Senate Beat: RD Patrols, Graffiti, and Sustainability
Rennie Meyers contributed reporting
A new program in which residence directors walk through dorms caused a stir at last week’s Senate meeting. The program, which has had Resident Directors patrolling dorms between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM on Friday and Saturday nights for the past couple weeks, is intended to help promote integration of RDs into the community. But it also allows RDs to write up students who are using illegal drugs or alcohol and pass the information on to Community Safety—essentially giving them to power to issue AOD violations.
Though no RDs have yet taken any names, opponents of the program say it will harm trust between students and their RDs. “What’s important here is perception,” says Senator Ari Galper. “Dormies interpret the walkthroughs at face value—a staff member with whom they are unfamiliar and who has the ability to give them an AOD coming in to make sure that nobody is drinking.
“The decision by the administration to have RDs do ‘walk-throughs’ of dorm common spaces, as well as their push for HAs to take a more active role in ensuring AOD compliance among their residents, reflects a larger shift away from harm reduction towards enforcement,” says Senator Nina Liss-Schultz.
Alternatives were discussed. “I think something like dinner with the RDs would be more productive in terms of community-building,” says Galper. The conversation will be continued at the next meeting.
New Graffiti Committee May Help Make Policy
Dean of Student Services Mike Brody called a halt to repainting of walls in the downstairs GCC bathrooms a few weeks ago, but Physical Plant has since reversed its policy, with at least three rounds of graffiti and repainting since fall break.
To help mediate between students and administration on the issue, one proposed solution is to reinstitute the defunct Ministry of Propaganda, which once managed murals on campus. The revived body would contain four students, two faculty members, and one staff member who would make and implement policy on what graffiti is acceptable. According to a draft proposal, they would make decisions according to “the location of the graffiti on campus and who has access to the space, the content of the graffiti and whether it may cause discomfort, embarrassment, or harm to any community members, any artistic/aesthetic value of the graffiti, campus climate and context in which the graffiti appears, and whether the piece contributes to academic freedom or public discourse.” Ultimate power over policy would still rest with the Director of Facilities Operations, or a designee thereof.
The current policy is confused and disjointed, with some administrators saying graffiti is only painted over in cases of hate speech, but graffiti frequently being erased altogether. The graffiti wars are costly, with each repainting costing the school a bit under $2,000, according to Facilities Services Maintenance Manager Steve Yeadon.
New Moves on Sustainability
Sustainability Committee met for the first time this year. Physical Plant is in the midst of a 3-year plan to reduce water, electricity, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning use by modernizing facilities, says Senator Marie Perez. For example, they are installing solar panels that will provide enough electricity for the RCAs, Birchwoods, and 28 West.
Sustainability Committee is also hoping to hire a sustainability coordinator to increase awareness and participation in sustainability projects, says Perez. Though the administration was reluctant to hire a new staff member, she says, a student coordinator paid by Student Body funds and possibly Sustainability Committee’s own funds is a potential alternative. The committee has an excess of $13,000 in unused funds.