Editorial: A Response from Student Council

via nickomargolies.com

via nickomargolies.com

The following is an open letter to the Kenyon community written by Student Council with support from select editors of The Thrill.

To the Kenyon Community,

Student Council has been working to serve as a voice for the students after years of stagnancy. The fact that the administration continues to release announcements without collecting our input, or giving us any forewarning, suggests that they either do not trust students to be strong advisors, or they do not believe student input is necessary.  

We have our own feelings about the recently announced changes, but rather than write from our own perspective, we will let the students speak for themselves.  Below is a compilation of feedback from emails with student council, a survey by The Thrill, YikYak posts, and Facebook posts, followed by a request for a response from the administration on behalf of Student Council.  

The Thrill‘s Survey Results:

As of noon Wednesday, 214 people had submitted responses to the Thrill’s survey.  

In response to the question: Do you like the new Sendoff changes?  210 people responded “no,” 3 people answered “indifferent” and 1 person left no response.  No participants indicated that they were in favor of changes.  The following are brief comments submitted by students.  

“These changes are ridiculous. Not only do they conflict with already planned events (Dance Concert, Kokes Concert) but they also guarantee more problems with alcohol. Having it the last day of classes only encourages more drinking, and removing Extendoff won’t keep people from drinking all weekend – it will just encourage them to do it secretively, which is not only dangerous, but it ruins the quiet for those who need to study.”

“This is ridiculous- send off is a huge deal here and honestly the fact that you guys are changing this really just sucks. Really really disappointed with Kenyon right now.”

“No student input whatsoever is not an appropriate way to treat us as adults.”

“The new administration is taking this school in a very non-Kenyon direction. I decided to come to Kenyon four years ago because it claimed to be a place the fostered community and respected and listened to its students’ unique voice. I feel like I’m watching that voice be strangled out as the administration tries to craft its own new image for the college. I can’t believe I’m at a point in my life where I can honestly say I can’t wait to leave Kenyon, because these changes are moving us towards becoming a school I would never have applied to. No wonder some of the most widely respected and cherished administrators, who have helped shaped Kenyon into a place we know and love, have decided to leave. Seeing where Kenyon’s going, I would bail out too.”

“This is probably one of the most ill-advised and inconsiderate decisions the school has ever made. Those involved are delusional if they think that this is in any way beneficial to the student body. Not only will students not be able to fully enjoy themselves on an “hey, we did it!” end of the year celebration of our social, emotional, and academic goals but also the academics that proceed sendoff will be greatly affected. In addition this, in my opinion as a senior, is very telling of the direction the school is going in terms of their views, values, and encouragement of social aspect of life. Namely, the school is now making it harder and harder for students to entertain and enjoy themselves. The “small community” aspect that I came to Kenyon for is now unappealing because of the restraint that Kenyon puts on those who live in the community.”

“This alum said it perfectly: As an alum, this is highly disappointing. When I was a student, I was treated like an adult, and encouraged to make my own choices and live with the consequences. It appears that the administration is now taking the role of ‘babysitter’ in lieu of actually leading. I plan to withhold all future donations until this administration restores lifetime traditions and freedom’s back to the students.”

From YikYak:

“Am I wrong in feeling that this year has been the administration doing things that the students hate, the students getting mad, and the administration ignoring us?” 114 upvotes

“Seriously the worst part of the cove/sendoff is realizing we as students have no real recourse when we’re getting fucked over. There’s no accountability for the admins to the students they administrate.” 36 upvotes

“The problem I have with the administration is that even after all of us being upset, they’ll ignore it and offer no explanation. it’s like they think we were 5 and they’re our parents.” 47 upvotes

“This is some bureaucratic bullshit attempt to control what little we had left in terms of social gatherings, and for what? Congrats Kenyon admin, expect no one to support the Kenyon fund this year” 37 upvotes

“I hope Kenyon is ready for people to tell admitted students not to come here because the administration is ruining the social life.” 61 upvotes

“Admins don’t respect the student body! They are manipulating us by putting Sendoff before reading days so they can indiscriminately shut down all parties that weekend! Were we not supposed to notice?” 71 upvotes

From Facebook:

“Before sendoff was a safe space for people to socialize and, yes, drink.  I fear that it will now become yet another event for which students feel the need to pregame.  That is dangerous.”

“Since Kenyon has effectively eliminated the idea of a safe, regulated party on South Quad during Sendoff, students will no longer drink outside. Students, and specifically those underage – the very students you are trying to target. They will be drinking hard alcohol, 80-proof and up, because that’s what will be available, and by expediting the process of getting drunk, the chance of being caught is lower.

This entire year, I and my fellow seniors have watched as Kenyon has gradually thrown away things that help make our community special. Getting rid of off-campus housing. Demolishing the Cove (with no real plans to establish anything in its stead). I always hoped that as an administration, you had faith and trust in the students that you selected for admission to this institution. I know now that you do not.”

 

A list of student groups whose events will be affected by the changes, submitted via email and in person:

  • Kokosingers Spring Concert
  • Colla Voce Spring Concert
  • Spring Dance Concert
  • Psychology students who are presenting at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference
  • Kenyon’s Track and Cross Country Team
  • Queer Women’s Collective
  • Beta Fraternity
  • Fools on the Hill Improv Comedy Group
  • Kenyon College Men’s Soccer

…and likely countless others.  

This list represents a number of groups whose events and their importance will be marginalized by the change of date. If your organization has been affected by the date change or you have any feedback for Student Council, feel free to email studentcouncil@kenyon.edu and we will update this post.  

Does this cover every opinion on campus?  No.  But if nothing else, we hope the excerpts above underline that students are angry, and not just about the changes to Sendoff or the closing of The Cove.  Students are angry because they have been ignored and disrespected.  

Still, the fact of the matter is, Kenyon is our school: regardless of all of the things that make us different, we are all Kenyon students.  This is an opportunity for us to take a hard look at where the school has been and consider where it should go.  If we can come together, stand up for one another and fight for what we deserve, we can make a change.  Should we be mad?  Sure, get mad.  But also, get smart, be directed, be intentional and constructive.

To that end, on behalf of Student Council, we ask that the administration answer, in writing, why they did not get student input in making this decision.  In answering this question, we can begin a constructive discussion about where we will go from here and work to preserve channels of dialogue between students and the administration.  We ask that they provide a response by Student Council’s weekly meeting, Sunday at 1pm.  As usual, everyone is invited to attend our meeting which will be held in Leach Dining Room.  Failure to respond to this question will lead to further review by Student Council and Campus Senate.  

We want to believe that the administration loves this school.  In fact, we do believe the administration loves this school.  What we do not believe is that this was an oversight.  If this is a place that fosters critical thinking, critical dialogue, collaboration, this action and the actions of the past few weeks have distinctly contradicted that.  If we’ve noticed anything, it’s that this announcement has brought students together against the administration.  If that is what they want, that is what they’re going to get.

Sincerely,

Student Council

29 comments

  • We should organize some sort of protest where as many students as possible attend the student council meeting on Sunday to emphasize how strongly the student body cares about this issue!

    • You really think administration really cares? Also, go ahead and tell people not to come here. There are plenty of people who will anyway since our applications are so high. Maybe then there will be fewer people who care only about the social part of college and who actually came here for an education. Weed yourselves out all you want.

      • This isn’t about people “who only care about the social part of college.” This is about the administration making these large decisions without consulting the student body. Just as well, this decision will negatively effect those who “came here for an education” just as much as anyone since it will be sort of hard to study with a concert right outside of the library and hoards of drunk people running around all weekend.

      • This decision will affect all those who planned on using this weekend to study for exams. The loud concert/pregaming will disturb those planning to study on Friday and the rest of the weekend will be distracting due to the number of people who wish to party. Furthermore, the college should not be putting the students in a position of having to decide between the largest social event of the year and studying for their final exams. It is bad for everyone. Your condescending attitude on the subject might be blinding you from this fact.

      • I weed myself plenty, don’t worry.

  • This is why Kenyon students can’t be taken seriously. There is such a feeling of entitlement. You pay over $60,000 for an education. The amount of importance placed on something so insignificant in the big picture is pathetic. When I first heard about the feedback received from the student body I thought it was a big joke. Now it scares me that you folks are the future leaders of this county.

    • Yes we do pay for an education (among many other things but lets not get into that), and this change of date will effect our ability to perform on our culminating exams for the semester. A loud concert and weekend of people drunkenly galavanting around will not be conducive for studying in the slightest. And you seem to be missing that the big picture is not the event, but the lack of communication between the administration and the student body when we are paying over $60,000 in tuition.

    • I’m not going to say that the whole Kenyon student body isn’t entitled, but this is no joke. We’re angry because we are being disrespected by the administration. We pay over $60,000 to attend this school not only for its education but also the other aspects of life a college should offer, and it’s the job of the administration to communicate with us and figure out the safest and most efficient ways to facilitate things like sendoff. I’d personally be more scared if Kenyon students were complacent and accepted this treatment without being angry because I’d rather live in a country with passionate outspoken people than a silent majority. So get off your high horse.

    • not to mention we pay a significant student activities fee as part of this tuition without the ability to opt out, so it sucks to see that extra thousand tacked on to our bill be used towards things literally nobody on this campus supports

    • Oh shut it. Pathetic? Kenyon is a small liberal arts school entrenched with tradition, sendoff being one of them. If you personally don’t care for sendoff, that’s cool, I had friends when I was a student who didn’t participate. That said, I’d say a large majority of students look forward to sendoff, it’s an all day party to celebrate the end of a school year and final bang before we study for finals; and go back to our homes across the country and the world. A longstanding tradition taken away without at least having a discussion is not an entitlement tantrum, it’s angry students who applied here learning about Kenyon’s traditions (among others) and looking forward to it only for the rug to be ripped out from under them.

    • This school’s main purpose is to educate us. Move the biggest celebration of the year to the friday before final exams just to make sure underclassmen can’t drink (which they obviously will anyway)? No thanks. Not a school that puts us and our education first.

    • The school spends 100,000 dollars a year of our student activities fee on Send Off. We are paying for it. For them to put it the weekend before exams means that they are basically wasting our money, because many people will not be able to participate. Why does it make us entitled that we care about why and how our money is being spent?

  • TaxationWithoutRepresentation

    A simple explanation of the lack of consultation with the student body is a good start but I believe it is hardly sufficient. Only if the administration takes the subject back into consideration after hearing student opinions can we have any confidence in them to not to make such large decisions without consulting us again. Otherwise we are letting them get away without even apologizing.

  • Do you hear the people sing?

    If the situation isn’t rectified, I propose a peaceful protest for the duration of the Spring “Thumbs Up” weekends.

  • Not on a high horse. Just an observation from my 20 plus years of living in this community.

  • Make Kenyon Kenyon again

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Student Council. Thank you for not choosing to be complacent. Thank you for speaking on behalf of the student body. Thank you for reminding the administration that we take our education very seriously, but we also take pride in our traditions and our social outlets. We want to be proud of our school for respecting our voices and being a place of discussion. We want to be treated as adults, not as liabilities. For those who are struggling to understand, this IS important to us. It IS a serious matter. It’s important, on a small scale, because of the downfall of wonderful, campus-uniting traditions, and it’s important on a larger scale because of a growing trend that student input is of little importance in the decisions that DIRECTLY CONCERN students. Is it just a big party and not the end of the world? Of course! But you have to realize that this is the single thing Kenyon is already incredibly limited in, especially in comparison to thousands of schools across the country. It is unrealistic (and frankly kind of ridiculous from a bio/psych perspective) to say that every young adult here should be here for nothing but academics. Respect is the bottom line here. We are paying absurd amounts of money, that should be enough to consider what it is that students actually want. Let alone the total lack of alumni support that burdens Kenyon. Want to garner an alumni base that still loves and respects Kenyon enough to donate? Stop suffocating current students who become that alumni base.

    • “We want to be treated as adults, not as liabilities.” Acting like an adult is the first step to being treated like an adult. It’s not unreasonable to expect an adult to be able to manage one’s time well enough to study AND attend Sendoff. It’s really not that tricky.

      Also, ever hear the phrase “the inmates running the asylum”? Think on that one.

  • Let me get this straight….the administration of an elite(ish) liberal arts college changed the date of the college’s spring bacchanal, and so students of said college revolt? Really? With all the suffering and injustice in this world, this stupid shit is what stirs you to cry out? This is a childish response, and justifies the administration treating you like children. You cannot expect the administration to indulge you after such entitled whining. You must instead organize your big-ass party the weekend you prefer, on your own. You must completely ignore the rescheduled event sanctioned by the administration the following weekend so that it is an unquestionable failure. Prove to the college leadership that they are not running a summer camp, but a community of self-reliant and capable adults who can tend to their own social life if necessary.

    • Kind of the talk right now. It’s not ideal because the school pays for the concert with our money, so we’d be paying twice when we shouldn’t have to. Among hundreds of other logistics. If it comes to that, it comes to that, but it would be a hell of a lot easier to just have the administration not be dicks in the first place.

      • Also, we obviously get outraged about real world issues, too. This just happens to be a public letter to our school on an issue we can and should directly affect if it is part of our lives.

    • The “there are worse things happening in the world so don’t get upset about policies forced upon college students” argument is the logical equivalent of “there are starving kids in China so finish your food”. Sounds nice, but doesn’t really make sense. This is a Kenyon-specific issue of students feeling ignored and violated by their administration, so it makes sense that the Kenyon community is speaking out (maybe if students felt alienated due to race or gender issues at Kenyon then you wouldn’t be so quick to judge, Mr. “Injustice in the World”). Angst regarding the coddling of students, the intrusion of the administration into student life, changes in admissions criteria and processes, and the general decline of Kenyon culture/traditions has been swelling for the last 5-10 years and needs to be addressed. Recent graduates feel like the school and student body is changing for the worse; the send-off controversy is simply an epiphenomenon. A boycott sounds good in theory, but it will likely result in a sparsely attended sober event with no liability for the college, i.e. their goal. Perhaps if students told professors that the new Sendoff date will impede their ability to study (temptation to drink, loud concert, late night festivities), then that could make a difference. The faculty holds a lot of clout at Kenyon, although not as much as in days of old, and would be an effective voice in this disagreement. Lest ye forget, Sendoff was enacted in a deal to end the older tradition of Spring Riots. Perhaps these changes mean that the compact has been broken and this should be a spring of trees filled with underwear, exploding toilets, and burning couches.

      • Maintaining a healthy, global perspective and awarding this perceived affront by the administration an appropriate level of concern are important ways to demonstrate that Kenyon students are actually capable of participating in important decisions. Using phrases like “ignored and violated”, regardless of how large in scope you think autocratic rule has become at Kenyon, is still ridiculous considering where in the world you sit as Kenyon students.

        If in fact Kenyon students are not looking for college to be like day camp, they must engage with their administration like a community of grownups..not angsty melodramatic tweens, throwing around words that trivialize the experience of truly aggrieved human beings. (This only makes administrators’ eyes roll, and provides humorous fodder for cocktail parties.)

        PS, Why assume the previous poster is a “Mr.” ? And yes, I, personally, would feel very different about activism at Kenyon if it were addressing alienation along lines of race and gender. Absofuckinglutely.

  • That’s the thing, this school has begun to accept a totally different demographic of student in recent years. Instead of the interesting, well-rounded, outgoing person that used to be the norm they have tended to accept docile, submissive, sheltered children that they can eventually extort. I’ve been here for 4 years and I can tell you with certainty that the vibes and student community used to be completely different. The alumni of the past would have rioted already with these despicable changes and administrative policies, but instead the sense of tradition in social life and the “work hard play hard” attitude that characterized a lovable Kenyon experience has all but melted away. I’m sorry, but I honestly detest this school and I can’t way until I become extremely successful and send them a piece of paper with my net worth and a big fat sack of coal. From the crappy food that we pay $3,360 a semester for (~$35 a day) with no option to get off the meal plan, to the moldy and crummy living spaces that we are forced to pay NYC apartment prices for, I am sick of getting taken advantage at this school and I regret ever attending this place. The worst part, and the most blatantly insulting, is that the school does all this under facades such as canceling sendoff to prepare for “weather events”, or legitimizing mandatory housing and board fees under the facade of “student handbook philosophy”. My favorite part is that after spending absurd amounts of money here ($250k), Kenyon does not get people jobs. I was astonished when I saw that only 14% of students that graduated last year had jobs by the time of graduation. Of course, incoming students never hear about or see those statistics from Kenyon. It’s only until after they scam you that you realized you’ve been bamboozled. I love the people at this school with the bottom of my heart, but it really saddens me the way that students are manipulated and treated here in order for the administration to maximize profits.

  • I am truly sorry to my Kenyon community. Kenyon is about tradition. Kenyon is about open discussion and respect. The administration has been pushing for changes like these discretely (and not so discretely) for years now. 2011 was our last Philander’s Phling. 2011 was also our last sendoff without the “playpen.” The rush process became extremely strict and monitored from 2012 to 2014. Now the cove will be closed in 2016. And to top it all off, once again the administration used their power to disrupt one of Kenyon’s biggest traditions and celebrations of the closing of the academic year. One of my greatest connections is to Kenyon is the dance department. Placing sendoff on the same night as Kenyon’s dance concert is disrespectful to the dancers that will have been rehearsing for 12+ weeks not only because they will not be able to participate in sendoff, but also because the administration is pulling the audience away from the show. I am sure that the other groups who have planned events that day/night feel similarly. I am very saddened that this is the direction Kenyon is going. As an alumni, I ask that the administration creates dialogue with the students, and with the alumni, before making abrupt changes like this. We call Kenyon a COMMUNITY for a reason.

  • I am out of town this weekend and unable to be at the Student Council meeting, but I submitted this response:
    In terms of actual feelings about moving send off, I think that much of the hard feelings are coming from the feeling that we were not respected by the administration. As far as we can tell (ie from student leaders’ reactions) few if any students were consulted in this matter. It points to a growing disconnect between administration and students, and the connection and care that staff and students seemed to have for each other was one of the reasons I came to Kenyon. I work two jobs in admissions and being able to tell students that the staff really care about what students think and involve them in decisions, just seems to be entirely untrue this year. It’s not something I feel is true anymore, and thus not something I can advertise. The announcement, without student consultation or explanation, seems as though they’re trying to “trick” us into not drinking or not having a party, since quiet hours start the next day. That feels really nasty for a student. It seems condescending and patronizing, regardless of how the administration meant it, and it’s not in the way Kenyon works, or at least how it portrays itself.
    For the administration to have the respect of its students, it needs to be open and clear about its decisions, the reasons behind them, and who was involved in making them. It needs to consult its student body before making major changes and get feedback. It needs to respond to students’ concerns so that we don’t feel like we’re banging out heads against a brick wall when trying to figure out who made a decision and why, and how we can address it. I’m concerned that this pattern of action, with the decisions about the cove and send off (even though they came from completely different departments) represent a growing trend of administration/student divide, and administration trying to “parent” students. That’s not how Kenyon works, and the students are going to be resentful if it keeps going this way. I don’t want to be in a school where administration and students actively work against each other, but that will be the inevitable result from relationships like these.

  • this wedding is horshit

  • triest sux!

  • While I love Kenyon, the recent alterations to sendoff, without even a token survey of the student body, are incredibly disrespectful to the entire student body spectrum. Prior sendoff changes at least attempted to justify their decision by soliciting input from the student body, but the recent change removes even that facade. It is inconceivable that the administration did not foresee that student reactions to their suggested sendoff changes would be hostile. This is not merely an innocent oversight. I can understand administration reasoning for the decision; they’re worried about underage drinking and about their image in front of the board of trustees (who had a meeting scheduled for the original Sendoff date). However, this selfish thinking failed to account that the big party right before finals, coupled with silent hours, WILL lead to underground drinking, more disruptive studying, and less happy students. If for no other reason than the impact on studying, the Sendoff party should revert to its original date. This is a question of whether or not appearances are more important than academics and a strong college experience.

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