SMC class quota per hall ignites controversy
Ashley Charnley | Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Room selection quotas that were put in place more than two years ago to help diversify the residence halls at Saint Mary’s College have caused some unrest between students and the Department of Residence Life and Community Standards, especially in the rising junior class.
Slandah Dieujuste, director of the Department, said these quotas were put in place to mix the class years and provide guidance to incoming classes.
“There is tremendous benefit to [the quotas] as [they allow] our students to engage in strong mentoring relationships,” Dieujuste said.
The quotas limit the number of students from each of the classes who can live in each residence hall. For example, there can only be 95 juniors in LeMans Hall. Once this quota is filled, the remaining juniors who need to select rooms must choose one of the other dormitories for their residence.
Some upperclassmen, however, feel the quotas are unfair because they force students to live in halls that normally wouldn’t be their first choice.
Rising junior Erin Malone expressed her feeling on the new room requirements.
“I understand that Residence Life believes it is only fair for all graduating classes to live in the same dorm, but I in no way agree with them,” Malone said. “At many other colleges, there are specific dorms for freshmen where they can be surrounded by many people who are in similar situations as they are.”
Dieujuste said she believes students only find problems with quotas when they are directly affected by them. She said students don’t realize they are able to live in LeMans and Holy Cross, the “favored” halls, as underclassmen because the quotas leave space in the residences for them to live there.
“We sometimes hear from upperclasswomen who have lived in LeMans or Holy Cross during the first or second year should there not be any available spaces in those halls for the incoming first years because they would like to stay in those buildings,” she said. “They forget to take into account that they are in those buildings because of the quota system.”
Some rising juniors are frustrated with the quotas because of the new requirement that students must live on campus for six semesters before being allowed to move off campus without a special circumstance reviewed by Residence Life. They believe that the quotas should be changed to accommodate the larger numbers of juniors who will be remaining on campus in the next school year.
“Since [living off campus] was taken away from us, we should be compensated in other ways. One of those ways might be to eradicate quotas for juniors by giving them an unlimited amount of spaces in any dorm,” Malone said.
Many juniors have requested to live off campus. However, the College believes there are many benefits to remaining on campus.
“The residency requirement was instituted by the President’s Cabinet a couple of years ago because we believe that living on campus gives students the opportunity to be fully engaged in academic and student life,” Dieujuste said. “Research has shown that students who live on campus are much more likely to form strong ties with their college and each other.”
Emily Gregerson, a rising junior, said she would have seriously considered off-campus housing because of the convenience it would offer her.
“As a nursing major, I will be spending much of my time next year at the hospitals and would have seriously considered living off campus had it been an option,” Gregerson said.
Residence Life respects the opinions of the students and are looking into the issue of quotas, Dieujuste said. She said she recognizes how stressful the room selection process can be for underclassmen.
“While we try to take the needs of individual students into account, we have the hard task of balancing the needs of over 1200 residents. We have gotten some wonderful feedback about room selection and we’ll continue to work to improve the process for our students,” Dieujuste said.