EDITORIALS

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October 30, 2009

Window treatments

Housing’s decision to remove a student for a minor incident is excessively harsh.

Inflexible rules are good in some cases. Refusing to tolerate violence in the dorms, for example, helps undergraduates feel secure in housing. In other cases, however, a zero-tolerance approach is clearly inappropriate—and in Housing, disproportionate punishments detract from the community spirit necessary to make dorms welcoming. So when third-year Clayton Ayers allowed five friends to enter his ground-floor dorm room through the window earlier this month, Housing should have let him off with no more than a wrist-slap for incurring a minor safety or security risk. The actual response—deciding to kick him out of the South Campus Residence Hall and dining hall—is far more severe than Ayers’s “crime.”

House check-in policies for both residents and visitors exist for a reason. Certainly, it would be worrisome to have people going into dorms through windows on a regular basis. But the five people who entered Ayers’s room in Janotta House were all fellow students who came in with his permission. Housing should recognize that people entering a room through a window is a security issue in principle, but was not the actual facts of Ayers’s case.

Housing’s harsh response to Ayers’s actions forces him to uproot in the middle of the quarter and bars him from visiting or dining with his friends at his former home. The administration’s reasons for doling out such a stern punishment are unknown; Housing officials Katie Callow-Wright and Jim Wessel refused to comment on the situation to the Maroon. Hopefully, the fact that Housing has not yet scheduled the review of the decision Ayers requested means administrators are having second thoughts about the severity of his punishment.

Whether or not this is the case, Housing should be forgiving of such minor offenses. Ayers did not endanger anyone; if Housing feels it necessary to make an example of him, the now well-publicized probations of Ayers and the five students who entered through his window are certainly enough to get the point across. The Maroon hopes that when the decision is reviewed, Housing will reverse the decision to ban Ayers from his dorm and dining hall.

—The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional Editorial Board member. Editorial Board member Matt Barnum, a Housing employee, recused himself.