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On the wrong path

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01


“I just want you to be happy and succeed,” said the Residential Director of Hardey-Cushing to many of her residents on Newton campus. She and the Office of Residential Life attempted to make Hardey-Cushing a better place by putting the Pathways Initiative into effect this year. Unfortunately, the Pathways Initiative has backfired. Students are not happy.
Under the Pathways Initiative the RA-student ratio is lowered in an attempt to foster community growth. Rather than promote community growth, it has created a hostile environment in which RAs have developed into quasi police officers. In disciplinary meetings with students concerning marijuana, an official has been quoted as saying that they do not care if students smoke marijuana in the Newton Woods as long as it is not in the dorms.
The residential director staff position is described on the Boston College website as follows: “The Resident Director strives to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students by modeling the values of a Jesuit Catholic institution with a commitment to social justice.” The advice given to students proves that RDs act more like police officers than they offer students real life advice and help them grow in the Jesuit ideals. Say, for example, maybe she should instruct students to not partake in illegal drug activities at all and not just simply change locations to avoid getting caught.
There is absolutely no trust whatsoever between the residents, RAs, and the RD in the buildings of Hardey-Cushing. That is sad. The RAs who say to your face that you can trust them and that they are your friends turn and report everything that comes out of your mouth. 
We pay nearly $10,000 a year to live in the overflow campus in Newton, and in Hardey-Cushing, we are paying for Residential Life to take away many of our most basic freedoms as American citizens. I understand that safety is of the utmost importance to Residential Life, but there is a line between keeping a campus safe and policing it like the Gestapo. Residential Life has crossed that line time and time again. Students are not happy, and a surprising amount are moving off campus (5 of 17 from my floor) next year because they are so fed up with many of the ridiculous Residential Life policies, specifically under the Pathways Initiative. 
Apparently Residential Life chooses to ignore the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. The right to privacy is not explicitly outlined in the Constitution, but its idea is present in many of the Constitutional amendments. The 4th Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” I think Residential Life needs to brush up on their U.S. History studies because this amendment does not exist here at BC. They state, along with BCPD, that they can come in and demand you open a fridge or drawer if they so ask. This is not only illegal and unfair, it also, again, promotes a community with absolutely no trust. The head of Residential Life for Newton campus laughed in my face when I brought up the 4th amendment. I do not find my rights as a United States citizen a laughing matter. Just because some executive at BC makes the argument that because they own the dorms they can do what they want with them does not excuse them from blatantly ignoring our Constitutional rights. Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus temporarily during the American Civil War, which was somewhat justified. I do not feel that we have a crisis of that nature here at BC and therefore I am flabbergasted at the lack of respect Residential Life has for our most basic rights. Even criminals in jail have a right to privacy, and probable cause is needed to search even their few possessions. We are not criminals here at BC, yet we do not even have the rights that they do in jail! I have heard students say in the past it is better to be stopped by a BCPD officer than a Boston Police officer, and I do not agree, because at least if I am stopped by a Boston Police officer I know they will follow the laws of our nation that have been upheld for hundreds of years. 
I also believe that whoever created the Pathways Initiative might have forgotten the age of freshman students, on average probably 18 or 19 years old. We are legal adults, and maybe it’s crazy of me, but I do not feel it necessary to have RAs knocking on my door at 8 p.m. many nights a week asking if I want candy and want to chat. If I have a problem I will reach out. Many of the Pathways Initiative programs such as Frosh.0 and Bro.0 seek to “foster community growth” with speakers and activities. It is comical that they have to incentivize students to come by offering free dinner. The number of people that attend solely for the free dinner is overwhelming, so what is that saying about this Pathways Initiative? It is failing. It is unnecessary. And bottom line, it is a waste of our tuition money. 
Had I been aware of the lack of respect that Residential Life has for its students, I would have never lived in the dorms. In the next couple of years, one of two things will happen. Either Residential Life will realize that they need not act like they were trained by Stalin or more and more students will continue to move off campus. BC Residential life is by far the strictest and least trusting of any university I have ever heard of and I truly believe that this reputation will catch up with them faster than they are aware of. 

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Tue Apr 24 2012 22:43
I'm glad to see that HC-Resident has already expressed the same feelings that I had after reading this column. Although I do not have the personal experience of living in the Hardey/Cushing area, it seems that the author's complaints are exaggerated at best and likely incorrect at worst. Reslife, although frustrating at times, is genuinely committed to helping the student body, just like every other office at this university. Throughout the swerving direction of this piece, it seems that his main issue is being caught for something he knew was not permitted. Rather than accepting the consequences like a "legal adult", and like most of the remainder of the student body, he prefers to shift the blame to Reslife by writing a scathing (and largely unjustified) review of the entire Pathways Initiative Program. Essentially, the author chose to complain about being caught, rather than objecting to the rule itself (which would have likely been a more admirable effort).

Next time you choose to publish a complaint about Reslife, please take the following into consideration. Do not make hyperbolic and ridiculous comparisons between them and various 20th century dictators, as if you getting caught for smoking weed, drinking underage, etc. was comparable to human rights atrocities. Moreover, for the sake of political discourse, please educate yourself that the Constitution is a restriction on the powers of the federal government, and often the states through the process of incorporation (as the above poster briefly summarized). With some caveats, It does not apply to private university administrations, your boss, or your parents. So rather than making pseudo-legal arguments and recommending that "Residential Life needs to brush up on their U.S. History," I would advise you to do the same.

Tue Apr 24 2012 20:35
I partially agree and disagree..although the intention of the article may be misaimed the constitution stands strong regardless of institution in the USA. Just as you cannot have private prostitution and rape you cannot privately break the fourth amendment. I disagree in that this piece is clearly from the perspective of an individual going at lengths to defend his right to get him. However, I agree that we need to be treated as adults, and enough already with the constant check-ups.
Mon Apr 23 2012 23:44
Have to agree with the comment above. Seems kind of hypocritical to ask the police to more strictly abide by the law when according to Kameron he was in a conduct meeting for smoking marijuana. Seems like an excuse to complain about the fact that he got caught and that the rules don't apply to him. Get over it and move off campus or transfer... you're seriously complaining that your RAs give you free candy?
Hardey-Cush Resident
Mon Apr 23 2012 22:18
^^Well said
Your "opinion" piece comes across as a childish rant that you probably wrote minutes after handing a BCPD officer your card. I'm going to assume your sample size is limited to your group of friends after just being written up. You have no knowledge of what the other 300+ Hardey-Cushing residents think about the Pathways Program so you have zero authority on claiming the Program is a failure and that students are unhappy. Maybe accepting some of the that free candy will make you less cranky.
Mon Apr 23 2012 13:29
I strongly disagree with this piece, and I think it's presumptuous for Kam to attempt to speak for the whole Hardey-Cushing population. Many of us enjoy the programs in place -- trips to the zoo, walking tours of Boston, alternative Spring Break, Frosh.0, Tea Time, 48 Minutes, and more. The RAs on each floor have made an attempt to get to know their residents, and its only students with an entitled attitude -- the "I can do what I want, why are people holding me accountable" response of a jaded adolescent -- that sees the RAs or Elizabeth as Gestapo. Next time you go quoting the Constitution, it's worth checking facts: the U.S. Constitution does not apply to private actors. The 4th Amendment only applies to the actions of the Federal Government, and, through extension of the 14th Amendment, to the State Gov't. It does not apply to a private school in which you chose to enroll and whose campus agreement you signed. Living in BC housing is a privilege and not a right, and it's about time Kam starts acting like an adult (instead of just claiming to be one) by finally being responsible for mistakes that he has made instead of blaming the RAs for catching him

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