Resident discipline in residential colleges lagging

Murray State residential college residents say disciplinary action needs to be further enforced to increase respect on the residential side of campus.

Each of the eight residential colleges are composed of hundreds of students. Within the residential colleges, issues resulting from intoxication, roommate incompatibility and irresponsibility create a community of upset residents when dealing with the inappropriate behaviors of others.

For instance, on Feb. 23 the second floor of Hester Residential College was found to have a hole in the wall that was created by an unidentified resident. After Facilities Management filled the hole, the same spot was damaged twice more. No individuals have come forward.

Hester resident Brendon Shepard, freshman from Duquoin, Ill., said there is no way to regulate residents’ behaviors, especially while intoxicated, and that residents need to “grow up.” He said those who break policies don’t care about the consequences regularly enforced by the Housing staff.

“Unless you kick them out, there’s no way to deal with them,” Shepard said. “People who break state laws don’t care about a warning or talking to the (resident director).”

“I’m really going to be mad if I have to pay for that,” Shepard said.

Other Hester residents feel similarly.

“It’s terrible,” said Charley Lattus, junior from Fulton, Ky. “There is a clear lack of control and since there was no punishment now anything goes.”

The punishment for residential college transgressors should fit the crime, said Jessica Newton, sophomore from Paducah, Ky., who also lives in Hester.

“Serious action means serious consequences,” she said.

Residents living within the University’s residential colleges said they believe a lack of respect for others coupled with immaturity are the roots of the disciplinary problems.

The Murray State Student Life Policies, Rules, and Procedures handbook states that the University Judicial Board has the authority to impose consequences such as expulsion, suspension, restitution and probation amongst others on residents who do not follow University rules.

If a student is removed from Murray State housing for disciplinary reasons, the student is responsible for their housing charges without reimbursement.

Despite this, consequences for misconduct often end with a warning rather than further action.

“(I have my staff) call Public Safety a lot, or need to talk to a resident to address an issue, but the actual consequence is minimal, so people don’t take it seriously,” said Vanessa Barrientos, sophomore from Boston and resident adviser in Springer Residential College.

Barrientos suggested a “three-strikes-you’reout” policy: after three offenses involving Public Safety, a resident would be forced to move off campus.

“This gets the message through that there are other people living here and that you have to respect that,” Barrientos said.

Katie Haefner, senior from St. Louis, said she wishes the University took more action when residents break policies.

“When there is a problem it is treated as a slap on the wrist, and so people are willing to break the rules,” Haefner said.

Haefner suggested a financial penalty as a deterrent. It would generate respect for the rules, similar to that of fining for parking violations, she said.

Haefner lives in Hart Residential College, where vandalism on elevators has been common.

“It’s always a game of what you will find in the elevator,” Haefner said.

However, previously this semester, residents played cards at a pop-up card table in fancy attire in the elevator, leaving residents amused in this instance rather the annoyed.

“This is what makes Hart a home, not when boards and decoration are being pulled down,” Haefner said.

Residents of Lee Clark Residential College report few problems within the college, said Jon Little, senior from Cape Girardeau, Mo., a former resident of Lee Clark Residential College who now lives off campus. He said most of the issues have been instances of theft and visitation policy violations.

Patrick Hooks, junior from Owensboro, Ky., said one reason for minimal violations is the community that has been built through the combined effort of Residential College Council members and resident advisers.

Hooks said that the strength of the community has influenced residents to address noise complaints themselves rather than filing a complaint with their resident adviser.

“Building community just happens because the RAs and RDs are friends and can be found in the lobby often just hanging out,” said Little. “That’s how residents see them, so they respond to the rules better.”

Little said he believes the close community also helps with the sense of security within the residential colleges.

“The fact that you know everyone helps with safety,” Little said. “That’s kind of lacking off campus.”

Murray State students seem to be in agreement that they feel safe living on campus.

Catherine Hunt, junior from Cincinnati, said she believes others “breaking rules doesn’t change safety” within Elizabeth Residential College.

Thomas Wang, sophomore international student from Taipei, Taiwan, and resident of Hester is glad to feel safe within his residential college while being so far from home.

Although rowdy residents annoy Wang, he would choose safety over a quiet residential college.

“Of course I choose safety,” Wang said.

 

Story by Abby Siegel, Contributing writer