Hall council participation drops among upperclassmen

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September 16, 2010

10:53 PM

For freshmen, hall dues are a fact of life, along with roommate agreements and sandals in the shower. But as students progress at the College of William and Mary, these dues along with the Hall Councils that collect them drop in importance.

“There is generally a decline in paying hall dues as students move on from their freshman year,” Jefferson head resident Wesley Ng ’11 said.

According to Ng, the drop off originates from two factors.

“There are less parents of upperclassmen who are helping them move in, so a student is less likely to pay if they are paying without the generosity of their parents,” she said. “After freshman year, many students feel a greater connection with friends than with people on their hall, so they feel that their hall is not a place where they would want to be hanging out.”

This sentiment is echoed by students as well.

“I feel like it’s not as big this year since we’re upperclassmen,” Jonathan Lehman ’13 said. “I think they bug you more about it freshman year as well.”

With students involved in activities outside their hall, the sense of community found in freshmen dorms is lacking, students say.

“I think the hall councils are as important [for upperclassmen],” Lehman said, “But there’s not as much hall unity. We have our own schedules.”

However, the reduced participation by upperclassmen in their Hall Councils is not merely a recent trend.

“Upper-class residents are less likely to pay these optional dues,” Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Residence Life director Deb Boykin said. “This is not new to us.”

Boykin said that the exact percentage of upperclassmen who pay their hall dues is not known.

“Since we haven’t ever tracked the percentages it would be impossible for me to say if the percentage of students living in upper-class halls has dropped,” Boykin said.

Despite the decrease in participation, upperclassmen Hall Councils still serve an important purpose beyond collecting funds and putting on events, Boykin said, citing the Self-Determination program, among others, as an example of the role that Hall Councils play in student life.

“Unlike many other colleges and universities, Residence Life doesn’t set quiet hours or restrict hall visitation,” Boykin said. “Each hall or living unit creates its own Community Agreement that becomes part of the larger building or area wide approach to living.”

Ng also stressed the importance of the program.

“We’ve all heard of ‘self-determination’ a thousand times, but people don’t seem to realize what a huge privilege that is,” Ng said. “At other schools, the rules are set, across the board, and there is no negotiation.”

Beyond deciding on quiet hours or renting out DVDs, Hall Councils also decide on how to charge for hall damages.

“Hall Councils can investigate unassigned damages or loss and determine if a group of individuals, a floor, wing or entire building should share the cost of repair or replacement,” Boykin said. “Students readily agree that damage charges should be covered by the person who did the damage and not shared by those who didn’t.”

Ultimately, the question of Hall Council importance is decided by the students.

“I appreciate what they’re doing,” Jack Imbery ’13 said. “I might not go to as many events, but I appreciate it.”

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