by Elizabeth DeLyser, Copy Editor
Residence Life’s Stewardship policy is being enforced in a new way this year: making students clean their rooms. The policy, although unchanged from last year, is now being interpreted to mean students must keep their rooms in an acceptable state year-round.
The change came around as a result of rooms found in deplorable states last year. This year, students are given warnings about the state of their rooms, though for specific reasons.
“One of the main issues that comes up is fire safety,” said Bob Baum, director of residence life. “Last year we had an issue where a fire safety officer couldn’t get into a room. There was just too much laundry piled up,” he said. “The other issue is smell.”
Prefects now can give verbal warnings to students about the state of their rooms. If the room is not fixed, the prefect can write the student up.
“We let them know they have 24/48 hours to clean their room,” said Baum. “If they don’t clean it, we’ll call a laundry service or a cleaning service to come clean it for them.” Students are then billed for this service.
Senior Megan Matich experienced this new enforcement last semester.
“She [the prefect] bumped into me in the hallway and informed me that I had 24 hours to clean my room or else I would be fined,” said Matich. “She was really straight forward about the entire thing – not nice, but she spoke professionally. She explained the rule to me in detail and told me the reasons that I had violated it.
Despite the professional demeanor, Matich came out of her experience with an vehement unfavorable attitude towards the new approach.
“I was really jumpy about it,” she said. “I mean, they told me that there was ‘garbage’ on my floor, but I know for a fact that there wasn’t. Now, my room did have laundry on the floor, but it was clean laundry– you know, the kind you fling when you can’t find the right outfit. Anyway, my prefect’s assessment made it sounds worse than it actually was.” “I think it is an invasion of privacy. I mean, I consider myself an adult, and I believe that I should be responsible for my own well-being,” Matich added. “Dirty laundry does not seem like a good reason to threaten someone with fines, not to mention humiliate them. I mean, imagine how it feels when you consider yourself a healthy, clean person and somebody basically tells you that you are “dirty” because your room isn’t clean. It is embarrassing whenever something like a messy room becomes public.”
“I understand why someone would get annoyed after being told to clean their room. They’re an adult, after all,” Baum agreed. “But the thing students need to remember is that this place really belongs to the Benedictines, who have welcomed them. Students need to treat their rooms and all college facilities with respect.”
The stewardship policy is an unfortunately necessity on campus. Sometimes there is no other option for FMO or Residence Life. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, described the state of his pod freshman year.
“We had a bunch of glass and broken stuff and lots of garbage all around the floor. There were playing cards all over the floor, literally in every corner. There was a lot of sporting equipment outside of rooms and paper everywhere,” he said. “We actually cleaned it up and we weren’t fined at all.” The student did emphasize, however, that, “It wasn’t that the rooms were dirty; it was that the hall was untidy.”
When asked, the student thought residence life was perfectly justified in insisting the pod be cleaned.
“I actually tried to clean it up most of the year. There were just so many people coming and going; it was just too much,” he said. “I don’t even know who did all of it. Random people would walk through the pod and just drop stuff.”
“I think that [the policy] is appropriate in some cases,” Matich agreed. “Like two years ago, there was a triple room that had moldy old pizza boxes, among other gross things, that smelled awful. I think that in cases like that – where a room is definitely a health and safety hazard – the rule should apply.”