Section: Opinion

Kenyon should work to safeguard, not stifle, student life

Kenyon College has never been synonymous with raucous partying, but students still need avenues to unwind, socialize and make lasting college memories. The recent enforcement of occupancy limits at the North Campus Apartments (NCAs) presents a stark contrast to last year’s leniency. While safety is paramount, there must be a balance between ensuring students’ well-being and preserving traditional avenues of student interaction and camaraderie. As we navigate this tension, it is crucial we also reflect on the experiences of other institutions to avoid the pitfalls of overregulation.

The shift from the previous year’s tolerant attitude at NCAs to the strict 20-person occupancy limit this year prompts more questions than it answers. Safety, without a doubt, is of the highest importance. Ensuring adherence to fire codes and prioritizing student well-being is a responsibility any institution must take seriously. However, the extent of enforcement goes beyond just fire alarms and safety concerns. There seems to be an underlying effort by the administration to not only regulate but potentially diminish the core of student social life. 

It’s worth looking at institutions with a similar makeup and stature as a benchmark, like Bowdoin College, which has implemented notably strict party regulations. With extensive rules concerning event hosting, registration and even specific hours during which parties are allowed, Bowdoin’s system appears meticulous to the point of overregulation. While it is imperative to ensure student safety, such exhaustive micromanagement is not the direction Kenyon should lean toward. While crafted for safety, such stringent measures risk quelling spontaneity and pushing students toward unsanctioned, perhaps riskier, gathering spots. Kenyon should strive for safety without compromising the trust and autonomy integral to our student experience.

Another crucial aspect to consider is the legitimacy of rules enforced without clear explanation. Understanding the ‘why’ can drive compliance with the ‘what.’ Without adequate communication from the administration about the rationale behind these new party regulations, skepticism and resistance from the student body are natural outcomes. The administration should prioritize clarity and open dialogue: A simple Q&A session or a detailed memo explaining rationale would be helpful in bridging this gap. Though Kenyon has communicated further about these policies, more communication is necessary if transparency is to be at the forefront. 

While some form of regulation is undeniably essential for the well-being of everyone involved in college parties, the current scenario is overly restrictive. There is a vast gap between more intimate gatherings and large, impersonal, all-campus events such as those held in Old Kenyon. Students deserve options beyond these two extremes. These school-approved events, while offering a regulated environment, should not be students’ only social option. It is crucial to carve out a space that balances freedom and safety, where students can enjoy the richness of a college life without feeling overshadowed by stringent rules or the imminent threat of party disruptions. 

Kenyon is not a daycare. It’s an institution where young adults evolve, not just through academics but also from lived experience, setbacks and personal development. Overregulating student life under the guise of safety, especially without clear communication, risks creating an environment where students feel patronized rather than empowered. As Kenyon shapes its policies on student gatherings, it must remember that while safety is non-negotiable, it should not suffocate the spontaneity and camaraderie that defines much of the college experience.

Dylan Sibbitt ’26 is the opinions editor at the Collegian. He is a political science major from San Francisco. He can be reached at sibbitt1@kenyon.edu.

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