GOTCHA! Door Check is Degrading and Inconvenient

It is widely acknowledged that we’re well taken care of at Pomona College. The school pays us to intern at Los Angeles production companies and takes us surfing before we even enroll in classes. In fact, many of us chose this institution because of the administration and faculty’s impressive dedication to the student body.Though it is generally appreciated, there is a point at which coddling becomes unproductive and somewhat demeaning. This point was reached most recently with the Residential Hall Staff’s GOTCHA Door Check program.

On March 25, South Campus residents received an e-mail from RHS stating that Residential Advisors “will be going dorm to dorm checking for locked doors.” The e-mail stated that RAs would proceed to lock any door that is “unlocked or open with no one present” as part of “an effort to provide a safer campus for everyone.”

Safety is certainly an important goal. One of RHS’s duties is, of course, to foster a socially and physically safe environment for all students. As 18- to 22-year-olds, however, we are mature enough to take educated risks regarding our own safety, and we are likewise mature enough to face the consequences that arise if we make the wrong decision. It is kind of RHS to be concerned about theft, but it is patronizing for our RAs to try to train us to take the measures they decide are necessary to prevent it. We have to figure out how to take care of ourselves sooner or later. In our post-college (or perhaps post-living with mom and dad for a few years after college) cheap, crowded apartments, no one is going to be reminding us that our laptops could be stolen.

Furthermore, impromptu door-lockings are more than inconvenient. Say an innocent student wanders key-lessly across the hall to use a bathroom or borrow a book from a friend five minutes before he plans to leave for class, and he returns to discover that he is—GOTCHA!—locked out of his room. He will then have to search for an RA, or hope that the RA on call is not helping another unfortunate victim, and be late to class. On a social campus like Pomona’s, students are constantly wandering in and out of each other’s rooms and cannot realistically be expected to lock their doors each time they need to ask a quick question of a friend down the hall.

A number of other inconvenient situations could easily arise under this parental policy. A student could return from a shower to find his door locked and have to search, undressed, for an available RA. A student could leave a door unlocked for a roommate who has forgotten her key or whose key is broken. Or the same student, leaving for class, could be unsure of whether or not her roommate is at breakfast and therefore decide to leave the door unlocked in case the roommate is still brushing her teeth in the bathroom without a key.

Understandably, RHS wants to remind students that, amidst all this surfing and grade inflation, we are not immune to real world difficulties like petty theft. However, there are more productive, respectful methods of addressing this problem. RHS could send an e-mail encouraging more frequent door-locking or hold a meeting with residents of each dorm.Additionally, students would undoubtedly be more wary and careful if they considered dorm theft a real threat. Many students may fail to do so because they do not know anyone who has experienced it. Distribution of crime statistics would enlighten the student body and inspire more people to lock their doors.Leaving a door locked is a student’s decision to make for herself, and she doesn’t deserve to find out, wrapped solely in a too-short, tattered towel, that someone else has spontaneously made it for her.

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