On April 21, Gambier Mayor Kachen Kimmell visited campus to speak to Student Council about the Village’s strategic plan. By the end of the meeting, Student Council President-elect Delaney Barker ’20 had been appointed to a steering committee to help guide the plan.
“Honestly, I can’t think of anyone who would be better for the job,” George Costanzo ’19, Student Council President, said. “This would be one of the most important jobs that I think a Student Council representative has had since I’ve been here.”
Kimmell has begun the process of creating a steering committee consisting of herself, Village Administrator Ralph “RC” Wise, Kenyon’s Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman, a Kenyon student, and representatives from the Village Council, the Planning and Zoning Commission and from the College township trustees.
With the help of the Knox Area Development Foundation, each of the four townships in Knox County will have the opportunity to create a development plan.
Kenyon College makes up a large portion of the Village of Gambier. According to Kimmell, two-thirds of the Gambier population is made up of students and two-thirds of the land is College property. Because of this, Kimmell considers student participation extremely important.
“I’m in favor of students coming forward and having their voices heard,” Kimmell said during the meeting. “My feeling is that, even though this strategic plan will outlive whoever might work on it or be around right now, there’s always a student voice in this town.”
After a brief discussion, Costanzo suggested the Student Council move to allow him to appoint Barker to the steering committee. Though no one openly disagreed, some did raise concerns about the precedent set by giving the president sole power to appoint committee members.
Ultimately, however, it was decided that this would be a special circumstance and the council moved to vote, allowing Costanzo to appoint Barker.
Next year Barker will attend steering committee meetings in order to aid with what Kimmell described as “urban planning” and lend a student voice to the steering committee.
“I think it’s a logical extension to the kind of work that I did with the Divided Community Project,” Barker said. “We talked a lot about how there’s a disconnect between the College campus and the rest of Gambier.”
In March, Barker joined a group of Kenyon faculty and administrators at the Divided Community Project’s Academy Initiative in Chicago, Ill., where they focused on facilitating dialogues between diverse groups.
Along with Barker’s participation in the steering committee, students will also have the opportunity to have their voices heard at public meetings throughout the year and through a soon-to-be-completed website where they can read more about the plan as it takes shape and provide their opinions through a survey.