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More faulty logic surrounding Saint Mary’s policies

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, March 4, 2007

In the March 2 Staff Editorial (“New housing policy problematic”), the Editorial authors accused the Saint Mary’s College administration of “faulty logic” in their recent decision to require incoming students to live on campus for six semesters. I would like to respectfully note that, whatever the status of the administration’s logic, The Observer’s editorial itself suffers from faulty logic, which I see in two primary places.The editorial begins by noting that no college student likes to be told what to do, and that therefore the Saint Mary’s residential policy decision “will undoubtedly create problems for the entire College community.” This statement’s premise is an over-generalization; further, “undoubtedly” and “entire” are strong terms, which communicate that the authors presume to know how each Saint Mary’s community member will respond to the policy after a reasonable examination of its pros and cons.Then, toward the end of the editorial, the authors imply that freedom of residential choice is a plus in the minds of all current and prospective students. As one who (happily) chose to attend a liberal arts university with a six-semester residential requirement, I am not certain that the new policy “will frustrate students and scare off some top applicants.” Current students are able to choose how they will respond to the policy, and some prospective students may choose to apply precisely because of the enhanced community experience they think will ensue from the six-semester requirement.I certainly agree that students’ behaviors are not solely determined by proximity to a campus. I also agree that the policy’s reception would likely have benefited from a greater inclusion of student input. If this new policy is implemented (and I make no judgements as to its appropriateness), the reaction to the policy by current students (those not directly affected by the policy) will influence the attitudes of future students (who will be affected) as the two groups interact in the next three years. As we have recently been reminded, Saint Mary’s College students are proud members of their community; they should not allow this type of faulty thinking to influence their own independent decision-making regarding their campus and its policies.

David Kneipgraduate studentoff-campusMar. 4