Specialty housing for the 2024-25 academic year will standardize the occupancy limit for all student organizations and Greek life, one of several changes intended to increase equity among organizations that have specialty housing. Under the fall 2023 Specialty Housing Statute, the Archon Society (Archons), Beta Theta Pi (Betas) and Alpha Delta Phi (ADs) stand to lose approximately 20 to 36% of their current housing, according to an email shared with the Collegian by AD President Guthrie Richardson ’25 in January. The statute will affect roughly 250 students currently in specialty housing across campus.
According to Dean of Students Brian Janssen, specialty housing was not standardized in past years, leading to confusion among student organizations as to who could occupy particular spaces on campus. “The primary changes to specialty housing arose from student confusion surrounding definitions, criteria, the process for application, along with inequities within allocations,” Janssen wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Director of Residential Life Leah Reuber corroborated these issues, emphasizing the previous difficulty in differentiating between various forms of specialty housing. “It wasn’t always clear where division, program and theme housing overlapped and where they didn’t,” Reuber wrote in an email to the Collegian. “This made it difficult for our office and student organizations to know what was, or could be, available, and how to go about accessing this privilege for their group.”
The changes to specialty housing seek to address some of the confusion by standardizing the spaces allocated for organizations, clarifying the subcategories of specialty housing and changing the eligibility timeline per organization. According to Janssen, Greek organizations will receive 16 beds each. The definition of specialty housing has also been split into three categories: student organization housing, Greek life housing and affinity group/program housing. Affinity group and program housing encompasses residential spaces such as Unity House, Snowden Multicultural Center and Crozier Center for Women, while student organization housing encompasses any organizations or clubs that are accepted for specialty housing. The majority of Greek life housing is based on South Campus in Old Kenyon, Leonard and Hanna Halls. The final change now allows for a two-year eligibility period for student organizations who wish to obtain specialty housing, instead of the previous five-year timeline.
The Specialty Housing Board — composed of seven students representing various student organizations, including one Greek-life representative — implemented these changes through the fall 2023 Specialty Housing Statute.
Reuber emphasized that the primary motivation behind the updated housing statute is equity. “These changes provide housing privileges more equally to current and interest[ed] groups,” she said. “This raises the bar around responsibility, accountability and access for all students.”
The updated guidelines for specialty housing will benefit organizations that previously had fewer allocated spaces. However, the standardization also results in some organizations losing partial housing, especially Greek organizations, which comprise approximately 58% of all students currently in specialty housing.
In an email addressed to Vice President of Student Affairs Celestino Limas, and sent to both the Office of the President and the Collegian, the collective Greek organizations expressed their dissatisfaction with the updated housing statute. The email was signed by Richardson and co-signed by the presidents of all nine other Greek organizations as well as the president of Greek Council.
“We were greatly distressed at hearing this news, and sought insight from both the administration and our concerned alumni,” the email read. “We have not found a mode of recourse to this issue through [the Office of] Residential Life, nor is there a means for the concerned parties to express a voice in this specialty housing body.”
Within the email, Richardson and the other Greek organization presidents allege that their voices lack representation in the Specialty Housing Board, and express dissatisfaction over the impact that decreased specialty housing will have on group tradition and community among Greek organizations.
“It is understandable that representation from every single interested party is not the most feasible,” the email said. “Yet, choosing to not interface with affected communities is not in the spirit of the Kenyon community, because it denies our agency over our collective organizational histories, traditions and new member integrations.”
The email ended by asking Limas for assistance in communicating Greek organizations’ concerns to other administrators at Kenyon, and in resolving the issues brought up throughout. In an interview with the Collegian, Limas said of the decision, “I’m a bit unfamiliar with it.”
“The changes were made with the input of student leaders to Residential Life and it is always a good thing when students have voice in that process,” Kornfeld wrote in an email to the Collegian.
The Archons declined to comment, and the ADs and Betas did not respond to additional requests for comment.
Despite concerns from Greek organizations, both Reuber and Janssen emphasized that student reception has been positive. “As with any change there will be some adjustments that need to be made but overall student feedback has been positive,” Janssen said.
“While there are a couple of groups that may end up with fewer allocated spaces for next year, there are a higher number of groups who will gain spaces,” Janssen said. “As it pertains to Greek life in particular, hopefully the new allocation standards will create more equity between organizations when it comes to specialty housing.”
Both Reuber and Janssen expressed optimism about how these changes will impact student life on campus and emphasized that student reception has been largely positive so far. “[T]hese changes add a voice for students who do not live, or are not interested, in specialty housing,” Reuber said. “Group membership doesn’t necessarily exclude students from spaces on campus.”