Students will soon have one more reason to not lose their K-Cards. Beginning in the Spring 2017 semester, K-Cards will only allow students to access their own dorms during certain hours, according to Student Council President Phillip Gray Clark ’17.
“In our conversations generally about safety on campus, this is a bit of a glaring issue that we thought it was time to address,” Vice President of Student Affairs Meredith Bonham ’92 said.
In a series of focus group meetings about the potential policy hosted by the Office of Housing and Residential Life, students who lived on campus over the summer said they felt unsafe in their residence halls at night due to unrestricted K-Card access, according to Bonham. The policy is currently under development by a committee that consists of several student representatives assisting Director of Housing and Residential Life Jill Engel-Hellman. After multiple emails and phone calls, Engel-Hellman could not be reached for comment.
The hours of limited access have not been finalized but may correspond with quiet hours, which are in effect from midnight to 8 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. on weekends, as mandated by the Kenyon Student Handbook. The timeframe for implementing the restrictions has not been finalized, Bonham said, mainly due to the complicated nature of reprogramming K-Cards.
Bonham and other administrators discussed restricting K-Card access last year but began looking at new policies more seriously after an incident of sexual assault involving an unknown perpetrator in Mather Residence Hall in April 2016.
“In light of the incident that occurred in the first-year residence hall this spring, we became more acutely aware of the problem that people in general have this unfettered access to residence halls,” Bonham said.
Kenyon’s adoption of the policy will follow in the footsteps of many other peer institutions that do not allow unrestricted access to residence halls, Bonham said, but she did not name any examples. The College installed K-Card readers on residential halls in the spring of 2010.
The planned change is sparking mixed reactions among the student body.
“It’s really stupid,” said Taylor Eth ’17, who lives in Leonard Residence Hall. “It feels like the school just doesn’t trust us; I know it’s a safety thing. I think the school should move towards transparency and talk to us about this and have students look out for each other instead of restricting where we can go and who we can associate with, and when.”
But not all students think the plan is problematic. “I don’t see it affecting me, but I can see it affecting other people,” Hannah Porter ’19 said. Porter lives in Caples Hall. “If I was with a group of friends, and I don’t live in McBride, and they do, they could still let me into the building. If I’m an intruder who’s alone that could be an issue, so maybe [the policy] would be effective. But I don’t see that being a common issue among groups of students.”
Clark hopes Engel-Hellman and the committee will circulate a survey to the student body about this new policy by October Break.
“At the end of the day, we’re a community, and if one person isn’t feeling safe, their thoughts and opinions do need to be taken into account, especially for something as serious as this,” Clark said.