Over the summer, the Office of Residential Life announced that the College would be renting the Pines of Apple Valley, a set of nearby condominiums. These residential buildings represent Kenyon’s only living space outside of Gambier and are occupied by 36 students and a number of faculty.
Director of Residential Life Jillian Yoder explained that the decision to rent the Pines came down to a number of factors relating to the robust size of the student population. The surplus is attributed to the overenrolled first-year class and the presence of students who returned to campus after having deferred during the pandemic. In addition, she expressed that the apartment-style housing would help fulfill the desire for such residences, indicated in last year’s housing survey.
“[The Pines] checked a lot of the boxes that we needed when we were looking for additional housing,” Yoder explained. “We thought it would be a better idea than continually making doubles into triples and singles into doubles since we can’t do that everywhere.”
Students who reside at the Pines spoke enthusiastically about the amenities, citing the convenience of the dishwasher and full kitchen. One student, Katie Mazzolini ’23, wrote in a message to the Collegian that the Pines provided a “nice off-campus alternative.”
Unlike standard residence halls, the Pines do not have a Community Advisor (CA) or a Graduate Advisor (GA). Instead, they are overseen by Coordinator of Housing and Office Operations Beth Pae, who serves as the independent housing coordinator.
“I live at the Pines on behalf of the College,” Pae said. “My goal is to act as a liaison between the Pines and the students and faculty that live there.”
Still, students have raised concerns about living at the Pines. One major area of concern surrounding the Pines was the commute, as the apartments are approximately 7 miles — or a 15-minute drive — from campus. However, Pae expressed confidence that since most residents at the Pines have cars and Knox Area Transit (KAT) provides a shuttle to and from campus, transportation will not be an issue.
Despite Pae’s confidence, some students are worried that transportation to and from the Pines is a bigger issue than Pae believes. “The KAT is super unreliable,” Mazzolini wrote. “It stops at 10:30 every night, which makes me nervous about people possibly driving under the influence.”
Nearby residents have expressed some concerns regarding the College’s decision, with a number of social media users left dissatisfied after learning that the College was able to book the entire Pines property.
“@KenyonCollege, any comment on how you are forcing people to cancel their vacations at @AppleValleyGolf so you can rent out all the cabins at a higher rate?” one Twitter user wrote in a since-deleted tweet. The user could not be reached for comment when pressed for further details.
Some people who had reservations at the Pines for later in the semester did lose their reservations when Kenyon booked the site. Denise Jantzen, P ’23 had booked a Pine apartment for Family Weekend in October, but is now staying 30 minutes away. “I do hope that the school catches up student housing to their enrollment otherwise it won’t be feasible for parents to visit kids on campus,” she wrote in a message to the Collegian.
The situation surrounding the Pines marks a new development in Kenyon’s attempt to manage the housing situation amid pressures brought on by the pandemic and larger class sizes. According to Yoder, the College expects the Pines to be a temporary housing solution that will help deal with the unique on-campus circumstances during the 2021-22 school year.