Two weeks ago, students residing in Village B — a designated quiet dorm — were asked to sign a Quiet Contract which mandated that residents of Village B follow the “quiet” guidelines of the contract or find new housing. A group of students organized a Village B community meeting to discuss some issues they had with the contract.
“In Village B, the community felt that he language of that agreement was more harsh than it needed to be,” said Joyce Milling, Area Coordinator of the Village and Housing Coordinator. “
The original quiet contract defined what it means to live in a quiet dorm in four bullets: 1. Strictly enforced quiet hours, 2. No parties, 3. No loud music, and 4. Respect of courtesy hours. While eleven students did sign the original contract, some students didn’t want to because they felt the language in the contract was also too vague and the consequence for disobeying — relocation — was too harsh. According to Milling, Village B is now in the process of rewriting the contract in a way that satisfies all of the residents needs.
For all four types of specialized housing — Substance Free/Wellness, Designated Quiet, Preston House Co-op, and Ecodorm — there is a specific contract, and each one carries the same consequence for breach of guidelines: potential relocation. However, in their reevaluation of the contract Village B decided that such punishment was too harsh and impractical (there are little rooms left on campus to which residents could be relocated), so they’ve discussed other possible reprocussions.
Milling says that although the contracts were predominantly written by students of the past, the community can alter the contracts if they feel its necessary.
“The agreements are open to reevaluation by the community each year,” Milling said. “But only on everybody’s consensus in the community. The agreements are there to provide a foundation for what it means to live in each of the areas.”
The Ecodorm contract, for example, requires those who sign it to adopt “a lifestyle that strives to have minimal environmental impact and promotes social justice.” This means that residents must do weekly chores, have a “working knowledge of Eco’s infrastructure,” and can’t use mini fridges, microwaves among other unnecessary electrical appliances. The Wellness/Substance-Free Community agreement requires residents “to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” meaning that students living in the Wellness dorm or the third floor of Sunderland (which is designated wellness) must keep illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco outside of the building/hall and refrain from being intoxicated within the premises. The Preston Co-op House agreement outlines several “core values and principles of unity,” including non-hierarchical living and consensus-based communication.
“Essentially, students are placed into specialized housing when they request it,” Milling said. “They sign the community contract before signing up for those areas.”
Besides special housing contracts, the two other contracts students might be asked to sign are the Suitemate Agreement and the Roommate Agreement (the latter predominantly intended for freshmen). Both provide room for suitemates or roommates to establish rules concerning issues such as when to lock the door, bed times, and alone time. These agreements are used to resolve conflicts between suitemates or roommates, or to initiate discussion between people living together concerning their boundaries.