Anti-Racism Update

On Sept. 23, 2020, Associate Provost Ted Mason provided an update on Kenyon's anti-racism work.


To the Kenyon Community:

This summer Kenyon dedicated itself to anti-racism work as a necessary foundation for our efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, along with so many others, and the influence of Black Lives Matter added urgency to our contributions to the national and international movements to fight persistent racism. No less important were the many instances of anti-Asian harassment and discrimination rising from mistaken and frequently intentionally dishonest accounts of the origins of COVID-19. In addition, the run-up to the elections in November will almost certainly see an increase in the volume and the viciousness of racist rhetoric directed at people of color. Racism diminishes, marginalizes, and finally irreparably harms its targets. 

Kenyon stands with those victims and seeks to combat racism in all its forms. Students, staff, and faculty who believe themselves to be targets of discrimination or harassment on the basis of race should report such incidents to and seek the help of Kenyon’s Office for Civil Rights

As President Decatur indicated in his July 31 message, he has tasked me with reporting our progress to the community each semester. Since this is the first year of our expressly anti-racism work, it seems only appropriate to provide the community with a sense of the directions we are taking.

Here are only a few examples of the work we are doing:

  • The Board of Trustees participated in an anti-racism professional development workshop on September 17. 

  • Employees in the Advancement Division undertook anti-racism professional development during their August retreat.

  • The annual Faculty Advising Day featured sessions on trauma-informed advising and pedagogy. 

  • The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion presented “Kenyon Monologues: Stories of Inclusion, Excellence, and Success” to first-year students during New Student Orientation.

  • The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is also working to coordinate a virtual panel — featuring the organizing team from #IAmNotAVirus — on allyship to Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

  • Director of Athletics, Fitness, & Recreation Jill McCartney is forming an Anti-Racism Group composed of coaches, staff, and student athletes to develop anti-racism programming within Athletics and to coordinate with similar initiatives across the campus. 

  • Employees in the Communications Division will be undertaking anti-racism professional development later in this semester. 

  • In a coordinated effort among Vice President and Dean of Admissions Diane Anci, Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham, and myself, Tanya Williams of Authentic Consulting will return to the community this fall to work on anti-racism education with students, faculty and staff. 

  • President Decatur and Vice President Bonham have had conversations with Mount Vernon Mayor Matt Starr and Safety Service Director Richard Dzik related to possible professional development with the Mount Vernon Police Department. 

  • Kenyon is hosting a performance of Theater of War's "Antigone in Ferguson" on October 8. This production focuses on racialized police violence. We are opening this performance to alumni and families, as well as students, faculty, and staff at the other schools in the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium. 

  • A committee of staff members from the Student Affairs Division and the Academic Division are investigating ways in which the mental health of Black students can be better supported with resources from the college.

  • Kenyon is forming the committee to evaluate proposals for anti-racism initiatives and advise President Decatur on which initiatives ought to be supported with College resources. During the week of September 20, a call will go out to students, faculty, and staff, soliciting applications for membership on this committee.

Details on many of these projects will be forthcoming. I look forward to providing a more extensive report at the end of this semester. 


Ted Mason
Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Senior Advisor to the President
Professor of English