Predetermined Dorming

Cartoon by Julie Gunderson.

Beginning next fall, incoming first-year students will no longer be allowed to live in suite-style buildings. With the creation of Ridgeview Hall, the new corridor-style residence hall, they will be required to live in one of the 10 corridor residence halls on campus.

Residence Life (ResLife) said that, from the studies they have conducted, they believe first-year students who live in corridor-style halls perform better in classes and have a greater sense of community with the other students in their hall. Thus, the restriction of first-years from suites was implemented.

We at The New Paltz Oracle believe this new stipulation limits student choice and suggests the success and happiness of every student can be boiled down to a one-size-fits-all model. Assuming that all first-year students will flourish academically and socially in a specific living arrangement is both unsound and disparaging to incoming college first-years.

These students, likely moving away from home for the first time, are each unique individuals and should feel comfortable in their living situation. By ResLife enforcing what they believe is best for every student by removing their ability to tailor their living choices – their new home away from home – they are pigeon holing an excited, diverse group of students with different wants and needs into a decision that they themselves should have control over, not ResLife.

The idea that suite-style dorms would not be conducive to social interaction and the creation of new friendships seems to us a vague argument. While yes, living with potentially seven other students may be overwhelming at first, the close proximity and interaction with your suitemates can only contribute to communication and the formation of new relationships.

Indeed, a shy student can choose to be secluded and not interact with their suitemates, but the same event could occur in the instance of a corridor room. Like most things in college, it is what you make it. Prohibiting students from living in suites for fear of self-segregation is a lofty claim.

Furthermore, the exertion of this new policy calls us to question the future living arrangements of our incoming transgender and gender non-conforming students. There are currently gender-neutral suites available for those interested in DuBois, Deyo, Bevier and Lenape Hall. These suites are an indication of our university’s ongoing efforts to increase its status as one of the nation’s leaders of transgender and gender non-conforming equality and inclusiveness. The elimination of gender-neutral suites as an option for first-year students would be a step backward in the progress SUNY New Paltz has made. We hope this concern is shared by administration and something is done to combat this dilemma.

Imposing restrictions right from the start isn’t contributory to what college is: a series of choices and expressions that indicate who we are and what we want. This should be a time of freedom, yet it appears that we are increasingly burdened with rules and guidelines, from the general education classes we must take, to now the places we must live. We understand the business behind running an educational institution, but urge administration to remember that the college experience is not a cookie cutter, one-stop-shop that can be determined for all; rather, it is a unique experience in which each student should have a voice.