When the topic of changing rules comes up, Dr. Palmer frequently recalls his student days when he protested having to keep a brick in his door any time a woman came into his room. He still has his brick to remind him how we’ve evolved as a school.
It’s time to address the brick issue one more time and take the next step forward on house hours.
The current system seems to be failing for two reasons: in large part students don’t agree with the current duration of house hours, and hardly anyone attempts to enforce them. The model that student government is proposing directly addresses both issues.
We propose to delegate house hours to each house board and their house members. Following a reasonable minimum number of hours to prevent cohabitation, each house could decide when they want to be open to the opposite sex, and the house and house board would be responsible for enforcing these hours.
Building Self-Government through Student Freedom
Our proposed model allows the house boards to propose hours to their houses, which then must approve them by either a two-thirds or three-quarters majority. This way, most of the house will agree on a community standard that they want to enforce, and the other house members will witness the vast majority of their house come together and agree.
Right now, house hours are set by the Office of Student Life. While the rules they hand down are well reasoned, they are still forced upon students. While each student who came to Principia agreed to live by the community standards, we are trying give students more input to help set those standards and take ownership of their enforcement.
Student government is confident that students are ready to play a bigger role in setting their community standards.
Real Community Standards
When students vote for house hours, they set their own community standard. Students are much more likely to enforce their own standard than OSL’s. Students who enforce house hours will have the will of the house to back them up, and thus they will not be seen as “snitches.”
It’s much less awkward for students to ask their roommate or hall-mate to obey house hours when every house member had a role in setting those hours. Even if some students argue that they did not vote for those particular hours, they will still have witnessed a supermajority vote, and they will know where the will of their house lies.
While a minority of people may not be happy with the new voted-upon hours, at least they will have a say in setting them each year, and everyone should be excited to play a role in deciding their house’s hours.
Why Students Will Keep House Hours
Most students believe that the time during which houses are closed to the other gender is too long, but that does not mean students want to eliminate house hours altogether. Despite what some may say about Principia students, we’re a relatively tame bunch.
Some of us enjoy the comfort of sleeping and showering knowing that there is some privacy. Others like to know that their roommate’s girlfriend or boyfriend will have to leave at some point. Most students also appreciate the moral values house hours promote.
There are diverse thoughts on house hours, and delegating this responsibility to the houses allows them to cater to their own needs. Some houses prefer more hours for privacy in the morning; some houses might like staying up until 2 a.m.
Our experience tells us that houses will not choose the minimum number of hours. Most houses will choose some time that is a slightly shortened version of the current hours. We’ve surveyed the house presidents and their boards, and, with few exceptions, the results have favored this slight shortening of the existing hours. Even supposedly more “wild” houses overwhelmingly chose conservative hours.
Students are ready for Responsibility
Some students want to totally banish house hours, but most of us appreciate their place in the Principia community. However, we want students to be able to have a say in setting those hours. Students are capable, willing, and excited to play a part in governing their dorm life.
Student government is looking to upgrade the manner in which house hours are set. If students want to help move this idea forward, please talk to, call, and email OSL administrators, your Resident Counselors, and your student leaders.
Laura and Ron
Student Body Presidents