K-SWOC hosts town hall, Bowman disputes report’s data — The Kenyon Collegian K-SWOC hosts town hall, Bowman disputes report’s data

On Friday afternoon, around 30 community members, almost all students, gathered at the Community Foundation Theater to attend the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K-SWOC) town hall on its white paper released earlier this month. The White Paper is a report examining the college’s financial decisions during the tenure of Bracket B. Denniston III ’69, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Panelists, Djibril Branche ’23, Michelle Hanna ’22, Lily Beeson-Norwitz ’23, and Ammar Raslan ’26, discussed expanding K-SWOC’s efforts beyond labor issues to encompass all issues faced by student workers .

The seats in the front of the theater were draped with name tags for members of the senior staff. Although the union personally delivered invitations to its offices earlier in the week, no senior officer was present at the event. In a statement released by the union to K-SWOC, incumbent President Jeff Bowman declined the invitation, saying the white paper did not reflect Kenyon’s values. In his statement to K-SWOC, he stressed that the report was anonymous, something he objected to in previous comments on the white paper.

In an email to all students and staff, K-SWOC disputed Bowman’s classification of the report as anonymous. “If you’re not sure where the report came from, we can definitely tell you that it was the result of the combined efforts of our union members here at Kenyon,” the union wrote. If the colleague Asked for clarification, K-SWOC declined to identify co-authors for fear of college retaliation.

The meeting began with a broad summary of the report alleging that the college failed to provide financial assistance to students during Denniston’s tenure as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Rather, the union argues, Kenyon has invested in new buildings and expanded its business and finance departments. On the morning of City Hall, Bowman sent the colleague a statement identifying inaccuracies within the report.

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K-SWOC obtained the data for the report from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), a federal database that contains information on all institutions that distribute federal grants. “In the white paper, K-SWOC relies on outdated staffing information,” he said. “By 2021-22, Kenyon misinterpreted the IPEDS guidelines and classified any employee who handled financial matters for his office or department as a ‘business and financial operation’, even if his primary function was essentially student or academic affairs, library or computer or some other occupation.” Bowman claimed that Kenyon corrected his error in this year’s data and reported only 30 full-time jobs in economics and finance, instead of the 93 reported in the latest publicly available data, which K -SWOC used in its report.

Bowman also noted that there is no category for “student support services” in the IPEDS data. “K-SWOC formed this category and it is unclear which occupations are included – so we cannot provide comparable data for 2021-22,” he said. K-SWOC felt that in the white paper it clarified what it meant by “student support services,” sometimes abbreviated as SSS in the report, when “librarians, computers, healthcare, consultants, curators, archivists, academic affairs, sports, Chaplins ” Listed are other educational services.” Upon request for clarification by the colleagueK-SWOC specified the IPEDS categories they classified as student support services, namely “librarians, curators, archivists”, “student and academic affairs and other educational services”, “computers, engineering and science”, “community, social service” . , Law, Arts and Media” and “Healthcare Practitioners and Technicians”.


After the panelists completed the whitepaper summary, they mentioned K-SWOC’s plans to address more issues affecting students. “We believe a union can go much further than wages and benefits,” Branche said during City Hall. “We want to expand the scope of what a bargain can mean; We want to go on the offensive in our campaign.” To that end, they plan to invite speakers to campus (e.g., at the “Race and Work: Let’s Talk It” workshop with Bianca Cunningham on Thursday) to engage the Kenyon community educate about issues affecting student workers. In addition, Beeson-Norwitz did not rule out more aggressive measures. “Future town halls and public demonstrations by student workers may be necessary if the Brackett Denniston government continues to refuse to engage in dialogue on the findings of the report and to negotiate in good faith with our union to find a people-first solution in front of buildings,” she wrote in an email to the colleague.

After the panelists’ updates, they asked the audience to talk to each other about the issues affecting them and then share their experiences with the whole group. Almost all of the comments came from students questioning how the college manages its finances, sharing their negative experiences with the Cox Health and Counseling Center, or raising concerns about existing injustices at Kenyon.

A City Hall student who was struggling to live in Meadow Lane spoke about the college’s decision to invest money in Pivot, Richard Serrea’s unfinished sculpture in the West Quad, designed by Graham Gund ’63, H’81 and Ann Gund . Acknowledging the group’s shared concerns about housing issues, Industry then explained that he doesn’t understand how Kenyon manages their finances. “I really don’t understand where our money goes in any state; it’s not democratic in that sense,” he said. The college publishes audited financial statements each year.

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Another student claimed that Kenyon operates more as a business than a school and that they see this most clearly in the way the Cox Health and Counseling Center is run. Several listeners claimed that the health center was not providing enough support, an argument that has persisted for some time at both Hill and other colleges across the United States.

The final part of City Hall examined how minority groups navigate campus differently than their peers. “Following what a lot of people say, a lot of the student staff, students of color or international students, they’re often the ones who are disproportionately using these resources on campus,” Beeson-Norwitz said. “They need to have those resources because they don’t have the same resources as the more privileged population.” When these students don’t have access to the services they need, it puts more stress on them than someone who doesn’t need to have a job, eh is unfair, she concluded.

After a question on how racial justice relates to the issues faced by student workers, Branche further emphasized K-SWOC’s mission. “Our goal is not a union,” he said – although their slogan is still “our way, our union”. “Our goal is to benefit the broader campus community; our goal is racial justice; Our goal is to provide a platform for students to seriously address the issues we’ve been talking about,” he said. “Negotiating for the common good is simply the means by which we do it.”

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