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Campus Life

The Campus Atmosphere
Residential Life
The Active Examined Life

How "Diversity in an Inclusive Community" Works
A Place for the Spirit

Knox and the Outside World
Student Organizations
Support Services
Community Expectations 


The Knox campus is home for the 1,400 students who live in the residence halls and nearby apartments, eat in the student union, study in the libraries, labs and classrooms, work in campus offices, play in the gymnasiums, athletic fields, and game areas, and perform in the theatres and recital halls. It is home also to the hundreds of faculty members, administrative and support staff who spend long hours here every day meeting the many needs of Knox students.

The Knox community reaches out beyond the boundaries of the campus as well, to take in the city of Galesburg, a regional center and county seat. Knox and Galesburg were founded together in 1837, and their histories are closely entwined. Today, city and college remain close. Knox students often find work in town, and others are deeply involved in internships or volunteer activities with local groups and agencies. Students are a familiar presence in the city’s churches and temple, welcomed by the many residents who are often Knox alumni. They are commonly found relaxing at the mall, in downtown shops, at the farmers' market, working on community gardens, at the city’s many varied restaurants or at the movies, the symphony, the civic theatre, or traveling bike routes to nearby Lake Storey.


The Campus Atmosphere

The Knox campus is spacious and inviting, with broad expanses of lawn, tennis courts, playing fields and a generous profusion of trees and other greenery, including much that flowers spectacularly in the spring. There are ample open spaces, as well as more secluded, shady spots for a quiet stroll, reading a novel or just being alone. For all the spaciousness of the 90-acre campus, however, the distance from wherever you may be to wherever you want to go is seldom more than two city blocks.

The attractiveness of the physical environment contributes to an informal, friendly campus atmosphere, as does the open-hearted generosity that marks Midwestern attitudes and character. Students, faculty and staff quickly get to know each other, and friendly greetings are an everyday feature of walking across campus. Students from across the nation and around the world take readily to the campus informality, with the result that it is easy to meet and make friends with people from many different cultural backgrounds, with different social, religious or political views and of varied cultural tastes. One frequent result is that students’ preconceptions are regularly challenged and re-examined, while their appreciation of the value of human diversity is strengthened.

Residential Life

An important aspect of Knox is the experience of residential life. Besides fostering the strong sense of community that characterizes the campus, living together is important to both personal and intellectual growth. Among other things, living with others involves working and playing together, helping each other with course assignments and engaging in heated debates with people of different ideas, priorities and values. All these experiences help students develop and defend their own ideas, as well as learn valuable lessons in working out relationships. For these reasons, most Knox students do live in college housing. (There are a few exceptions—for example, married students and those whose homes are in the immediate area, and a small number of seniors.)

Most campus housing is arranged by suites, with a group of student rooms opening onto a common living area. Some residence halls are arranged along a single hallway, while others are set up as apartments. Generally, student rooms are doubles (two persons sharing a room). In addition to the residence halls, a few former private homes have been converted to student residences. These alternative housing options are often structured as thematic living areas, such as the International House and Eco House. Similarly, several suites within the residence halls proper are organized around common interests and themes. Most residence halls also have upperclass resident assistants (RAs) living in the suites as peer counselors. The social fraternities maintain houses, each of which holds 15 to 25 upperclass men.

Knox operates its own Dining Services in Seymour Union for all students residing on campus. The Hard Knox Cafe has won the Golden Beet Award and has been featured on a television series for offering local, vegan and vegetarian entrees, and gluten-free options. The Gizmo snack bar is a popular gathering place for students and faculty. The Out Post is a convenience store centrally located in the lobby of Post Residence Hall. The Out Post offers a wide variety of bottled beverages, candy and snack items, dairy products, frozen entrées, grab-n-go foods, toiletries, and over the counter medicines.

The Active Examined Life

Socrates claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. While Knox tries to make sure that all students question and reflect on what they are doing, it also provides ample opportunities to be doing. Life at Knox involves more than working late in the lab or the library; co-curricular activities supply a stimulating complement to the rigors of coursework. They provide balance to life on campus, a refreshing diversion, and the chance to explore untried interests and talents. Groups, organizations and programs of all kinds provide activities ranging from jazz performance, to political activism, to varsity athletics, to religious reflection.

Speaking a second language outside the classroom is facilitated by the weekly language tables. Students meet for lunch with faculty and native speakers from the college community to share informal conversation in Chinese, German, French, Spanish or Japanese.

Opportunities for artistic performance abound. All students, regardless of major, are encouraged to audition for acting roles or technical support in numerous theatre productions staged each year. Every third year, Repertory Term offers serious students the chance to immerse themselves in theatrical production for an entire 10-week term. In addition to campus productions, Prairie Players Civic Theatre, a local theatre organization, welcomes Knox participants. Terpsichore Dance Collective is a student club that provides students from across the disciplines multiple opportunities throughout the year to participate in original choreography and dance pieces, including the work of professional guest artists.

Students interested in music have many opportunities for performance. The Knox-Galesburg Symphony is a joint professional-amateur orchestra cosponsored by the College and the Galesburg community. The Knox College Choir makes annual spring tours, nationally and internationally. The Chamber Singers is a smaller choral ensemble, which specializes in chamber music. Knox students may also sing in the Galesburg Community Chorus, which performs major choral works, often with the orchestra. There is an active interest in jazz, with several groups performing, including the Knox Jazz Quintet and the big-band Jazz Ensemble, both of which groups toured Barcelona in 1996, 2000, and 2008. A number of other Jazz Combos also perform regularly. The String Ensemble is a group of students who play classical Western stringed instruments. The Knox-Sandburg Community Band performs for community and college functions. Knox students may earn academic credit for performing in any of these musical groups. In addition, there is a variety of informal student-organized musical groups that play both on campus and in the community.

For those students whose interests include the media, the College has a newspaper, The Knox Student, a Knox institution since 1878; WVKC, a radio station; and a nationally recognized literary magazine, Catch, that publishes short stories, poetry, drama, essays, art and photography two times a year.

A bike share program allows students to rent bicycles to get to class or exercise. Two campus gardens and a local farmers' market provide opportunities to learn how to garden and work on local food issues.

Students interested in sports and physical recreation have many outlets for their talents and energies. Varsity intercollegiate competition is organized through the NCAA Division III Midwest Conference, in which Knox fields a total of 21 teams. Women compete in soccer, tennis, volleyball, cross-country, golf, basketball, softball, swimming and indoor and outdoor track. Knox fields men’s teams in football, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming, cross-country, wrestling and indoor and outdoor track. Additional Knox clubs compete against other colleges in lacrosse, ultimate frisbee and men’s volleyball. An intramural sports program, run by a student board, offers spirited competition among coeducational and single-sex student teams, with faculty-staff teams occasionally joining the fray. Basketball, indoor soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball are the most popular intramural sports.

The Taylor Student Lounge and Game Room in Seymour Union provides a recreational space designed to make living on the Knox campus more relaxed and enjoyable for all students. The space houses billiard tables, a ping pong table, foosball table, and an air hockey table in addition to a number of board games available for check out with a Knox student ID. The lounge has gaming stations with X-Box live or Nintendo Wii, and flexible space for socializing or studying. The lounge also houses the Wallace stage, a popular place for open mic nights, bands, slam poets, and movie screenings.

Canoeing, fishing and camping are available at Lake Storey on Galesburg’s northwest limits, and at Green Oaks, the College’s ecological field station and nature preserve, located about 20 miles northeast of the campus.


How "Diversity in an Inclusive Community" Works

Campus diversity is an important part of what makes Knox distinctive among liberal arts colleges, and both students and faculty are rightly proud of it. This remarkable diversity is sustained by many different kinds of groups and networks of support. Some bring students of different backgrounds together, in the classroom, in the residential suites, on the playing field, on stage and, perhaps surprisingly, to those not familiar with Knox, in the social fraternities. In social gatherings, in pursuit of common goals and just relaxing together at the end of the day, students get to know, understand and respect each other, forming friendships perhaps unimagined a few years earlier.

Other groups and organizations help to support students by uniting them around common fundamental concerns. Student organizations such as International Club; Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality (ABLE); Lo Nuestro; Korean Club; Chinese Club; Japanese Club; Amnesty International; Common Ground and Students Against Sexism in Society (SASS) provide a forum for celebrating and exploring common identities, cultural values and concerns that bring their members together.

Knox also provides professional support services for students of different backgrounds, especially those for whom the transition to a traditional American liberal arts college poses particular challenges. The Center for Intercultural Life, for example, has staff members charged particularly with responding to the needs of U.S. students of color, women and international students.

As a result of this web of supportive relationships, Knox has succeeded to a considerable degree in creating an environment that broadens the intellectual, social and personal horizons of a great many of its students—those from the heartland as much as those from across the oceans.


A Place for the Spirit

Founded by Congregationalists and Presbyterians who were strong activists in the cause of abolitionism, Knox has always been home to religious idealists. Although the College has always been independent of any official religious affiliation, Knox offers students opportunities to participate in a variety of student groups based around common religious concerns. Among these are the Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Newman Club, Hillel Club, and Islamic Club. These groups sponsor speakers, films, social gatherings, community service activities and opportunities for worship.

In addition, Galesburg is home to many Christian denominations and a Reform Jewish temple, all of which welcome Knox students to their services.

Knox and the Outside World

The Knox community is connected to the larger world of the region, the nation and the globe. Visits, performances and lectures by leading figures in the fields of politics, religion, the arts and the sciences have always been an important part of a Knox education. Abraham Lincoln spoke at Knox, as did Jane Addams and Theodore Roosevelt, and, more recently, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Congressman John Lewis, Helen Caldicott, George Mitchell, Ted Koppel, Senator Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert, former President Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Literary visitors over the years have included poets Robert Haas, Gwendolyn Brooks, W.H. Auden, Rita Dove and Richard Wilbur; and novelists Tobias Wolff, Susan Sontag, Wole Soyinka, and Philip Roth.

Dance troupes, theatrical companies, singers and bands are frequently brought to campus. Some recent examples include Primitive Science, Jan Erkert and Dancers, the Second City Comedy Troupe, the National Theatre of the Deaf, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, The Silos, and the Orchestra of the Chinese Music Society of North America.

A key student organization involved in coordinating campus entertainment is Union Board (UB), which, through its committees, schedules films, dances, speakers, coffeehouses and concerts. UB also organizes excursions to plays and sporting events and recreational outings to amusement parks.

Knox not only brings the outside world to the campus, its students and faculty are also frequently involved in the world beyond the College. Through the Kleine Center for Community Service, for example, student volunteer activities are coordinated and supported. Knox students founded the first college chapter of United Way in the nation. The Knox chapter of Alpha Phi Omega regularly sponsors charitable events. Knox is home to a Habitat for Humanity chapter. Members of Sigma Alpha Iota, an academic fraternity in the field of music, usher at concerts and perform at local nursing homes. Many Knox students provide volunteer services directly in the Galesburg community, in such forms as tutoring local high school students at Carver Community Center, serving as literacy volunteers at the Heartland Literacy Coalition and providing volunteer staff support for the Safe Harbor Family Crisis Center. Also active in sponsoring fundraising events for charitable causes are the campus’s national social fraternities and sororities.

Galesburg and Knox County are rich in Midwestern history and modern amenities. Birthplace of Carl Sandburg, perhaps the nation’s best-known poet, Galesburg is a city of stately mansions and modest homes, refined restaurants and fast-food joints, the historic Orpheum Theater and a multiplex movie theatre. In short, it remains as Sandburg once described it, "a piece of the American republic." The 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries co-exist in Galesburg—on the one side, brick streets, wonderful Victorian houses, lovingly restored shops on Seminary Street and the city train station; on the other, modern banks, pizza places, two major hospitals, Sandburg Mall and the municipal airport. To generations of Knox students, Galesburg, inevitably, is "The Burg" that grows in affection with each passing year.

Galesburg is midway between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers—about an hour drive either way. Surrounding the city are miles of the black, rich soil that so astounded the College’s founders back in 1837. One of the prime agricultural regions of America, west-central Illinois still produces enough corn and soybeans each year to supply Russia and China, as well as the United States. Cutting through the prairie are tree-lined river valleys, most notably the Spoon, made immortal by the poetry of Knox alumnus Edgar Lee Masters, in his powerful Spoon River Anthology.

Student Organizations

Student organizations affect life at Knox in significant ways. Their activities include community service projects, cultural events, social gatherings, and all-college explorations of issues such as nuclear arms control or diversity.

The Student Senate is the official governance body for Knox students. A large, inclusive group, the Senate plays a key role in advocating student self-governance issues. Student Senators serve as voting members of faculty governance committees, often meet with Trustees, and participate in the College’s monthly faculty meetings.

Several student organizations promote campus awareness of social, political and environmental issues—local, national, and international. Among these are the Latin American Concerns Committee, the Model United Nations Club, College Republicans, College Democrats, the Model Illinois Government Club, and Knox Advocates for Recycling and Environmental Support (KARES). The International Fair, sponsored by the International Club, features cultural booths, demonstrations, entertainment, crafts, and international cuisine.

Student groups affiliated with academic departments also sponsor events of interest both for majors in a particular department and for the entire college community. Meetings of the English department’s Caxton Club and Writer's Forum, for instance, attract students and faculty, along with visiting writers, who read from and speak about their own work. Other active organizations are the Economics Club; the Business Club; the History Club; the Mathematics Club; the Anthropology and Sociology Club; the French, German, Spanish, and Classics Clubs; the Biology and Chemistry Clubs; the Pre-Med Club; Physics, Psychology, and Philosophy Clubs.

Five national fraternities (Phi Gamma Delta, Beta Theta Pi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Sigma Chi, and Sigma Nu) maintain their own residential houses. A sixth, Gentlemen of Quality, has organized as a local fraternity. There are four national sororities (Alpha Sigma Alpha, Delta Delta Delta, Pi Beta Phi, and Kappa Kappa Gamma). The campus Greek organizations comprise about 30 percent of Knox students and sponsor many social, community service and philanthropic events throughout the year. The Interfraternity Council is the governing body of the fraternities on campus; Panhellenic Council governs the sororities.

Support Services

Student academic success is bolstered by a set of support services which provide assistance for both academic and personal aspects of the college experience.

Each Knox student has a faculty advisor who assists in planning the student’s academic program. The Center for Teaching and Learning provides peer tutoring and professional assistance for subjects across the curriculum as well as help for students who wish to improve their writing. Any student can visit the office to request such assistance. The federally funded TRIO Achievement Program provides further academic support for students eligible under federal guidelines.

Special faculty advisors for those interested in law and medicine work with students in planning their programs from the beginning of their first year. Students also may call upon the staff of the Bastian Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development to assess their career aspirations, interests and options, and to help them make plans for the future. Individual advising, group workshops and seminars, speakers from the world outside college, internships, and visits to Knox alumni help students make informed career choices. The Center maintains a library of information on graduate and professional study, training programs, and summer jobs. The office also coordinates recruiting visits from representatives of businesses and schools, trips to job fairs, and provides a credential service for students and alumni. Students are strongly encouraged to make use of the wide range of career resources available throughout their years on campus. The Kleine Center for Community Service helps to coordinate volunteer and service opportunities that fit well with the College's theme of connecting knowledge with experience.

Informal personal counseling is available from the Office of Student Development. In addition, the College’s Counseling Service provides confidential professional counseling to students who experience emotional stress or personal problems. Students receive basic care from the on-campus Student Health Center. This Center ensures that all students have access to a medical practitioner for basic health care needs. Students are not required to use the Student Health Center and may arrange for health care services from other providers at their own expense.

It is the College's policy to meet the requirements of the applicable laws and regulations concerning disabilities. Any request for accommodation should be submitted to the Center for Teaching and Learning

Community Expectations

The College operates as an institution to foster learning and academic pursuits. Essential to this purpose is the sharing of diverse ideas. Perhaps the best general guiding principle for any residential academic community is one that emphasizes both tolerance and active engagement with a diversity of ideas, and the necessity of mutual sensitivity and response in interpersonal relationships. Common courtesies and respect for the dignity of others are central to making community life what it ought to be.

All members of the Knox community are expected to be respectful of each other, all campus property, and themselves. Community members are expected to apply common sense, tell the truth and be responsible for their own actions. These principles apply to academic life and to social life on the campus. Appropriate action may be taken when these principles are not adhered to.

  • All allegations concerning academic integrity are referred to the Honor Board.
  • All allegations involving discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are heard by the College Grievance Panel.
  • Other allegations involving violations of community expectations, college policies, and rules and regulations are handled by the Conduct Council.

All students are obligated to familiarize themselves with and adhere to the Honor Code, Conduct Code, policies, rules and regulations of the institution. Knox students and employees are subject to all federal and Illinois state laws.