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Colburn Hall completes renovations, opens to student body

Colburn Hall completes renovations, opens to student body

Bexley Hall | COURTESY OF KENYON COMMUNICATIONS

On Friday, the recently renovated Colburn Hall officially opened to student organizations with a celebratory ribbon-cutting event. In collaboration with the Office of Social Engagement (OSE), the Kenyon College Outdoors Club (KCOC) hosted Colburn’s first social event with alcohol (SEWA) since December 2021. 

Renovations on Colburn Hall were announced in November 2021 as part of the renovations done on Bexley Hall to convert it into a residence hall. Construction began in January 2022 and was completed at the end of 2023, with a lottery for students to live in Bexley in the following spring semester. As part of these renovations, Colburn Hall also underwent construction with the intention of converting it into an additional space for student organizations to host events.

“Colburn was a student favorite before getting remodeled, and when the Bexley Hall Renovation was finalized, OSE made sure that Colburn would be part of the process,” Director of Student Engagement Caleb Young wrote in an email to the Collegian. “When it finally opened this semester OSE was thrilled.” 

Young said that OSE, in collaboration with several other campus departments, intended for the space to be used solely for student organizations. As part of renovations, Young also emphasized that while the interior has seen modernization, OSE and campus departments prioritized preservation as well. “We tried to be intentional with making the space more modern (in-house sound, lighting, gender neutral bathrooms, water fountains) while also preserving the original intent of the space by making it adaptable to a number of different student-organization event requests,” Young said. 

Kate Ford ’25, president of KCOC, expressed her excitement about being the first student organization to use the space. “Realizing that we’d be the first people to host in the renovated space was really exciting!” Ford wrote in an email to the Collegian. “It was a unique experience in that nobody — [Campus Safety], KCOC, OSE — really knew what to expect from or what the pitfalls of the space would be. We knew the only way to find out more about the space would be to host the party and watch what happened.” 

According to Ford, the all-campus event went very well, largely in part to the new features added in renovation. Ford said that the high ceilings allow for crowds without added claustrophobia, along with better temperature control than other locations on campus. The built-in speaker system also stood out. “It’s definitely a more streamlined location for hosting since the hosting organization doesn’t need to provide a sound system or lighting — and I think it’s a more enjoyable destination for attendees because of the roomier feel and more comfortable temperature,” Ford said. 

Abby Griffith ’24, former president of KCOC, agreed that the event was fantastic. “Colburn is convenient for people who live [on North Campus],” they wrote in an email to the Collegian. “The speakers are great, the lighting is easy, the space is big (and the walls aren’t gross).” 

To officially open Colburn, OSE and Coordinator of Student Engagement Wendy Newell organized a ribbon-cutting ceremony, complete with a denim ribbon to fit with KCOC’s theme of “Canadian Tuxedo.” Around 10:30 p.m., Campus Safety officers paused the event to give a brief welcoming speech before Ford and Griffith cut the ribbon together. 

“I initially expected that Kate would be the one to cut the ribbon since she is the current president, but one of the underclassman leaders suggested that I cut the ribbon with her,” Griffith said. “I was happy to cut the ribbon alongside Kate who was vice president during my presidency and whom I worked closely with to build the outdoors club into a club that I am very proud of!” 

“It was definitely silly but felt like an appropriately fun and goofy moment to kick off Colburn’s life as a student space,” Ford said. 

Though the space was inaugurated through a SEWA, Young expressed his excitement about other potential events that Colburn can serve as a gathering place for. “I think with the renovations the space can be utilized by other organizations more so than in the past,” Young said. “Performance groups, open mic nights, small meal receptions would all be great in Colburn.” 

Both Griffith and Ford added that they are hopeful for the future events that Colburn might host, and are grateful that they were able to introduce the space through a well-attended event. “We were extremely happy to be the first ones hosting because we wanted Colburn to start off on a welcoming and happy note — we’ve been told that KCOC All-Campuses are among the most welcoming, so we were excited to be a place for everyone and to welcome them to a new space too!” Ford said. 

“Outdoor community is so so important,” Griffith added. “Any chance to get an outdoorsy crowd together is a win in my book.” 

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