Everyone at UVM– from residents all the way up through administrators in Student Affairs– needs to be talking more about what does and does not work in Residential Life.
These conversations have been happening for a while.
Folks in the residential life sphere as well as those higher up in the University administration work tirelessly alongside students to create the most inclusive and safe homes for students on campus.
The role of residential life is not to allow frequent partying that disrupts the foundation of a safe, happy and healthy home.
In fact, its role is just the opposite — if one was to walk into any residential hall at any time there would be multiple bulletin boards stressing four cornerstones: community engagement, health and well-being, diversity and inclusion, and academic success.
These are the cornerstones that guide RAs, professional residential life staff and residential life administration each day. Their purpose in coming to work everyday is to help every student develop these.
These folks have the hardest and possibly most important jobs on campus.
At the same time, residents need to be given enough space to establish themselves in their own identities as college students without feeling perpetually uncomfortable in their own homes.
We need to arrive at a place where everyone can recognize the need for staff to prioritize safety and order within residential halls, while also allowing students to grow and exist in an environment that does not feel suffocating or militaristic.
This is a conversation that is happening around the country, albeit in a more serious context. What role does policing have in our communities? At what point does policing become counterproductive?
We do not claim to know the answers, but we call on the community to start creating an environment where everyone on this campus feels comfortable where they are, and has the ability to thrive in their own space.
We call upon the University to include all community members in defining what safe and comfortable homes mean.
In order to find a solution that accomplishes this, the University must recognize that multiple truths exist within residential halls.