Registration hurts abiding students

This past Friday, a group of students in Heights were listening to music and playing a quiet game of beer die when they heard a knock on their door. When they yelled for the person to come in, they were surprised to see a Colby security guard walk into their common room.

In an email sent to students living in Bobs, Dana, and Heights, the Office of Campus Life outlined a trial program where students in these dorms would have to register any parties they hold through filling out a form and meeting with Campus Life. In addition, hosts will be required to buy non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, and end the party by 1 A.M.

The office stated that the move is meant to create a healthier social scene at Colby. “We want your party to be a success. The benefits of party registration include being able to safely have fun with your friends without the possibility of being asked to shut down your party. Also if things get out of control, you can get access to assistance without the fear of being held responsible for a violation.”

In subsequent talks and emails with Associate Dean of Students and Director of Campus Life Erika Lamarre, I learned that this initiative stems from the College’s continuing desire to eliminate dorm damage. Lamarre hopes that by making hosts responsible for their rooms, “students will begin reporting vandalism so that responsibility shifts where it belongs, on those perpetrating vandalism.” She added, “When approached with transparency and good faith, this initiative could change social culture for the better and strengthen Colby social life.”

While I believe the initiative is well intentioned, I also think the policy misses the point. No one would deny that Colby has a problem with vandalism, and I’m happy to see the Administration thinking of novel solutions, but I don’t think this will help; in fact, I think it might exacerbate the issue.

The reason I say this is because, as much as I—and a majority of students—want to stop campus vandalism, we are goddamn adults. Why should we be forced to seek permission from administrators to host events in our own rooms? Students pay thousands of dollars in room and board, which should allow them reasonable autonomy over their own space and safe from arbitrary check-ins. How would you feel if you were renting an apartment and, if you didn’t register a gathering with your landlord, a police officer came barging in every time you had friends over just because one might be a vandal? This policy feels more like collective punishment than the start of a cultural revolution.

Regarding security, Lamarre explains that security “won’t necessarily need to check on [registered parties],” since they’ve already been reviewed. She went on to say that security would likely only check on unregistered rooms and suites that “[appear] to have alot [sic] of people in their space behaving irresponsibly.” While this seems reasonable at face value, the students playing beer die in Heights certainly weren’t behaving irresponsibly. How does one quantify “a lot of people” or irresponsibility? This subjective criteria will only lead to increased distrust between students and security—and by extension, the administration.

On a more pragmatic note, it also seems implausible that students will embrace the process. By stipulating requirements for alternative beverages and snacks, this will add an undue financial burden on hosts that many will choose to ignore. Though Campus Life will enter registered rooms into a raffle to win food and refreshments for their next party, they are unwilling or incapable of subsidizing these costs. I don’t know why attendees couldn’t just use a water fountain or get a ’dilla at the Spa instead of eat and imbibe at the host’s expense.

Colby has struggled with vandalism for as long as I’ve been here, and I admire the Administration’s attempt to quell it. However, this policy will not do that. What it will do is give security the ability to arbitrarily enter rooms and shut down gatherings. It will dissuade students from hosting parties, exacerbating the already-lackluster social scene on weekends. It will sow distrust and deepen the divide between students and administrators, a divide that will hinder the cooperation necessary to bring vandals to justice.

There are many theories why vandalism is so prevalent at Colby, but I tend to believe it stems most fundamentally from anger. I think this anger variably comes from Colby’s pressure-cooker atmosphere, the monotony of the social scene, and a response to weekend paternalism among other things. In order for students to care about this campus, they need to know Colby cares about them. Don’t treat us like children due to the actions of a small group; recognize us as partners so we can work on this together.

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