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Policy over privacy: MNU’s norms in the dorms

By Dana Palmer
May 01, 2017

At MNU, there are many restrictions placed on the residential halls. These rules are put in place to regulate when students can enter the housing of the opposite gender – whether it’s for a bunch of friends trying to play an innocent game of Apples to Apples or a couple looking to Netflix and chill.

According to Residential Life, most underclassmen open-dorm hours are from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. everyday except Tuesday and Thursday. In most upperclassmen housing, the hours are extended from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. on weekends.

oie 20033R7jxkNKKBecause of the restricted open dorm times, MNU students compete for usage of the lobby areas. Here, a group of underclassmen relax inside Stockton and Rice’s lobby.Left to right: Christian Stewart, Paul Diehm, Zephan Vining, Alex Wilkerson, Sara Elliot, Morgan Owings. Photo by Dana Palmer.

MNU policy dictates that when someone of the opposite gender is in the room, the door must remain open, the lights must remain on and it’s not uncommon for an RA to come peek in every now and then.

“Privacy” is not a word commonly used to describe the priorities of MNU’s open dorm policies, especially in the more apartment-like housing. Hannah Bostic, a junior elementary education major, lives in a dorm where the blinds have to stay open if someone is coming to visit.

“I hate having people being able to look in and me not be able to see them,” Bostic said. “I just really hate having the blinds open and I understand why they have that rule, but still, it’s kind of scary.”

Other students agree that the rules might not always be the most convenient - or safe. Senior ministry major Blake Owings said students often just avoid the rules altogether, causing more danger to the couple.

“Sometimes [the rules] can encourage people to go off campus and probably get into dangerous things,” Owings said. “Like, Tuesdays and Thursdays, there’s like no reason for them to not have open dorms. So what are you doing? You’re encouraging people to go off-campus.”

Sophomore graphic design major Alexandra Bonar, a recent transfer from Evangel University, said that MNU’s open dorm policies don’t allow space for couples to have an appropriate amount of time alone. She said that there are few places to have a private conversation on campus.

“We can’t be alone, so we have to try to find someplace on campus where no one else is,” Bonar said.

Bostic spoke about how the rules can hurt MNU’s student retention, claiming that some students who didn’t like the regulations simply transferred schools.

“They didn’t feel like they were being treated like adults,” Bostic said.

However, there are some MNU students who defend the rules, despite the discomforts and concerns they cause. Senior ministry major and former RA, Garrett Stalder, spoke out in defense of the school. Stalder, who got married last December, viewed the rules as important for a college student’s maturation.

“Until you prove yourself to be a responsible adult, you should still have those restrictions,” Stalder said.

Daniel Rincones, MNU’s director of residential life, took a similar view on the situation. He said that the brain (and decision-making skills) don’t fully develop until age 24, meaning that the majority of college students can benefit from some restrictions.

“It’s not that you don’t have [decision-making skills], but that’s still maturing, that’s still developing,” Rincones said. “So we want to provide a place where that can grow and develop in safety.”

Rincones then commented on the structure of the dorms, saying that he realizes affection is a part of a healthy relationship, but that providing safety is more important.

“It’s not that we’re against privacy, it’s that our residence halls are not built to accommodate privacy,” said Rincones. “There’s just no way, structurally or practically, to offer privacy in a safe, and in what we would say, is a healthy manner.”

Stalder also spoke on the status of couples on campus, admitting that while couples should perhaps be given more time together, the college experience is only four years out of a potentially-lifelong bond.

“If you’re in healthy relationship, you’re going to be with that person probably for the rest of your life,” Stalder said. “So quit worrying about four years of college. Worry about the next 60 years you’re going to spend with somebody.”

Though student opinions vary on the tension between privacy and policy, all students that live on campus are required to live by the rules that are currently in place. However, conversations about the topic can still be had. Rincones said students can bring their concerns to him in the student development office.

“Come by anytime,” Rincones said.

Dana Palmer

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Dana Palmer is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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