It may only be March, but the end of the 2018-2019 school year is rapidly approaching. With the end of the academic year in sight, emails from Housing are reminding returning students to make a big decision this week: to select housing for the upcoming academic year. With many options on campus, it can be difficult for an uninformed student to make a decision. When making this choice, there is one housing facility that students shouldn’t overlook: Kaneko Commons.
Kaneko Commons is a residence located on the corner of Mill St. SE and the railroad tracks. Kaneko is the largest and most populated residence on the Willamette campus, with a capacity of 355 students, according to WU’s website. The building consists of three residential wings as well as a cafeteria and atrium, and is home to the Tokyo International University of America.
Kaneko is also the newest residence on campus; the A Wing was built in 1989 and the B and C Wings were built in 2006, according to Oregon Encyclopedia. Although the residence is considered to be on campus, the physical location is off the main part of campus, so accessing the complex requires taking a skybridge or crossing the street and railroad tracks.
Due to its location, many students may not be familiar with all of the amenities Kaneko provides. However, once one crosses the bridge, it becomes obvious to many that living in Kaneko is full of benefits that make it worth the walk.
Kaneko provides amenities no other residence on campus does. These include air conditioning, elevators, balconies, washers and dryers on the second, third and fourth floors, a pool, a firepit, an atrium, an auditorium, two computer labs, classrooms and a cafeteria.
The rooms themselves in Kaneko are high quality for dormitory standards. The rooms in A Wing include plenty of storage space and shelving, as well as a balcony. B and C Wings don’t have balconies, but are much newer. All rooms in Kaneko have air conditioning, which can be a lifesaver during the hotter months of the academic year. Kaneko is also a well-insulated dorm; rooms are always a comfortable temperature, and not much outside noise can be heard.
According to Kaneko RA Sydney Wilson (‘19), the most compelling reasons to live in Kaneko are the air conditioning, and the cafeteria that provides an alternative to Goudy. Wilson also said she admires Kaneko’s community, as Kaneko’s communal spaces encourage interaction among students.
However, many students may be concerned that Kaneko’s location will socially disconnect them from the rest of campus. Wilson explained that is not necessarily the case, although she does recognize that Kaneko has an off-campus feel.
“I feel that a lot of people who move off campus are really worried [about] being disconnected,” Wilson said. “But here, you still have access to so many people going to Willamette, but you are able to have your own space that feels like it’s off campus.”
There are also benefits that come with Kaneko’s distance from the rest of campus. For example, the isolation, along with the community spaces, allows for a strong sense of community to form. Kaneko’s design allows individuals to easily form study groups in the atrium or socialize by the pool on warm days. Residents in A Wing also share a balcony with their neighbor, which encourages more interactions. Since Tokyo International University of America is also located within Kaneko, residents will also frequently interact with American Studies Program (ASP) students.
Although Kaneko is off the main part of campus, the complex is very safe. Kaneko is located in a quaint and quiet neighborhood near an elementary school. Kaneko also has a fence that spans the perimeter of its campus. Even though the atrium is open to the public during the day, no individual can enter the building’s residence halls without a key. Willamette Watch officers frequent the bridge at night, and security cameras are also located on the bridge, making individuals feel more safe walking from campus to Kaneko.
Students may also be concerned about the long walk to Kaneko. However, the walk is not as bad as one might expect, as it only takes approximately four minutes to walk from the chicken fountain to Kaneko, and an additional two to four to walk to an academic building. If a student makes four round trips to Kaneko in one day, that can add up to nearly an hour of walking a day.
Although that much walking may seem like a lot, many studies have shown that walking an extra hour a day has many health benefits. According to LiveStrong, walking an hour a day will help you lose weight, prevent disease, improve bone and muscle strength and relieve stress. A person who weighs 155 pounds will also lose anywhere from 211-267 calories from walking an extra hour a day.
The benefits of Kaneko far outweigh the drawbacks, because it has a strong sense of community and offers amenities that don’t exist in other college residence halls. Students easily get used to the longer walk, and it eventually becomes no big deal. As Wilson noted, living in Kaneko is a different experience than living in first-year residence halls, because it only houses upperclassman. If you want to live in the Kaneko apartments next year, Wilson suggests that you act fast. Apartments are popular among students and tend to fill up quickly.