By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
On February 13, every member of the senior class received an email notifying them of a policy change regarding senior week activities. Citing chronic damages and misconduct, Kendrick Durham, speaking on behalf of the Student Life Office, explained that seniors would no longer be allowed to have guests during senior week.
Angered at both the policy change and the lack of communication preceding the announcement, the student body organized a petition to be signed by the senior class in an effort to express their dismay. As of now, the results of the petition have yet to be seen.
The Cento also took a stance on the issue, publishing an essay articulating various concerns about the substance of the policy and the methods by which it was created. In preparation for this article, the Opinions Section Editor Gray Whitsett, reached out on Feb. 13 to Kendrick Durham and Elizabeth Frank, both members of the Student Life Office, to secure an interview. Frank replied, stating that unfortunately, Durham was out of the office for the following day, Feb. 14, making an interview impossible to conduct until the following Monday, Feb. 17.
Whitsett’s original email did include an option to reply via email to four questions surrounding the senior week policy change, but no attempt was made to answer them digitally at that time.
Whitsett then emailed both Frank and Durham that Monday, suggesting an in person interview but restating the option to answer the four questions through email. There was no reply to Whitsett’s email until Wednesday, Feb. 19, after The Cento’s article on the matter was published.
The Cento has chosen to post the email in its unaltered state in an attempt to distribute the facts to the student body. What follows is the entirety of that email:
“Sorry about the delay. I have been out of the office quite a bit in the last few days.
Why was the policy changed? Including data on damages, citations, etc.
In 2012 Student Life staff pulled together a group of around 30 seniors representing various involvements and academic areas on campus to discuss what had become a serious risk management issue with the culture surrounding Senior Week. We came to this meeting with the intent that we would discontinue allowing guests at that time, but after a fruitful discussion the group of Seniors was willing to make concessions that would allow guests at Senior Week with restrictions. As a refresher, those restrictions were:
- If a Senior has been cited during the 2011-2012 academic year for anything involving alcohol (PAM, AI, OC) or vandalism they will not be allowed to invite a guest.
- Any underclassman who has been cited for anything involving alcohol or vandalism during their entire Centre career will not be allowed on campus during Senior Week.
- Guests will be limited to current Centre students only.
- The fee for a guest to participate in Senior Week activities will be $100.
- Behavior during Senior Week will impact the guest policy for next year.
Those five stipulations have largely remained intact since then with a later update to number one, which was that Seniors who had been cited at all (for the above mentioned offenses) during their Centre career would not be allowed to invite guests. It should be noted that number five has been in place since that time and we have reviewed the policy every year since that time for possible changes. The previously cited change is one example of that process.
I can say that behavior did improve very slightly after the initial policy change, but not enough to warrant continuing with that policy. We have had numerous citations every year, some of which represent a danger to an individual, and others which represent a severe lack of respect for campus property and the Centre community as a whole. In nearly all cases these incidents and citations involved guests rather than Seniors. As we continue to focus on issues of safety and security on campus, including the recent focus on Title IX issues, we have to balance the celebratory atmosphere with one of safety and reverence for the campus.
Who was involved in the changing of the preexisting policy? Who ultimately did the decision rest with?
The Student Life Office has collectively reviewed the policy every year and came to this decision together.
Was there any effort made to include students, or current seniors, in discussions concerning the policy?
We constantly seek feedback from students regarding all of our services, and as I said, we spent a great deal of time and energy in this ongoing process and have consulted students along the way.
Do you plan to entertain any changes to this policy, either before the end of the semester or in coming years?
As with every policy we are constantly assessing and reevaluating how we conduct business. Currently there are no plans to change this policy.
What proposed activities does the Student Life Office plan to implement?
It is honestly too early to answer that question, and this year is no different than others in that regard. We have several things on the drawing board, many of which have never been proposed here and we are excited about. Stay tuned.”