Section: Opinion

Limited K-Card access will help students feel safer in dorms

Despite how the revised K-Card policy was presented in last week’s issue of the Collegian, the policy was not conceived overnight.

Over the past few years, instances of vandalism, sexual misconduct and theft have spurred conversations about reworking the K-Card access system. The new policy will give residents exclusive access to their residence hall during certain hours — no definitive decisions have been made regarding the policy’s hours, although times have been suggested. While it may be a minor inconvenience, the policy will improve students’ sense of safety.

The new K-Card access policy will give students a greater sense of safety by allowing them to take control of their living spaces. The changes to dorm access will reduce instances of students entering residences without a reason to be there, so residents will know their space is secure. As we consider K-Card access, it’s also important to remember that safety threats originate not only from the outside community, but also from the Kenyon community itself: Students commit the majority of sexual misconduct and vandalism cases on campus. The new policy will cut down on incidents of vandalism, which typically come from students who live elsewhere passing through dorms at night.

Of course, this policy won’t prevent students from visiting friends in other dorms. It will only require residents to open the door for their guests and thus take responsibility for them. The slight inconvenience of meeting friends at the door seems like a small price to pay to make students feel safer.

Conversations about K-Card access were prompted by student concerns. The discussions, which began last spring and continued into the summer, included students and staff. Two all-campus meetings were held over the summer to discuss K-Card access policy, as well as the challenges a new policy may present. (Notes documenting those meetings were shared with students, the Student Council President and the Chair of Housing and Dining through email).

The meetings raised many potential problems, including the ones Tobias Baumann ’19 expressed last week in “K-Card Policy may not improve safety,” such as laundry and safe spaces for students crossing campus at night. Although solutions to these issues haven’t been finalized, they have not been overlooked. As the K-Card Access Committee meets throughout the semester, we will work to find solutions to these worries before a new policy is approved.

One such concern is that the revised K-Card policy will worsen the trend of  letting students who’ve forgotten their K-Cards—and others—into dorms. As Baumann notes, this is already a safety issue on campus. However, the norm of opening doors for loiterers is a part of campus culture that students can change. There are alternatives to letting people into dorms, such as calling Campus Safety or offering to find a friend inside to let them in. We can all play an active role in shaping culture and keeping our campus secure.

There is no one solution that will fix safety issues on campus. Still, that shouldn’t be an excuse to not take steps towards improvement. We have a duty, as a College and student body, to make safety a reality for every student. The K-Card access policy will be a part of that solution.

Morgan Harden ’17 is a Spanish Literature and English double major, with a creative writing emphasis from Charlotte, N.C. Contact her at hardenmc@kenyon.edu.

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