Editors’ Note: On Sept. 29, the Collegian’s staff editorial responded to administrative silence surrounding an incident in which a Knox County Sheriff Office’s deupty allegedly racially profiled a group of Young Writers.
A Kenyon alumnus I know well pointed me to your editorial [from Sept. 29], because he knew my daughter was in attendance at the Young Writers Workshop session referenced and that she was acquainted with the three students involved in the incident. (One was her roommate.) I commend you on the strong stance you took.
Let me start by saying that the workshop itself was wonderful. My daughter, who is a member of the LGBTQ community and Hispanic, felt totally at home throughout, and made several friends who I think she will remain in contact with for years to come. She had nothing but positive things to say about her experience — the sole exception being this incident.
As the parent of a high school senior, I must tell you that your admissions officers are probably correct in this:
“ … Admissions officers theorized that the results of the 2016 presidential election affected the drop in applicants to Kenyon … They felt that, as a college in a red state, applicants from the liberal-leaning East and West Coasts were less drawn to apply.” This quote comes directly from the Sept. 29 staff editorial.
We drove to Kenyon all the way from our “liberal” home in Connecticut; with a stop to visit Dickinson College along the way. A “red state” is one thing, but seeing the vehemence with which many residents throughout this area of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio expressed their views (“Lock her up!” etc.), is definitely a deterrent to both parents and students with diverse backgrounds.
We think to ourselves: “Well, I’m sure the Kenyon campus will be fine, but what happens when my daughter goes into town? Do I need to fear for her safety? Do I need to fear a racist/homophobic local resident or the local police?”
At the end of the day, my daughter will still be applying to Kenyon (Dickinson is out); but it’s probably not going to be her first choice. The “incident” is definitely a factor in that, as were the surroundings.
Tory Weber [Associate Director of Programs and Fellowships at the Kenyon Review] and the other folks in the program did so much to create a welcoming, nurturing space for those kids; my daughter loved them! It’s a shame that one thoughtless individual put a big negative on what was otherwise a wonderful experience for a high school senior with dreams of a career as a writer.
But there it is, and there’s no getting around that sort of thing; you can’t “un-see” something like that.
Mario R. Gutierrez