Update on diversity and inclusion efforts
Dear members of the Kenyon community,
Last spring, President Decatur appointed an ad hoc committee of students, faculty and staff to propose concrete plans for moving Kenyon closer to its ideal of being an open and inclusive community. After inviting and reviewing input from across campus, the Community Planning Committee recommended that the College focus on four areas of action. We are pleased to update you on several initiatives now underway in response to the recommendations.
Among the focus areas the committee identified was building our capacity to have constructive, if difficult, discussions. To that end, the College successfully applied to participate in the Divided Community Project sponsored by the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. The project focuses on how communities can respond constructively to civil unrest as well as on how they can identify and meaningfully address the reasons underlying community division. A team of Kenyon faculty, staff and students will travel to Chicago in March to participate in a workshop designed to teach strategies on how best to work through and learn from conflicts when they arise.
In addition, College Ombudsperson Carrie Knell launched Kenyon Listens, an ongoing series that provides community members with an opportunity to connect, share their stories and provide feedback to the community at large through a structured dialogue process. About 80 students, faculty and staff participated in two conversations offered this fall, one on belonging and the other on feeling safe to express views. Two additional topics will be explored during the spring semester.
The committee also recommended that we clearly articulate our institutional values in writing. On Founder’s Day, the College introduced a new version of the Matriculation Oath, which a group of students, faculty and staff revised this summer with input from Campus Senate, Student Council, Faculty Executive Committee, Staff Council and Senior Staff. The oath articulates a shared commitment to respect, citizenship, inquiry and intellectual integrity and lays the groundwork for an examination of the College’s mission statement, a process that will begin in the spring semester.
In October, the faculty moved to formally recognize efforts to create inclusive classrooms among the criteria considered for promotion. Additionally, several initiatives in Student Affairs have been influenced by ongoing conversations about diversity and inclusion, including a revised New Student Orientation program and a recently implemented set of residential goals, in addition to the array of programs sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and support provided to individual students. The College developed a new discrimination and harassment policy to more clearly and directly address instances of discriminatory harassment. And late last semester, Associate Provost Ted Mason assumed additional responsibilities as chief diversity officer and special advisor to President Decatur.
We are encouraged by these initiatives and look forward to partnering with you to continue this important work.
Meredith Harper Bonham ’92, Vice President for Student Affairs
Joseph Klesner, Provost
Theodore O. Mason Jr., Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion