In previous years, students electing to spend their vacations at Kenyon have sometimes been forced to leave their dorms. Due to Kenyon’s limited options for “break housing,” certain residences were declared off-limits to anyone on campus during break. Now, following a pilot program this March, all housing will be considered “break housing,” eliminating the need for students to find new places to live.
“Every break, having students have to move to another space, I know causes anxiety for them,” Lisa Train, associate director of housing and operations, said. “You feel safe in your space because you know your space. Having to move to another space is not ideal.”
There are also logistical concerns: Students with emotional support animals have had trouble finding housing where those animals are permitted, and students whose friends are unwilling to lend their rooms have often had nowhere convenient to go.
“We had two rooms in Mather,” Train said, describing one arrangement for students lacking break housing. “There was basically four bunk beds in there. You could possibly be living with seven other people for break. And that’s not ideal.”
The primary reason for designated break housing has been security. With so few students on campus, Campus Safety benefited from having them consolidated in select buildings. To address this, the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) has arranged to expand the area patrolled by safety officers. They’ve also begun training students to act as “break workers” — short-term Community Advisors (CAs) who fulfill limited CA duties.
“Students — especially international students who do not go home — were able to have a job for a couple weeks over break,” Train said. “They’re not doing the typical CA things, [such as] roommate mediation; they’re just the eyes and ears to report if there’s problems they’re seeing in the residence halls.”
Increasing the number of open residences creates other challenges. Some buildings don’t feature kitchens, which makes it difficult for students to cook food, given that Peirce Dining Hall closes during breaks.
To solve this problem, ResLife is opening up the kitchens in certain buildings to students living elsewhere. The kitchens in Bushnell and Manning will be open to students living nearby, as will the facilities in the Myer Art Center (commonly known as the “Art Barn”).
So far, ResLife has received positive feedback regarding the changes. Train is unsurprised. “I think students were happy that they weren’t having to scramble to try to talk friends into letting them stay in their rooms,” she said.