THE COLLEGIAN MAGAZINE Fall 2016
Head in the Game Nationally and on campus, athleticrelated concussions are on the rise. While the College remains committed to studentsâ€™ health, it still has ways to go. 13
Letter from the Editor
Happy holidays, and welcome to the fifth issue of The Collegian Magazine.
Editor-In-Chief Julia Waldow
As we wrap up 2016, there’s a lot to look back on. The Olympics. Brexit. Orlando. The election. These have been times of celebration, struggle and grief. We have loved and we have lost. We have much to reflect on, but there is also much to look forward to. Going into 2017, we must never forget our commitment to each other, and we must never stop telling stories.
Chief Copy Editor
It is this commitment to your stories that give the Magazine its mission. As a long-form journalism publication, we are committed to highlighting issues important to this campus. No matter where we stand in history, we must honor what has come before us, what we do now and where we go from here.
Assistant Copy Editor
Two of the pieces this issue start with the past, to honor our legacy. Our “Out of Reach” feature reflects on the College’s early foray into aviation. As the only liberal arts airport in the country, Port Kenyon taught men how to literally reach for the sky and contribute to war efforts. “The Longest Line” reflects on a different time in our history — the election of 2004, when Gambier residents stood in line for 11 hours to vote. As we process the aftermath of our current election, we remember what our community has stood for, and honor its commitment to democracy.
Amy Schatz Associate Copy Editor Devon Musgrave-Johnson
Frances Saux Design Editor Dani Gorton Photography Editors Jess Kusher Jack Zellweger Designers Mary Lauren Miller
Moving into the present, “Head in the Game” focuses on Kenyon’s efforts to provide protection and guidance to those suffering from concussions. While the College remains committed to students’ health, it also has further to go, in terms of providing equal access to care and accommodations for injured students.
Looking into the future, we bring to you two new segments — a photo story, and “Professor’s Corner.” The former, “I Never Grew Up,” catalogs the relationships students have with their treasured stuffed animals. The latter, featuring Professor Glenn McNair, explores the presence of police violence in years going forward.
Lastly, this issue’s personal essay, “Nature of Thought,” reflects on how we view human intellect and control in the force of larger elements, such as the outdoors and world at large. Producing this issue has been an enjoyable challenge, but it would never live up to its potential if not for many parties. First, thank you to the College and local businesses for their financial backing. Second, thank you to P.F. Kluge, Ivonne García and Rachel Shaver for their invaluable support. Third, thank you to our fearless editors, writers, designers, illustrators and photographers, without whom this issue would not exist. And lastly, to you, reader, for making our journey worthwhile. Sincerely,
Anna Zinanti Illustrator Anna Zinanti
Mary Lauren Miller ADVERTISING Advertisers should contact The Collegian Magazine’s business managers at thecollegianmagazine@ kenyon.edu for current rates and further information. All materials should be sent to The Collegian Magazine, Student Activities Office, 100 E. Brooklyn Street, Gambier, OH 43022. SUBSCRIPTIONS Year-long subscriptions to The Collegian Magazine are available for $15. Checks should be made out to “The Collegian Magazine” and sent to: The Collegian Magazine, Student Activities Office, 100 E. Brooklyn Street, Gambier, OH 43022. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR All readers are invited to express opinions or respond to specific pieces through letters to the editor. The Collegian Magazine reserves the right to edit all letters for length and clarity. Letters must be signed by individuals, not organizations, and must be 200 words or fewer. Letters should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
T HE COLLEGIAN MAGAZI N E Fall 2016 Volume 3 Number 1
OUT OF REACH
New Heights on the Hill Kenyon’s Flying Club and School of Aeronautics helped prepare young men for careers in aviation. by Grant Miner
The Longest Line In the 2004 election, Gambier residents waited 11 hours to vote. Today, we remember their legacy. by Lauren Eller and Allegra Maldonado
Head in the Game On campus and across the U.S., more students suffer from concussions. Here’s why, and what we can do. by Ben Hunkler and Julia Waldow
I Never Grew Up Often, the best kinds of friends are furry ones. Kenyon students show off their beloved stuffed animals. by Jack Zellweger
Nature of Thought Sometimes, to remember what matters in life, we must surrender control. by Chris Comas
McNair on Police Professor of History Glenn McNair, a former policeman, discusses body cameras and police brutality. by Nate Gordon
Out of Reach: Heights on the Hill One crisp autumn morning in 1933, Marian Cummings headed into Gambier to bring her husband Wilbur, who was in town for a Board of Trustees meeting, back home to New York. There was only one problem: She needed a place to land. Rather than visit the College by car, train or bus, Marian had decided to take her Stinson Reliant airplane out for a spin. This was typical for Marian, who had long displayed a love for flying. According to College Historian Thomas Stamp, Marian was said to be
the first woman in the United States to hold a commercial pilot’s license. Her husband had told her to land in Newark Airport near Granville, but Marian had other plans. She wanted to improvise a runway, and promptly descended to a field in southeast Gambier. The field turned out to be a better landing strip than she expected. Aside from the unmown grass, the site was an almost perfect ready-made airfield. Marian’s enthusiasm for aeronautics spread to her whole family —
by Grant Miner including Wilbur. Inspired by his wife’s landing, Wilbur offered to hire out road rollers to flatten the earth, build a hangar and transform what was once an unused space into an operational airfield. However, the original area was not used for long. Within a year, Wilbur had moved and expanded the hangar, building a more substantial airport where the lacrosse and baseball fields are today. On April 21, 1934, Port Kenyon was dedicated in front of students, professors and various visiting guests — including Governor of Ohio George White. That day, Port Kenyon became the first officially recognized collegiate airport in the United States.
“Such subjects as navigation, meteorology and aerodynamics are profound enough to be placed in any liberal arts curriculum.” Students enrolled in the College’s School of Aeronautics gather outside the hangar to look over flight plans. Photo courtesy of Greenslade Special Collections and Archives.
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Originally, the airport was only meant to accommodate the planes of alumni when they returned to the College for events. Its purpose expanded when students, inspired by the aeronautically-inclined alumni, wondered if they could learn to fly too. Spurred on by the aspiring pilots, Wilbur decided to push the College to open a fully fledged aeronautics program that could earn students official Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licenses. The College faculty originally objected to the prospect of an aviation program. The aeronautics school, they feared, would compromise Kenyon’s commitment to the liberal arts by shifting its focus to vocational training. Wilbur disagreed. He believed aviation was as integral to a young man’s education as mathematics, biology or English. “Such subjects as navigation, meteorology and aerodynamics,” Wilbur said in a 1935 New York Times article, “are profound enough to be placed in any liberal arts curriculum.” The administration soon bent under Wilbur’s pressure. Within a few years, the Wilbur L. Cummings School of Practical Aeronautics was born.
The decision, though novel, was not unconventional given its historical context. World War I showed the world airplanes were not just a novelty, but an increasingly vital tool that a modern nation would need in order to keep up. As time went on, flight schools began cropping up all over the country to teach a new generation of Americans who saw profit in learning how to fly. During the initial push to establish the program, Wilbur’s arguments were similar. He believed that flying would be vital to a Kenyon student’s success in a modern world. As reporter John Tunis agreed in an article about the nascent flight school in The Sportsman Pilot magazine, “Before long these men will need a plane just as everyone today needs an automobile.” Wilbur took charge of the project himself and raised enough funds to stock an aeronautics laboratory in Higley and purchase two planes: a 100-HP Kinner K-5 and a Fledgling, both of which were painted purple and emblazoned with a big “K.” These funds also went toward endowing the department with a chair that would help pay the salary of Donald McCabe Gretzer, an experienced teacher
and former test pilot who instructed Kenyon students as they took to the skies for the very first time. At the end of the program, participating students could earn an Airline Transport License, the highest level license available to civilian pilots. This would allow all students who completed the course of study to pilot scheduled aircraft services — or, in today’s parlance, to fly for any airline that hires them. The school established two groups of courses: ground school instruction and flight instruction. At ground school, held in the laboratory in Higley, students met three hours a week and worked toward the Department of Commerce’s required 25 hours of study on the principles of aviation. This included such subjects as engine carburation, construction, inspection and maintenance. The course also involved 30 hours of more academic subjects, like aviation history, flight theory and aerodynamics. Finally, the students would satisfy several seven to 15-hour requirements on navigation, meteorology, radio communication and, for emergencies, parachute packing.
Left to right: Rodney Boren ’38 served as an active member of the Kenyon Flying Club before becoming a pilot trainer in WWII. In 1947, he was appointed Commander of the Ohio National Guard 121st Fighter Squadron. A crowd gathers on Port Kenyon’s airfield to watch students take to the skies for the first time. The aviation program advertised its services across the town and state. Photos courtesy of Greenslade Special Collections and Archives.
For all of these courses, students were able to receive credit. However, they weren’t so lucky when it came to their in-air instruction; their time spent in flight school counted as an extracurricular. Combined with classroom lessons, the flight school, which required 10 hours in the plane with an instructor and 25 hours of solo flight, totalled over 100 hours. Gretzer was a busy man, as he taught all the courses both in the air and in the classroom. Over the years, the school of aeronautics became a well known (if not slightly niche) part of Kenyon life. In 1935, a group of Kenyon students decided to take to the skies on a more extracurricular basis with the Kenyon Flying Club. As a part of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, the club competed with various other colleges, such as Duke University, Purdue University and Stanford University, all of which had their own flying teams. The proximity of Port Kenyon proved to be a considerable advantage to the team. The Lords won the National Intercollegiate Air Meet in 1937 and 1939, and tied for first place with Stanford in 1938. The air meets consisted of several events, which ranged from mid-air maneuvers to bombing — or more accurately, dropping a flour-filled bag onto a target. Port Kenyon’s purpose shifted again during the late 1930s as tension grew in Europe. When the U.S. received word that Italy and Germany were sponsoring programs that sent thousands of young fliers into the sky, the U.S. correctly guessed that it was a
covert effort to train for war. As a response, the U.S. launched the Civilian Pilot Training program. Kenyon, with its considerable resources, was enrolled in 1939. Courses in the training program were only available to currently enrolled students, and no changes were made to the Aeronautic School’s curriculum. The only real change the school faced was the influx of federal money into the program — that, and an influx of enthusiastic and poorly-spelled letters from the surrounding countryside inquiring about the program. The College received so much correspondence, in fact, that it prepared a form letter telling prospective students how to apply. One year later, Gretzer announced his resignation and left the College. His replacement, Hallock Hoffman ’41, was one of Gretzer’s most prominent students and the first choice for the job. When the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, scholastic flying was suspended entirely. Hoffman himself was drafted into the war a year later. Although the school was now officially closed, Kenyon still played a key role in training young pilots. Over the course of the war, the U.S. Air Corps (the early form of what would later become the Air Force) used Port Kenyon to train over 250 pilots for the war effort. After the war, Port Kenyon never regained its former glory. While flying club operations could continue as long as the field was insured, the College was unable to offer any formal class-
room instruction. This meant that the only relationship students had with flying was strictly extracurricular. This situation deteriorated further when tragedy struck the program. In May of 1956, Charles Frederick Walch ’57 and Arnold Perry Gilpatrick ’58 were on a recreational flight above Gambier. A local farmer reported the distinctive sound of a sputtering engine and looked up to see a plane falling from the sky. Both students were killed in the ensuing crash. This tragic event cast a shadow over aviation at Kenyon. In an Alumni Bulletin article, Andy Bourland ’73 remarked that when he arrived at Kenyon in 1969, flying had almost disappeared. “They did mow the runway a couple times a year,” he said. “We hired a farmer to make the field a little bit better and he made it a little bit worse. There were probably a few resident groundhogs.” In 1972, the College finally questioned the validity of the field itself. Citing mounting insurance cost, the administration asked the FAA to decommission the field. As of today, there is little that would hint that Kenyon ever had an aviation program. Even the athletic fields that replaced it, affectionately called the “airport fields,” have been renovated and renamed. Besides what can be unearthed in the Archives, what remains of Kenyon’s aviation history is just scattered, obscure memorabilia, and the knowledge that some alumni, upon their return, look not just at the town around them as a source of fond memories, but to the sky as well. The Collegian Magazine 7
Gambier residents braved downpours and several-hour wait times to vote in 2004.
The Longest Line by Lauren Eller and Allegra Maldonado
When Linda Michaels drove by the Gambier Community Center early on the morning of Nov. 2, 2004, she did not expect a long line of people already waiting to cast their vote in the election. Michaels, who was then associate director of public affairs at Kenyon, decided she would just come back at lunchtime. “I came back at around 11, 11:30 and the line was out the door, down the sidewalk, around the corner. So I got in line and voted at 7 p.m.” Kenyon students, faculty and community members waited in line for as long as 11 hours that day to cast their vote in the presidential election between Republican Party candidate George W. Bush and Democratic Party candidate John Kerry. There were only two polling machines available, one of which malfunctioned
later in the day, for the approximately 1,300 registered voters in the Gambier precinct. Numerous major media outlets — from Bloomberg to The Washington Post — covered what was the longest wait in the Eastern Standard time zone, according to The New York Times and ABC News. The 2004 presidential election mobilized voters in unprecedented numbers, including in Liberty, Ohio, which also experienced long lines. At Kenyon the race drew an approximate 1,100 voters to the polls, and the Gambier Community Center did not close until 3:56 a.m. the next morning. As per voting procedure, anyone who was in line by 7:30 p.m. — the polls’ closing time — had to be allowed to vote, so it took hours for everyone to cast their ballot.
“There was clearly resistance to having students vote.”
Belinda Lanning, deputy director of the Knox County Board of Elections, remembered the phone call the Board’s Mount Vernon office received that morning. “We had a deputy down there, and we were up here … he called and said, ‘It is 4:10 a.m. The last vote has been cast,’” she said. “We actually kind of enjoyed it,” R. Todd Ruppert Associate Professor of International Studies Stephen Van Holde, who voted that day, said. “There was a certain kind of camaraderie. And after a while it seemed so sort of patently ludicrous that we were waiting so long.” The atmosphere was a positive one by most accounts. Despite the extensive wait, sprawling line and rainy weather, Michaels remembered it as “kind of a party atmosphere” with little frustration. Voters chatted and ordered pizza, and former President S. Georgia Nugent excused class absences for those stuck in line. It is nearly impossible, however, to know the true cause of “the longest line” — a term coined by Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing Lewis Hyde’s creative nonfiction class. That fall, the class published a pamphlet on the events of that election. Perceptions of the day’s events vary, depending on whom you ask. While some attribute the shortage of machines to logistical miscalculations, others speculate a bid to suppress the student vote.
Investigating the causes Inspired by the long lines in 2004, Robert A. Oden, Jr. Professor of Biology Joan Slonczewski became a poll worker in 2005. She feels that the lines were the result of unanticipated voter turnout and inadequate preparation. “In 2004, the people who ran the poll were not accustomed to having [a] high turnout of students,” she said, “and they were slow to recognize the large number of people from Gambier registering to vote.” Student participation in the 2004 election was unprecedentedly high and has generally increased in the elections since then, according to Slonczewski. In 2004 there was debate among the student body and in the wider communities of Gambier and
Gambier maintained two voting machines for 1,300 voters.
Mount Vernon as to whether or not students should be allowed to cast their vote in Ohio. Because Ohio is a swing state and thus vital to election results, certain Gambier and Mount Vernon residents felt that students — whose views are typically more liberal than the remainder of Knox County — should not vote outside of their hometowns. “We certainly had a couple letters to the editor and guest columns going back and forth during that year about whether or not students really should vote in their hometown, or if people really should vote in their college [town],” Bryan Stokes II ’05, then editor-in-chief of the Collegian, said. “It was a heated argument.” Former President Nugent’s voter registration experience indicates resistance went beyond the views expressed in the Collegian. She recalls making a trip to the Knox County Memorial Theatre Building, where she overheard Mount Vernon townspeople maintain that Kenyon students should not affect local voting. “There was clearly resistance to having students vote,” she said. But Lanning, who was a clerk during the 2004 election, disagreed. In her view, the long lines were caused by poor planning on the Board’s part. She said the Board did not expect so many registered voters to actually vote and could not have anticipated one of the polling machines malfunctioning.
“There was absolutely no intention of not letting everybody vote,” Lanning said. The Knox County Board of Elections followed procedure on that pivotal day in 2004, according to Lanning. She explained she always tells her poll workers there are two things you can do wrong on election day: one, not open at 6:30 a.m., and two, turn away a voter. Neither of these errors happened on Nov. 2. “Everybody got to vote,” she said. But in the case of the longest line, not everyone who intended to vote did so. Some community members did not want to wait in the line, or could not wait as long as was necessary. Although Kenyon students could be excused from class, other voters had jobs and families to tend to. Even students and faculty hoping to cast a ballot may have left to write or grade papers, Hyde said. Slonczewski acknowledged that long lines are “a hardship for working people.” Stokes agreed, saying it would be impossible for certain employed community members and college maintenance staff to stay away from their jobs for as long as was necessary. “There was a danger of disenfranchising people based on their job circumstances and class,” he said. In a June 1, 2006 Rolling Stone article titled “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. explores inequitable access to voting in the 2004 election, particularly in The Collegian Magazine 9
Crowds of students cram the Gambier Community Center to capacity while waiting for a chance to cast their ballots in the 2004 election.
“If you don’t make it easy for people to vote, you’re stacking the cards against them.”
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minority communities and in Ohio. He also mentions the long lines at Kenyon as part and parcel of the voter suppression in Democratic precincts. He quotes retired pollster and journalist Lou Harris, whom he calls the father of current-day political polling, as saying, “Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen.” Van Holde doubts there was voter suppression at the local level. If it did occur, however, he blames the secretary of state’s office. “Ken Blackwell, who was the then-secretary of state, was a very strongly right-wing Republican, and he was also the Ohio chairperson for the re-elect George Bush campaign,” he said. “And he used a whole long variety of different methods to try to — what’s the verb I want to use? — control the electoral process.” Van Holde believes this is the larger problem in Ohio: Secretaries of state are in charge of running the elections, and if they are a member of a particular party then “they can and not infrequently have used that party affiliation as a way to sort of try to get things to tilt their direction.” According to Stokes, many students voted for the first time in the 2004 election. He fears that first time voters who had a negative experience might be dissuaded from voting in the future. “I think it’s problematic for us to … have a society where voting has to [be] a symbol of sacrifice or serious kind of disruption to the day,” Stokes said. “I think there are much
better models.” Van Holde agreed. He feels it should be easy for people to vote, and said he recently signed an electronic petition to make election day a national holiday. “If you don’t make it easy for people to vote, then while you may not be strictly preventing them from voting, you’re stacking the cards against them,” he said.
Later in the day The Knox County Board of Elections brought in paper ballots after one of the machines began to have issues, inciting what Stokes recalled as increasing contention among voters waiting in line. What had previously been a positive atmosphere shifted as a rumor circulated that the paper ballots might not be counted. Many people refused the new ballots, opting instead to wait for electronic ballots. “People started to feel as if their vote was being intentionally suppressed in some way,” Stokes said. “That there wasn’t a second machine brought in but in fact these paper ballots that may have been provisional.” According to Hyde, Knox County had 114 machines and 56 voting precincts, and the rule of thumb was to put two machines in every precinct — meaning the Gambier Community Center was allotted two, and there were two spare machines left over. After one of the allotted machines in the Gambier Community Center began to have issues, one of the spares was used to
replace the broken part. It was impossible for another machine to be brought in, however. The machines in Knox County that election were no longer being manufactured. The Board also could not purchase a newer model of the machine, as there was a move in 2004 to replace the old machines, but Knox County had decided against doing so for reasons unknown. The paper ballots introduced in the interim were valid, but rumors claiming the opposite circulated nonetheless. Hyde explained that because elections are now highly litigated, there was reason for voters to believe that their paper ballots would not be counted. Because a potential lawsuit after the election could render them invalid, “there was a reason to be cautious,” he said. Ultimately, only around 100 paper ballots were completed and the length of the line remained unabated.
A lack of resources Slonczewski also explained that the Board faces a lack of resources when preparing for elections. “Knox County is a county of modest means, so [money] is a concern for Knox County,” she said. “It’s also a very rural, spread-out county, and so it is a challenge to come up with enough funds to provide what’s needed.” Hyde concurred, explaining that underemployment and underfunding are perpetual problems for election boards around the country. “It costs money to run a democracy.
Above: Students discuss the current state of the election with a professor while waiting for their turn to vote. Below: Gambier residents line the hallways of the Community Center, reading books and chatting to pass the time.
This election was underfunded … and under-organized and there’s no place to point a finger,” he said. Lanning explained that commissioners work well with the Board in terms of funds, though they usually need to ask for more money than allotted by their budget. Running a democracy is costly, and elections are an added expense. “It’s awfully hard to give an estimate until after the election’s done,” Lanning said. But as of Oct. 28 of this year, the Board spent $442,298, and that figure continue to rise. Limited funds are not the only challenge. The Board also suffers from a lack of bodies. Lanning is required to have at least four poll workers (two Democrats and two Republicans) at each polling location, but is “always understaffed.” The effects of understaffing are most acutely felt in the period leading to any election day, according to Hyde. He described elections in the U.S. as a “surge phenomenon,” with tranquility all year long and a spike in activity during election months. Lanning cited more work and longer hours in the days and weeks before elections. “We have a lot of extra hours at election time, probably more than any other state,” she said. In the days leading up to the 2004 election, Lanning and others at the Board were registering
voters until 10:30 or 11 p.m. every evening, and the phone would be ringing off the hook. When Nov. 2 finally arrived, she and her coworkers went to work at 5 a.m. and did not leave until around 7:30 the next morning.
Aftermath of the election Kenyon received international media attention as a result of its role in the 2004 election. “By the time
I got up at 7 … the next morning, I had an email from a parent in Singapore who had already seen the story on CNN,” Nugent said. The press commended Kenyon students’ devotion, and Nugent did not want to see the spirit of civic engagement — so keenly aroused by the election — fizzle out, prompting her to ask, “Is there a way to take this Andy Warhol, 15 minutes of fame … and turn it into something more enduring?” The answer: In 2007, the College founded the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD). “I think [the Center] fits in fairly well with Kenyon’s self-identity or self-conception which is thinking big thoughts,” Director of CSAD Thomas Karako said. The Center brings speakers to campus, hosts conferences and debates and assists students in acquiring internships. And at its core, CSAD promotes constructive dialogue about today’s important issues. “It’s one thing to have The New York Times in the cafeteria and it’s one thing to stand in line at presidential elections 12 years ago, but there’s a host of other ways in which students ought to be more aware of the world around them, and also engaged in it,” Karako said. Nor is CSAD exclusively the progeny of the 2004 election. It is also indebted to its predecessor — the Public Affairs Conference Center (PACC), a similar agent for the promotion of civic engagement and discourse at Kenyon during the 1980s. The Collegian Magazine 11
Students, residents and professors snaked around the Gambier Community Center for up to 11 hours on Nov. 2. National outlets such as ABC News and Bloomberg picked up the story.
“It’s one thing to have The New York Times in the cafeteria and it’s one thing to stand in line at presidential elections 12 years ago, but there’s a host of other ways in which students ought to be more aware of the world around them.”
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In response to those who feel voting is a hardship, Karako offers a different perspective. “It’s not that hard to vote. It is a small sacrifice to do so,” he said. And with the genesis of early voting, it is only becoming easier, he says. According to Karako, Kenyon’s “longest line” was an opportunity to display its commitment to democratic principles. “On those rare occasions where you have the opportunity to do something more onerous for some common purpose, for a principle, and it is actually done — we look at that and we say that is good, that is noble,” Karako said. Students in Hyde’s creative writing class felt a particular fondness for the 2004 election. Though the class initially wrote about nature around Gambier, Hyde and his students came to the mutual decision to shift gears. In lieu of nature prose, the class turned their focus to the recent election. Hyde described this as a “teaching moment,” in which engaging with the community’s pressing affairs was pedagogically relevant. “We didn’t try to take a position,” Hyde said. “We tried simply to tell the story as it was told by various players in the election.” For Matt Segal ’08, these events shaped his future. In 2014, he founded a website with Jarrett Moreno inspired by the 2004 election. The site, called attn:, aims to deliver engaging news content to the digital generation and partners with the duo’s previous organization, the voter empowerment non-profit OurTime.org. Lanning does not think the long lines in 2004 will ever happen again
in Gambier, citing the replacement of the polling machines with the new paper ballot and scanner system this year. The paper ballots and scanners cut down on wait times, according to Lanning. Once voters check in at their polling place, they can take their time filling out the ballot. They do not need to wait in line until someone finishes, as was previously the case. Contrary to 2004, the election this year ran smoothly, according to Slonczewski. Three Kenyon students volunteered as poll workers at the Gambier Community Center and Slonczewski said that there were “10 years’ worth” of paper ballots. But the efficiency Slonczewski accredits to the election was also perhaps a product of the shortest line. According to Slonczewski, few Kenyon students showed up at the polls on Election Day. She estimates that of the 500 voters who cast ballots at the Community Center, 250 were students. However, early voting compensated for low Election Day turnout. Roughly 70 percent of voters from the two Gambier precincts voted early and Slonczewski estimated total voter turnout to be between 50 to 60 percent. George Costanzo ’19 says he has never seen the campus in a comparable state of collective mourning following president-elect Donald Trump’s win. “I think we all kind of reacted as we would to any great tragedy,” he said. Costanzo decided it was imperative to create a forum for people to collectively grieve, while channeling the campus’s strife into action. He organized the student involvement drive “Let’s Do
Something” so that students could sign up to volunteer for organizations promoting the social and environmental betterment of the community. “What I really wanted, and I think what everyone else involved in the solidarity movement wanted as well, was just to give people an avenue to say how they feel and understand that they’re not alone and that we, as a Kenyon community, are here to listen and help,” he said. The “party atmosphere” Michaels encountered in the 2004 presidential election has, in 2016, partly given way to solemnness on campus. But as Costanzo’s reflections illustrate, both elections brought the Kenyon community together. To continue this sense of political activism on the Hill, Slonczewski urges voters be informed, to hold their state and local representatives accountable and to vote in every election. Although the 2016 election has come to a close, the events of 2004 are not forgotten. Today, if you venture to the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives, you will find a thick folder of recollections about “the longest line.” Within lies a letter to the editor of the Collegian two days after Nov. 2. Tom Susman ’04 wrote, “I have never been more proud of my alma mater than I was Election Night 2004 … Late in the evening, NBC News reported on ‘a little town in Ohio’ where students refused to be disenfranchised and and waited 10 hours to cast their vote. People asked, ‘Kenyon College, where’s that?’ I responded with pride and said ‘Gambier.’”
Claire Tomasi ’17 and Kelsey Overbey ’17 struggle for control on the rugby field, while Kate Prince ’17 positions herself for a pass.
Head in the Game by Ben Hunkler and Julia Waldow with photos by Jess Kusher and Jack Zellweger
Running down the court in a tournament at New York University, Daniel Giguere ’16, a former forward for the Lords basketball team, dove to the floor to recover a loose ball. As it bounced away from his outstretched fingers, he felt his head snap backwards, colliding with an opposing player’s knee. The referee’s whistle blew; play stopped. It would be the end of his basketball career. “I was disoriented and completely lost,” he said. “I had no cognizance of where I was on the court, and ... I ran to the other team’s bench. People were absolutely shocked. The gym was pretty full, but it went silent.”
Giguere was escorted to the trainer’s room by his high school friend, who happened to be watching the game with his family. The familiar faces provided him some comfort as the trainer analyzed the head injury and decided to withhold him from the remainder of the game. Yet, even after the final buzzer, Giguere’s teammates knew something was wrong. He wobbled to the locker room to retrieve his belongings, hardly able to dress himself. He reported feeling “very, very woozy.” It wasn’t until his later hospitalization that Giguere knew what had happened — a concussion.
Although Giguere’s injury occurred three years ago, his case is hardly unusual. Today, rising numbers of Kenyon students sustain concussions, whether from sports or everyday accidents. The year of Giguere’s injury, 70 other Kenyon students suffered from concussions; the next year, 74 students received diagnoses. In the past two months alone, the College has seen over 27 cases. These growing statistics aren’t exclusive to Kenyon. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, concussions at schools across the nation have increased 200 percent among teens ages 14 to 19 in the last 10 years. Every year, more than 300,000 sports-related concussions are reported, and the likelihood of sustaining a concussion while playing a contact sport is about 19 percent per season, the University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Trauma Research Center reported. As the number of national and local diagnoses climbs season after season, Kenyon attempts to accommodate students’ needs. Despite the College’s efforts, however, inconsistencies in academic accommodations, player supervision and access to protective gear can escalate the risk of injury and interfere with students’ recovery.
“There tend to be a lot of judgment calls in this kind of thing.”
14 Fall 2016
Defining concussions Sometimes referred to as “brain bruises,” concussions occur when soft, vulnerable brain tissue slams against the hard tissue of the skull. The brain sloshes about, causing internal swelling and cell damage. Unlike a broken arm or a sprained ankle, this type of injury cannot be visibly detected. The lack of evidence, in turn, can make concussions more difficult to diagnose, according to Professor of Biology Christopher Gillen. “When people have concussions, to some degree, the only person who can really know what the severity and effects are is often the affected person,” he said. “That makes it hard for people in athletics and school, where there’s a lot of pressure to get back in the game. It’s easy to say, ‘Oh well it’s not that bad,’ because when people look at you, you look fine … As far as I know, from a biomedical standpoint, I don’t think we have a way to make diagnoses with 100 percent accuracy. There tend to be a lot of judgment calls in this kind of thing.” At Kenyon, the difficult duty of diagnosing concussions lies with the certified nurse practitioners and physicians at the Cox Health and Counseling Center. However, the Kenyon Athletic
Center (KAC) training staff, headed by Mark Teeples, is often the first to notice the symptoms. Efforts to effectively diagnose concussions begin before the athletic season starts. A mandatory, computer-based neuropsychological evaluation, known as the ImPACT test, is taken by each student-athlete the day they arrive on campus. According to ImPACT Applications, the test “tracks a student’s symptoms and measures multiple aspects of cognitive functioning, including attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, non-verbal problem solving, and reaction time.” This is the precedent used to establish what is considered “normal” for the student-athlete, and the student must return to this normality before she can be considered safe to reenter full-contact play. When an athlete is suspected of a concussion, she is immediately removed from the practice or game, refrained from all physical activity and assessed by the training staff. A symptom checklist, in which the student-athlete rates her symptoms from a zero to a six, is administered initially upon removal, and is readministered regularly until the athlete feels symptom-free for 24 hours. At this point, the recuperation process begins. There are three distinct steps, each separated by a 24-hour rest period, that the athlete must successfully complete in order to retake the ImPACT test. First is a light, 20-30 minute bike ride, followed by a more vigorous interval bike ride with sprinting and footwork drills and, finally, a full-exertion, non-contact practice with the athlete’s team. Provided all three stages are completed without recurrence of symptoms, and the ImPACT test results align with the athlete’s baseline, she is reintroduced to full-contact play under the discretion of a Health Center physician. Because the athletic trainers cannot diagnose, they rely on Kenyon’s athletic physician, Dr. Natalie Dick, or the physicians at the Health Center to fully treat any injured students. According to Health Center Director Kim Cullers, the three groups maintain extensive contact with each other in order to ensure that “all students [are] managed with the most up to date treatment guidelines.” All parties involved maintain a Google Document with information about each student’s concussion, test results and clear date. “There’s always open communication,” Teeples said. “Especially in regard to head injuries, we’re all very much on the same page, literally, as it can be.”
Like the KAC’s evaluation process, the Health Center’s diagnosis process is multistep in nature. First, students rate their symptoms on a scale of zero to six, based on severity. Next, they undergo a complete neurological exam that tests cranial nerve function and reflexes. Based on the injury, the Health Center decides whether the student’s symptoms warrant further diagnostic testing, such as a computed tomography scan (CAT) or magnetic resonance imagery (MRI). If necessary, students are sent to the Knox Community Hospital for further testing, or to the Emergency Room for more immediate treatment. Jackie Hsu ’17, who suffered a concussion last year after tackling a teammate in rugby and falling in her Contact Improv Dance class, received her diagnosis from the Health Center. “There were like 70 questions you have to answer,” she said of the diagnosis process. “It was very extensive. If you say ‘yes’ to a lot of things, they’re like, ‘Oh this is a terrible sign,’ but gradually I got fewer points.” According to Cullers, students receive at least one checkup a week while recovering. Once students pass the Health Center’s tests and are considered stable, they receive a packet detailing the Kenyon Concussion Policy, which includes information on how to care for one’s injury, look out for warning signs and contact relevant campus resources, such as the Student Accessibility and Support Services (SASS). Teeples emphasized that diagnosing and treating concussions is difficult, due to each student’s individual baseline and reaction to injury, but that the College is working to best provide students with the care and attention they need. “We’ve found that no concussions are the same,” he said. “They’re all different, and everyone reacts differently, so we need to be really cautious with them.”
Effects on student life Often, the harmful effects of concussions don’t end with the diagnosis or after initial treatment. Even after the preliminary symptoms disappear, these injuries can have lasting effects, both athletically and socially. Athletes often report feelings of helplessness and exasperation when sidelined by severe concussions. Britny Patterson ’19, of the Ladies softball team, recalled a “general tone of frustration” among herself and her teammates when she was withheld from her team’s conference games.
Ellie Muse ’18 sprints down the field during rugby practice, gearing up for an upcoming scrimmage. As club members, Muse and her teammates receive less on-the-field supervision than their varsity counterparts.
“You’re constantly isolated from your friends ... I felt really alone and I couldn’t even think.”
“I think the hardest thing is watching your team play and not being able to do anything,” she said of her concussion, “especially when things get rougher. It’s always great to be able to share in your team’s success, but anyone who’s wearing a uniform can do that. But it’s a lot different when your team needs help and you feel like you could but you just can’t.” Patterson was fortunate enough to be able to re-enter play after a physician cleared her. However, some athletes walk off the field with a concussion and never return. Meredith Krieg ’17, a former defensive player on the Ladies soccer team, suffered a severe concussion as a first-year student during preseason training. For Krieg, this was familiar, yet frightening, territory — she had had several concussions prior to college, and had been diagnosed as “slow to recover.” She began to have seizures, and experienced an unusual recurrence of her symptoms nearly three months later, despite no new collision. Then, a final concussion at the beginning of her second season sent Krieg, once again, to the Health Center, where she was told she could no longer participate on the team. “It wasn’t super shocking at that point,” she recalled. “My senior year
of high school, I was concussed six months of the school year. I had told my parents coming into college that if I got another one, I was done.” Krieg continued to stay on the team as the manager, but was disheartened that she could not fully participate in the sport she had come to love. “It was rough,” she said. “Soccer is a sport I’ve been playing my entire life. It’s a great stress relief, and it’s a great group of people. I still love the team and spend time with them, but it did stink to be told that I wasn’t playing again.” Krieg’s frustration and difficulty extended beyond the soccer field, though, affecting her ability to make friends her first year. Krieg said she “doesn’t remember much of orientation, really,” and that she “couldn’t engage … couldn’t carry on a conversation.” Hsu, concussed while playing on the club rugby team, also faced social difficulties, reporting that her sensitivity to noise and light made it impossible to sit with her friends in Peirce. She began eating alone in the Pub to find solace. “When you’re concussed,” she explained, “there’s a lot of emotional things that go along with it, because you’re constantly isolated from your friends … I felt really alone and I couldn’t even think.”
Concussions in the classroom
A traumatic brain injury such as a concussion also poses serious complications to one’s studies. Difficulty reading, typing and focusing are common among concussion victims. Kenyon’s academic policy, overseen by the Dean of Academic Advising, the Dean of Students and the Committee on Academic Standards (CAS), attempts to accommodate concussed students to ensure their speedy recovery and assist their scholastic progress. Once a student is concussed, the Dean of Students’ office sends out a notification to her professors, and copies the Dean of Academic Advising, the Director of SASS, Health Center staff and trainer staff. A packet on the College’s Concussion Policy is included in the email so both students and their professors know how to treat and monitor concussions. Once the email is sent out, students can be granted academic accommodations in accordance with the SASS office. The accommodations — which allow students to have extra time on assignments, or take tests in dimly-lit rooms, for instance — are granted on a student-by-student basis, according to what each individual might need. The Collegian Magazine 15
Jordan Glassman ’17 prepares to take a shot in a soccer game against Ohio Wesleyan University. 5.5 percent of injuries sustained by male soccer players in the NCAA are from concussions.
“Every concussion is different. There’s no one size fits all.”
16 Fall 2016
While the SASS oversees this process, accommodations are also made at a professor’s discretion. This, in turn, means that a student in one class could receive different accommodations than a student in a different class. Gillen, the former head of the CAS, explained that because each student responds to concussions differently, it can be difficult to streamline the procedure across the classes and departments. “I think maybe there’s opportunities for more education about what concussions entail and what people can be expected to do or not do when they have a concussion, but the problem with that is that every concussion is different,” he said. “There’s no one size fits all.” Despite this, he emphasized that faculty are expected to fully communicate and cooperate with students to provide them with the opportunity to recover. “I think a good thing about Kenyon is we tend to give people some latitude to come up with local solutions that make sense under the circumstances,” he said. “Faculty members know about the situation, typically, and work with the student to try to go through it.” Some students, however, felt that their professors did not grant them the accommodations they needed to recover. Hsu, whose professor said she could not have more than two excused
absences, said her condition worsened after having to go to class. “I technically still had to participate even after I used up my two excused absences,” she said. “My professor said she could have [given me accommodations], but it would have been more reading to do, and that would have hurt my head. So that was kind of hard, trying to juggle that. It took me about a month to heal, and apparently the process should have taken about two weeks.” Patterson, on the other hand, said her professors were especially helpful in extending deadlines and overseeing her papers. “It was a bit overwhelming, but the professors were really understanding in helping me to work out when papers would be due,” she said. “I’d be like, ‘Okay, I have your paper, but I also have papers for two other classes — how can we work this out?’ They’d help me out on the due dates for that until I was well enough to do everything.” Gillen explained that the College maintains an oversight process that allows students to come to the Dean of Academic Advising or the Dean of Students if their professors are not accommodating. However, he remarked that “my sense is that these things usually … don’t happen often.”
“I know that the College is continuing to work on this concussion protocol to try to make it work as best as it can for everybody involved,” he said. Indeed, academic policies regarding concussions are subject to reevaluation in semesters to come. Once a semester, a group within the College meets to look at how to best improve Kenyon’s concussion-related policies, practices and procedures. The group includes Dean of Academic Advising Hoi Ning Ngai, Dean of Students Janet Lohmann, Director of SASS Erin Salva, Head of Intramural Sports Grant Wallace, Teeples and Cullers. Salva mentioned that the College also meets periodically with other schools in the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA) to review academic support services, including those provided to concussed students. In recent weeks, two members of the GLCA have implemented policies emulating Kenyon’s to better accommodate injured students. “Other GLCA colleges are doing exactly what Kenyon has done in terms of sharing information regarding recovery and support services, facilitating direct communication between students and faculty and offering accommodations,” Salva said. “The protocol we have in place is designed to give
“We’re putting ourselves on the line, physically.”
students the information and support they need in order to rest at the outset of their injury.”
Supervision on the field While concussed students may encounter different challenges from classroom to classroom, student-athletes face added inequalities on the athletic field. Although both club athletes and varsity athletes have access to trainers’ services and assistance, supervision is not equally dispersed across the sports. While trainers are almost always on the sidelines at varsity practices and games (or reachable by walkie-talkie), they are only physically present at club teams’ games and tournaments. “[For] any varsity sport, there is a requirement that the host school provides an athletic trainer,” Teeples said. “That is not a requirement for our club sports. Our club sports are hopefully ahead of the game, and they do try to get trainers out there and have us available to help with those kinds of situations, but our Health Center does a great job of helping people come in, and that’s usually when you see [a diagnosis].”
Teeples noted that club sports see a higher number of concussions every year, compared to varsity sports, but said he cannot draw a direct causation between increased injuries and lack of on-site trainers. “Maybe it’s because you don’t have a coach on site, [or] maybe it’s because you have people who aren’t really sure how to play the game,” he said. “Maybe it’s a recreational thing for thing for them to start out with, and sometimes that can cause awkward falls or somebody tackling someone the wrong way or landing incorrectly … I think it’s because maybe they don’t have the body control of a true athlete, and that’s not to say a varsity athlete, but someone who has done more athletics and knows how to fall or get tackled or get out of the way.” Hsu, who began playing rugby last spring, said she does not think club sports are “disadvantaged” by a lack of trainer supervision. However, she worried that club sports may be more prone to harm if encouraged to tend to their own injuries during practices. “I think it puts students at a higher risk of getting injured and not know-
ing what their injury is,” she said, “because I definitely wasn’t aware that I was concussed. I feel like if I were to do soccer or something, I would go to my coach and my coach would be like, ‘Go check yourself.’ [In rugby] I got tackled, and they were like, ‘Get up.’” Patterson, who became concussed after getting hit with a softball during preseason, said she understands why trainers may be able to dedicate more hours to supervising varsity athletes. “We’re kind of putting ourselves on the line physically to get prizes for the school and get Kenyon’s name out there,” she said. “We’re bringing not academic honors, but different kinds of honors to Kenyon. I don’t feel that it’s unfair that we have trainers that are looking out for our well-being, especially because we have very intense practices.” Teeples, who stated that Kenyon’s trainers have a 98 percent travel rate in terms of accompanying varsity teams on away games, said he hopes to give club sports like rugby and ultimate frisbee more access to trainers. “Do I think it would be a benefit?” he said. “Of course. I would love every team to have a dedicated trainer.”
Welcome to the Kenyon Inn and Restaurant Located on the beautiful, historic campus of Kenyon College, Ohio’s premiere and oldest liberal arts institution, the Kenyon Inn and Restaurant offers the finest lodging and dining in Knox County. Restaurant Hours Breakfast Monday through Friday 7:00am to 9:30am Saturday 8:00am to 10:00am Lunch Monday through Saturday 11:00am to 2:00pm Brunch Sunday 9:00am to 2:00pm Dinner Sunday through Thursday 5:00pm to 8:30pm Friday and Saturday 5:00pm to 9:00pm Reservations are always recommended. The Kenyon Inn and Restaurant 100 W. Wiggin St., Gambier, OH 43022 740-427-2202 www.kenyoninn.com
The Collegian Magazine 17
A growing understanding
Brice Koval ’19 takes on an Ohio Wesleyan University player in the Kenyon offensive end. The Ladies soccer team wears mouthguards to help prevent concussions; the Lords team does not.
“I think rugby is basically football without helmets and gear. You’re bound to get hurt.”
18 Fall 2016
Protection from injury In addition to their unequal access to trainers, teams at Kenyon and throughout the country face different risks of injury, depending on the sport. According to the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program (ISP), men’s football suffers the most concussions per year, with an estimated 3,417 injuries. Women’s soccer, at 1,113 injuries, is followed by women’s basketball (998), men’s basketball (773) and men’s wrestling (617). The ISP found that about 10,560 sports-related concussions occur in the NCAA annually. The researchers further noted differences in sex-comparable sports, with women’s sports reporting higher numbers of concussions in four of five activities. Authors described this finding as “consistent” with earlier NCAA findings, citing “greater angular rotation and head-neck segment peak acceleration and displacement in women, weaker neck muscles and the possibility that female athletes are more likely to report concussions.” With this in mind, a number of teams at Kenyon are increasing protection for their athletes. Ladies Soccer Coach Kelly Brian explained that the team has begun doing neck strengthening exercises in order to “prevent the whiplash effect, to help it slow down.” She added that the team has also started wearing mouthguards in the past two years in order to prevent some of the physical impact that can engage one’s jaw.
“Those are two things that we feel we can control, and that’s about all we can control,” Bryan said. “It’s a contact sport. Right now, that’s what we believe we can do to try to help — never eliminate, but diminish.” Lords Basketball Coach Dan Priest said the nature of his sport makes it difficult to take precautions relating to concussions. “We’re not having constant head contact,” he said. “If [a concussion] happens in our sport, it’s a fluke. Their head hits the ground, or two guys’ heads bump into each other, or something. There are very few preventative measures for us, in terms of them occurring.” Teeples explained that Kenyon does not mandate protective gear, aside from what is required by the sport, such as a helmet or padding. Some sports, like rugby, however, do not call for additional equipment. “I think rugby is basically football without helmets and gear,” Hsu said. “You’re prone to get hurt.” Teeples said that lately, more teams are using mouthguards and looking into preventative exercises, but that the spontaneous and powerful nature of concussions makes them hard to manage. “You’re going to find that nothing prevents a concussion,” he said. “But [gear] can help to maybe lessen the impact or make it less significant. If we can limit exposure to the terrible things that happen sometimes with a concussion, that’s always a goal.”
Protective gear has been in use for decades, but the terminology associated with head injuries has not. Gillen grew up in an era before concussions were called concussions. He recalls the soccer and hockey games of his youth, in which head injuries were considered little more than “getting your bell rung.” Without any preventative or rehabilitative protocol, athletes were compelled to “push through” headaches and dizziness with little more reprieve than a water break. “We didn’t take them as seriously,” he said. “In the cartoons they drew funny pictures of people with stars over their heads, but those are concussions.” Teeples confirmed that even a mere five years ago, athletes would falsely attribute their concussion symptoms to the Kenyon Krud. In the last several years, however, an expansion in concussion education has prompted more athletes with head injuries to come forward and receive diagnoses. Teeples says that if there is a rise in the number of diagnosed concussions, it is due to the increased number of students seeking medical attention. “I think because it’s known out there that because we have resources to find out what’s going on, and people are scared of concussions, they want to make sure that’s not what it is,” he said. “That education has helped people go to the Health Center or come to us or go to [the] physician.” Gillen agrees that this influx of education and preparatory measures has been instrumental to the health and safety of Kenyon’s student-athletes. He cites the ImPACT test as essential to the diagnosis procedure, as it compares the healthy and concussed brain of the same student-athlete. “We didn’t use to get these baselines on folks, so someone would come in with a potential concussion and it was really hard to tell whether they had one or not because there’s so much variation from person to person,” he said. “This is good basic science — you have to be able to use people as their own before and after control in order to assess whether they’ve been compromised in some way.” Gillen explained that while tools like baseline tests can help monitor injuries, treating concussions is an ongoing process, both at Kenyon and in college athletics in general. “[Tests are] an improvement,” he said, “but I still don’t think we have it solved.”
I Never Grew Up A photo essay by Jack Zellweger
Jerry Kean ’20
Hannah Johnston ’20
Kean beat the odds of survival with his stuffed animals Toffee and Mr. McChicken by his side. Kean was born with a congenital heart defect called double outlet right ventricle, a lifethreatening condition with low survival rates. His family gifted Kean his first ever possession, Toffee, after the doctor broke them the news. “They wanted me to own something before I died,” Kean said. Last year, Kean underwent surgery a second time, and received Mr. McChicken to help him through his recovery. But Kean’s stuffed animals have helped him outside the hospital, too. “When I was growing up, I always looked to Toffee for comfort. When I was afraid of the dark … or of some conflict in my family that I couldn’t understand, I would always look to Toffee as my friend … Both of these stuffed animals represent my own resilience in life, my drive to overcome any challenges that I face,” he said.
Johnston and her stuffed animal Doggy have gone almost everywhere together since the day Johnston was born. “If I go to bed, I have a searching feeling, like there’s nothing to hold,” she said. Originally a display animal from Pottery Barn, Doggy has taken quite a beating over the years. “Doggy was originally white and blue plaid … this is none of his original material,” she said. In fact, Doggy has been stitched up so many times, he wears none of his original clothing. Johnston and Doggy are constant buddies on adventures around town — he even filled in as Toto to Johnston’s Dorothy one Halloween. But while trick-or-treating together, Doggy was accidentally left behind on a neighbor’s porch, and Johnston spent all night searching the neighborhood for her friend. When she was accepted to Kenyon, Johnston knew she could not leave him again. “It would be too long to go without him,” she said.
20 Fall 2016
Maxwell Green ’20
Elana Spivack ’17
Teahelahn Keithrafferty ’19
Green holds his two most treasured stuffed animals, Penguini the Penguin and Leamy the Lion, in his left hand, along with a few more from his collection in his right. Green received Penguini from his mother on the day he was born. His father spotted Leemy on a pile of trash in Green’s hometown in New Hampshire and rescued him when Green was two years old. Since then, Green has taken Penguini and Leamy everywhere. Their most recent trip was to Machu Picchu, Peru. In spite of this, Green said, “I wash them very rarely— like every couple of years or so,” because he does not want the stuffing to fall out. In recent years, Green has patched up Penguini a couple of times to fix seams split apart from too much “rubbing and love.” Green said he always knew he was going to bring Penguini and Leamy to college. “I think it was a given that wherever I was going to go, they were going to come,” he said.
After moving to a new state at the age of seven, Spivack (depicted on the first page of this essay) knew she would need a friend by her side. She found her penguin, Pudge-O, in a CVS metal bin. “My mom said he could be my first New Jersey stuffed animal,” she said. Since then, Pudge-O has accompanied Spivack across the country — in school, at sleepaway camp and in Spain. But rather than tuck Pudge-O under her arm on her journeys, Spivack positions him on her head. The arrangement dates back to grade school, when Spivack had a friend come over when she was “feeling sort of low.” “I was in my puddle form, and I just put Pudge-O on my head and vented, and it felt really silly and good,” she said. Pudge-O continues to comfort Spivack in his new position on the Hill. “I thought [Kenyon] would be a good alternative form of education [for him],” she said. “He’s been learning a lot here. I’m really proud of him. He’s achieving his full potential.”
Keithrafferty’s bunnies may be pink and blue, but they do “not contribute to the gender binary.” Rather, they represent the comfort and security Keithrafferty desired as a child. Growing up with many siblings and often-absent parents, Keithrafferty relied on her bunnies for solidarity. “For me, they represent a kind of stability in a home that’s not so stable,” she said. “And maybe they represent childhood nostalgia. Just fun, happy, good. You know, the part of me as a child that pretended everything was okay even when maybe it wasn’t.” The bunnies are matching, but were purchased separately. Little Pink Bunny (LPB) was given to Keithrafferty by a friend when she was six years old. She always dreamt that LPB would have a “boyfriend with a mohawk,” but found a companion in Little Blue Bunny (LBB) years later at a garage sale. LBB was available for only 50 cents, but meant much more to Keithrafferty. “I almost cried,” she said. “I would have paid so much more and given all of my savings, which were probably like $20. It was honestly one of the best days of my life.”
22 Fall 2016
Nature of Thought
by Chris Comas with illustrations from Anna Zinanti
“There was something intrinsically freeing about how effortlessly I experienced these feelings, the way nature took power out of my hands.”
Most tents need rain covers. These were my first thoughts waking up half-submerged in a growing puddle of rainwater on an Outdoors Club trip to Smoky Mountains National Park last month. Pastel daylight filled the tent like smoke, and the morning thrummed as rain slapped the plastic exterior. I could tell that water had infiltrated my sleeping bag, but I needed to start moving to get a sense of the damage. Flipping over, I realized the water had only permeated my end of the tent. Going outside seemed like the only course of action, but I didn’t have a raincoat; I couldn’t even use the cotton coat that I’d brought because it was my pillow overnight, and was now nearly 10 times its normal heft in water weight. Tired of staring at my sleeping tent mates, or perhaps just trying to find solace from my self-recriminations, I decided to relocate my misery outside. I twisted myself free from my water-logged bed and dragged the zipper down the wall of the tent.
In many ways, being in the outdoors has been the focal point of my experience at Kenyon. Trips like these are fundamentally different experiences than anything else on campus. Everyone I know and I conceptualize time spent outside in a entirely different manner than our day-to-day campus experiences. One of my outdoors leaders once told me, “You really appreciate everything you have after you finish camping.” Her response is telling: there is something truly instructive about time spent outside, but nobody pretends that it’s always strictly “fun,” or that it won’t sometimes be downright miserable. Perhaps that’s the point. Maybe, when we live in a ecology of control like Kenyon, one where we carefully mitigate what challenges us and overindulge in what pleases us, the experience of being wildly impotent against nature’s simultaneous wrath and caress is uniquely fulfilling. The tent door waved like a sea-
side flag when I stepped out into the storm; I reached back and sealed it, then turned myself towards the clearing in which we’d made camp. The wind swept like a massive undulation under my feet and the rain matted my hair. Torrents of water smeared my clothing into my skin; my body shivered and swelled, and my teeth rattled. I teetered on the edge of concession, but where was my white flag? Inside the sleeping bag filled with water, or lying down on the freezing ground? Rain, like so many things in nature, is something that you can’t run from. You can’t even gaze upwards and watch it happen — you’ll just get an eyeful of water. So I searched for landmarks: the campfire from last night, the woodpost that read “Campsite 24,” the trees ornamented with our foodbags. I started walking in circles to warm myself, singing songs under my breath. The album Currents, by Tame Impala, popped into my mind. Kevin Parker once said of his album,
“You can’t control it. There are these currents within you.” That day, I felt the same. How should we characterize moments like these? Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher, liked to describe these kinds of powerful natural occurrences as “sublime,” or like a wave function. They induce a “movement of the mind” that “may be compared to a vibration, i.e., to a rapidly alternating repulsion from and attraction to one and the same object.” Standing in the Tennessee rain, I thought of the time my roommate and I sprinted to Peirce when it started storming. We arrived out of breath, drenched and excited. Then, like now, the storm was, at various turns, an obstacle, thought provoking and a source of happiness. There was something intrinsically freeing about how effortlessly I experienced these feelings, the way nature took power out of my hands. I couldn’t control the frigid bombard, so all that was left was to admire the way the stream below our campsite bulged, capturing fallen branches along the embankment, and follow the raindrops as they slowly percolated and dribbled from the leaves. I was almost thankful I had the time to experience the storm — when my groupmates awoke they were perplexed by my cheeriness. I thought they wouldn’t have the time to reach the conclusion I had, but when we were on the trail drying in the sunshine, somebody asked,“Why did it feel like a good day?” I signed up for the Outdoors Club Fall Break trip in search of that positivity. Unfortunately, we had a grueling commute in store: Eight hours of driving to reach Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and we had to get going at 6 a.m. to make good time. I set my alarm for 5:30 but woke up at 4:45. Knowing if I sat down I might clock out, I paced the Caples hallway for 30 minutes listening to music; my patience eventually wavered, and I left pack in hand. The air outside was crisp, and the concrete behind Farr Hall was dotted with spotlights from the streetlamps. Cats, raccoons and skunks sprang onto the illuminated pathway, then ducked back out. I was the first to arrive at the Outdoors Club Acland. When everyone was present, we started loading into a black van. My friend Seth and I sat on the ends in the back row. A small, first-year cross country runner, An-
drew, squeezed into the middle. The ride was predictably quiet early on; then we started playing music, and eventually there was some conversation. The talking really started when reached Pigeon Forge about seven hours in. Previously unbeknownst to me, and everyone else in the car, Pigeon Forge was also Dollywood — the home of the country icon Dolly Parton, and the site of a massive, garish theme-park/hotel/tourist-trap erected in her image. We were sandwiched between two long strips of kitsch attractions: a sinking Titanic restaurant, upside-down hotels and Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure. It was surreal. The lot where we parked the van seemed meek by comparison. The trail was well-trodden gravel, approximately the width of Middle Path, and stretched alongside a stream that alternated between river and creek. As the walk progressed, we divided into three sub-groups moving at independent speeds. Seth and I comprised the middle group, and Andrew reprised his role traveling between us. We chatted for a while; when we noticed the way the groups were separating, Seth commented that I could use this moment in my story to “symbolize the intrinsic separation between people.” “Maybe they just don’t want to walk with you,” I joked. We passed over a wide wooden bridge, and Seth asked me what I’d been reading for the trip. “Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler. It’s about a member of the Communist party in Russia. He eventually gets purged by the party because he began to doubt the party line—” Seth interrupted me mid-sentence: “Did he do anything?” “No, that’s the whole point. He’s killed because he begins to have doubts about the party’s philosophy. It has to do with the Sartrean idea of good faith. Have you heard of that?” Visibly tired of my grandstanding, but with nowhere to go, Seth said “no.” “It has to do with the notion that our ideas have power in defining who we are, and creating reality. In the context of Darkness at Noon, any doubt among the Communist Party members is seen as the precursor to an inevitable dissent. If someone believes the Party is at all flawed, they will act accordingly. The protagonist
ends the book saying, ‘Maybe humans weren’t meant to think things to their logical conclusions,’ and then when he dies, he ‘drifts away into the great unknown.’ It’s positioned as a moment of liberation; an escape from the controlling grip of over-intellectualization.” “What was the protagonist’s name?” I was disappointed. “I honestly don’t know.” “Do you always base your life on the arguments of books that you can’t accurately remember?” “Usually, yes.” I found out later that he had read the book for one of his classes, and didn’t know the details himself. Moments later we reached a point where the river suddenly terminated its parallel run, snaking across the pathway and under a large bridge that we crossed to reach a wooded trail. We took a detour off this new path to a winding and rugged clearing that would deliver us to the campsite. The way was narrow — we were forced into single file, and out of conversation. Thoughts on Seth’s comment populated the silence: How did I miss something so basic about Darkness? I felt like I had a strong grasp on the philosophy of the work, but did it matter — or could it even be right — if I couldn’t recall something as simple as the main character’s name? I wanted to control what it meant, like we so often do with our experiences at Kenyon, and in doing so, I simply applied selective tunnel vision to whatever substantiated my claims. That seemed like a grand offense standing in the middle of the Smoky Mountains National Forest, a sacred place where you can hardly control anything at all. Nature, like the storm to come, is a symphony of feelings and meanings, an experience of comfort and discomfort coexisting in unison. By the time we made it to the campsite it was already getting dark. We’d stay in this camp again for the third and final night — the rainstorm would happen on the morning of the second night. We pitched our tents before it got too dark, squeezing four to a tent around 7:30, when the light was already almost entirely gone. Andrew told us about how he used to be a Boy Scout, and then he turned his sleeping bag head-first down the campsite incline. I must have woken up 14 different times that night. The Collegian Magazine 25
Professor’s Corner by Nate Gordon
Professor of History Glenn McNair speaks at a Rosse Hall panel on “Black Lives Matter.” McNair previously served as a police officer for five years. Courtesy of Office of Communications
Glenn McNair on Police Violence Before joining Kenyon’s Department of History in 2001, Dr. Glenn McNair spent 12 years in law enforcement. He served five years as an officer in Savannah, Ga. and seven years working for the Treasury Department in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. As an academic, McNair has investigated the contentious relationship between African Americans and the American criminal justice system. In conversation with The Collegian Magazine, McNair spoke about his decision to switch careers, the similarities between the two professions and his memorable first day as a police officer. What made you decide to make the career switch between being a police officer and being an academic? I decided to make the change because a part of me had always been an intellectual. There’s a just a part of me that was very intellectually curious and, frankly, most criminals are not James Bondstyle villains, so after a while [the work] was starting to get predictable. The action and adventure was still going on, but I found myself lacking a kind of intellectual stimulation. I had done pretty much every type of investigation I could think of and I thought, “Well, you’re still in your early 30s, are you going to do another 20 years of this?” What were your duties in law enforcement? Traffic accidents, and domestic disputes, and bank robberies and shoplifting, you name it. I took part in a bombing investigation in 1989. A man had planted bombs through the mail to
federal judges in the Southeast — that was the biggest bombing case. But most of the time was spent [working on] drug dealers with guns. This was right at the beginning of the war on drugs, so I spent most of my time investigating crack gangs and meth gangs. In your book, Criminal Justice, you talk about being stopped at gunpoint by other police officers on multiple occasions. How did these moments influence your work, your views of the criminal justice system and now your research? Probably not as much as it would affect someone who didn’t have a background in law enforcement. Police officers have, what I call, a variety of tapes in their heads that they put in when they come in contact with different groups of citizens. And the tape that is playing dictates how they’re going to interact. There’s the tape of the white suburban housewife and her kids
— the “protect and serve” tape that says the odds of this being a dangerous or a negative interaction are pretty low. The black tape is a different tape. It’s one that says, this encounter, no matter who the person is, can potentially turn deadly in seconds and I have to be ready to kill them. If you’re black, and it doesn’t matter what your class level is, you have had encounters with the police where they are treating you like a suspect, often in your own home, ready to engage you violently. Each encounter I had with the police is always, in my head, “This can go really badly so you have to follow this step by step and respond in a way that neutralizes all of the fears they have in their heads before this goes wrong.” In terms of how it makes me feel as a citizen overall, it’s distressing. This not a new problem. Going back to the country’s founding, law enforcement agencies were started with the
“When black interests and white interests coincide, you get progress. The moment those things diverge, it’s back to business as usual.”
goal of controlling black people, so this model of protect and serve was never at the forefront. So much of what police officers are responding to is this deeply ingrained cultural sense that black people are fundamentally dangerous. The problem with race in America is we’re all implicated in it. So the first time that any racial thing happens, everybody gets defensive for various reasons. Nobody wants to deal with systemic anything because when you talk about systemic stuff, everyone’s implicated and sacrifices have to be made. It comes down to, how much do you care about those people who are not you? That level of caring has never risen past a certain point. When black interests and white interests coincide, you get progress. The moment those things diverge, it’s back to business as usual. If you were to go back to your criminal justice job now, how would you approach it differently considering the writing, research and teaching that you have done? I don’t know that I would do very much differently. I was always a different sort of police officer. It’s a highstress job and what it demands of you is even greater because you have this power and authority over people. As a regular police officer on the street, you are one of the most powerful people in this society. You have the power to take away someone’s freedom and to take away their life and to do it on your own authority. The psychological screening that goes into choosing law enforcement people is not very good, so you have lots of people who are just not psychologically and emotionally equipped to be doing this.
nuts of a job.” And then a funny thing happened. I went home. I went right to sleep. When I woke up the next day I was like, “Maybe there’s more to you than meets the eye.” I was pretty sure that [that first day] would have been completely unsettling, and yet, it wasn’t. I went to work the next day — it was a totally quiet day. We literally ate doughnuts and drove around. But that first day I’ll always remember. That first day is the one that stands out most vividly because it was a moment that I realized that there are things about yourself that you don’t know until they’re tested. That was a real revelation for me. Whose job is it to teach young black men how to interact with police? Parents have been doing it forever ... but in light of the most recent incidents, schools are starting to do it now. That’s what makes it so tragic: that parents, institutions, relatives and friends have to train their children how to interact with people who are there to protect them because those people might kill them. The tactics that [blacks] have to learn, those are temporary survival measures. I hope we get ourselves to a day when
that is no longer the case, but as I said, I’m not optimistic about that in the short term. What do you think of body cameras? Most people think that there will be a panacea — that officers will become more self-aware and not engage in these inappropriate behaviors. I don’t think it’s going to work. When officers are involved in these shootings, they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. In their heads, they are literally acting on a deadly threat. So it’s not, “Hmm, I hate that black guy. I think I’m going to kill him but this camera’s here so I’m not.” When [officers] shoot, that camera is not something they’re conscious of because [they] think they are doing what is right. In terms of cameras beings useful as evidence, absolutely. If it wasn’t for cell phone cameras and dash cameras, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now. It’s this culture that has to be changed. And the only way it’s going to be changed is if police officers are held accountable when they engage in these kinds of unlawful shootings. Either they go to jail or they’re fired, but it cannot be business as usual.
The Gambier House
Is there a moment that is most memorable from your law enforcement career? Just my first day. My first day was this weird combination of experiences that I wasn’t quite prepared for. It was a day when I got into my very first fight with somebody, to be followed by a guy asleep on a porch. It turns out he wasn’t asleep. He was a Vietnam veteran who was having flashbacks to his time as an executioner in Vietnam, and he hated my partner and liked me, so I was the one who was in the rubber room with him while he was having flashbacks. Could it be any worse than this? Yes, right after that there was a house fire with a dead body. There I was looking at a burnt corpse. In my first day, [I thought], “You’re definitely not going to be able to do this. This is just
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