Note: At times, the audio is soft. Headphones are recommended.
The audio for most of the MMAP Open Forum is attached above. I urge every Kenyon student to listen, if only for a few minutes, to the forum. The atmosphere of Higley on October 3rd was not one of hostility or vitriol, but of fear, worry and confusion. The dialogue was respectful, and as I have mentioned before, the Panel should be commended for taking on a hell of a tough job. But if anything, I came away from the forum more concerned than I had been going into it, due in large part to many of the statements Kenyon’s maintenance members made about a culture of fear and contempt between the administration and the maintenance. I cannot speak to the veracity of these claims, but they deserve to be investigated immediately in a transparent fashion. (Please consult the audiofile for a more detailed description of these fears) Nonetheless, real substantive answers were few and far between at the forum.
The fact that prior miscommunication between the college and its workers is not on the panel’s agenda makes beaurocratic sense but thats just about the only sense it makes. The way the college handled this decision initially is indicative of a larger vision, or a lack-thereof. Simply repeating the phrase ‘communication could have been better’ is a non-answer. It skirts the big questions, the ones that need to be answered, and answered fairly, before this wound can heal. Who passed that decision? Why did they pass it? How could they pass it? If it wasn’t for community backlash this panel would never have existed. The voices heard in this forum would have never gotten the chance to be heard. That is unconscionable.
When we wake up in the morning and walk through middle path to class we look out at our campus and we smile. How could we not? Kenyon is a beautiful place, no argument there. What I had forgotten is that there is a team of men and women who work every single day, weekday and weekend, rain or shine, to make this place look the way it does. This is a team of people that Kenyon should treat like family. Sometimes families go through rough patches, and sometimes family members have to criticize eachother, that’s well and good. What just will not do is the fact that the administration has treated our maintenance workers as an expendable appendage of the Kenyon body. That’s not what family does.
I’ll be out of here in two years. Kenyon will be a pitstop in my life, a lovely one, but a pitstop nonetheless. That is not so for many of our staff members. Some Kenyon maintenance workers were here since before I was born and hopefully long after I am gone. They help give this place its continuity, its character and its spirit. Hearing some of our maintenance staffers talk about their past sacrifices to protect and service Kenyon buildings made me proud that these people were members of the Kenyon community. I am humbled and honored to share a campus with those who care so much about making this place look and operate the best it can.
Kenyon maintenance takes pride in their work and in Kenyon. They do their job and they do it damn well. Our maintenance staff’s pride runs deep. Deeper than I can begin to imagine. But that pride is not a given, that pride is the result of a feeling of connection, a real connection, to our community. If we sever the connection, that pride might very well go. Please try and remember this as you listen to this forum.