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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Counter in TUitive 3.6.10

This is a regular feature to examine the information in the weekly Trinitonian editorial. I love the Trinitonian and the students who run it. Sometimes, however there are more nuances to the issue than they have space for. Besides, electronic media allows for there to be "watchdog" watchdogs. Editorials are rated by "hits," as in blog hits, with one being worst and 5 being best. If they are published on-line I will provide links.

The Trinitonian editorial staff came out swinging this week, citing recent decisions as mounting evidence of unilateral University decision-making that is insensitive to student needs. That allegation always stings.

First up is the Student Affairs decision to take authority away from the Greek Judicial Board because it was struggling to manage cases effectively. Greeks were the only ones on campus getting the chance to judge its own members on hazing cases, and the outcome has been questionable at best. It has proven too big a challenge to hear cases regarding other organizations knowing the same groups could be in the judgment role the following week. The University extended this privilege to allow the Greek Council to self-govern, but it hasn't really worked. So now all student organizations and individuals will face the same judicial process in the future. The Trinitonian staff wanted the students to have another chance. They may not realize that this experiment has been tried - and failed - before.

Second, Residential Life implemented a group housing community initiative program several years ago in response to a campus-wide Quality of Student Life Task Force that recommended more self-governing options for upper-class students. That program was delayed a year because of student objections (this was in 2001-2002). The program then met with initial success, but over the last three years has grown stale, with no credible new communities seeking to be added. The ones who continued were marginal in fulfilling the goals of the program. (Self governance is work and is different than no governance.) This was all due to the implementation of the Sophomore College - an outcome of another task force with broad student representation.

Last year Residential Life wanted to terminate the Community Initiative program. ASR was consulted and suggested letting it die a slow death. (Trinitonian staffers would know that if they attended student government meetings.) It has died that death, and in consultation with the groups themselves, has been discontinued. In its place is a block housing program allowing groups of students to reserve larger blocks of space together in the lightly staffed upper-class area. There are many advantages to this for students.

The Trinitonian staff feels that the administration is making too many one-sided decisions. Interestingly, they were invited to observe the entire recent campus conduct review committee (and failed to show until the last meeting). They fail to communicate clearly that the changes to spring room reservation have been made with full student consultation. Those changes include a better system for juniors to request to move off campus.

What they have done instead is drag out tired old situations that they were unhappy about before, in an effort to demonstrate a pattern that, in my opinion, isn't there and ignores other popular student-led initiatives. That's what college papers do, and at least ours does it respectfully. Despite evidence otherwise, the Trinitonian continues to contend that students weren't consulted when the last student-heavy task force recommended Sophomore College - with full ASR support. The truth is, students objected when the first year area was created. They objected to the Community Initiative program. And they resisted the recommendations by the Upper-class Task Force. Naturally the Trinitonian editorial staff has a memory as long as their experience here. They contend we don't reverse decisions when students protest them. They fail to acknowledge that student opinion is often in opposition when programs either begin or end. That is the nature of administrator-student relationships. I invite the Trinitonian to consider the perspective of the the administration: The long view.

1 blog hit


marisa said...

Being a non-greek I do not disagree with the decision to take the governance out of the hands of greeks themselves, its only fair to other groups. My issue was the way in which leaders of Greek Council were not informed of the issue, merely copied on an issue to the presidents. I would hope that the student leaders who put in so much time to these organizations would get a courtesy, hey by the way we are doing this, email...I understand why they were upset, I would be upset if a sudden decision had been made about my organization and I wasn't informed of it before letting everyone know. It also puts them in an awkward situation because people go to them as the leaders, for answers and they don't have any information...

David Tuttle said...

Fair enough. I think that the decision was made to contact the presidents only, but I can't speak to why it didn't go to the Greek Council. Dr. Moffett or Josh Beebe may be able to explain the thinking on that.

Anonymous said...

I find it ironic that "Swashbucklers" will be maintained despite the fact that many "Swashies" regularly drink off campus (of age and under 21). Perhaps ResLife should examine their choice to maintain that community.

Anonymous said...

As a Swashbuckler Liaison for the 2010-11 school year, and a member of the community this current school year I can say that this statement is completely unfounded. Members of our hall rarely drink, even those who are legally able. The rules of our hall stipulate no alcohol, or inebriation, on the hall. We do not control what our members do off the hall.
In addition, the spirit of the hall is to promote an atmosphere in which we can be a community, and have fun, without the standard and arbitrary presence of alcohol. We hold events that anyone on campus can attend and be a part of, free of drugs or alcohol. This is why the Swashbucklers will continue to be a presence on campus. We fulfill the very purpose of what a community initiative hall is intended to do.
(May I just add that Trinity would be required to provide substance-free housing regardless of the existence of Swashbucklers, but I would very much prefer to be a pirate).
-Alyssa Selbrede
Class 2012

Anonymous said...

I struggle with the explicit and implicit judgment that the average college student casts upon sub-free persons. I often hide and lie about my lifestyle habits to non-Swashbucklers to avoid the sort of judgment and ridicule that being sub-free generates. For me, the hall is a place where I can be accepted for who I am and not have to lie about my lifestyle choice/feel bad about my sub-free decisions. Moreover, drinking, tobacco and pot are a huge part of college culture. It is often hard to hang out with others without experiencing such judgement and ridicule when I decline a bong hit or an extra glass of wine.

Yes folks, despite the fact that I am a 20 year old, blunt, and appearingly empowered women, I continue to struggle with peer pressure/judgement.

David Tuttle said...

Dear Blunt and Empowered -
Our stats suggest that a quarter of our students never drink and that a third of the students do the majority of the drinking on a routine basis. Stand your ground and go Swashies!

Sam Keller said...

To Anonymous,

While the vast majority of the Swashbucklers do not drink on campus, we officially are only bound to remain substance-free in our dorm itself. This means that we technically cannot do anything about what members choose to do off of our hall. That being said, Swashies 21 and over can drink off the hall so long as they do not return to the hall inebriated (i.e. 1-2 drinks instead of drunk). Everyone on the hall respects this rule very well, and nearly everyone on the hall drinks very infrequently, regardless of being 21+. If anyone returns to the hall drunk, they will get in trouble even if they can legally drink.

We also do have several unofficial Swashies that live on the hall and are just as much a part of us as anyone, but are not actually Swashbucklers (people assigned to fill empty rooms by ResLife). They have not signed a sub-free agreement with us and are free to drink as they see fit (in accordance with campus policy) and we respectfully allow them to make their own choices.

Rules and agreements aside, we are a tight-knit community that enjoys participating in a random variety of activities and would rather all have fun together than go get hammered at a party every weekend. We provide a community for people that enjoy having a substance-free home and merely ask that they allow that mindset to carry over into the rest of their lives as much as they choose.

-Sam Keller, Swashbuckler liaison for 2010-11

Claire F. Ramirez said...

'm defending Sam's argument! Alot of the swashbucklers on the hall are over 21 but i know for a fact that even if they do drink it's responsibly. We have never had a problem with people coming back drunk,it just doesn't happen here. If the swashbucklers do drink it's never on the hall and they make sure they have a place to stay until they are good to come back to the hall. Everyone who is of age has the right to drink if they so choose including the Swashbucklers. Just because we choose to not bring the effects of alcohol back to the dorm does not mean that we are completely prohibited from drinking. Swashbucklers are just as free to have a good time with their other groups of friends as any other Trinity student, the only difference is that they have to be sober when they come back to the hall. Most people on the hall watch movies, play Capture the flag, and participate in sober fun on the weekends, even the people who are 21 usually don't go out and party. They may buy a $2 margarita at Panchitos on a Thursday night with dinner but I don't see how that would be threatening. As for underage drinking how many freshman rush and join frats and sororities?? they're not of age. You can't possibly tell me they're sitting there watching The Lion King in their themed outfits every weekend. I don't mean to attack the Greeks but I honestly feel like if you want to disband an organization for underage drinking you have a bigger problem on your hands that is not The Swashbucklers.
I feel like having a support group of friends who wont tempt you to go crazy and drink every weekend is essential, its just a good idea to have a group for freshman to look up to, a group that is for the most part very clean the majority of the time. Another huge factor on the hall is not abusing substances like cigarettes and pot, I think this tends to get overlooked by people who think that being "sub free" only pertains to drinking. Drinking is not the biggest issue here at Trinity and I feel like Swashbucklers are great role models for relieving peer pressure to get into drugs.Dear anonymous I feel like you should know the facts before trying to disband a good community.
Claire. Proud Swashbuckler resident.

Bangarang! said...

I am offended by this remark. I spent my twenty-first birthday playing putt-putt and watching the premiere of X-men Wolverine. (Totally awesome). Neither my friends nor I drank that night, and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because of this opportunity for me to find friends who feel the same way about alcohol as I do, I owe so much gratitude to Trinity. Therefore the mere suggestion that we should be disbanded because we do not follow our own creed makes me hurt.
Everyone on this hall has their own reason for living on it. True some may choose to drink a little off the hall, but not all of us do. All of us consider this hall and its fun, substance free environment to be crucial to our experience here at Trinity. In keeping this hall, Trinity is giving, not only us, but a long line of future students with their own reasons, a chance for an excellent experience here at Trinity, void of a substance-filled living environment.
Thus said, I want to give my greatest gratitude to Dean Tuttle, and all of the Trinity staff that chose to keep this hall. I want to thank you all for contrinuing to strive to create a great experience for all Trinity students.

P.S. Fun joke to lighten the mood.— what were the pirates watching on a Saturday morning?