Facing Realities and Creating our Own Alternative
By Tommy Brown
Many years ago, Kenyon folklore tells us, a group of students were frustrated with an overly despotic college administration. Sound familiar? In protest, some students pushed a piano out of a Bullseye window; others lit a tree on fire; others still collected all the wooden furniture around campus, piled it in the South Quad and lit it aflame. For years, it was called Spring Riots. From that, however, Summer Sendoff was born. In response to increasing tensions between students and the administration of the College, and in hopes that it would give students an outlet for their post-winter antsiness, Summer Sendoff was created as a community celebration for the coming summer.
Every year I have been at Kenyon, Summer Sendoff has changed, and this is year no different. Social Board has opted to have the concert — and therefore the South Quad merrymaking — on Friday rather than the traditional Saturday. Students have been saying that Sendoff is ruined again. The College administration has made its fear of liability patently clear with the passage of increasingly restrictive party policies, and at first glance this year’s Sendoff plans appear to be no exception. Accepting the reality that we cannot change the stance of the administration, however, the student body is nevertheless left with things to celebrate, and even room to bring back the Sendoff we used to know.
As it made clear in its official statement, Social Board views the concert to be its primary concern when planning Sendoff. In years past, we have enjoyed such illustrious bands as Rebelution, The Hood Internet, RJD2 and Clipse. Students have rightly complained that they are not given enough influence in deciding which bands to invite, while also being restricted by budgetary concerns. The reason Social Board was able to get as well-known and well-received artists as Big Boi and Starf***er is because they had an expanded budget. By changing the concert to Friday, Social Board no longer has to worry about providing lunch, the necessary Safety officers’ overtime pay and all the other expenses involved with an 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday Sendoff. Big Boi, as far as I can tell, was much more readily accepted by the student body than Rebelution, but it’s important to remember that one of the only reason Social Board can afford such a big name is because Sendoff will be on Friday. We will enjoy music more students actually like, while also having our traditional festivities on the South Quad. Additionally, more students will actually have the opportunity to come and enjoy the concert, rather than being between naps or out of commission.
If Sendoff has been moved to Friday, what, then, of Saturday? Sendoff, to many students, means a war zone of day drinking on the South Quad, a welcoming of summer after a much despised and brutal Midwest winter. Beyond the drinking elements that apply to some students, Sendoff was fundamentally a final community celebration of the year, at a time before we have to hole up in the library to study for finals. It presents one last free-for-all before we all go our separate ways for the summer. The Social Board-sponsored concert fails to take advantage of a full day event, basking in the sun with all of your friends.
As such, though, I think Saturday presents an excellent opportunity for all Greek organizations to step up. The school has made it clear that it will not oversee the typical South Quad anarchy we have come to enjoy — a sad reality that we all must come to accept — and as a Greek I think this is a great opportunity for our organizations to fill the void. As organizations, we are well versed on the party policy and how to work with the administration of the school. While this would be too large of an endeavor for any single organization to undertake, if we pool our resources and work together this is something that could actually happen. We would be able to enjoy a great concert organized by Social Board the night before, while framing the next day’s event in our own eye.
As students, especially those of us that have enjoyed a more “pure” Sendoff, it is easy to complain about what we are missing. We must accept the reality of the administration’s stance on Sendoff and realize it won’t be changing its position anytime soon. Greek organizations are in a unique position on campus to make this a reality and need to take this challenge head-on. If we work together we can have our cake and eat it too: enjoy a great Friday concert by bands we’ve actually heard of while taking pride in organizing our own day of fun on Saturday. Rather than constricting Sendoff to Friday, we should revel in this opportunity.