Opinion: Kent is more than just a college town

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber is a sophomore English major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

My hometown of Perrysburg is about a 20-minute drive from Bowling Green State University.

When I had to make the nail-biting decision of where to go to college as a high school senior, I was attracted to the livelihood of Bowling Green as a town, but I decided that Kent State was the right choice for me.

While I love the university, the city of Kent has left me feeling a little, well, unsatisfied. There’s no doubt there is a strong sense of culture in Kent, but I feel that there is a sharp division that sets Kent apart from Kent State students.

That could be a result of students being unwilling to explore Kent, or a result of the city not advertising its advantages effectively.

If you walk down Main or Water Street on any given weekday, it looks deserted. Even on the weekends, most of the people enjoying the downtown scene are 21 or older. It seems that downtown Kent is considered a waste of time to many people because they simply don’t know what it has to offer.

Why? Because instead of getting our coffee at Scribbles or Tree City Coffee, we go to Starbucks. Instead of seeing what Taco Tontos or Guaca-Moles has to offer, we eat at Chipotle.

Instead of checking out Last Exit Books for class-required books at lower prices, we allow ourselves to be robbed at the University Bookstore.

We can’t expect a town with a significant population of college students to have a lively downtown scene if we don’t support its local businesses. Kent has definitely made progress in the last year by opening businesses that appeal to college students, especially with the construction of Acorn Alley II.

In addition to the local businesses, there are a tons of events and festivals throughout the year that the city sponsors, including the Haymaker Farmers’ Market every Saturday from May through October, and the “Who’s Your Mama?” environmental festival celebrated in Kent annually on Earth Day.

If those don’t interest you, there’s also the Kent State Folk Festival held every September and the Kent Blues Festival hosted by the Kent Stage.

Too often I see students who only leave campus to go home on the weekends, depriving themselves of the full college experience, including off-campus events. I encourage students to wander off campus every now and then and see what Kent has to offer, not just what Kent State has to offer.