Off-campus students deserve a place at the table
Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, August 27, 2019
On Monday, the University continued in its pursuit to estrange off-campus students from the Notre Dame community. In addition to the deeply unpopular policies that exclude off-campus students from social events, the University has adopted yet another policy of exclusion. This time, the University is barring students from entering dorms they once called home. To the University, off-campus students no longer represent members of a dorm community; we now represent a “security risk.”
Previously, off-campus students enjoyed access to their former residential homes. Our IDs allowed us to remain easily connected with the friends and support networks we had formed within the tangible barriers of a dorm. As of August 2019, this important access will be severed. This new policy will grant swipe dorm access only to on-campus students. The message is clear: Off-campus students are no longer part of the dorm community.
The stated intent for this policy is safety. I understand calls for increased security; everyone wants to live and study in an environment safe from intruders. However, this policy is an ineffective means to achieve that end. Particularly, preventing off-campus students from accessing our prior homes will do absolutely nothing to ensure a safer campus. We simply do not pose any threat to those on campus — trust us, being off campus does not render us inherently predisposed to violence.
Instead, this policy attempts to erode the connection between on- and off-campus students. This policy makes it more difficult for us to return to our prior homes and more inconvenient for us to spend valuable time with friends. We understand we can text or call a friend to open the door for us, but this added effort is not what we protest. It is the disregard for off-campus students that trouble so many of us. Our Catholic tradition has taught us to be inclusive and accepting of all. For the University, that tradition apparently goes out the door when it comes to off-campus students.
Off-campus students serve as role models for underclassmen, fill important mentorship roles for nervous first years, and contribute to the veracity of dorm unity. Put simply, off-campus students are essential members of the dorm communities; we deserve our place at the table, especially for policies that adversely affect us. Yet, before the University released this decision, we were never considered or consulted. We were kept completely in the dark.
The University is now attempting to backdoor this policy right before the semester begins, right when students are paying the least amount of attention. We off-campus students no longer need to be told that we are not welcome — the actions of the University speak for themselves. The University has given up on inclusion and has instead chosen to take the road of exclusivity. We respectfully ask the University to reconsider its actions, consider the viewpoints of all its students and open up a dialogue with the off-campus community.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.