On Feb. 12, Kendrick Durham emailed the senior class with a tersely titled email: “Important Announcement Regarding Senior Week.” In the body of the email, Durham briefly explained changes made to the Senior Week guest policy, namely, that no guests could stay during Senior Week.
Durham bluntly states: “It has been determined that the risk of having underclass students on campus with zero responsibility for three days is just too great, and too much of our attention has been spent dealing with problematic guests and not where it belongs, which is to provide a capstone to your Centre experience.”
This email blindsided most of the student body as, officially, no word of the planning behind these policy changes disseminated to the Student Government Association, or the student body as a whole.
As with many of the facts surrounding this process, only rumors permeate about who was informed about the details behind this decision. Seniors are not even sure who sent down the order for this decision, whether it comes from Durham himself, the Student Life Office (SLO), or some other branch of the administrations.
The lack of information, and a notable absence of didactic dialogue between the student body and the Centre administration, is strikingly out of line with expectations of the Centre community. To date, all attempts to contact both Durham and Student Life Coordinator Elizabeth Frank on the part of seniors and underclassmen received no response.
Centre College which constantly prides itself on its ability for the administration and student body to communicate in a constructive and open manner should be disappointed in the utter lack of clarity surrounding the situation.
The student body cannot even verify the supposed underclassmen vandalism and intoxication problems that were listed as reasons for the change. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) updates a Crime and Fire log on Centrenet, available to all students, whenever an incident is reported on campus.
However, this log conveniently leaves out all records of crime during the Senior Week period, stopping after May 10 and continuing on June 17. This prevents interested bodies from fact-checking the claims made by Durham in his email.
The Clery Annual Report of Crime Statistics published by DPS does offer vague reports for “Disciplinary Referrals: Liquor Law Violations” during the years 2011-2013. However, the reports shows a 63 percent decline in referrals and violations for on-campus property from 2011 to 2013, a 55 percent decline for on-campus student housing facilities, and no referrals or violation reported during those years on non-campus property and public property. With these positive statistics that show improvement as the only available facts that may have prompted this change, the confusion about the decision intensifies.
Student input is not uncommon on Centre’s campus; in fact there is a strong precedent for it. The SLO even requests senior input for what events and activities occur during Senior Week, which only makes the current situation even more frustrating.
The heart of this issue is not the validity of the administration’s right to change policies surrounding Senior Week. It is the complete disregard for the student body’s input on this issue when it is highly valued in all other sectors, and then the further inability to convey the proper information to the people these changes concern the most.
In response to the lack of information, the senior class quickly organized to address this issue and seek clarification on the exact details and facts informing the decision.
As of today, seniors came together and formulated a petition that they hope will be addressed by the administration. The petition urges reinstating the previous policy and requests a discussion to develop alternative plans. At press time, the petition had 218 senior signatures.
The petition makes clear that this is not a simple demand for a reinstatement of the old policy. It is a request to discuss the policy change and clarify all the rumors and the lack of answers they have received so far.
It states: “We request a discussion to occur between the administration and a group of selected seniors representing the class’s interests to develop alternative options for a senior week guest policy.”
A vocal portion of the senior body discussed alternative policies that could function as a compromise or at least a means of opening a dialogue between students and the administration. One suggestion was to create a deposit system for guests that would be returned to those who were not cited during Senior Week and withheld from those who received citations. This system would reward good behavior and only punish bad behavior.
The Editorial Board hopes that some dialogue can occur between the student body and the administration in order to clarify and dispel the lack of information and the multitudes of misinformation and rumors surrounding this decision. The Editorial Board believes that it is this dialogue that is necessary to maintain the expected trust and confidence integral to the relationship between Centre students and the administrations.