Our View: Town and Ow, not Town and Gown

DKS Editors

In July, Kent City Council began the process of eminent domain on several houses on College Street. Eminent domain is the “right of the government to take private property for public use,” according to Webster’s Dictionary. For Kent, that public use is the proposed construction of a new safety complex for Kent Police and the fire department.

In acquiring and demolishing the houses, many of which are currently used for student housing, the City of Kent is taking 15 properties off of the market. That would be 15 fewer places for Kent State students to live. Despite the obvious tradeoff for the creation of new facilities for law enforcement and public safety officials, students will only see the loss of potential housing, which we think is understandable.

Students face many hard decisions when they decide to attend college. Kent State students who live in off-campus housing have limited choices and limited opportunities to find a place to live each semester. And it’s not just students coming from different states in the U.S. Increasingly, we’ve heard more and more about international students being hard-pressed to find affordable housing options near campus. If Kent State wants to become more inclusive and accepting of international and cultural diversity, easing the transition to Kent with easily acquired housing options is a simple way to show open arms.

With both campus enrollment and tuition steadily increasing, Kent State students have enough on their plates besides dealing with where they’ll sleep at night. If the City of Kent wants to continue building the positive relationship between the university campus and downtown, demolishing student housing is not the way to do it. What began with the downtown revitalization and continued to campus along the Esplanade might end with the first bulldozer on College Street.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the The Kent Stater editorial board.