Traditions

Even now, Kenyon prides itself as a college that is staunchly based in and centered on its rituals and traditions. Rituals such as Freshman Sing and the signing of Kenyon's Matriculation Book (see below) became focal points of contention with the arrival of women at the Coordinate College in 1969.

As students of the Coordinate College, the women were initially not allowed to participate in Kenyon "male" traditions, such as Freshman Sing and matriculation. The women were expected to come up with their own traditions. But what should be included in the category of tradition? What exactly were "male" traditions? What made the traditions at Kenyon specifically male? Many of the women entering the Coordinate College were upset when told that they could not participate in these traditions while others did not seem affected by the exclusion.


Diplomas waiting at graduation.

We didn't go through matriculation, we weren't invited to sign the book. It was a strange feeling. I mean, I don't hold grudges, I got a good education, had great teachers... but it was a very strange feeling to be brought to the place, and told "you're a student that Kenyon would like to have," and then be excluded from the very things that Kenyon saw were the center of its traditions and its rituals and all the things that they say, you know, you still hear this today, the "this is what makes Kenyon different." A lot of us said "who cares?" But whenever you're excluded, you do care. We all just wanted to say who cares? In a way by excluding us, the college was handing us kind of an excuse to reject...but then pretty soon they wanted to bring us into those [traditions].

Anonymous '74



I remember feeling that way during Matriculation. I don't even remember what was said, but I remember thinking to myself, this is where it is still separate. But in terms of the songs and stuff, I was in a unique position since my dad was a Kenyon grad; I grew up singing all the Kenyon songs. So I came on campus and I knew them all, and I think that amazed some of the guys. I mean I even knew all the dirty words to the Beta rock songs.

Michelle Merian Van Voris M '73


Convocation I remember. I remember getting really annoyed because I didn't want to be there. I didn't get what Convocation was all about. I don't remember Freshman Sing at all....In terms of traditions, I'm trying to think...Spring Riot was the biggest tradition I remember....[Do you remember signing the matriculation book?] Not at all. Not at all. I don't recall it being a big deal, I don't remember at all.

Jamie Barth '74



There were separate opening dinners, men in Peirce and women in Gund, where the women were told we could not participate in the Freshman Sing: that was a Kenyon tradition, not a Coordinate College one. We were invited to invent our own traditions or, if we wished, to watch the men sing on the steps of Rosse Hall...No signatures of women occur until 1972 [in the Matriculation Book]; originally, members of the Coordinate College were not allowed to matriculate. That was a Kenyon tradition, not a Coordinate College one...[Women were allowed to sign the book retroactively in 1972.] However, I have friends from the early classes of women who still have not signed; they want no part of a ritual that exluded them.

Adele Davidson '75, in the Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, 17.3


Kenyon Rituals and Traditions

Types of Traditions

Male Traditions

Women's Spaces and Men's Spaces