International Studies major Bijan Peters.
The petition is to allow residents to enter West AJ through all doors, including the wings around the residence hall. Around 300 students have signed it so far.
Peters suggests the policy might actually have a reverse effect than the one intended.
“While interactions in the lobby may increase, the interactions within the dorm itself seem to have decreased,” Peters said, explaining that less people entering through side doors means less interactions in the hallways. “After hearing similar complaints from many other residents, I decided to work toward making a change.”
Though the number of students who have signed the petition are not the majority of the residents in West AJ, the level of reaction from the students came as bit of a surprise.
“There has been a lot of anger from the students which I can understand, because we suddenly changed their way of life,” Bennett said. “I knew it was going to be an issue, especially from the students on the first and second floors because they are directly and immediately affected by it. I just did not expect it to be as big of an argument as it has become.”
Some residents also feel the administration didn't seek out their opinions regarding the change. Though there were students who sat in on the planning committee, there was limited discussion with current West AJ residents prior to the finalized resolution.
Several students believe it was an unfair arrangement, rather than a compromise between residents and administration.
“We were given no say in the matter and we live here,” said freshman resident Sammy Banks. “We pay a good amount more than other students to be able to live in West AJ, so I think we all deserve some sort of a say.”
The decision was made by individuals on the dorm's planning committee. Now, the faculty principal and associate principals, working alongside the house councils and the college council and senior fellows, will ultimately look for a process to resolve the disagreement.
Shushok commented on this issue, saying that he thought the ultimate decision will come from the community, and not just the administration.
“Unless your definition of administration consists of the governing entities of the residential college,” Shushok said. “Strong elements of self-governance are fundamental to residential colleges and (West AJ) has several governing bodies which will have to weigh in and decide (what to do.)”
The students upset by the policy have prompted communication between residents and administrators. A town hall meeting was held within the residence college after the policy was implemented to allow students to have their opinions heard in a face-to-face forum.
“Students were given the chance to express their opinions and it was certainly engaged,” Sax said. “We spent three hours going back and forth, even getting angry. It empowered residents to express their opinion clearly and openly.”
Sax said that the issue would continue to be addressed.
Another town hall meeting was held Tuesday night.
“I think it is good to take the concern seriously so, if anything, we can talk about what this community means to those involved,” Sax said.
Students are also concerned that the extra time spent walking past a wing entrance to a main door may threaten their safety at night and that the prioritization of community over safety may have missed the mark.