At Kenyon, we hear a lot about ‘tradition.’ Some traditions change with the times, as they should, especially due to issues of accessibility and inclusion. However, there is one tradition that has disappeared in recent years that we would like to bring back: no phones on Middle Path.
Whether you are rushing to a class or just heading home after a night out, those who are able have to trek across Middle Path many times a day. As the central vein of our campus, this one path gets you and every other Kenyonite to most of the places where you need to be.
Students, faculty and community members alike greet one another while strolling the almost mile-long path. They may exchange pleasantries, a simple smile and wave or even strike up a full conversation. This community feeling that Middle Path creates is an aspect of Kenyon that truly makes us unique.
In recent years, Kenyon has seems to have forgotten the importance of these little interactions and how big of an impact they have on those strolling the path. We are perpetually distracted by our phone conversations or by the music blasting in our ears that we neglect the kinds of exchanges that make this place so special.
This has not always been the case. Until the dawn of the iPhone, Middle Path used to exist as an exception to an increasingly distracted world. In September 2008, the Columbus Dispatch released an article entitled “At Kenyon College, ‘no-cell phone zone’ a proud tradition.”
Even that article, written two months after the release of Apple’s iPhone 3G, showed the signs of Middle Path culture deteriorating. “The culture has changed a lot … the incoming classes each year get more dependent on cell phones,” Caroline Rotenberg ’10 said to the Dispatch.
While cell phones may connect us in many ways, they can also isolate us. We see this effect in full force when walking down Middle Path at the busiest time of day without having a single meaningful interaction.
We encourage students, faculty and community members alike to try, just for a day, to look up from their cell phones. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see a friend. Maybe you’ll make a new one. Just give it a try.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Becca Foley ’20 and Adam Schwager ’20, and executive director Tommy Johnson ’20. You can contact them at foley1@kenyon. edu, firstname.lastname@example.org and johnson1@ kenyon.edu, respectively.