Earlier this week, ASCMC Senate spent most of its session debating several proposals regarding residential life. After a brief update on each of the 5Cs, club funding issues, and on-campus improvements such as environmental affairs and providing food for visitors to Roberts Pavilion, ASCMC Vice President Felipe Afanador ‘18 directed everyone’s attention to the newly-proposed reforms.
The first proposal was to end room retention as a whole. This would free the rooms from people having an unfair advantage, as well as encourage meeting new people. While there wasn’t a definite statistic on how many people retained their rooms last year, it has been common for large cohorts of students to retain their rooms in North Quad. Also, because people tend to “retain the room rather than the person,” some contended that many students end up keeping roommates they may not have a completely healthy relationship with. Ending retention is a must if the next proposal, block housing, is to be followed through.
The second proposal brought the most controversy. Block housing would consist of 5-6 people, with people having to draw into it. A block would take up half a floor in South quad, and would encourage students to form communities with friends. The first objection was with respect to loud groups in South Quad. To rebut this point, some responded that quieter groups would have the same chance to take advantage of the policy, as well.
Another objection came up on the unfair advantage of having a certain group of people taking over a floor. However, block housing would encourage upper and underclassmen to spread out, and it would be difficult for a group to take over the whole floor. For example, currently, it is difficult for sophomores to move into Crown, because many seniors take the rooms first and the minimum 20% requirement of freshman residents further limits available rooms. Block housing could provide opportunity for a more even distribution.
The number of people for block housing was also a central question. Although one block per floor would indicate half the people in South Quad, that is not the case for Mid Quad dorms, because there are so more available rooms per floor. However, since this policy is to be marketed to the entire school, some argued that the policy should be standardized and simple.
In response to the question on how block housing would be a solution to distributing the North Quad “culture,” respondents answered that many people would be attracted to the idea of living with friends. On a recent survey, according to Dormitory Affairs Chair Daniel Ludlam ‘18, 63% of people answered that living with friends was the number one reason they liked North Quad.
President Pro Tempore Thomas Schalke ‘18 raised the point that recreating the North Quad culture in other dorms would dilute the culture of other dorms. Without block housing, students will be mixed with people who aren’t their best friends, and it would force people to “expand” themselves and deal with people who don’t fit perfectly, which would be a reflection of the real world. In response, it was reemphasized that block housing would help mix class years together. Also, the number of “rowdy people” would stay the same, and would still be on campus, shaping the campus identity.
The discussion on the second proposal was cut short due to time. The third proposal, that North Quad should be allowed only half-suite draws and eliminate quarter suites, provoked a relatively briefer discussion. Most attendees liked the proposal, saying that this would ensure that no freshman room would be surrounded by three groups of seniors.
Most senators agreed to the fourth proposal, that Residential Assistants should be allowed to draw a room next to theirs. Because the Residential Assistants have a difficult job, they would need support of the people they trust next to them. This policy is already in North Quad, and should be applied across campus.
The fifth proposal was to make one floor of Marks gender inclusive. Since Marks is male-heavy, this would provide more diversity. There was the objection that many people like the idea of the traditional gender divide as that of South Quad and Phillips. The rebuttal to the objection was that one floor of Marks wouldn’t be a drastic change.
The sixth proposal was to reform part of freshman room draw, and to have students rank all 14 dorms so that nobody gets their last pick. However, this would presume that prospective students know what the dorm culture is, when it is impossible to know without actually attending the school. Also, it was pointed out that the current roommate pairing system prevents people from “self-destruction” by not immediately giving incoming students the rooms they think they want before arriving. The modification for this proposal was to rank the quads, not the specific dorms.
The seventh proposal was on the mock room draw. Having a mock draw would provide a practice round, which would be useful for underclassmen. The objections to this policy was that the mock draw might change people’s expectations, and that since some people won’t be as involved, the mock draw wouldn’t reflect the real one. More than half the Senate was against this proposal, and only one person voted for it.
The goal of this discussion was to craft the best proposals possible for the Dean of Students Office. After having gone through all the items, Vice President Afanador allowed the discussion to fall back to block housing. There was a debate whether block housing would discourage people from reaching out or would simply provide a “home base.” The meeting ended with the majority in favor of block housing.