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viewpoint

Senior exclusion policy: Hall presidents respond

| Monday, April 15, 2019

Dear Division of Student Affairs,

As former hall presidents and vice presidents, we can testify to the fact that Notre Dame’s unique residential life is one of the best parts of the University experience. Because we deeply care about dorm life and the pivotal role it plays in the lives of the entire student body, we would like to address the “Residential Life Enhancements” that the Division of Student Affairs sent out Thursday. We are specifically disheartened about the new policy to “Differentiate On-Campus and Off-Campus Experiences.” This policy states that “students who choose to move off-campus will no longer enjoy all of the rights and privileges of residents (e.g. including participation on hall sports teams and presence at hall dances).”

Our primary issue with this policy is that it is inherently exclusive and directly contradicts the goal of fostering genuine community.

The primary purpose of residential life is to form undergraduate communities that are “inclusive of all members,” yet this new policy is overtly ostracizing integral members of this very community. If seniors are not allowed to be a part of the dorm community because they are off-campus, then we are now confining community to a building, not the people. The residential hall experience is much more than living in a building, and its community includes everyone who has ever called the dorm their home. Alumni, off-campus students and on-campus students equally make up the dorm community and culture.

As presidents and vice presidents, we have worked hard to make it clear that there are no requirements to be a member of our communities. We strive to model our community like a family, and whether those family members live on or off campus, they are still family. This policy is in complete opposition to our efforts.

This policy would revoke substantial hall programming. Participation in things like interhall sports and dances allow students to stay connected with the people they have lived with, even if they are not in the same building anymore. These teams are not only special for the seniors who have been on them for many years, but they also foster invaluable relationships between upperclassmen and underclassmen. They bridge together the Notre Dame community in a unique way. It is important to consider the many dorms that already struggle trying get enough people to field an interhall team. By barring off-campus seniors from playing, it will potentially prevent some dorms from participating in interhall sports, which is a disappointment for anyone in the community who wants to play, not just those who move off campus. We agree with the administration’s desire to create more equity between the dorms, but this specific policy would actually put smaller dorms at a disadvantage compared to the larger dorms in activities like interhall sports and gathering large groups for hall dances. Excluding off-campus students is detrimental to both hall communities and the students being excluded.

This policy disregards the reasons why students choose to live off campus. Many students move off campus due to financial reasons, even though they love their dorm community. We are then restricting those individuals from staying in touch with a core community they feel a part of and discriminating against them based upon their socioeconomic status. The policy also excludes students who move off campus for reasons related to their identity (i.e. racial minorities, LGBTQ+, religious minorities, etc.).

During this past year, Residential Life encouraged the hall governments to combat the seven percent statistic, which says that seven percent of students do not feel welcomed by any community on campus and do not feel like there is a place for them here at Notre Dame. This plan of segregating off-campus seniors will only add to this statistic. We support the Division of Student Affairs’ goal of keeping communities together, but the method of excluding off-campus seniors is not an “incentive,” it is a punishment. Punishing students for living off campus their senior year by taking away their rights to be part of their hall community will not motivate underclassmen to remain on campus for the right reasons. Under no circumstance will it create a more welcoming environment. This policy will cause resentment or apathy towards residential life as a whole. Ultimately, this policy is killing the community the Division of Student Affairs is trying to cultivate.

As members of the 2018-2019 Hall Presidents Council, we strongly ask the Division of Student Affairs to reconsider the policy to “Differentiate On-Campus and Off-Campus Experiences.”

Sincerely,

Courtney Sauder, President of Lyons Hall 2018-2019

Colleen Ballantyne, President of McGlinn Hall 2018-2019

Christopher Florimonte, Vice President of Duncan Hall 2018-2019

Maddie Heyn, Vice President of Flaherty Hall 2018-2019 & HPC Social Chair 2019-2020

Owen Harte, President of Fisher Hall 2018-2019

Holly Harris, Vice President of Walsh Hall 2018-2019

Alyssa Daly, President of Ryan Hall 2018-2019

Zach LeMense, President of Knott Hall 2018-2019

Thomas Walsh, HPC Co-Chair 2019-2020 & President of Keenan Hall 2018-2019

Erica Bosso, HPC Social Chair 2018-2019 & Lyons President 2017-2018

Brendan Watts, HPC Co-Chair 2018-2019 & Dunne Hall Vice President 2017-2018

Alexa Bradley, President of Pasquerilla East Hall 2018-2019

Jacqueline Weinrich, Vice President of Pasquerilla East Hall 2018-2019

Marissa Brennan, President of Lewis Hall 2018-2019

Brendan Kopf, Vice President of O’Neill Family Hall 2018-2019

Devan Shah, Vice President of Siegfried Hall 2018-2019

Julie Rosta, Vice President of Lyons Hall 2018-2019

Clare Pierret, Vice President of McGlinn Hall 2018-2019

Garrett Rethman, President of Carroll Hall 2018-2019

Abby Smith, President of Welsh Family Hall 2018-2019

Erin Whitney, Vice President of Welsh Family Hall 2018-2019

Gracie O’Connell, President of Howard Hall 2018-2019 & HPC Athletic Chair 2019-2020

Sofia Milillo, President of Walsh Hall 2018-2019

Adam Hellinghausen, President of Alumni Hall 2018-2019

Ryan Burns, President of Sorin College 2018-2019

David McMurtrie, Vice President of Sorin College 2018-2019

Ryan Rogers, Vice President of Carroll Hall 2018-2019

Amanda Bono, Vice President of Lewis Hall 2018-2019 & HPC Social Chair 2019-2020

Caile Coughlan, President of Flaherty Hall 2018-2019

Joe Trzaska, HPC Co-chair 2018-2019 and St. Edward’s Hall President 2017-2018

Emily DeRubertis, HPC Social Chair 2018-2019 & Vice President of Lewis Hall 2017-2018

Molly Melican, President of Farley Hall 2018-2019

Mary Kate O’Leary, Vice President of Flaherty Hall 2018-2019

Katie Liebscher, Vice President of Farley Hall 2018-2019

Jack Barrett, Vice President of St. Edward’s Hall 2018-2019

Carolyn Cleary, President of Pasquerilla West Hall 2018-2019

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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