The vision of the office of Residential Education and Housing, according to the College’s Web site, is to “provide a civil, safe and healthy environment conducive to active learning and personal development.”
Active learning and personal development – it seems that the College hopes to see us grow in the years we live on campus.
Then it is beyond me how such a strong and positive credo was blatantly ignored during an incident in Cromwell Hall in February.
Growth was halted. My definition of a safe environment was compromised.
On Feb. 21, at 11:20 p.m., my roommate and I were distracted by a loud pounding noise.
We left the room to investigate the commotion and were joined by a handful of fellow Cromwell residents.
Toward the other side of the hallway, past the L-shaped bend, we saw a Community Advisor (CA) banging on one of the resident’s doors.
Within moments, the CA was joined by another member of the Cromwell staff, in addition to about five police officers.
One of the officers took over, slamming his fist into the wooden door while repeating, “Police, open up!”
The pounding continued for about a half hour before the door was opened forcibly, using an extra room key.
What followed was utter craziness.
At one point, the end of Cromwell 6 was flooded by at least six residents, five police officers, a few Cromwell staff members and a few EMTs.
My entire side of the hall was confused and concerned. We had no idea what was happening to our floormates, our friends. We were concerned about their well-being, but also concerned about our personal well-being.
The pounding had been so loud that the sound had echoed down the L-shaped hall to my side of the building.
The mood was intense. I remember hoping that nothing too serious was going on.
I tried my best to find out what was happening. Luckily, it seemed that overall, the situation was being handled in a professional manner.
But on my side of the hall, that was unfortunately not the case. Anyone not directly involved in the situation was told by CAs to get into a room. Though we were not making noise, excessively crowding the hallway or getting in the way of any sort of investigation, we were commanded to stay in our rooms with the doors closed.
Some of my floormates were told by a CA that if we did not go into our rooms, we would be documented. It was past quiet hours, one CA told my floormate.
According to the College Web site, “during quiet hours, all noise must be confined to student rooms at a level that cannot be heard outside the room when the door is closed.”
There was no audible noise, no distraction from the police activity. We were being respectful and mindful of the situation.
The respect did not come both ways. The threats by the CAs were demeaning, and completely unnecessary. Through the treatment of the other Cromwell residents, the CAs actually hindered the work of the police.
By forcing the residents into their rooms, the CAs restricted police business. A few witnesses were willing to speak, but couldn’t because they were stuck behind closed doors.
It is possible that the CAs were quarantining us, in their minds, for our own safety. But as legal adults, I believe it is our job to determine whether a situation is safe or not.
Why should I, a 22-year-old with good judgment, be told what is safe? The term “safe” is highly subjective.
Something I may perceive as unsafe may not be seen in the same light as someone else.
And what if something dangerous had been going on behind the barricaded door on Cromwell 6? I believe it’s my right to gather the necessary facts, and make a judgment call, to keep myself safe, to the best of my ability.
The best of my ability. Not some stranger with potentially less experience than myself.
Also, Cromwell 6 is not a freshman floor. The entire floor is composed of transfer students.
We have all been to other schools and are, for the most part, more mature because of it. Not only are we all legal adults, but many are above the age of 21 as well.
We are here as a stepping stone to the infamous “real world.” We are in college, as the College’s own credo states, to learn and grow.
In this incident, growth was stunted in a ridiculous manner. For students to grow, we must be given space and choices. And the right to remain in the hallway when we deem it appropriate.