North Central’s Current Open-Dorm Policy, Student Opinion
Students at North Central University have recently been expressing frustration with the current open dorm policy on campus. Historically, NCU has always enforced some type of dorm restriction policy, limiting the visitation between male and female dorm halls. The current policy is that students of the opposite gender may only be on each other’s floors Fridays from 5-10 p.m., Saturdays 2-10 p.m., and Sundays 2-8 p.m. On top of the specific hours, other rules include, the door must be open, all lights are to be left on, and no sharing a blanket with a person of the opposite gender.
To better understand where students are with this issue, The Northerner team asked a series of questions through a student opinion poll which received over 100 responses. Some of the questions asked include: “During your time at NCU have you ever been frustrated with the open dorm policy”, “Have you ever broken the open dorm policy” and “In your opinion, what changes should be made to NCU’s open dorm policy if any?”
Over 84% of respondents said “Yes” to ever being frustrated with the current open dorm policy. As for how closely NCU students claim to follow these rules, 31% said “Yes” to breaking the policy while another 6% indicated “I’d rather not say.” With many students dissatisfied with the current open dorm policy and one-third of students (if not more) not following it, it is clear that this issue needs some attention.
North Central students have given their feedback on the open dorm policy along with suggestions for possible changes. The most common comments are highlighted in this article. Students want to make it clear that largely people go into the opposite gender’s dorm purely to spend time with their friends. One response related to this said, “it’s frustrating especially when you have FRIENDS of the opposite gender.”
NCU has a relatively small campus and therefore it has limited spaces for students to spend time together in groups. The main locations are Clay Commons, Carlson Corridor, and the lower and upper atriums. If students are desperate they can also go to the mailroom, but oftentimes these spaces are occupied and are less than ideal to host a group of people especially if they wish to be loud or play group games.
One suggestion students have is for the floor lounges to be open during certain times of the week. Students want to be able to have more areas to meet with the opposite gender for homework and group projects as well as for recreation. Having more spaces to mix in will benefit the community between male and female students as well. Several students have expressed that they feel as though they barely know people of the opposite gender because of this policy. And beyond just having friends on their floor, students want to be able to have their family members visit as well.
Another common complaint is how the open-door policy can be counterproductive. One student said “I also think that open dorms bubble you from the freedoms and temptations that will come when you leave the NCU dorms… It’s a temporary fix for a larger problem.” This is a concern that many students have. The minimal availability of time alone with a significant other can prevent the experience of creating and implementing boundaries in a healthy setting. Another student reported, “the only days I can see my SO is on weekdays when there aren’t open dorms.”
Most of these concerns are not about the specific rules during open dorms, but the actual hours themselves. More time in those healthy spaces will help build a foundation for people beyond their time at North Central. Additionally, minimal availability of one-on-one time on campus can lead students to other, more tempting areas. Several people have reported spending time in a car because that was the only place they could have privacy and it led to circumstances they regret. The current policy also, “implies that every one-on-one situation with [the opposite gender] will be sexual.” This subliminal message can undermine cross-gender friendships and influence students to think that way.
While the overwhelming majority of students who participated in the survey had complaints, some students do appreciate the policy the way it is. The disruption of floor community life and accountability are the two most common reasons for supporting the rules. As one person explained, “I can’t shower during open dorms.” While there are solutions to that such as timing when to shower and changing in the bathroom, this quote gets at a deeper point. Knowing that there will only be males or females on the floor brings a level of comfort to residents, especially those in Miller and Carlson.
Not only does the open door policy protect this experience on the floors, but it also can help students to keep good boundaries when there is nowhere else to go. While admitting there are drawbacks to the current policy a student shared, “I personally appreciate that my 2 years of living in dorms had this accountability.” For some couples, being in a room alone together can be too tempting. The open dorm policy allows certain times for couples to be alone but still with the accountability of the door open, lights on, etc.
Students have had the opportunity to express their praises and criticism of North Central’s current rules concerning open dorms. Our next step is looking at what the university has to say about it. Keep a lookout for an upcoming article containing staff interviews and information on what other Christian and AG schools are doing.