Section: News

Botched student experiment leads to brief Market closure

On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 26, students called the Office of Campus Safety about fumes coming from the apartments located above the Village Market.  The students involved were trying to make a storm glass barometer, an instrument used to predict the weather, according to Bob Hooper, director of Campus Safety.

The Market had to close for a few hours, but did not face any other repercussions. Workers and customers were instructed to leave and not return until further notice. “Even intelligent people do not-so-smart things. I was once there myself,” Tim Newton, the manager of the Market, said. “I am just glad no one got hurt.”

After the students called Campus Safety regarding the chemicals, several firefighters investigated the first year quad area and the strip of Middle Path in front of the Market. Kenyon College Alert sent out an email  and a text message immediately after, cautioning recipients about potential exposure to hazardous materials and to stay away from the Market and residences.

The substances the students used were accompanied by a strong odor, according to Hooper. The odorous substance was camphor.

Campus Safety also reached out to the local hazardous material teams and received help from the chemistry department. “Obviously we all wanted to take the proper precautions,” Hooper said. “We had local hazardous material teams talk through with them [the firefighters],” he said.

Michelle Reed ’19 lives in the apartments above the Market and thought Safety’s reaction was extreme. “The only thing I will say is that Campus Safety’s response was greater than necessary because they did not want to take any chances,” Reed wrote in an email to the Collegian. “The apartment would have been fine had we just let it air out for a few hours, but our windows only open about 3-4 inches, so we could not get enough fresh air and decided to call Campus Safety.”

Reed said she did not feel comfortable sharing information about the specific incident because it might negatively affect the students involved.

Around 9 p.m. an all-clear email was issued by a Kenyon College Alert, and the chemicals were safely removed without any major damage.

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