Quality is Key for Housing Options
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
The College’s commendable equal-opportunity policy states: “[Kenyon] does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other College-administered programs.” Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Kenyon’s campus housing policy.
When construction on all 21 North Campus Apartments (NCAs) is complete at the end of this year, the student body will effectively be divided into two groups: those who can afford housing no matter the cost, and those who can’t. Housing at Kenyon is priced according to residence type: a double in a dormitory costs $4,540, while a double in an apartment costs $5,540. At most, a need-based financial aid package covers the annual cost of a dorm double. That means every upperclassman on need-based financial aid must pay at least $1,000 out of pocket to live in an apartment.
It is easy, maybe too easy, to think of the differences in housing costs as nominal. But the difference in cost between living in a double in Leonard and a single in a North Campus Apartment is more than $3,100 annually.
The College will face a dilemma if it chooses to address this issue. Equalizing housing costs by averaging apartment and dormitory prices and charging every student the same fee would disadvantage underclassmen, who almost always live in dorms, not apartments. But if the College wants to be truly accommodating, it must provide high-quality housing options to everyone, not just those who can afford the extra $3,000.
The price tag of the NCAs exceeds $20 million. While plans are in the works to renovate North Campus’s residence halls, they took a backseat to the NCA construction, and with the College struggling to close budget gaps, it seems likely those renovations will have to wait. Does it really make sense to spend $20 million on housing that some students on our campus can’t afford?
In the absence of a pricing equalizer, however, the solution to the problem of housing disparity comes down to the state of our residence halls. Students who cannot afford apartments deserve the same quality in their housing options that others have in the NCAs. We need doubles and triples on the South Quad that are on par with the North Campus Apartments, or we cannot in good faith live up to our promise to provide equal opportunities to every Kenyon student.