenyon Investment Fund and the Greek Council Scholarship Initiative. I proposed the Kenyon Investment Fund as a mechanism to provide students with tangible experience running an investment fund where the profits would be reinvested into the student body. Although Student Council approved my proposal, and I met once with a senior staff member, I have not heard back since that  meeting. 

This past year in my role as Greek Council president, I worked extensively in an attempt to raise $7,500 to create an endowed fund that would provide students with scholarships for the chapter dues of Greek organizations on campus, and the Kenyon Advancement Division agreed to partner with me on this project. In an attempt to get this fund established before I graduate, I met with members of senior staff. Although they supported my idea, I have not heard back from them about any plans for establishing this scholarship fund. In both of these instances, as well as during my time working on opening FLATS, I have conveyed my frustration to those involved. 

I have also witnessed many peers struggling to implement passion projects that would improve Kenyon as a whole. From students requesting assistance creating infrastructure for their own organizations that the College failed to provide, to constant miscommunication of expectations, to using students to complete the work of the institution — using the face and reputation of a student to facilitate a moniker change — we have been let down. Some of these projects have been heavily publicized over the past four years. In 2021 with a surplus in student funding, Student Council allocated $75,000 to a project developed by Zachary Sclar ’22 to build an amphitheater next to Gund Commons right under McBride Residence Hall. According to Sclar, despite working closely with the College’s construction managers and the College historian for two years, the project was indefinitely shelved after repeated delays and communication breakdowns. These may seem like independent events, but they point to a pattern: administrators using students and student ideas to bolster their reputations and their resumes, generating partnerships with student institutions for their own unpopular projects based on illusions of reciprocity, and then flaking when it comes time to implement student ideas. 

Student leaders and advocates have been sent down paths with a belief that we will reach the finish line, only to end up with nothing. Kenyon promotes a sense of student-led advancement, but in reality we have been fed empty words to make us feel that we have made progress. We need leaders on this campus who provide us with the resources we need to accomplish our goals; the Kenyon administration has not been those leaders. Roadblocks continuously pop up in places controlled by senior staff, when they could have been predicted and dealt with long before students are informed of them. The message is clear: Although they are willing to pay lip service, the administration does not respect student projects and will not hesitate to drag their feet, ignore and diminish us, while saying the opposite to our face. At best, it’s institutional incompetence. At worst, it shows that they just don’t care about the student body, its self-governing institutions and the people who spend hours upon hours working with their peers to accomplish student priorities. We have been misled and misguided.

I urge the Kenyon administration to provide students with the proper guidance and to remove the obstacles that my peers and I have experienced in our attempts to improve the Kenyon community. I understand that institutional change takes time; however, I am proud to be leaving Kenyon with the knowledge that I and the rest of the Class of 2023 have done everything we can to make it a better place. In the end, there may be nothing we can do if we rely on an administration that does not work with us to accomplish this goal. However, the answer is not to stop trying — it is to try even harder. As much as you should not accept defeat, you should never accept success until you are sure it has been achieved. Do not be pacified by promises of administrative support; although Kenyon is the writer’s college, its words mean nothing if they are not followed by actions.

Rocco Danese ’23 is a political science and international studies double major from Brooklyn, NY. He can be reached at


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