by Manny Loley and Emily Sakamoto
Tour guides regale prospective students with tales describing Kenyon as a “walking campus”, “a bubble on a Hill”, with no need for transportation other than your own two feet. Recently, however, cars have become more common, raising the question of where the vehicles can be housed.
Cars parked on green lawns are a common sight during large events like Family Weekend, and it’s not unusual to see students parked on the grass and sidewalk before they move out at the end of the year. Does Kenyon need more parking lots?
The total number of parking spaces for academic buildings is 276, with 11 of those spots designated as handicapped parking spaces, according to a recent study done by the Campus Safety Office.
The total number of residential parking spots for students totals 418, according to Miracle Mahle, Safety’s transportation coordinator.
While this may seem like enough spaces to accommodate students, accounts of student parking being congested continue to surface.
“I feel like almost every spot was filled up, but this weekend I came back from Walmart and it was a Friday afternoon; there were a ton of empty spots,” Celia Cullom ’15, who has a parking spot in South One, said. “It definitely felt very inconsistent.” Cullom added that this is her first year with a car on campus, but she has noticed an increase in students driving since her first year.
“The number of spaces has declined,” Safety Officer Joseph Downes said. “There was a huge parking lot in the Bexley [Apartments] and there was one in front of Leonard [Residence Hall].” Downes who has been an employee of the College for 18 years, suggests that the addition of South Lot Two may have made up for the loss of former parking spots.
Downes feels that additional parking would be beneficial for safety reasons.
“We do need more parking,” Downes said. “Specifically, parking that is accessible for the North Campus Apartments. During move out, it is difficult to get in and out of those places.”
Parking on campus is not by any means a new subject.
“A North-end equivalent to South parking has always been talked about,” Downes said. “Students have been clamoring about that for years.”
While student opinion seems to reflect a desire for more parking spaces, the geography of the Gambier community may not allow for such goals to be achieved.
Mahle advised students to remember that the campus “is designed to be a walking campus.
“The Village as a whole is not set up to handle all the traffic,” she said. “If we had a third or a quarter of the students driving around campus, that would really hinder pedestrian traffic.”
Some also argue that additional parking would cut down on green spaces and thus take away one of Kenyon’s most beautiful assets.
“It’s a beautiful Village, and people should be out walking,” Mahle said.
Currently, there are no plans for the addition of parking spaces. The options that exist instead are carpooling and taking the shuttle that runs to Mount Vernon on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
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