Open apartment rules change for first time in 10 years

By Brooklyn Dance

Three aspects of Ivan Palomares’ four-pronged proposal to change open apartment policies have been approved by both the Student Life Council and the President’s Cabinet. The changes will be effective once RAs are trained accordingly.

Palomares, student body president, created a four pronged proposal: to have more consistent open dorm hours, less RA check ins during open dorms, to eliminate the open blinds policy and to eliminate the rule requiring a third person to be in the apartment during open hours.

After three separate one-hour student life council meetings, the group agreed on passing all but the proposal to eliminate the third person rule, which was tabled. Student Life Council members ultimately decided that more education should be implemented before passing the final request.

“They approved all but the one about the three-person rule. They did not vote in down, they just said they want to wait on that one a bit longer because they feel like there needs to be some additional work,” Lilienthal said. “There was conversation [like,] ‘we need to do a better job about educating our student population about appropriateness of the situations they put themselves in.’”

The President’s Cabinet met on Feb. 6 and Tom Middendorf, associate provost and dean of academic and student affairs, presented the proposal. The Cabinet voted to approve the three rules. The blinds will not need to be opened, open hours will consist of every night in both male and female apartments and RAs will check in less frequently than the current rule, which is every hour on the hour.

Lilienthal said she’s not sure what the new RA check ins will look like, but they will likely be more random. She added that if problems do arise, they hope to work through them instead of just ending the trial run.

“We’re going to try it out. If it looks like there’s some problem areas we could always go back and adjust them, but I don’t think in those three areas there will be problems,” Lilienthal said.

Lilienthal added that she is looking into the best system for RA checks that isn’t as intense, but holds residents to a level of accountability so that they know she and her staff care about what’s going on.

The student life council is comprised of 10 members including student leaders and faculty on campus. Jessica Dykes, associate vice president and dean of student development, is tasked with facilitating the meeting and therefore remaining neutral.

Dykes said that the conversation was effective and that the faculty on the student life council cared about the student perspective

“We had some great perspectives from both sides about why we have these things in place, through the lens of moral development and spiritual development and community life,” Dykes said.  “And then also other individuals who were wanting to hear and understand from students. I think everyone in the room very much cares about the students and hearing from students and walking with them on this journey, that’s why they’re on this committee. “

Currently, apartment open house rules require a third person to be in the room, all feet to be on the ground, no blankets can be shared, the blinds must be open and a guest pass must be up. Guests cannot be in the bedrooms. RAs check the rooms with guests once an hour. The open hours alternate every other day between female apartment and male apartment, but both male and female have open hours on the weekends.

His proposal came about after compiling multiple complaints from students, and attending the Nazarene Student Leadership Conference last spring where we compared Trevecca’s open dorm policies with other Nazarene Universities.

“Coming in I said I wanted to do things for the students, but if I couldn’t finish that I at least could build foundations,” Palomares said. “I’m very excited about the results.”

“The three-person rule is tabled for now, but I hope there is more we can do before the end of the year,” Palomares said.

Lilienthal estimates the current open apartment rules have stayed the same for the last 10 years.

To Palomares, this makes sense.

“I think I am the first to propose changes [in 10 years] because of how much work has gone into it. I have been in numerous meetings and those in SGA who helped me put a lot of effort into our research,” he said. “Not only that, but convincing people that it is time for change is not easy.”

Many students like Sam Whitlock have been hopeful in a rule change for awhile.

“We do open apartments at least three times a week because there aren’t places on campus where girls and guys can have a move night or binge a Netflix show,” Whitlock said.

Whitlock said the proposed open hours every night would solve this problem.

“When it’s girl’s open apartments, I have to ask all five of my roommates if they will be in the room, which many never are. Then [my boyfriend] and I can’t hangout on campus except in the noisy places like the Hub,” she said.

Palomares is hopeful for the trajectory after his proposal.

“I feel that we achieved two great goals: in changing some things, and also starting a foundation for later classes to feel confident in fighting for the things students want,” Palomares said.

Dykes is proud of Palomares’ work and appreciates the healthy dialogue.

“It’s my hope that student government and committees work together to discuss student life. It’s a good thing that dialogue is happening,” Dykes said.

Lilienthal agrees these conversations are healthy, saying the current rules are outdated.

“I think it’s healthy to have these discussions, I think we need to have them. I always welcome those kinds of things. I’m looking forward to what we can do to make it workable and better for everyone,” she said.

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