Sacrificing Student Freedom: The Price of Safety at Colorado College

Colorado College may go a little overboard in terms of regulating students. When a student living on campus is preparing for Block Break, they must arrange their room in a manner that is suitable for health and safety checks. The Residential Life Coordinator (RLC) of the respective apartment, small house, or dorm, and a Resident Advisor (RA), roam the room in search of alcohol, drugs, illicit pets, or incorrectly hung tapestries. Prior to the room search, I received at least three emails from my RLC informing me that a room check would occur.

If a student has a bird, cat, hamster, or other pet sitting in their room upon the arrival of the RA and RLC, I definitely understand how an RA or RLC would feel compelled to report it. However, I have friends who were written up for visible shot glasses on their desks. While a shot glass may point to the activity of underage drinking, a shot glass can serve as a novelty decoration, too. It is unfair for a student to be written up for such an object. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and Institute of Health, it has been proven that the safer a student feels in their environment, the more likely they will act in a responsible manner. Yet, it surely makes a student feel on edge in their own room if they are to get in trouble for leaving something as small as a shot glass in sight.

Additionally, it is not simply on-campus houses where a student can get in trouble. A student can get written up for activities occurring off-campus, too. Even if students register a house party with Campus Safety, alert surrounding houses of possible loud noises, and have the required sober host, an off-campus house can still be written up. Recently, a group of seniors living in a house off campus followed all of the above listed rules, yet received a conduct meeting due to a noise complaint. While I understand the importance of keeping the school in good standing with the outside community, it is also necessary for the school to secure the trust of the students. If they give a list of rules for hosting a party, and a group of students follows the rules exactly, then they should not be penalized. The school loses the trust of its students.

By threatening to write students up, the school scares students away from campus in order to drink, which pushes them to drink in a riskier environment. On the weekends, RAs roam around on-campus housing and are required to report loud noises or knock on doors. However, I have been in my room on many weeknights, with over eight people simply studying or hanging out as loudly as any pregame, and no one comes knocking on my door. My point is, they are seeking out students drinking on weekends. The exact same level of noise is acceptable on a weeknight because they do not suspect drinking. Perhaps it is in pursuit of keeping people safe, but just as often it runs students off campus, putting them in more dangerous environments.

Keeping students safe is incredibly important, yet sometimes the school’s motives are misplaced. They think they are aiding students as they run and barge in on a loud room, listen to a community member’s complaints, or warn students about the possible dangers of a shot glass. However, in the long run it may well cause students to be more secretive, more likely to go off campus, and more likely to distance themselves from the institution that is trying to keep them safe. I am not arguing for the school to turn a blind eye to underage drinking or completely drop all rules and regulations, but the college needs to think more carefully about how they pursue disciplinary action in the future.

Caroline Williams

Caroline Williams

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