Editorial: Committee needs to clarify housing rules

By TNH Editorial Staff
On February 21, 2014

The front page story presents a problem that some students in Engelhardt Hall, the residence hall labeled as having a "chem-free theme," have been facing recently.

The description of the dormitory on the Department of Housing's website says that "Students choosing this theme make a commitment to not use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs." However, a quote in the article from the Director of Residential Life, Scott Chesney, recognizes that not every single student in the dorm chooses to live there: "Typically, we are able to fill Engelhardt with mostly people who have requested it, though for the past few years Housing has had to put some individuals in there who did not sign up for it."

The Department of Housing seems to be currently faced with an issue; students who choose to live in Engelhardt for its chem-free theme have a right to expect this theme to be upheld, but students placed there against their own decisions have a right to not feel forced into a rule that is contrary to the university's housing rules.

The fact that a committee has been organized to identify this issue (and other potential issues with  different themes of the university's residence halls) signifies that Student Senate - and hopefully university administration - recognizes that there are problematic differences between the regulations of some residence halls and the university. 

The UNH Housing Contract states that, "Only students of legal drinking age (21 years or older) may consume alcohol in their own room or in the room of another student who is at least 21 years old."

This statement from Housing seems to present a contradiction between the university administration and the choice of students in Engelhardt to live in a chem-free environment. This presents the question of which overrules the other, the regulations of the university or the regulations of individual dormitories?

According to the Department of Housing's website, Engelhardt only houses 125 residents; all 125 undergraduate residents in this building deserve to feel comfortable where they live, whether that is to remain chem-free, according to their residence hall choice, or to drink alcohol if they are of legal drinking age, according to their housing placement.

As they currently stand, the rules seem to contradict one another; either the university is telling students that they cannot drink in their rooms even though they are of legal drink age because of the residence hall's theme or they are telling students not to fully adhere to the theme of their residence hall.

Whatever this newly-formed committee decides, it should include explicit regulations in the UNH Room and Board Agreement, stating that either the theme or the university's regulations overrule the other.

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