Reflecting on Lords, Ladies and What Mascots Mean



Kenyon has a long, tangled past with the British elite. Philander Chase went to philanthropic members of England’s peerage in order to secure funds for his institution of higher learning. Through these debts we found the name of our school, our town and our mascots. But all past events have modern ramifications, and while I appreciate the history of our mascots, I also worry about the message they send to the larger community as a whole.

Overall, Kenyon has the reputation of having a student body that comes from wealthy backgrounds. By no means does that mean that all students come from the same backgrounds, and the college has certainly made strides to diversify the student body. Still, Kenyon–along with a slew of other liberal arts colleges–has that reputation. By the act of going to and graduating from Kenyon, we set ourselves up for a future framed by this sphere of wealth, regardless of whether any individual alum is wealthy. We are not actual lords or ladies and we don’t live in The Tudors, but our liberal arts educations are a luxury that many cannot afford.

We talk a lot about a “Kenyon Bubble”, about how Kenyon students rarely take the opportunity to explore the area around us, about the perceived differences between the Kenyon student and the residents of Knox County. But aren’t people just people? By presenting ourselves as Lords and Ladies to the greater community, are we reinforcing these perceived differences? It seems that our mascots prop up our own imaginary pedestal.

It’s not just in town, but when we play other schools with less wealthy student bodies, what message are we sending them? Do we win because of our talent, or because of our multi-million dollar athletic facilities? Oberlin’s endowment is almost seven times more than Kenyon’s. Yet, when we play one another, we are the ones who seem to be coming onto the field with a hierarchical attitude, symbolized by hierarchical mascots. We, for example, do not have the liberal history of Oberlin, who was one of the first colleges to accept African American students. We are Lords and Ladies, who didn’t allow women into the school until 1967.

It is not my intent to say that it is inherently wrong to be wealthy, nor I am not suggesting that we take up arms and begin a proletarian revolution against our mascots. I merely believe that we, as liberal arts students bred to think and question, should question what it means to be a Lord or a Lady, how our mascots present our school outside of this Hill and whether that is the image that we want to present. We need to look closely at Kenyon’s past and see what elements we would like to carry forward into the future and which we should consider leaving aside.

32 responses

  1. “Any of these squids could be the squid we’re looking for,” says the head. January and December are the cruelest moths. Big wings. Consider…the plebe’s ass. Under water, you who turn the wheel, and look to squidward…

  2. This school wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Lords and Ladies who gave the money for this school to exist. We therefore dedicate the mascots of our school to them, the first supporters of what today we would call financial aid. There is nothing malicious about it and to suggest we change the name because of perceptions you may have about the student body is utterly proposrerous and insulting to the original Lords and Ladies for without whom none of us, no matter our economic standing, would be here.

    • Discussions about mascots/school athletic nicknames and cutting athletic programs are not the same thing. Even though sports perhaps aren’t as prominent here as they are at other schools, they still matter and still have a place on the Hill.

    • After investing several billion in the KAC, and having 1/3 of the student body on a varsity team? Do you have any idea how much of a draw the athletic programs here are, when combined with the school’s great academics and fantastic facilities? dream on, the Lords and Ladies are here to stay

  3. Then again, Kenyon is also the democratic institution that reduced the “Lords & Ladies” of the British peerage to, oh, TEAM MASCOTS. I came from a high school that had the “Indians” as a mascot, and who preceded every game racing around the field in mock war paint (they are now the Griffons). In the scheme of things, this name isn’t bad, and it certainly isn’t bad for Kenyon, and given the way a lot of college athletes behave, living up to a “noble” name is probably a good thing. ;)

  4. And actually, while I’m at it, Kenyon doesn’t have “Mascots.” The teams are named “Lords” and “Ladies.” There are no plush characters running around with foam top hats or tiaras… A mascot is a symbol FOR a team; and Kenyon has never used one, as far as I know.

    • It doesn’t matter if a gender binary is scientifically baseless in this case, the concept of Lords and Ladies is culturally constructed as a gender binary. Additionally, in some conceptions, especially in the modern day, Lord is a gender neutral term.

    • Wait, I just remembered this and realized that instead of a random comment it is in fact a brilliant commentary on revisionism in the history of Kenyon College and the overpowering focus on mid-20th century Kenyon and onwards as opposed to what came before. The idea, of course, derives from the Crows of Ransom Hall, themselves a reference to the middle name of John Crowe Ransom, founding editor of the Kenyon Review. The suggestion that we might actually change our mascots from the Lords and Ladies to the Crows would represent an even further abandonment of Kenyon history prior to the mid-20th century.

      • you need to get a life dude, no one cares (except me because wow, this is new levels of loser idiocy and I’m saving you from yourself really)

    • Yes, I would. I still support the idea of having a costumed Lord or Lady or pair at sporting events, maybe then more students would attend them.

    • yes. having different opinions than you means someone should get kicked out of school. forget lords and ladies, let’s have stalin as our mascot!

  5. whoever wrote this article has clearly never gone to a sporting event at Kenyon. being an athlete I can tell
    you that opposing teams believing that we are pretentious because our mascot are the lords and ladies is literally the last thing they are thinking about. the only thought going through their heads when they take the playing field against us is how badly they are going to kick our ass seeing that the only consistent program we have had in the past 50 years is a swim team. there really is no reason to nit pick the name of our mascot… it’s been our mascot forever it clearly isn’t a problem

      • dicks it’s because you go to a pretentious liberal arts college who’s tuition costs more than a regular person’s yearly salary and ARE pretentious, upper-class pieces of shit that people think of you as pretentious, upper-class pieces of shit :)

  6. This is incredibly insulting to over 1/3 of our student body. Are you really suggesting that the countless hours athletes (varsity, club or intramural) spend at the KAC (after doing as much school work as you do), to proudly represent our school are meaningless because we’re fortunate enough to have the facilities that we do? Have you ever attended any sporting event? Do not confuse an “hierarchical attitude” with having pride in representing Kenyon.

    I hate to say it, but it has become so typical of The Thrill to write an article criticizing something that a significant portion of the student population, namely athletes, take pride in. Maybe consider another perspective.

  7. Pingback: Senate continues mascot discussion with College Historian

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