Dorm noise issues unaddressed by ResEd

Updated Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 1:33 p.m. EST

Dorm life is, for the most part, a very good experience. Unfortunately, high noise levels can ruin an entire year.

Many students have reoccurring noise issues at the College that go unnoticed or are improperly addressed by the department of Residence Education and Housing (ResEd) staff.

Noise in dorms is a given at any college, but a college’s residence life staff is responsible for handling situations properly.

Quiet hours at the College are from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. According to an anonymous survey conducted for a class project, some students feel the quiet hours duration is fine, but is not enforced by ResEd members.

Of all survey participants, 65 percent reported that “noise levels have made it difficult” for them to sleep, and 62 percent find studying difficult.

“In general, people do not observe the quiet hours at all. People are screaming and playing loud music even at 3 a.m. on Monday nights. ResEd does little to handle the situation. It has been like this my entire experience here at the College,” a female elementary education major and New Residence Hall resident said in he survey.

ResEd should practice what it preaches. According to ResEd’s Web page, it accomplishes its goals by “encouraging social responsibility and civic awareness,” and developing staff who “respond to student needs and concerns.”

Some ResEd members are too relaxed about enforcing policies, and some members are too harsh.

“If students are experiencing issues with a staff member being too strict or too relaxed they should speak with the staff member. This conversation should not occur during a confrontation but perhaps scheduling a time to speak with the staff member,” said Sean Stallings, Director of Housing Operations. “If speaking with the staff member is not an option, students can also speak with the Residence Director of the building about any concerns about staff behavior, community issues, etc.”

A ResEd member in the townhouses complex said more related training in the summer could help ResEd members find consistency.

“I feel consistency with ResEd members following procedure in regards to noise issues among others can only be reached through strong communication among all members,” the ResEd member said. “More summer training pertaining to issues they will encounter in their position could also potentially help with the consistency.”

Other students said some ResEd members do not take noise policies seriously and that they don’t take their job seriously.

“The seriousness of how they take their job, sometimes they want to be more of a friend (to their residents) than their (ResEd Member). Some take it really seriously and follow the rules. There’s no middle ground,” said Katie Hespe, Student Government Association Vice President of Equity and Diversity and former office assistant.

“Everyone gets the same training,” Hespe said. “It’s their attitude.”

It’s really about accountability. Many residents are allowed to violate quiet hour policies by several lazy and lackadaisical ResEd members. I apologize to and commend those ResEd members that follow quiet hour policies and enforce them

According to The Signal’s survey, some students are dissatisfied with ResEd’s handling of noise complaints. Students were asked to rate “I am satisfied with how ResEd handles noise complaints” on a scale from one (strongly disagree) through five (strongly agree)., and “not applicable.”

12.5 percent of students are very dissatisfied with ResEd’s handling of noise complaints, 20 percent are dissatisfied. 18.8 percent are satisfied, and 4.4 percent very satisfied. 21.9 percent are neutral. 3.8 percent did not answer.

“If students have reoccurring noise issues they should speak with the violators. Oftentimes, members of our community are not intentionally trying to be disruptive and when requested are quite compliant,” said Stallings. “However, should the behavior continue or becomes habitual, students should alert the Community Advisor and follow up with the professional Residence Director for their building for ongoing issues.”

Jenn Wenger, a senior health and exercise science major, moved off campus due to the noise issues she experienced two years ago in Norsworthy. The people in her dorm “ran through the halls, broke walls.”

“I moved off campus as soon as I could because I didn’t want to have to deal with neighbors like them,” Wenger said.

In the townhouse complexes, several major noise complaints were improperly handled by Community Coordinators (CC).

A female business major who lives in Townhouses East said she had constant noise issues with her downstairs housemates. According to the student, “when (the CC on duty) did come, he literally said to them ‘I’ve received four calls from the girls upstairs, you should quiet down.'”

“The CC made it worse because the housemate and his friends began looking for a fight and it caused a very heated argument in the house,” the student said. “The CC handled it completely wrong, and I’ve heard that this is not the first time it happened that way,” the student said.

Irene Ning, a senior physics and secondary education major who lives in Townhouses South, said the neighboring townhouse would blast music to the point that her walls and desk would shake, sometimes even at 4 a.m.

“I am more upset with ResEd’s terrible way of handling the situation. They actually made my problem worse,” Ning said. “They kept just giving my neighbors warnings. In not fixing the problem from the start, they kept irritating my neighbors and of course, letting the noise continue.”

Ning met with the CC responsible for her house and said the CC told her he wanted to avoid writing a report because it “makes a lot of work for everyone.”

According to Ning, Seth Zolin, the Complex Coordinator of Townhouses, e-mailed her and offered her a room in another complex.

If handling noise issues properly “makes a lot of work for everyone,” and upperclassmen should handle their own situations, they why do we even have ResEd? Why are certain members not fulfilling ResEd’s philosophies and goals?

Zolin did not reply to an interview request sent via e-mail.

According to a ResEd member in the townhouses complex, noise complaints and issues are logged depending on the situation.

Other colleges around the area, including Rutgers University and Rowan University, have more stringent policies on noise violations.

“We enforce quiet hours very strictly,” said Maria Bernardo, a Resident Advisor (RA) at Rutgers in Judson Suite, “It’s important to us that our students can wind down at the end of the day without the added stress of noise, so we work hard to ensure this can happen.”

According to Amore Bute, another RA in Silvers Apartments at Rutgers, residents who regularly violate noise policies are warned, then documented and contacted by the ResLife coordinator. The hall director will be contacted if they continue the offense on the same night.

According to Rowan’s Web site, quiet hours at Rowan University are from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Angelina Irizarry, an RA in Willow Hall at Rowan, said Residence Life follows a strict procedure.

“If students continue to be noisy and fail to adhere to our quiet hour policy, we approach these residents and write them up by taking their name and I.D. number,” Irizarry said. “We fill out an incident report and email it to our resident director, assistant director of residence learning, as well as the dean of student affairs. A judicial letter is sent to their room shortly after, letting them know that they must meet with the resident director (RD) and discuss this issue. They will then speak to the dean of students.”

ResLife at Rutgers and Rowan take noise issues and their quiet hours very seriously. What makes our ResEd staff different?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Hopefully more students realize this is a major issue that needs to be resolved immediately.