Making decisions is never an easy task, especially amidst a global pandemic. What happens, when — in decisions regarding students’ lives — The College fails to include us in the decision-making process in areas of great importance, such as the availability of our personal spaces?
At the beginning of July, Residence Life (Res Life) announced that students studying remotely would lose their spring specific housing arrangements since the study abroad programs had been cancelled and more students needed to be accommodated. The College should absolutely find arrangements for these students, but at the same time, needs to take into consideration that for decisions like these, all parties should be informed properly.
After reading about this update in the Fall 2020 guide and having long conversations with other students, I made the decision to email Res Life on behalf of a number of students studying remotely in the fall semester to ask for our inclusion in this planning. It is a rational decision to make those rooms available during the fall,
but we failed to understand the reason why the rooms would not be available to returning students in the spring. Res Life responded to our email by proposing to set up a virtual meeting to discuss our demands and make a compromise. As it turned out, though, our ways of defining the word “compromise” greatly differed.
Throughout the two-hour virtual discussion between a group of international students and Res Life, the only response to every single suggestion we made was: “we cannot guarantee this.” Apart from the rooms that we had lost before we even joined the call, we came to realize that we could not even be guaranteed that
the roommates we chose would also be assigned.
The only offer we received was the possibility of Res Life assigning us to the dorm we chose and not the room itself, which again “could not be guaranteed.” When we raised our concerns about the unfairness of this decision and the fact that we felt excluded from
this process and deserted in an uncertain situation where we could not even guarantee the person with whom we would share our personal space, we got the answer: “life is unfair.” This answer seems at the very least disappointing for a college which supposedly values its diversity and makes an effort to satisfy students’ needs, especially in times of distress.
The way my peers and I defined a “compromise” was as an effort from both parties to step back in certain areas in order to reach a mutually beneficial situation. However, it seems that the virtual meeting was not an effort to compromise but rather a way for Res Life to explain to us why our requests would not be heard.
This is a stressful time for all of us and the list of the things that cannot be guaranteed due to the pandemic is already long. Thus, the addition of our personal spaces, as well as our roommates, to the list of things we have to worry about makes everything even more agitating. The College should put an effort into making everyone feel like an active part of the community by taking into consideration every student’s needs and demands so as to mitigate stress and uncertainty.