When the change in open-dorm policy was announced in chapel Monday, cheers sounded throughout the
Benson Auditorium. But in my circles, there’s not so much delight over the new policy.
The new open-dorm schedule means that upperclassmen dorms like Pryor Hall, where I work as a Resident Assistant, will have one extra open dorm each month in addition to open dorm on the first Friday of the month. There’s just one problem — someone has to work those hours, and I’m one of those someones. In the past, RAs have worked open dorm on the occasional Tuesday or Thursday, but not as long or as often as this new system requires. RAs will be dealing with the ramifications as this policy is implemented.
In theory, having open dorm on Fridays sounds like a wonderful idea. Students can enjoy it since no one has to study for a test the next day, and Friday movie nights can be spent in the comfort of the dorm.That’s where the benefits end and the downfalls begin.
My first point of contention: the Friday open dorms will be for women’s and men’s dorms on the same nights. This doesn’t change my job as an RA, but it means that the student body will be split between the guys’ half of campus and the girls’ half. How does this schedule offer more opportunities to take advantage of open dorm? This increases the burden on RAs without offering more opportunities to students.
In addition, it’s not fair to RAs in upperclassmen dorms to have to work more open dorm hours. Besides, open dorm seems less popular in the upperclassmen dorms. Freshmen open-dorm nights are bustling with activity, while upperclassmen open-dorm nights see little activity in comparison. Why should we increase the number of open-dorm nights when fewer people attend?
Methods vary from dorm to dorm, but in the past, I’ve seen open dorm arranged in a way that allows desk workers to continue getting paid for the hours they normally work. Under the new system, it’s more difficult to do so. Desk workers who are not RAs won’t be able to work those hours and could lose up to eight hours of work in a month.
In the past, we’ve split the hours so no one has to work the entire time. Under the new system, some of us will work the entire four hour shift — which, by the way, is longer than open dorm used to be. In dorms like Shores and Pryor Halls, those four hours aren’t spent patrolling toasty hallways but walking around the outdoor courtyard. It’s frigid this time of year, and four hours in the cold is not my idea of a fun Friday night. On the bright side, we will get paid for those hours. Unfortunately, RAs next year won’t get paid for those hours; rather, it will be incorporated into the job description.
Between the frequency of the open-dorm nights and the fact that RAs have to work them, it reduces the potential for our weekends off. If we want to spend a weekend out of town, we now have to take open dorm into consideration, a complication we’re already dealing with in my dorm.
RA application numbers are down, and changes like these are not likely to revive interest. After all, I signed up to lose sleep, not my social life.