At 11:55 p.m., freshmen houses come alive. Men and women race down the halls and back to their respective sides of the houses. The same happens, albeit at a more lethargic pace, between upperclassmen houses as well. House hours strike every night. But why have them?
Reid Charlston, former resident counselor of Anderson House, is the current Home Life Manager for Student Life. He’s in charge of overseeing the resident counselors, resident advisers and all of student housing. Because of this, Charlston is very involved in the system of house hours and its continuation.
Charlston said house hours “support the feeling of a house as a home by encouraging quieter times in the evenings when the house members can be together. They help encourage students to keep more reasonable hours. They provide some support for our rules against premarital sex and cohabitation. They help give students a better sense of safety and privacy in their own house.”
He continued, “Obviously house hours isn’t single-handedly achieving any of these on its own, but it is a helpful part for some students in achieving these things.”
Dean of Students Debra Jones said, “For me, it boils down to respect for others and providing space for sleep, quiet and putting others before ourselves. It also supports the idea of home … and since students share their home with so many, there needs to be some middle ground to protect that sense of home, sleep and quiet for those desiring a mature balance.”
The arguments against house hours are usually twofold: that house hours are unreasonable, and that college students should be given more leeway in their decisions.
In response to the first argument, Student Life Programming Manager Joshua Sprague said, “The visitors really enjoy the atmosphere here, and it was in contrast to other schools they were considering. I think that atmosphere is an intentional result of people at Prin agreeing to live by the community standards which include drugs, drinking, sex but also house hours.”
Charlston expanded, “We have received positive student feedback on all the points above, which leads me to believe they are reasonable. We do get feedback on the opposite sides of those points, too, but we have received enough in support of house hours to feel it is right to continue it.”
Jones also replied, “Being a member of a community means that we do what’s best for the common good versus our own desires. It means respecting the privacy of others, supporting their need for quiet and sleep; it means giving each other space to feel a protected sense of home; and it means growing out of immature ideas of freedom to understanding that respect-based boundaries and rules actually support our growth, our selflessness, and ultimately our happiness.”
Still, some students favor getting rid of house hours altogether. Charlston said, “I think we are always open to the discussion about changing house hours. There have been two or three times where that has been a major discussion topic on campus while I’ve worked here, and each time it has resulted in us keeping the policy as is. But the discussions have been very good for the community. I would say that each time it comes up we are truly open to seeing if there is a better option for our campus.”
Jones shared, “For several years, one of the RCs has asked every woman in the house, during senior exit interviews, if house hours should be kept or eliminated. 100 percent of the women felt strongly that house hours should be kept. That’s strong affirmation about the value of protecting a sense of balance, some semblance of privacy and, most of all, a better sense of home.”
Sprague said, “It definitely comes up every once in a while and it’s usually a very good conversation about why we have house hours. They heighten the awareness on why we do have house hours and if we did consider changing them, we would have to have some really good reasons for doing so.”