Potential campus controversies — over issues that may range from hate speech to the creation of safe spaces – will be addressed Sunday, Feb. 21, in a daylong Council for Diversity and Social Justice 2016 Symposium in the Community Foundation Theater in the Gund Gallery.
The event, which climaxes with a panel discussion moderated by President Sean Decatur, is intended to address a variety of issues that have been the subjects of student activism on the nation’s campuses.
“Kenyon is trying to get these issues out in the open, and I think that is a good thing,” said Fred Baumann P’19, professor of political science and a symposium panel member. “Our campus has been an island of peace, but who knows how long that is going to last?”
Highly publicized student protests over racial and cultural issues at the University of Missouri, Yale University and Oberlin College — often accompanied by calls for the ouster of administrators — form the background for this year’s gathering. Hate speech, safe spaces, microaggressions and cultural appropriation are likely to be discussion topics.
One purpose of the panel is “to give our sense of where Kenyon should move in the future with regard to these ideas,” said Ivonne García, associate provost, associate professor of English and another panel member.
The title of the symposium, “The Coddling of the Kenyon Mind,” is a reference to the perception that some of today’s students may be too emotionally fragile to face honest disagreement, something that may result in intolerance.
The event is sponsored by the Council for Diversity and Social Justice, a collection of students from Kenyon’s multicultural organizations. It begins with registration at 10 a.m., followed by a catered lunch, keynote address from President Decatur, workshops and the concluding panel discussion that begins at 3 p.m. Student leaders also will join the panel.