Writing Sample #1: Is There Trust Between Students and Administration?
“You don’t have to be sick to get better,” said President Calvin Butts at the first Student Government Association forum of the semester. Dating back to the college’s early days, Old Westbury students have always sought fun outside of the classroom. After all, college is a space of academic and personal exploration.
However, many students have found it hard to have fun on campus due to the distrust between administration and students. Just a decade ago, the college was a completely different environment. Students had more freedom, and with that freedom they threw parties and had off-campus guests over after classes were done for the week.
Eventually, the mixture of parties and illegal guests resulted in fights, resulting in a heavy reinforcement of policies. Section 3 of the SUNY College at Old Westbury Code for Student Conduct states, “As determined by the Office of Student Conduct, some violations occurring in the Residential Halls will result in an Administrative Hearing by members of the Office of Residential Life staff as assigned by the Director of Residential Life or designee.” These violations include but are not limited to: illegal parties, visitation violations, noise violations, and failure to comply with requests or directives of Residential Life staff.
Vice President of Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, Wayne Edwards said, “Whenever you have a community, you have to have rules and regulations for how people interact with each other.” He added, “I think if there are things students feel are strict such as the guest policy, they should speak with administration about that and speak with their Student Government Association representatives, and be willing to listen to why things are the way they are.”
Some college students choose to live on campus because they want to experience life outside of home. Students who come from a sheltered environment feel Old Westbury is lacking the freedom they are seeking. SGA President Jeannette Adelson stated, “Students feel they’re being babied and don’t have as much autonomy as they would like being college students.” She added, “One student specifically said that she left home to grow and she should be allowed to make mistakes.”
The visitation policy at the college is very limited. In the 2016-2017 Guide to Campus Living, the Overnight Guest Policy suggests that residents who want to house an overnight guest must request an Overnight Guest Pass from the Office of Residential Life. This pass must be approved and cannot be used from Sunday through Thursday. According to the policy, “A non-affiliated overnight guest is defined as someone who is in student’s room after 12:00 midnight.” Commuter students are also affected by this as they have to exit the residential buildings by 12:00AM on the weekdays, and 2:00AM on the weekends.
However, residents are not allowed to have overnight guests of the opposite gender. This creates conflict as heterosexual students want to have their significant other over although homosexual couples are allowed to sleep in the same room.
Any commuter students on campus past their designated time or illegal guests will be escorted off campus or arrested by University Police if found in violation of the visitation policy. As stated in the Overnight Guest Policy, “If any resident is found hosting illegal residents (person living in residence halls without consent, license agreement or payment) she/he will face strict sanction including immediate suspension from the Residence Halls. Areas not designated for sleeping (lounges, hallways, suites, etc.) may not be used for sleeping by residents or guests.”
School parties are also heavily monitored and students are not allowed to bring off-campus guests. Other schools in the SUNY system like SUNY Albany allows its students to bring off-campus guests to their events. Old Westbury student Vianelly Betancourt said, “I visit other schools because they don’t have strict guest policies, and I can have fun without worrying about University Police or residential hall directors writing me up.”
The Parties and Authorized Events section of the Campus Guide states, “Individuals (non-resident students) attending authorized parties and special events at the College are not considered authorized visitors for either overnight or day visitation purposes. The presence of such individuals on the campus is governed by the authorization filed pursuant to the regulations on parties and events in the Center for Student Leadership and Involvement (CSLI).”
So, where do students and administration meet each other halfway? The first step students must take in addressing their concerns is to attend student forums, meetings and stay in contact with members of administration who work closely with student policies. Administration can also take heed to all student concerns and implement and reinforce policies that can benefit both ends, strategically.