North Central's Current Open-Dorm Policy, University Opinion
In a previous article, we surveyed over 100 students regarding North Central University’s current open-dorm policy. Students expressed discontent with multiple areas of the current policy but also agreed that the current restrictions do provide some benefits. We gathered a thorough student perspective on the issue and we are now going to examine how the University approaches this conversation. The Northerner went ahead and conducted several interviews with staff members who oversee housing along with multiple RA’s who play a direct role in monitoring and enforcing the current policy.
An interview with Chris Woelfle, resident director of Carlson Hall and associate dean of residence life, provided insights as to what factors play into North Central’s current rules concerning visitation hours. A common belief held by students is that the policy is mainly in place to prevent any sexual relations between students of the opposite gender. It was revealed by Woelfle that the [residence staff] are “far less concerned with sexual relations” than one might think.
While that is a factor, according to Woelfle, the main concern is the disruption of daily life in the dorms. Especially with communal bathrooms in Miller and Carlson, many students enjoy the comfort of knowing there will only be people of the same gender on their floor. Chris Woelfle also explained what the consequences are for those who break the visitation rules. Those enforcing the policy (RAs and RDs) are more lenient towards the beginning of the year when students may not know or be used to the hours. The first step is to clarify the rules and warnings that may be given. After repeated rule-breaking students are at risk of having their visitation privileges temporarily revoked.
To find out more about the rules and policy changes, we interviewed Jeremy Williamson, associate vice president of student life and dean of students. In his role, the main responsibilities are overseeing residence life programs and student conduct. His mission is to examine the question: “how can we make it better for the students?” Along with preserving a certain standard of dorm life, another goal of Williamson is to help create a space for students to develop some level of boundaries with the opposite gender. For that reason, there are specific rules that come along with dorm hours such as keeping the door open and having lights on.
A large influence on the current dorm hours has been student feedback. Williamson explained that a student survey has not gone out in a few years, but that the most recent policy changes reflected the opinions of many students who did not want the dorm hours expanded. It is apparent when students are voicing their opinions for change but it is often overlooked when there are students that want things to stay the same.
Both Chris Woelfle and Jeremy Williamson recalled a time when NCU had much more limited visitation hours. Woelfle said, “When I went to North Central, visitation hours used to be one Sunday a month” and Williamson explained that when he started in 2004 students only had four hours on Saturdays. North Central has come a long way from those restrictions. So the question is: if the policy was to change how would it happen?
According to both Woelfle and Williamson, the student government has a large influence on the dorm policy. Between 2017 and 2018 is when the most recent revision of the dorm hours took place. That was headed by the student government who brought a proposal to the residence hall directors and Jeremy Williamson.
In tandem, the student government and residency staff at North Central worked to create a new policy. Chris Woelfle and Jeremy Williamson both indicated it would be possible for changes to be made for the upcoming years. Until the Northerner became active in seeking out students’ opinions, Williamson did not realize there was a large number of students currently dissatisfied with the policy.
The conversation has begun, stay tuned for more updates as the Northerner continues to search for answers.