Like a ceramic bowl on the edge of a table, Kenyon’s craftsmen are teetering, unsure of how to continue practicing their craft without a home. For those who may not have heard, the College has suspended Craft Center operations for the current academic year. This came as a surprise to the Craft Center’s students and instructors alike, with very little information about any plans for the building and only a few weeks’ notice given to students and instructors to pick up any belongings from the building. Suspending the Craft Center disregards the students who have made the Craft Center such a vital part of campus life — especially after a year of COVID-induced shutdowns and during a semester where returning students need a creative outlet most.
Had the situation been announced and explained to the student body prior to the suspension — better yet, had there been any kind of student input at all — the closure would still have been disheartening, but at least there would have been some transparency. If the Craft Center’s pottery instructor hadn’t emailed her students about it in July, we would have returned to a locked building none the wiser. This lack of transparency comes off as dismissive toward an aspect of the Kenyon experience many students hold dear.
Logistically, repurposing the Craft Center is a waste of money. This isn’t the only or even the most important reason to try and reverse its suspension, but it should be considered nonetheless. The building is filled with heavy equipment: The pottery studio alone contains multiple wheels, a 750W kiln, an extruder (on the smaller side, but attached to a wall) and a pugmill, which is a large piece of machinery used for reclaiming used clay. If the College needs a new event space, surely there is another setting on campus that wouldn’t require shutting down an entire two-story barn and hauling out all the the gear for the sake of using one room, where none of the equipment is stored anyway. It’s like taking out (and paying for the storage of!) the seating, orchestra pit, lighting and sound setup of a theater so you can hang out with your friends on the stage.
It doesn’t make sense to rebrand the Craft Center as an event space — it already was one. The Craft Center has hosted workshops and all-campus events in the past. Take the Empty Bowls project, an annual event which taught students how to throw a bowl on a pottery wheel; the bowls were then auctioned off and the proceeds donated to Food for the Hungry of Knox County. Plus, students have plenty of other places to gather for general purposes. The College is diminishing the campus community as a whole by removing a gathering place where so many of Kenyon’s incredibly creative minds can work in comfortable silence and practice their craft.
Molly McLaughlin ’23 is a Classics major from Fairfield, Connecticut. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org