Letters to the Editors on Inter-dorming

The Record and Opinions Editors received numerous anonymous responses to The Record survey. Here are sample student viewpoints from different classes. 

After our Stu-Fac meeting targeted towards clarifying the new inter-dorming rule, I leave more confused than when I entered. I have lost much respect for the way the rules function in our institution and have come to realize the administration has no regard for the students’ opinions. I know that our administration is probably feeling attacked and repetitive complaints offer no way moving forward, but it is hard to respect a rule that has so many flaws. My argument follows:

1. Lack of Data and Abstract Conclusions: As we heard tonight, the “quantitative data” that we’ve all been asking for as justification could “not be addressed” during the meeting. I believe the largest cause of frustration among students is that, as the administration demonstrated tonight, the concrete reasons behind creating this rule were lacking. The statement made that there was no student input was false and those who said it were corrected. The Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee was consulted, and each of the members stated they completely disagreed with this data. So yes, there were students involved with the process, 5 of them, and each stated their complete disapproval. Not only was this information originally hidden, when it was exposed, it was lied about.

2. A History of Sexual Misconduct
The Hotchkiss faculty members are extremely dedicated, caring, and impressive. This being said, the term “blurring the lines between students and faculty” has been tossed around quite frequently and I see this as a major issue. I spend more time with certain faculty members on campus that I do with my own parents; they have nothing but my respect and admiration. I, however, don’t believe that any lines should be blurred in this regard. At a school with a history of sexual misconduct, I believe the last thing we should be doing is turn student’s rooms into “communal spaces.” I spend every moment expect for the time I’m sleeping or doing my work surrounded by my teachers and peers in main building. Our rooms should not have blurred boundaries; they should be clear cut and evident.

3. Will They Really Think Twice?
One of the points presented in tonight’s three-fold argument was that this rule would “encourage students who were on the edge of breaking a rule to think twice.” What continues to confuse me is how this rule is relevant. Consider, honesty, if a student is willing to break a major school rule, or even one with three strikes such as a tobacco violation, do you think they would care about keeping their door open? If 80% of students are JUULing, * at the school on which we are basing our rules* (how well is that working?) I truly doubt they would take into consideration opening their door. If they are going to break a major rule, they will not care about breaking a smaller one.

I love this school and acknowledge that it is an absolute privilege to go to here. I’ve transformed into a much more self-aware and passionate person here, but if I were to take away one lesson from my time, it would be that you cannot sit still and expect change. As our ranking continues to drop on websites such as Niche, and students become more and more upset with the restrictions that are placed on us, I can only see our community deteriorating. Eighteen year olds should not have the same rules as 13 year olds and as the schools assumes in loco parentis, they should perhaps actually consult our parents. We are a united group of over 600 young brains thinking towards the future, so please, for our happiness and well-being, listen to us. “ – student who attended the Stu-Fac meeting

“[The policy] is an invasion of privacy, will kill social life in dorm[s], and it is unfair that this was never communicated to [the] student body or student leaders. In addition, they never consulted any student leaders before making this decision.” – student from the class of 2019

“Our right to privacy is violated. If we want to spend time with our friends, why can’t we do so without the constant supervision of faculty? We, even us freshmen, are old enough to spend time alone with our friends and not be checked in on constantly, [as if we were] little kids.” – student from the class of 2022

“I am a supporter of most rules and policies, though I do believe some do not take into account the fact that all students here are teenagers and need a little bit of freedom and privacy during times when they are not working or at sports in order to alleviate all the stress and pressure on their shoulders” – student from the class of 2020

“This [policy] inhibits private moments that take place between friends, creates more of a divide, [and] doesn’t let the students feel trusted by the faculty. There should be that sense of trust, because trust comes with the community that Hotchkiss promised to incoming students.” – student from the class of 2021

“It doesn’t seem right for the school to have to monitor every single one of our actions and choices. Part of boarding school life is to have the freedom and the trust; this would be a severe violation of our personal privacy.” – student from the class of 2020

“I feel as if this will make it harder for students to have closer connections with their friends, as there are all of these policies just to be able to visit them. I feel that leaving a door propped open anytime you are over to see them is unnecessary. It may make students uncomfortable or simply unwilling to visit their friends from another dorm because they feel constantly watched.” – student from the class of 2020

“I understand that one of the reasons for the new inter-dorming policy is our new gender-neutral dorm, Watson. All rules applied to it should be applied campus-wide. However, the new policy impedes a student from having privacy, personal conversations, and [from] building friendships by requiring the door [to be] open with a “nonresident of the room,” which is highly unreasonable. The Hotchkiss community [says it] values safe spaces, but by imposing this new policy it leaves students feeling exposed.” – student from the class of 2020

“The new inter-room visiting policy seems aggressive and unrealistic. I understand that, in order to prevent problems with students, the school has to make rules about inter-dorming and room visits, but this new rule leaves [students] virtually no privacy. That’s unfair and confusing because students live in dorms all year and should be given adequate privacy to have conversations with friends or discuss things that don’t need to be heard throughout the whole dorm.” – student from the class of 2021

“I don’t believe that students of Hotchkiss need to feel out of place and unwelcome in their supposed new home. Hotchkiss is a place of possibilities and friendship, and the friends we make are formed through strong bonds and [sharing] private information. I don’t feel comfortable crying and spilling all my personal details to my entire dorm because the dorm is open. I understand that we seem to need to take some precautions, but this seems more out of fear than trust. I would allow putting a sign-in sheet over each door for any guests to sign in with and doors allowed to be closed for small periods of time.” – student from the class of 2021

“We should be allowed to socialize with friends without having to get permission. Isn’t interacting with people the purpose of joining a community?”   – student from the class of 2020

“The new inter-room visiting policy strips the student body of their ability to maintain friendships and privacy. These changes were never discussed with the students, and therefore show that the administration has no regard for how these rules would affect the students. It shows how little the administration cares about what we think, and the way the situation is being handled is disappointing and hurtful. This is not the Hotchkiss community I wanted to be part of when I applied.” – student from the class of 2020

“I’ve heard lots of discussion about the new rules – and I have been involved even though I am a new student. I do understand the whole idea of keeping the doors slightly open (I don’t think it makes a big difference) and keeping the lights on (perhaps special permission to turn them off if there is a movie or something?).  I don’t even mind checking in with a proctor/teacher when visiting another dorm. My one concern is that proctors/supervisors could make it difficult to interact with people from other dorms, but either limiting time or cancelling it altogether, therefore discouraging students [from] interacting with others from another dorm. Otherwise, I am indifferent.” – student from the class of 2020

“Coming from a boarding school prior to Hotchkiss, I understand the [desire] for privacy within a dorm room. As a boarding school, one of the most important things should be having students feel at home and comfortable. However, with the new inter-room policy, students feel an invasion of privacy, rather than the secure and private feel a room should have.” – student from the class of 2021

“Not everyone is comfortable with leaving their doors open for people to just walk in, though it is understandable that the school is trying to get us to be more comfortable with each other, there are other ways instead of forcing us to keep the doors open at certain times.” – student from the class of 2022

“Without the privacy in my room, I won’t feel comfortable being able to open up to a friend or I will be scared that somebody could hear the wrong thing because they could possibly walk by at the wrong time. The rule just isn’t the best for students to feel comfortable and protected on [a] campus where they will be living for the next 9 months.” – student from the class of 2019

“I would like it if I could have more privacy with my friends from other dorms, hence not having the door open all the time.” -student from the class of 2022

“I selected this choice because I feel that it is entirely unnecessary for students to not be able to stay in their friend’s room without permission, and [that they] aren’t allowed to have privacy when hanging out with their friends inside the sanctuary of their dorm room. If it is in regards to inter-room visiting between genders, that is more understandable, in my opinion. Obviously two or more boys or two or more girls can engage in inappropriate actions; however, it is much more prevalent between opposite genders from what I know of my peers and kids my age.” – student from the class of 2022

“I think it’s a breach of privacy… It stops people from having normal relationships, in that everything they say must be completely public. The school should have discussed it with the student body first.” – student from the class of 2019

Here are also some responses that we featured on the print edition of the Record: 

“Being able to have privacy with close friends is crucial when living away from home at boarding school, especially when living in a single.” – student from the class of 2019

“I think the new rules are unfair. Two of my best friends are in a double, so they will constantly be allowed to have private conversations with the door closed and hang out alone without any faculty permission. This new rule provides an unfair advantage to friends who choose to be in a double. If I had known the rules beforehand, I would have tried to be in a double or triple. I understand that the new all-gender dorm requires new rules, but I don’t think they should apply to the whole school. If they are going to apply to the whole school then we should make everything completely even and have all-gender dorms for every single dorm.” – student from the class of 2020

“[The new rules] will ruin the culture and special nature of a boarding school. The bigger point behind a dorm at boarding school is to build connections and be able to live happily with your friends and peers. It has allowed me over the past three years to find life-long friends, and I am so sad that these rules will now make dorm experiences uncomfortable and strange.  As a Senior, I will only be affected by this for one year, and I have already found close friends, but I feel terrible for the incoming Preps and younger students who won’t know the Hotchkiss that I knew.” – student from the class of 2019

“This rule invades students’ privacy and takes away important freedoms.  Hotchkiss is a college preparatory school, not a kindergarten where you have to check in with adults at every turn.  Students should be learning should how to best manage their time and freedom for college life, and rules like these just take away any lee-way students have at Hotchkiss.” – student from the class of 2019

“I believe there needs to be more transparency when making changes this significant to The Almanac. Initial student response was not helpful and inappropriate – but comes from a place of confusion. If the policy in The Almanac is really executed, it’s going to be damaging to our community. People choose Hotchkiss because it is marketed as a place where tight relationships are formed. Without privacy, this doesn’t happen.” – student from the class of 2019

“When I first received the email addressing the new policies, I was very distraught, because despite the fact that these rules are meant to keep our environment safe, they are taking away the well-deserved privacy students should be entitled with their peers. While I understand that Hotchkiss doesn’t wish to single anybody out, I feel as though by making this a rule school-wide they have done so even more, because now everyone is pointing at the all-gender housing dorm as the reason we are all suffering.” – student from the class of 2021