Students Take to Public Forum After Policy Revision

by Gabriella DePinhoNews Editor

After a meeting between the Resident Student Association, Student Government representatives and Student Life administration, the access control policy has been revised. But the campus conversation is not over yet.

As students geared up to address their concerns at the Student Government Assembly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 4, resident students received an email from Charles Clency, the director of Residence Life, late Tuesday afternoon, stating new amendments that would be implemented immediately to the policy.

The changes that he implemented were first suggested at a meeting he had with SGA leadership the previous week and came after a meeting Clency and the involved parties had earlier in the day.

“Other administration was at that meeting as well with the student leadership, which we see as the voice of the students. It was a set meeting, so it was formal and we talked through things that we could do and couldn’t do in some regards. It was actually meant to be a starting point because we are continuing these conversations throughout the semester… but these were things we thought we could change immediately,” said Clency.

Students are now allowed to host day guests on weekend nights, which have been identified as Fridays and Saturdays, until 2 a.m. Guests who intend to stay later than 2 a.m. are required to be signed in as an overnight guest and weekday visitation policy will remain the same.

“Some of those things folks were talking about, the timelines, the windows, that never changed with the new access policy, we just rolled with what was before but we implemented our new access policy. It was just a matter of not making changes, we didn’t venture into the hours. We just focused on the procedure,” said Clency.

In addition, overnight guest paper passes are no longer required. Students will still need to fill out a guest request via MyHousing Portal, according to the existing policy, however, guests will be welcomed into the building similarly to day guests with a proper sign in process.

“What has changed specifically… that paper is going away. We will no longer be asking students to walk around with it in hand to indicate that they have permission because we will have it online. The process online is going to continue as it has been. The only thing that’s changing is we don’t have to search for students on Fridays to get them those passes,” said Clency.

Resident Assistants and Public Safety officers will be sent a list of guests that have the proper permissions to stay overnight. For now, Public Safety officers will have to verify with a physical copy of a list that the student has the proper permission to be there, in addition to the students leaving their IDs at the desk.

Sept. 9 is the first night overnight guests are allowed so problems regarding the changes to the overnight guest policy will start to be ironed out as students start to host guests.

At the student government meeting, after going through other official business, the Jasper State of Mind executive board left plenty of time for the large group of students to share their concerns and to discuss the policy as a whole.

Before students started discussing any concerns, Luke Malpica, the VP of Residential Affairs, shared a third policy change that was not outlined in the e-mail.

“On weekends such as Springfest or other related weekends like that, it will revert back to last semester’s policy where anyone is allowed access to the buildings but that’s only for those specific days and events,” he said.

Kaylyn Atkins, the student body president, shared some of her own remarks before opening up the floor to students in attendance.

“These changes are not finite, they’re not absolute. Luke, Parveen[Rampersaud, vice president of commuter affairs] and myself have meetings planned every month with the student life admin, as they are open to revisiting and revising the policy in the best interest of you and the administration,” said Atkins.

She confirmed that the campus will in no way be going back to the old open access policy that students were familiar with.

“We feel as though security and safety is an issue on this campus so a new policy was needed but I know it wasn’t executed the right way. On behalf of Dr. Satterlee, who couldn’t be here, he extends his apologies. He’s really sorry that he didn’t reach out to commuters, number one, and he caused unintended consequences the administration didn’t even think about,” she said.

Atkins asked that those who speak provide solutions, rather than just voice concerns and complaints, and some students came prepared with solutions and requests.

“It has been brought to my attention lately that Public Safety has their own course of action when dealing with these situations and these rules and regulations that they’re following haven’t been released to the student body, they’re only for Public Safety to see… I would like the full policy that Public Safety is following, if at all possible, be released to the students so we know what regulations we need to be following,” said Christopher Nuzzo, a Resident Assistant in Horan Hall.

Students backed this request up with stories of being told by Public Safety officers that they would get fined or in trouble if they forgot their physical ID more than two or three times, which raises concerns about losing or breaking an ID over a weekend.

Co-Vice President of the School of Engineering, Alexander Kelly, also voiced a request for more information.

“I think the solution to all of this is that Charles Clency needs to come out and talk to everyone. He’s been hiding and having meetings. The thing we’re all talking about is it’s trickle down information and we need information more directly. A meeting with him and the director of public safety is the best way to get answers,” said Kelly.

Clency, Richard Satterlee, Vice President of Student Life, and Peter DeCaro, the Director of Public Safety, were all invited to attend the meeting held at noon, during the Wednesday activity period. None of them were in attendance.

“I want to be as transparent as possible. I think we’ve been doing a good job at that,” said Clency in an interview with The Quadrangle.

“I can’t say yea or nay on whether or not we’re going to come to the general assembly of SGA but I can share that we are sitting and talking with SGA leadership,” said Clency, in regards to the possibility of addressing the student population in a public meeting or forum.

Another student proposed a method of streamlining the overnight guest pass policy for other MC students.

“Since it’s not the physical pass anymore, why don’t we extend the time we can fill in guest passes?… Could we possibly fill out the guest pass the day of so that way I don’t need to figure out days in advance if my friend needs to stay over that night?,” said senior Olivia Haveron.

Other students voiced that they felt safety priorities of administration did not line up with their own concerns.

“I don’t think this was the proper way to implement campus safety. We only have like three blue lights on this campus so maybe more blue lights would make me feel a lot safer. There are other things that would make me feel a lot safer on this campus… I think that our priorities are not in the right places,” said junior Nicole Nunez.

According to the “MC Emergency Response Guide” put out by the office of Public Safety, the college has 29 blue lights, 21 of which are located in the parking garage. Typically blue light systems are implemented on college campuses so that the next nearest blue light can be seen from the vantage point of the blue light you are standing at.

Blue lights are a common safety feature at most colleges or universities and meant to provide an extra sense of security for walking around, especially late at night.

“I know there have been some complaints where people are trying to bring people home who aren’t feeling good and they can’t go into the building with them and that’s especially an issue. I live in OV, my friend lives in Horan and she had to walk all the way back to Horan by herself and I think that’s a problem for campus safety, especially for women,” said junior Molly Prior.

Beyond solutions, other students had other concerns, especially about the fines.

“Considering that the policy of students being fined for staying past the curfew could only be found by digging through the student code of conduct or by word of mouth, a lot of freshmen didn’t know that and a lot of freshmen stayed past twelve. The fining of students staying past these curfews must stop, it’s insulting,” said Horan Hall Resident Assistant Eddie Grimes.

“If this whole thing is about safety, then why are we being fined for repeat offenses? It seems that there’s another reason behind that,” said George Usher.

Junior computer engineering major Wyatt Madej outed himself as the sole owner and runner of the Instagram account @mc.access.exclusion. His page had encouraged students to walk to the assembly meeting together and to voice their concerns through the channel of the executive board and he was there to do the same.

“The fact that we’re being called day guests at our own college is, frankly, terrible. I don’t know about any of you but when I pay to go here and I go to class, I’m not a guest here, I’m a student, I’m a part of this community,” said Madej, a statement which was met with resounding applause from the approximately fifty students in attendance.

Nuzzo raised additional concerns about the policy RAs need to follow.

“In Horan Hall and Lee Hall, RAs are forced to turn away guests that try to come in through the bridge, which is the policy that has been given to us. I think that one of the main issues with that is that there’s no access to the first floor entrances if you’re in a wheelchair, on a scooter or need crutches and that’s an issue because the only access is stairs of some kind unless you go down to Broadway and come up the ramp, which is dangerous,” he said.

Regarding the “honor system” in place in Chrysostom and Jasper, Nuzzo also had additional thoughts.

“The QR codes are supposedly being used to sign guests in so for what reason can that policy not be implemented in Horan and Lee on the bridge if they trust students enough to sign guests in for Jasper and Chrysostom,” he said.

SGA will bring all of these concerns and potential solutions to meetings with Clency as they continue to meet with him throughout this semester.

“If there’s going to be anymore tweaks or changes, they can probably be implemented by the new semester,” said Clency. “I’m comfortable in saying that we probably won’t make any more distinctive changes until January. If there are going to be any changes, we’ll probably end up putting it out before Thanksgiving break so they know where we’re heading.”

These changes have come as a result of students raising their voices, just like the crowd did at the Wednesday assembly meeting.

“I like that the students have come together, I think that’s the way it should be. Clearly the range of what requests are… there’s opposite extremes… and we have to find what’s in the middle. I think what we implemented immediately were in that middle ground,” said Clency. “We hear students, we hear the concerns. We may not be able to meet the students all the way, but some of them are reasonable requests.”

Regardless of ongoing meetings, policy revision, and what students feel is poor information communication, there was one concern voiced at the assembly meeting that revision and open discussions cannot solve.

“I would just like to reiterate that the housing policy we signed last spring did not include these rules. We submitted a deposit when we signed that policy but they don’t feel like giving us that deposit back because they’ve gone against their own policies. That was a legal agreement we signed. We basically signed a lease and they went against it,” said senior Carl Ranieri.