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College now renting rooms for growing student body

College now renting rooms for growing student body

Photo by Kristen Huffman

Tucked away above the Village Inn are two apartments occupied by Kenyon students. And a little farther away, down Wiggin Street, is a house the College is renting and putting to use as a student residence.

This year, it seems more upperclassmen than ever are living in nontraditional housing spaces, with five living in the apartments above the Village Inn, and three others occupying the house on Wiggin Street. While off campus, both residences are classified as official College housing this year. Additionally, the lounges in the basements of Manning and Bushnell Halls were converted into triples and may be used as quad rooms in coming years.

Plans to adjust housing began last winter when the College became concerned about the potentially large size of the first-year class and the expected number transfer students, according to Lisa Train, associate director for Housing and Residential Life (ResLife). Though the Class of 2019 proved not to be larger than the College could handle, Train said the decision had already been made to turn seven lounges in Mather and McBride back into triple rooms.

“The total number of students … this year would be large, and so as a result early in the summer it was a little bit tighter than it was when we opened,” Director of ResLife Jill Engel-Hellman said. “So we thought it’s always better to have a few extra beds than be incredibly tight.”

Previously, smaller class sizes meant more open rooms, but the class of 2019 is particularly large, clocking in at 493 students.

Student housing consists of accommodations for 1,772 students and currently there are 77 vacancies. Typically, there are over 100 vacancies, Train said. However, the housing situation is constantly in flux, as students switch rooms due to roommate issues or require alternate housing for medical reasons, according to Train.

Alex Pinkus ’17 lives in an apartment above the Village Inn with Mikey Arman ’18. Pinkus, Arman and the three students living in the other VI apartment are all members of Kenyon Student Athletes (KSA), an association of varsity student-athletes, and their apartments serve as the group’s theme housing.

“We found out like two weeks before [coming back to Kenyon],” Pinkus said of moving into the VI apartments. KSA originally received theme housing in the Taft Cottages, which only house four people, despite there being five members who wanted to live in KSA housing.

Though the College’s ownership of the VI apartments is not new, this is the first time in at least four years that students have occupied those apartments, according to Train.

Elissa Reiskind ’16 was offered the chance over the summer to live in a house on Wiggin Street this year. Reiskind, who has a special allowance for quiet housing, had registered to live by herself in a suite in Caples until the College offered the alternative arrangement.

The Wiggin Street house is owned by Liz Keeney, chair of the Board of Spiritual and Religious Life, but Reiskind said the building was outfitted with regulation College furniture of the kind that can be found in any North Campus Apartment.

Keeney said in an email to the Collegian that she advertised the house for rent over an all-employee email, and that the College contacted her and offered a one-year lease. Keeney was unable to be reached for comment on the value of the contract. Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said in an email to the Collegian that the College does not disclose the terms of contracts.

The College has laid out plans to increase student housing in its campus Master Plan in conjunction with President Sean Decatur’s 2020 Plan. Train said she thinks the first-year residence areas may be the first to be expanded.

“The problem is, what building do we take down and where do we put all those people?” Train said.

At present the College has not released a timeline for renovations or additions to student housing.

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