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Kenyon College students dress up as ghosts, you can guess the rest of this story

Kenyon College students dress up as ghosts, you can guess the rest of this story

Reader 9thDistrictNeighbor and her husband are Kenyon College graduates.

She sent me a link to a story from November 21 about two Kenyon students who dressed as ghosts, were confronted by campus security, accused of racism, and ultimately apologized for being insensitive to their white male privilege.

We graduated from Kenyon in ’83, and this is not the school we attended. Kenyon has a grand history of ghost stories, but political correctness has run amok. Scrolling through the comments on the campus link is insightful and heartening–at least there are still some saner students left.

From The Thrill, the Kenyon student newspaper, College Will Investigate Sheet Incident from Last Night:

Kenyon is investigating an incident that took place last night in which two students were spotted walking campus with white sheets over their heads — according to an email from Dean of Students Hank Toutain sent out this afternoon to the entire student body. The College is also investigating Safety’s response to the incident. More below the jump.

According to Toutain, the students were spotted in Olin Library and then stopped by campus safety officers — who asked them to remove the sheets — on Middle Path. The students complied with the request, according to the email.

“At least one student witness reported being upset by the incident. The response by Campus Safety is also being reviewed,” Toutain wrote.

“In addition to this investigation, of course, and pending its results, the College is planning a response that will include community-wide conversations regarding social responsibility and sensitivity to others. Kenyon is a community that embraces diversity and respect for all of its students and employees.”

The Black Student Union has responded, sending out this email this afternoon:

In case you haven’t read the email from Dean Toutain, last night an incident occurred on our campus where two students wearing white sheets walked into the library and on middle path. Regardless of the intention of the act, it was observed by many students as racially insensitive and inexcusable.

The comment section to The Thrill argument evolved into an argument over whether an act not intended as racist nonetheless was to be condemned as insensitive; whether feelings triumphed over intent.

The two students apologized, as reported by Business Insider which carried the full letter, which reads:

Dear Kenyon students, faculty, staff, and administration,

Two nights ago, we put white sheets with painted black eyes over our heads and walked around campus. Our idea, born of Kenyon bucket-list fancy, was to pose as ghosts on a haunted campus. Our action ended up materializing many more severe ghosts—both within ourselves and our peers—than we knew existed.

In the wake of our antics, we have begun to understand that “intentions and implications” are not, as many of our peers commented at the bottom of the Thrill post reporting the incident, “two separate things”—at least not in the respectful and enlightened community that Kenyon aims to create. In the community we want Kenyon to be, individuals are not only responsible for the actions they take, but also for the effects that those actions have on their peers—all of their peers. What’s more, we should consider the effects our actions could have on others before we perform them.

That our intentions were innocent is not what’s important. What’s important is that the harmless sheet ghosts that we envisioned appeared to many of our peers as life threatening Klansmen. In a historically racist part of rural America, we still managed to overlook the implications of white sheets at night. Only in hindsight, when confronted with the visceral fear and righteous anger of peers for whom our costumes unearthed generations of violence and inhumanity, did we begin to make the connection. That the severe implications of our actions only occurred to us after the fact is an expression of unchecked privilege and uncompassionate, selfish thoughtlessness.

Another comment under the Thrill post read, “It was done as simply a college stunt that hurt no one.” This comment is utterly false. Although we did not intend to hurt anyone, this does not negate the very real feelings of threat, terror, pain, and rage we engendered in many of our peers. Indeed, it is for giving our peers cause to question their safety on this campus—feelings they have built up after years of working through justified insecurities in the face of a lifetime of unjust experiences—that we are most sorry. We could dredge the very bottoms of our hearts, scrape every ounce of apology from it, and still not have an adequate expression of remorse—but we are trying.

Part of our effort includes the recognition that this incident represents not only a personal failure on our front, but a political problem that implicates the entire campus. Because of our white, male, middle-class backgrounds, we do not live with the history of racism at the forefront of our minds. It is because of this privileged existence that the association with the Klan was not an immediate one for us. Nor, we have noticed, was it for many of our peers—mostly white. The fact that many commenters on the Thrill felt justified decrying the “one or two people who didn’t get it”—”it” being the joke we intended, the “one or two people” being students who were offended by it—is a sign that the majority of our campus does not live with the history of racism at the forefront of its mind, either. However, a majority opinion does not amount to an ethical position.

Indeed, the majority of the reactions we received the other night, as well as those posted in the Thrill comments, indicate the prevalence of privilege on Kenyon’s campus. There is nothing inherently wrong with that privilege, but when it goes unquestioned by a consideration for our peers, it becomes highly problematic. A prime example of that problem is our actions the other night. In dressing as sheet ghosts, we not only exposed our peers to the ghosts of racism that continue to haunt their worst nightmares, but also ourselves to the ghosts of privilege and insensitivity that lead to such hurtful acts.

This has been an incredibly humbling and educational experience for us. As such, we hope that it will prove to be similarly edifying for the rest of campus. Although it was primarily racial minorities who were emotionally jarred by our antics, the incident involves every member of this community. Following Thanksgiving break, as campus-wide discussions occur about the racially sensitive issues underlying our community at large, we encourage everyone to participate and thereby gain the perspective and understanding that is needed if Kenyon is to become a truly enlightened community.

We’d like to thank Dean Toutain, Director of Counseling Patrick Gilligan, and Director of Safety Bob Hooper for their guidance and support throughout this incident. We’d also like to thank the Kenyon community, friends, and especially the Black Student Union for the criticality, compassion, and emotional honesty with which they responded to this incident.

This “incident,” of course, is quite different than what happened at Oberlin, where there was a deliberate provocation led by a liberal student trolling the campus for a reaction. Also, at Oberlin the reported Klan citing turned out to be nothing more than a student wrapped in a blanket because it was cold out.

Nonetheless, the Kenyon story reflects a divide on campuses where the objective reality of an act often is less important than the sensitivities of those who are offended by it.

(Featured Image: Henri Gendreau / The Thrill)

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Comments

Seems to me that teaching of this: Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me should be put back into the grade school curriculum.
Way too many cases of people who think there is a right to not be offended and what is offensive is left to the discretion of the offended.

Miss Belle Bellicose | November 26, 2013 at 8:59 am

Kenyon sounds like Kenyan…that’s racist,too…isn’t it?

That letter they wrote amounts to intellectual self-castration. Shorter version: We engaged in some innocent, harmless fun on Halloween; certain agenda-driven malcontents think we should be crucified for it; we agree.

“Thank you sir. May I have another?”

Obviously a racist statement against blacks. I guess that jackass Oppy Whinny was right after all.

Bunch of cowardly Kenyon lions? Obviously the right to not be offended has turned into a right to force innocent (white male) people to submit to PC religion.

Do any really fear the (Democrat formed) Klan on any campus? Or do white males fear being sued or expelled for not grovelling loudly enough over their mandatory white guilt?

I would have immediately yelled “Allahu Ahkbar!” and demanded that they apologize for disrespecting my white burqa.

I R A Darth Aggie | November 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

Klan members don’t go around saying “boo”. They burn crosses and talk about white power.

So we better ban the Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin special too, he wears a sheet in that. Either that or rewrite it that Charlie gets pelted with rocks, instead of having them put in his bag.

“…racially insensitive and inexcusable.”

Wow. It takes so little…NOTHING, in fact…to commit an “inexcusable” act of offense.

Sort of makes you despair that some of these indoctrinated yuths will ever fit in a society where actual, foibled humans live and work.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Ragspierre. | November 26, 2013 at 10:24 am

    The left is absolutely sociopathic!

      I’m sure there is a term of it, but I don’t know it…

      “created memories” seems close to the concept, though.

      As we learned from the incidents years back when social workers and others managed to implant false memories in the minds of children in the big day-care sexual abuse witch-hunts of the time.

      The really execrable thing about that…those kids still “remember” being sexually abused, and some of the people convicted are still in prison (last I knew).

      Point being, young people are being taught they’ve been victimized via pure fantasy. And a lot of them have been warped by this. Which is a terrible crime.

        There are also a number of men serving time for the bogus “recovered memories” implanted by incompetent therapists attempting to find out what caused their patients anxiety attacks.

        You might want to read up on that before buying the media line. The “False Memory Syndrome Foundation” (A foundation named after an non-existent syndrome) was created by Paul and Shirley Eberle who are proponents of legalized pedophilia and ran a porno magazine called “Finger” that published stories of the joys of incest.

        Paul Bynum was hired as investigator for the defense in the McMartin case, but came to the conclusion that the children HAD been molested. He “committed suicide” the day before his testimony.

        Pedophiles are not always the “lone creep.” When they have money and when they network, they are impossible to catch, simply because the public refuses to believe that such a thing can be organized or perpetrated by successful people.

Yes, I’m just sure there are so many Kenyon students who were personally terrorized by the Klan. It’s bringing back bad memories for those poor, poor victims.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | November 26, 2013 at 10:55 am

It seems to me the wrong people are apologizing. The accusers ought to be apologizing for smearing the reputations of two innocent men. I’m not saying they were wrong to insist the incident be investigated. But after the investigation revealed the men were innocent the ACCUSERS should have acknowledged their mistake, apologized for smearing the accused, and then moved on.

Instead we have two innocent men groveling for forgiveness because somebody else misperceived reality. Frankly, I find the two letter writers to be pathetic cowards for being unwilling to defend their honor.

    Yes, it appears they are getting what they deserve….although I’m sure that they know they would have the full weight of the University, the local media, and the leftwing blogosphere arrayed against them if they expressed their (valid) outrage.

You can keep your sanity if you like it. Liar!

Moonstone, I was thinking the same. I’ll bet none of these students have even seen a picture of a clansmen.

This is the most ludicrous reaction and letter I’ve ever seen. The anti-white program called “white privilege” is fraudulent, racist, and deliberately evil. The kids were posing as ghosts and this campus, a place of supposed higher learning, breaks down into phony outrage and blathering hysterics.

To add to the tragic stupidity of it all, the two kids then apologize for being white and “insensitive” to their “white privilege,” thus completing the racist, anti-white conditioning the two are unwittingly undergoing.

The new academic motto: Blind Obedience = Critical Thinking

They should have said the sheets were Egyptian cotton and this was part of an anti-Israel protest.

“The Black Student Union has responded, sending out this email this afternoon:
“… two students wearing white sheets walked into the library and on middle path. Regardless of the intention of the act, it was observed by many students as racially insensitive and inexcusable.””

I understand that a new generation of students, RAs, Profs and Deans are born with PC ESP. They can simultaneously sense and adjudicate the intent of your actions before a word ever comes out of your mouth. Amazing.

Yeah, these were hooligans alright. Rough bunch over there.

I can’t wait for a group of Saudi exchange students to show up in white robes.

If I were in college today, I would so totally be put on double secret probation.

Gaaaaaaad- these PC jokers make such easy targets. How can you not just want to punk them?

I’m pretty sure dressing like a ghost is not a white privilege. If you are black you too can buy white sheets with cut out eye holes and act like a ghost.

We have come to a frightening new era if indeed we are “not only responsible for the actions they (we) take, but also for the effects that those actions have on their (our) peers—all of their (our) peers. “

If there’s a second coming of Jesus, I have some advice for him: do NOT wear a white robe.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Henry Hawkins. | November 26, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    The answer to “who are these dressed in white and whence came they?” is no longer “these are they who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white and have gone through trials and tribulations for His name’s sake.”

    It’s now, “these are klansmen who are exercising their white privilege by engaging in racially insensitive and inexcusable behavior on Halloween; therefore they must be demonized and made to grovel and sputter blather about ‘white privilege’ so that they may be received into the unhallowed kingdom of the PC.”

    Whatever happened to context is everything?

So if white students see a group of young black men wearing gangsta-thug,pants to their knees outfits,goofing around singing rap to each other, will it be okay for them to call the campus cops and complain of fear of violence? I don’t think so….

    Juba Doobai! in reply to poppa india. | November 26, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    You got that right! To object is to unfairly exercise white privilege through insensitive and inexcusable racial interpretations of the dress and behavior of the Other.

    You must wait until they knock you out before you can call campus police. Even then, you run the risk of being told the knock out is a myth.

    So, essentially, it’s sit down and stfu with your white privilege.Or, better yet, kill yourself.That is guaranteed to absolve you of all crimes and sins committed in the name of white privilege.

There’s a story told about Harry S. Truman, who was campaigning for the presidency (1948). And, among the stops he made to deliver speeches was a Klan’s meeting (somewhere). He just laughed and said it was a wonder to him that 50-cent sheets could be sold to them for $3-dollars.

Also, the Klan wears dunce caps. It’s not a Klan outfit if there isn’t a white dunce cap on top.

And, ghost stories are not about white people! Any dead person could be a ghost. There’s no bones. There’s no blood. There’s no skin. The only thing left to the ghost is spirit.

The one lesson blacks in America seem unable to learn is that their attitude that they’re owed something by whites is STUPID ON ITS FACE. And, leads to resentment.

And, everybody that’s seen the “growth of this entitement” is aware that in schools, everywhere, the blacks congregate among themselves. If it was supposed to be about integration … it’s never happened!

And, then you get the likes of Oprah who can go to Switzerland and claim “racism” because the clerk didn’t take a $38,000 bag off a top shelf. But picked up a bag just like it that she didn’t have to reach up for.

Oprah called that racism. While that billionaire wasn’t in the store to do any shopping! She got to her headline in less than two minutes time. When she exited the store.

Sales clerk didn’t know what was coming.

Kids should have dressed as arabs. All they needed to do was use a belt from their pants, around their foreheads. As arabs nobody would have said a word.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Carol Herman. | November 26, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Wrong! Kenyon college MSA would have protested, demanded and apology, then demanded an imam on campus to make them feel safe and islamically privileged.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Carol Herman. | November 26, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Wrong! Kenyon college MSA would have protested, demanded an apology, then demanded an imam on campus to make them feel safe and islamically privileged.

How can anyone stomach these colleges? It is no wonder that colleges are becoming an anachronism for white males. These colleges charge you money to make you more stupid.

“The Black Student Union has responded,”

The White Student Union could not be reached for comment because shutup racism!

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