Section: Opinion

Kenyon community must work to improve digital presence

People come across Kenyon in a myriad of ways. Some might have received a postcard, heard about it from a teacher or come from a family that has yielded generations of Kenyon students. But no matter how one first learns about Kenyon, a common thread emerges: The journey of discovery almost always leads to the vast expanse of the internet, in search of more information. As such, all of us in the Kenyon community must work tirelessly to capture Kenyon’s spirit in its digital presence.

As I was researching Kenyon, I felt like a detective trying to piece together a story from a handful of glossy, curated clues. In an age where a Google search can instantly connect us to the other side of the world, many prospective Kenyonites like myself turned to Kenyon’s website and social media accounts to get a taste of its personality. It was there that I encountered a tapestry of carefully crafted media – promotional videos and picturesque snapshots that paint a captivating, albeit surface-level, image. 

But the real essence of a college, especially one as intimate and rich in history as Kenyon, is not just in its manicured lawns or architectural marvels. It manifests in the spontaneous dorm conversations that stretch into the early hours of the morning, the passionate debates in the dining halls, the fervor of student-led clubs and the collection of personal stories that each student brings to this shared journey. 

While sprawling public universities naturally have a cornucopia of content – with the sheer number of students inadvertently marketing their experiences – smaller institutions like Kenyon can feel like well-kept secrets. I spoke to a friend of mine who took the initiative to create a vlog centered around life at Kenyon, to which the response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Incoming first-years approached them, expressing gratitude for the authentic insight the vlog provided. This real-time impact highlights not only the demand for such content but also its importance in shaping perceptions and decisions.

Our day-to-day narratives, from midnight library sessions to vibrant fall afternoons on Middle Path, can influence the next generation of Kenyon students. Students, then, become more than passive receivers of the Kenyon experience; they become its chroniclers, sharing and shaping its evolving story. However, Kenyon’s digital presence isn’t just about recruitment. Sharing our narratives digitally builds a community. Every TikTok video, YouTube vlog or Instagram story brings current students closer together, connects alumni back to their cherished memories and introduces potential students to the vibrant heartbeat of the community.

In addition to the online sphere, even simple, real-world gestures carry weight. By wearing a Kenyon sweatshirt back home or by laughing off the frequent misconception that Kenyon is nestled somewhere near Uganda, we’re all engaging in a subtle form of advocacy for our community.

While individual contributions are invaluable, the onus also lies on Kenyon’s administration to continually amplify the institution’s digital footprint. Kenyon’s YouTube channel has already shown promise with its “Character Study” series, which depicts student experiences in academics, athletics and career pursuits. Additionally, the “Kenyon Kribs” production delves into the College’s unique character and diversity of dorm life. However, there are always many opportunities for improvement. Kenyon’s Instagram could benefit from more frequent student takeovers, offering followers authentic snapshots of day-to-day activity. The administration should explore more avenues for long-form content from the perspective of students, like “Day in the Life” videos that provide a deeper dive into the daily routines, difficulties and joys of Kenyon students.

Ultimately though, the portrayal of Kenyon extends beyond the domain of the administrative or marketing teams. The task falls to all of us — students, alumni, faculty and the broader community. The essence of Kenyon is not confined to brochures or official websites. It’s embedded in the lived experiences of those who engage with its campus daily. Thus, to the Kenyon community: Take initiative. Document your experiences, highlight the challenges and celebrate the highs.

Dylan Sibbitt ’26 is the opinions editor at the Collegian. He is a political science major from San Francisco. He can be reached at sibbitt1@kenyon.edu.

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