Unwarranted, excessive aggression from Residence Life antagonizes students

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Of the few things I dislike about the College of William and Mary, Residence Life typically isn’t one of them. 

While I sympathize with students who were upset with the office’s controversial housing adjustment policies last year following the dramatically named “Housing Crisis” of 2019, I largely haven’t had any complaints.

I was fortunate enough to live in Lemon Hall as a sophomore, enjoying a personalized air conditioning unit and roomy lounges on every floor. As a junior still living on campus, I’m lucky to call DuPont Hall my home. Actually, scratch that; while DuPont is fairly unattractive, I’m lucky to call my own room home, since I live in the building’s only triple.

It has its own private bathroom and two relatively spacious rooms, and I’ve delighted in living here since August. This semester, one of my two suitemates from the fall is abroad, leaving me and my other suite mate alone in occupying the triple.

We knew from the beginning that our third roommate’s departure could potentially result in someone random moving into DuPont with us, and although we didn’t await this reality with eagerness, we figured something would work itself out.

Then we both received an abrupt email from Res Life informing us of our options for the spring semester now that a vacancy had occurred. 

I was so frustrated by the email’s tone that it made me reconsider my previously apologist behavior for the office. 

The email stated that since there were only two occupants in a room designated as a triple, we were mandated to either buy out the remaining space or indicate our willingness to accept a new roommate at any time.

Furthermore, it stipulated that if we did anything to suggest anything less than unbridled enthusiasm in welcoming a new roommate, we could face potential disciplinary action through the Undergraduate Honor Council or the Student Handbook.

What did I do to deserve this passive aggression on a random Tuesday afternoon?

As far as I’m concerned, neither my roommate nor I had made my third roommate leave campus last semester through nefarious means; she’d had plans to study abroad since freshman year, and her departure was in no way our fault. Why did this email make it sound like I was somehow morally or financially culpable for her leaving campus? As a student paying tuition, fees and room and board, I sincerely don’t appreciate being told by College officials that I need to be on my “best behavior” in a situation that I had no role in creating, or to face the consequences. 

If the goal is to minimize student discomfort and maximize the ability of individuals to live on campus who want to live on campus, then I don’t see how sending intimidating emails advances these objectives.

 If I get assigned a roommate at some point this semester, I’ll obviously treat them with kindness because I’d like to think that I’m not a bad person. 

I don’t need officials in Residence Life coercing me into doing so by threatening of disciplinary action in front of my face.

Email Ethan Brown at ewbrown@email.wm.edu.