It’s no secret that parking on campus can be hard to come by. We’ve all heard the trope that Kenyon is a walking campus, but because we are located in such a rural setting, Village businesses are often not capable of sufficiently supplying our community with essentials and other services due to COVID-19, staffing shortages and an increased campus population. Students must be able to get their essentials after business hours, but the frigid temperatures of the Midwest have made walking over 20 minutes to student lots almost unbearable and even dangerous for some. We call on the College to make parking more accessible for students.
Particularly under current weather conditions, having a car to drive into the Village for essentials can be extremely convenient and increase accessibility around campus and in the community. Students need access to their cars to drive to nearby doctor’s appointments, pick up prescriptions, food and various other supplies. While we do not blame Gambier businesses for their limited hours, the school needs to be aware how difficult it is to procure necessary supplies, including food and first aid, especially late at night.
Students need to be able to access their vehicles in a reasonable manner. However, with the restrictions on parking in the Village, as well as staff lots, leaving campus during the school week becomes extremely difficult. Many Village parking spots and staff lots sit almost empty the whole day. Why shouldn’t students be allowed to park in these areas when they are underutilized?
Kenyon’s current student parking infrastructure and policies do not support the number of students with cars. The Office of Campus Safety even noted in a parking registration email from July 6, 2021 that parking would be “extremely limited” this year due to increased enrollment, and that it was likely they would “run out of available student spaces.”
In 2018, the South 1, Norton and Lewis lots were converted into faculty and staff lots, reducing the amount of student parking. With an increasing student body population, the College should consider making these lots available to students during the day, especially with the new parking garage expected to open soon.
After reducing the number of parking spaces even further in closing Bexley’s lots to make its renovations possible, Kenyon introduced a new pilot program aimed at making the parking system more flexible — allowing select students to park in several faculty lots from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. But this program further complicates student parking and falls tremendously short of addressing parking problems. While leaving their cars nearer to apartments and dormitories saves students late night walks up the hill from the south lots, it is a mere postponement of walking across campus and requires students to wake up sometime around 5 a.m., before the sun is even up. Moreover, some students have been kicked out of empty lots to account for those enrolled in the pilot program.
Rebuttals to demands for increased student parking often cite the fear of losing the College’s status as a walking campus. But in that case, as Jas Spearman ’18 pointed out in a 2018 opinion for the Collegian, “Why does any student have convenient parking, like those in the Acland Apartments, Morgan Apartments or the select few seniors who were able to win the parking lottery?”
Kenyon must come up with a better solution to provide students with greater parking accessibility, such as building more parking spaces in North campus, where there are places to do so. These could include paving over the abandoned tennis courts in the New Apartments, or creating another lot between Watson and Norton Residence Halls.
With an increased student population comes a desperate need for structural change, as we talked about in our critique of the limited dining options. It is time for the College to recognize the urgency of these changes, and create more parking spaces for students.
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.