Update from President Decatur about Kenyon's relationship with the KCSO
Dear members of the Kenyon College community,
Last semester, a traffic stop involving a golf cart used during the Black Student Union celebration prompted questions about how, and indeed where, the authority of county and college officials intersect. Most of us are aware that, as members of the Kenyon community, we are governed by college policies as well as village ordinances, county regulations, and state and federal law. But how these work together to ensure public safety is not always self-evident. At the request of several members of our community, we have put together this resource to address some common questions and misperceptions.
In addition, I asked Kevin Peterson in the Office of Civil Rights to document for me the accounts of last semester’s incident. In reviewing the documentation, I am persuaded that we also need to clarify traffic ordinances pertaining to golf carts and other vehicles used to shuttle people and equipment across campus. Most of these vehicles are not approved for public roads and village sidewalks, and yet certain destinations are not reachable via college paths alone. Further study will help us provide drivers and safety officers with clearer guidance.
While clarifying traffic regulations and enforcement policies is important, the safety and rights of all members of the community to fully belong are paramount. To this end, we must acknowledge the difficult and complex history between law enforcement and African-Americans in the U.S., and the ways this informs the daily lived experiences of some members of our community. No tweaks to policy, no clarification of regulations, will be sufficient to truly address these deeply ingrained issues, nor will they be adequate salve for the chronic pain of past experiences. The only option we have is to work towards a relationship rooted in trust and mutual respect. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the College are exploring ways to strengthen the relationship between and within our overlapping institutions, institutions that share a commitment to creating a safe and welcoming community for all. We will keep the community informed as our conversations progress; in the meantime, you can reach out to Director of Campus Safety Michael Sweazey at email@example.com with any additional questions.