November 3, 2009

Criticism of Housing in Ayers’s decision unfounded

The Maroon Editorial Board’s position is wholly untenable (“Window Treatments,” 10/30/09).

The Maroon Editorial Board’s position is wholly untenable (“Window Treatments,” 10/30/09). The University of Chicago Student Manual, which every student is required to read, clearly states that “Residents may not engage in activities which threaten the safety of others. A list of specific acts that come under the rubric of dangerous activities could never be exhaustive; however the following is a partial list: …Throwing objects from the windows of residence halls. The size, weight, and shape of such objects—and their potential for harm—cannot be subject to exhaustive debate… Residents who engage in any of the acts listed above will be subject to serious disciplinary action, including the likelihood of being removed from a House or from the House System.”

Defenestration has always been illegal and subject to harsh punishment. All incoming first-years and returning students are warned of the harshness of Housing with respect to this rule and staff make explicit that it is not a rule to be broken lightly. As a third-year, Clayton Ayers was duly informed of the rules not once but thrice, so he is thus bound by their principles. Since it is obvious that egress of any object via a window is strictly prohibited, how can it rationally be argued that ingress is somehow permitted? That is utter nonsense; even if it were not, the student manual clearly states that it only contains a partial list of prohibited activities. Is the Maroon Editorial Board really attempting to argue that an object going through a window—whatever the object may be—is licit as long as it is from the outside to the inside? Even if one took that position, it is still in blatant violation of housing rules as it bypasses established security procedures and requires “tampering with the physical plant of the residence halls including removing screens,” which is also subject to fine.

Despite the Maroon’s attempts at portraying it as such, this is not an issue of whether Ayers committed a safety violation or if his punishment is too harsh; this is simply an issue of whether or not he violated the rules. Any logical person could surmise that if the exit of any object via a window will result in removal, the entry of any object via a window will likely result in the same punishment. The only way this could be clearer is thus: “Under no circumstances, barring an emergency, may any object enter or leave through a window. The size, weight, shape, or potential for harm of such an object is not debatable.”

Charles Stephen Thompson

Class of 2010

Former President, The Inter-House Council of The University of Chicago