While the Office of Residential Life states that they are unable to comment on individual incidents that take place within residence halls, the Wire’s Demetra Edwards ’17 was able to stop by a recent staff meeting to ask a few questions regarding Res Life’s current policies and plans for the future.
“If someone is written up, what I would want people to understand is that it’s not our mission to be the “no fun” police and to stop people from having social opportunities on campus,” said Ed Burnett, Director of Residential Life.
Still, Burnett was concerned that, on the whole, Wheaton’s parties were less likely to be registered than in previous years. He added that he wasn’t sure why the number of registered parties had fallen, but did say that Res Life’s goal wasn’t to search for policy violations.
Burnett said that Res Life intervention is most likely to occur in response to calls from neighbors or when there is a “reasonable concern that there is a safety issue.” Todd Brelsford, the Associate Director of Housing Operations, added that most of the time, Public Safety intervenes before Res Life is involved.
In regards to safety, the Wire asked if there was concern that shutting parties down on campus could lead to an increase in more dangerous parties in less known parts of campus, including Wheaton’s woods. In response, Brelsford explained that “students here have the best intentions of being safe and smart, but they aren’t trained in the same way that Public Safety officers or Res Life staff are … For some students, underage drinking may not seem like a big deal, but legally we don’t have the ability to say it’s not a big deal.”
In addition, Res Life made it clear that they “never call the cops on a party” and that a police presence is always the result of an outside caller. Res Life also said that all theme houses are subject to the same rules and policies.
When asked if there was any chance Wheaton would ever become a dry campus, Burnett said “I have no reason to believe Wheaton will become a dry campus. It’s not in the discussion.”
To bolster the impact of student feedback, Res Life and SGA previously established the Student Housing Advisory Committee (SHAC). Unfortunately, according to Burnett, the committee “started to disappear… in part due to changes within SGA.” Still, he hoped to begin meeting and having conversations once again.
SGA Vice President Alex Gim-Fain ’17 said that student government is already meeting and working with Res Life and that policies regarding Res Life and student relations remain “one of our top priorities.”