RHA Hosts Town Hall To Address Student Questions
Six Representatives From Administration Speak About New Sanctioning Rules, Sustainability
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 02:10
“Tonight is really about trying to open the lines of communications between BCPD, administration, and the student body,” said James Gallo, CSOM ’14 and vice president of the Residence Hall Association, welcoming all those present to the first RHA town hall meeting of the school year on Tuesday night.
Students filed into Higgins 300 to listen to a six-person panel from various Boston College administrative resources. The panel included Chris Darcy, the associate director of residential ministry; Robert Pion, the program director of campus sustainability; Monica St. Louis, the assistant director of community standards; Dean of Students Paul Chebator; and Jeffrey Postell and Chris Santiago of BCPD.
Students were able to hear information about the new policies set in place by these various groups and ask questions regarding the resources available to them as students.
The meeting opened up with a discussion of the new disciplinary process implemented by Residential Life. Chebator began the explanation by discussing the termination of the matrix, the former system of Community Standard Sanctions—rigid consequences for a failure to adhere to school policies, without consideration of circumstance.
“There was a lot of pushback from students who felt that the process wasn’t fair,” Chebator said. “Interestingly enough, there was also a lot of pushback from faculty who felt that their hands were tied in the whole process … There is no longer an automatic sanction with whatever it is that you did. We tried to make entry into the system kinder and gentler.” The last statement provoked a sigh of relief from the students in attendance.
New sanctioning guidelines are in effect, leaving the outcome of the situation up to the Resident Director’s discretion. “A student’s first involvement will be followed by ‘mutual resolution,’” Chebator said.
St. Louis then explained this new concept of mutual resolution, which allows for the student to meet with both a Resident Director and a Resident Assistant to have a conversation about the situation, and determine the outcome based on circumstances. “When we meet with the RAs, we get a snapshot of what they saw—however, when the student comes in we get a broader picture of what was happening that night and take that information into account,” St. Louis said. She expressed hope that the new disciplinary process will be more focused on conversation and compromise.
“[Mutual resolution] allows students to take responsibility for their own actions and agree that there are reasonable circumstances for their actions,” she said. “Rather than having a student sit down in front of me and telling him, ‘Here’s what you did wrong and here is your punishment,’ [mutual resolution] gives the student ownership in accepting the consequences and accepting what they did, and growing from it.”
The general consensus among panel members was the importance of safety for all students. All six chimed in, reiterating that their main priority, above disciplining students, was the safety of community members.
“We aren’t here to jam anyone up, we are here to make you all safe,” Santiago said. They also emphasized the importance of using the help-seeking policy and calling in whenever someone is in potential danger, without risking any disciplinary action. “If someone you care about is in danger, you call,” Darcy said. “It’s one of the most important things you can do to help.”
The discussion turned to the topic of sustainability at BC as Pion addressed water filter installation in residence halls. Last year, water fountains were installed in all bathrooms in the 66 Comm. Ave. dorms as a “trial run.” No further progress has been made, however. One student spoke up in support of the filter systems, saying, “I love the water filters. They are very convenient. They are great in the dining halls, an extension of that would be awesome.”
“If we are supporting the use of water bottles, it would make sense to install some fountains in more convenient places,” Pion said.
Many students also demonstrated an interest in installing printing stations in residence halls, or more convenient and central locations. Some suggestions included McElroy Hall, Corcoran Commons, Trinity Chapel on Newton campus, and College Road. St. Louis urged students to take collective action and to work with Residence Hall Counsels and RDs to create proposals. “It is easy to say, ‘yes we want this,’ but what about the other pieces and factors to it?” she said.
In their closing statements, all panel members discussed the importance of using resources offered to students on campus. They urged students who seek change to take action and use the resources given to them, including RHA town hall meetings, to make proposals and set a plan in action.