It’s Sunday night and you’re just coming back from a (insert student organization here) meeting in the Marvin Center. You know that you have about 80 pages of reading to power through, along with a paper to write. You walk into your room to find that your roommate has finished all of her homework and is trying to get some much-needed extra sleep. Too bad neither of you can have what you want, since there seems to be a rock concert two rooms down.
This year, GW implemented a revolutionary new program in its freshman residence halls. Freshmen now have House Proctors that have replaced the dreaded Community Facilitators. House Proctors have no power to write up students for violations and are supposed to be a sort of friendly big brother/sister to help with the adjustment to college life.
Unfortunately, House Proctors also have no authority to set quiet hours or make other rules for their floor – that responsibility rests in the hands of the Resident Advisory Council (RAC). In addition to having an RAC, each hall has a theme (or in Thurston’s case, two) to unite the dorm under a Living and Learning Cohort (LLC). Of course on paper, all of this sounds very nice. In practice, however, the lack of supervision and structure has done nothing to prevent serious problems in freshman residence halls, from the inability to study or sleep to the high number of alcohol-related hospitalizations.
I was originally not one to complain about the new system. After all, what student is opposed to having less supervision? We are all adults here, and, in theory, should be able to take care of business and control ourselves. Plus, how awkward would it be to live right near someone who is similar to your age but who could get you in trouble? Forget the idea of big brother/big sister. Students would never confide in anyone who had that sort of power.
In theory, the idea of grouping us into houses by interest is a good one, too. This allows people to live with those who share common interests, making it easier to partake in conversation and develop new friendships. In a utopian society, this system would be absolutely beautiful. The range of students in each LLC, however, is so broad that few are particularly interested in the subject matter covered by the group.
This is the least of the problems in the freshman residence halls. Remember that Sunday night scenario? Welcome to my life. Loud music is playing at all hours, on weekdays and weekends alike. Forget trying to study in Thurston. And sleep? Hah, that’s a joke. Half of my hall is sick, and I got a bad case of what was going around. Unfortunately, GW’s party dorm gave me little opportunity to rest it off.
Students are also way out of control with their drinking habits. There has been a high number of alcohol-related hospitalizations in our first month at GW, and it is not uncommon to see an ambulance in front of Thurston Hall to attend to the most extreme partiers. The lack of authority in my residence hall has truly brought out some of the worst in people.
This week, the RAC meets for the first time. It consists of a president, several vice presidents with set responsibilities and eight representatives. Issues on the agenda include quiet hours, laundry room rules, the implementation of a basement study room in Thurston and the alcohol problem. I know that I am not the only resident sincerely hoping that the RAC will set and enforce some guidelines.
In any case, changes must be made. We got to GW not on our ability to party, but on our ability to achieve in the classroom and to maintain well-rounded lives. Whether we like it or not, a lack of structure and guidance in the residence halls is keeping a number of us from achieving our potential.
I know that change does not happen overnight, and that is why I am being patient with the RAC. I strongly urge them to enact the much-needed rules and restore order to freshman residence halls. Otherwise, the University will have no choice but to reinstate in-hall authority figures, and I know none of us want it to come to that.
-The writer is a freshman majoring in political communication.