An attempt to strengthen community for Virginia Tech's residential college seems to have partially backfired, angering some students and spurring the creation of an online petition.
Beginning this semester, university administrators have limited door access to residents in West Ambler Johnston. Now, residents of West AJ may only enter the dorm through the main entrances of the building, while all winged entrances remain locked.
The purpose of this policy is to increase student interaction and develop a stronger sense of community. West AJ is a residential college, meaning most students apply to live in it and it has a unique governing structure.
“The residential college model deals a lot with building community and having a family aspect rather than a dorm aspect,” said West AJ co-president Erica Bennett. “If people are funneled through the main doors, it will increase random interactions.”
Several years ago, associate vice-president of Student Affairs, Frank Shushok, formed a planning committee for the residential colleges of East and West AJ. Faculty, staff, and students from the university made up the committee, which met twice a month for two years.
During this planning stage, the decision was made to have
fewer entrances to the building. The committee agreed to institute the policy based on other residential college models in the country, such as those at Harvard and Princeton.
Many students are upset with the sudden change. Some do not understand why the policy was implemented second semester, when all entrances were accessible last semester.
“I just wonder why they decided to do this now,” said freshman Jenny Boyd. “If (administrators) were trying to create a stronger community, it would have made much more sense to do it at the beginning of the year when people were trying to make new friends and meet more people.”
The policy was supposed to take effect in August, at the beginning of the academic year, but a simple mistake kept that from happening.
“Our college was supposed to have the entrances on the wings of the building locked from the beginning of the school year,” explained Benjamin Sax, Faculty Principal of West AJ. “However, a small bureaucratic oversight kept them open last semester.”
Students have responded by circulating a petition, created by