The College’s 2021-2025 strategic plan is set to increase class sizes about 15% over the next 10 years. Though this time frame may provide adequate time to improve College infrastructure, including the creation of new residence halls and growing the faculty, Kenyon is already running into significant problems while operating over-capacity.
Kenyon was not designed to be a larger school. It accepted over 560 first years this year — a record high. Some first-year students do not have P.O. boxes, Peirce is overcrowded and many students are living off-campus or are packed into small triples. It’s even difficult to find space in Chalmers Library, which was intended to dramatically increase the number of study spaces on campus. By expanding in size, we also sacrifice the tight-knit community that Kenyon was originally intended to be.
If Kenyon is projected to grow over the next decade, the College must do better in the current moment to provide the proper infrastructure to handle larger classes. In doing so, the unique nature of our school, highlighted by a single dining hall system, will be lost, but Kenyon will be better prepared to meet student and community food needs. Alternative dining options are an absolute necessity if the College is insistent on a higher yield.
Kenyon cannot have it both ways. The College appears to want to preserve the sense of community that Peirce provides; however, they are putting that dynamic at risk by continuing to increase class sizes. The crowds are unsustainable, potentially encouraging unhealthy eating habits as students desperately attempt to avoid long lines. Despite the AVI staff claiming this year’s overenrollment hasn’t had a significant impact on Peirce operations in terms of food preparation, anyone who visits the servery will tell you otherwise. Typical lines in Peirce see students waiting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, while busy periods lead to lines extending outside the servery and through Peirce atrium. Although AVI workers are clearly trying their best to meet student needs, food often runs out at certain stations, even when options are being rationed.
The addition of dining options is not a far-off fantasy. The College used to provide various alternatives to Peirce — Gund Commons once served as a second dining hall, while Peirce Pub offered late-night dining options for students on the go. With the precedent set, it’s time to reimplement these options and make life easier for students.
The details of Kenyon’s new strategic plan make one thing clear: The administration has decided to prioritize expanding class sizes over maintaining our small, intentional community, in which professors and students live close to campus and greet their friends in a single dining hall.
Why risk diminishing the qualities that make Kenyon, Kenyon?
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Jordy Fee-Platt ’22 and Linnea Mumma ’22, managing editor Amanda Pyne ’22 and executive director Joe Wint ’22. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.