Changes to ResEd policy spark criticism

The Lawrence University Department of Residential Education and Housing (ResEd) has made policy changes for the 2023-2024 academic year and beyond, which were supposed to be announced during initial floor meetings with Community Advisors (CAs) this fall.  

The first of these changes includes the guest policy. According to the Lawrence University Student Handbook:  

“Residents must escort guests, including residents from other floors, at all times. Overnight guests may be allowed for up to three consecutive nights (no more than two times in a month) with the mutual agreement of your roommate(s).”  

Although the policy states that residents must escort guests, including residents from other floors, ResEd Director Steph Knoppa clarified that “all students have access to all of the major residential facilities on campus.” The escort policy applies to guests who are not Lawrence students, who were previously not allowed. The overnight guest policy, however, also applies to Lawrence students. The handbook states that this policy is to prevent abuse of roommate rights.  

Secondly, starting in the 2024-2025 school year, students will be charged to be let back into their room after being locked out.  

In a poll conducted by The Lawrentian, 75% of respondents disagreed with the guest policy, while 94.1% disagreed with the lockout policy.  

The Lawrentian spoke to several CAs who all requested anonymity. CA 1 claimed that they will not be enforcing the guest policy except in cases of roommate issues. CA 2 said that the guest policy will realistically only be enforced if someone is having guests over without their roommate’s consent and added that CAs aren’t paid enough to care about this. CA 3 said that the guest policy would make sense if it was only applied to off campus guests but doesn’t agree with it applying to Lawrence students because “we all live here.” In response to the claim that this policy is to prevent abuse of roommates, they questioned why the roommate agreement was not mandatory this year as opposed to previous years. CA 4 questioned how the policy is enforceable, since CAs are not allowed to enter resident rooms without permission.  

Knoppa said that the policy is standard at other universities and that it is intended to ensure that people are not living where they are not assigned to live.  

Although CA 5 agrees with the guest policy, feeling that it is a safety issue to have guests unaccounted for, they do not agree with the lockout policy, characterizing it as “unreasonable,” and “a cash grab.” CA 3 suggested that the first few lockouts could be free of charge and that students could be charged after that, but a student not affiliated with the department disagreed. They feel that, since Lawrence charges for room and board already, students should not be charged further for lockouts. CA 2, along with many poll respondents, echoed CA 5’s characterization of this policy as a cash grab. Furthermore, CA 2 claimed that the university will be installing automatic locks, costing money they believe should go towards improving the living spaces. Most CAs feel that students should only be charged for losing a key.  

According to Knoppa, students will only be charged $5 per lockout. She feels that this is fair, because in off-campus living spaces, residents can be charged upwards of $100 per lockout.  

“The purpose is to help build positive habits of ensuring students have their keys on them at all times,” Knoppa said.  

Knoppa also clarified that locks will not have to be replaced. All locks on campus can be set to automatically lock without having to be replaced. She said that this is intended to keep living spaces safe for students.