The ice has descended. And if you had the absolute displeasure of walking through the Gates of Hell over the weekend, you experienced the equivalent of a perfectly Zamboni’d ice rink instead of the familiar Middle Path gravel. I was slowly shuffling north through the Gates of Hell one evening, and heard a sickening crack behind me. The familiar sound of someone crashing to the icy ground resonates all too well, and I knew how he would be feeling that in the morning.
The effects of this frozen farce even reach (literally) close to home for me. Just downstairs in lower Lewis, CA Sarah Adrianowycz ’16 is rocking a pretty fierce looking black eye, amassed from a night walking home on the treacherous ice. When prompted to speak on her injury, she very sternly told me, “The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.” People have been asking her if there’s anyone they need to beat up for her. Amusing, especially when you imagine some sort of buff upperclassman trying to punch the ice on Middle Path.
In asking other people, I discovered that pretty much everyone knew at least one or two people who had fallen and sustained some sort of minor injury. Spanning from bruises to twisted ankles to wooziness-inducing bumps on the head, the injuries were all fairly minor but still there and a stark reality to the slapstick comedic value we derive from watching people slip and tumble around campus.
There was a scathing Kenyon Confession yesterday that really rang true for me.
Now, to be fair, this person was a little heated. Telling alumni to “shove their tradition” is very disrespectful, especially since alumni really do keep this school going. Otherwise, I wholeheartedly agree. It is irresponsible and disrespectful to keep Middle Path as dangerous as it is. If you were the head of a car manufacturer in this day and age, and the only memories you had when you were a little kid were of riding in a car without seat belts or airbags, would you put the safety of others at risk just to continue to indulge in your dangerous nostalgic bliss?
It may be fun and games to joke about falling on icy Middle Path, but let’s be honest with ourselves: getting injured is not fun. Period. We shouldn’t romanticize dangerous situations. Minor injures at this point can escalate to serious injuries. Not everyone who walks on Middle Path is a college student, either. We may be young enough to sustain minor injuries from a fall like that, but older and elderly professors, visitors, family, and alumni are in much more danger. Their injuries could be much, much worse. As with all dangerous issues, it should not take a serious injury or grave consequence for action to be taken. It should be stopped before it gets to that point.
Gravel-covered Middle Path is already fairly inaccessible on its own for those with physical disabilities, and with the ice it is even worse. On the aforementioned Kenyon Confession, some peoples’ reaction was to buy better shoes or shoe attachments that facilitate walking on ice. To this, I can only emphasize the extremely eloquent words provided by Lin Miao ’17.
As an able-bodied member of the student population, I cannot speak to this with the credibility of someone who has experienced it. To me, however, the reality of it is pretty clear. You can’t deny that keeping Middle Path dangerous and inaccessible is ableist and wrong.
I’m sorry, but I won’t joke with you about falling on Middle Path. I won’t laugh at your stories or check “Falling on Middle Path in the Winter” off of my Kenyon Bucket List, because it’s not funny and it’s not on there.