On July 27, the West Quad Parking Garage opened for faculty, staff and visitor use. With over 261 spaces, the garage, which is attached to Chalmers Library and Lowell House, was designed to “ease parking and traffic congestion in the Village” while offering Kenyon employees more centralized parking on campus. Currently, Kenyon is considering opening the garage to students on weekends based on the garage’s fall usage — there should be no debate, though: The College must allow students to use the empty parking spaces in the garage, or make spaces available in current faculty and staff lots.
Constructing a new garage and not making any additional spots anywhere on campus available for students demonstrates a disregard on the part of the College for the parking problems facing students. With Kenyon’s growing class sizes, there is an acute shortage of student parking on campus. This year, some students desiring to have a car on campus were unable to bring one simply because there were no more available parking permits. Not only is this a disappointment for students who might have assumed they would be able to have a car (based on the fact that Kenyon allows students to have one on campus from their first year), it is a problem the College must solve. Given Kenyon’s rural location and the limited public transportation, students may need a car if, for example, they frequently need to travel off campus for medical appointments. Or, driving may be the best way for students to travel to campus from their homes.
A recent Village ordinance limiting residential lots to a three-car maximum has further exacerbated the parking crunch. The properties owned by the Beta Theta Pi, Delta Tau Delta and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternities allowed for many of their members to have easily accessible parking. Due to this new ordinance, much of this capacity has gone to waste. Ganter-Price Hall, which holds a moderate capacity for parking traditionally reserved for members of Alpha Delta Phi, is now completely off-limits to parking. The Gambier Village Council should have worked with the Kenyon administration to find a compromise that appeases Gambier residents’ concerns while not increasing the parking deficit.The need for more student parking has been argued time and time again by our predecessors, as parking and parking accessibility have been contentious topics of discussion for some years now. And yet, a lack of student parking remains a consistent problem. Part of the College’s appeal is that it is a rural, walking community upon a Hill — that much is true. However, this appeal is diminished when its own students cannot feasibly leave the Hill at will, provided that they aren’t guaranteed the ability to have a vehicle on campus. With a perpetually half-empty garage serving as nothing more than a reminder of this fact at the moment, it would behoove the College to open up more parking to its students — both in the garage and elsewhere.