Contention over changes in new Residential Life policy

By Colton Williams

Contributing Writer

As a freshman, the dorm policies for this year are the only policies I’ve ever known. Whether or not I knew that there was a change in policy is another question. Perhaps most freshmen don’t even notice the changes, though upperclassmen may be a little disgruntled with the new rules.

One small change is that wipes should no longer be flushed, even ‘flushable’ wipes, as they cause significant plumbing issues that can impact the entire building.

The most talked-about change, and the one most likely to frustrate students, is that command strips are no longer allowed in the dorm rooms. Command strips are sticky tabs that attach to picture frames, posters, and more and secure the decorations to the wall. In their stead, each room was provided with removable mounting putty, which does not work.

Any decorative piece you wish to hang on your wall cannot weigh too much, or the putty will slowly pull away from both the wall and the mounted piece, and the decoration will fall. I’ve seen it firsthand with my roommate’s lovely painting of President Jimmy Carter – a real collectible, copy one-of-a-kind from a Savannah street artist – that now just sits on the floor next to the bookshelf because it has no place to hang. It’s a shame. It would really pull the room together, right next to our specially-made poster of Jon Meacham (C’91).

Jillian Miller (C’20) thinks the change in policy significantly impacts a student’s ability to express themselves in their dorms. “The putty only holds posters, if that. It doesn’t hold tapestries, framed pictures, or most wall decor,” she said. “With the cost of this university being so high, I think it is ridiculous that we cannot decorate our rooms as we see fit, with regards to fire codes of course. The self-expression and creativity supported in our classrooms should not be halted when we enter the walls of our dorm.”

The justification for the policy change is the difficulty in removing the command strips. The sticky residue attaches to the wall, and when removed can take paint along with it. It is reasonable to want to avoid any damages, and students who put up new command strips over the course of the year will be slapped with a $15 fine for each use.

Director of Residential Life Kate Reed said of the changes, “We are hopeful that these two small changes in Residential Life policy will support the year-round work of Facilities Management in maintaining both the residence halls and small houses.”

Kevin Nguyen (C’18), lead proctor for Smith and Cannon, said there will be a sort of learning curve with the changes. “A lot of people don’t like it, it’s a new thing, so it will take some time to get used to. In four years people might not think anything of it.”

And perhaps people don’t think anything of it now, anyway. Because I definitely, absolutely, 100 percent, do not have seven command strips hanging in my room.