Last semester the Student Government Association (SGA) researched and proposed a change in John Brown University’s open dorm policy. Their project is now a reality. Beginning this semester, open dorm hours have been extended to start at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
According to SGA President Brad Johnson, this change is primarily designed to eliminate the “awkward” 30-45 minute gap while mixed-gender groups wait after dinner for open dorm to begin.
John-David Hubbs, SGA’s vice president of finance and administration and head of the open dorm committee, said that SGA began to pursue a change in open dorm policy after Director of Residence Life, Andre Broquard, displayed an openness for change. There has not been a change in visitation policy since the early 2000s.
In response to this realization, SGA taped surveys to each dorm room door on campus to find out what changes, if any, the student body wanted.
“When we investigated it, it definitely confirmed that students did want more open dorm,” Hubbs said.
In fact, 74 percent of students who took the survey marked that, “yes,” they would like open dorm to start at 6 p.m. However, the data from J. Alvin is questionable.
While only one policy change was made, there were other voting items on the survey. The majority of students also voted to extend hours on Saturday from noon to midnight, and every dorm except Mayfield voted to be open on an additional weekday. So why weren’t more changes made?
While SGA proposed three changes to open dorm policy, the decision was ultimately up to Broquard. Only one change was accepted, but SGA believes the decision makes sense. One main reason for this is that JBU’s resident assistants are under contract to work a certain number of hours, and drastically increasing their workload without also increasing their pay would be unfair.
Johnson said that he has spoken with several students and their responses to the change has been overwhelmingly positive.
However, not all students are enthusiastic. Several students, such as Chase Herrod, a sophomore engineering major, expressed apathy to the new policy: “I really don’t mind it. It doesn’t affect me very much.”
The RAs are also largely unaffected. According to Madison Mitchell, an RA in Mayfield, Broquard set up the change in hours so that the RA on duty would not be required to be in the dorm until 7 p.m. In other words, the change in visitation hours does not equal a change in an RA’s working hours.
On the other hand, Alexa Bullington, sophomore biblical studies major, expressed that the change affects her in a negative way. Bullington said the new hours “kind of make the whole atmosphere in Mayfield change” as residents who do not regularly participate in open dorm are forced to get used to the new hours.
She explained that this is more an issue for students whose dorms have communal bathrooms because students might have to pass by rooms occupied by the other sex to use the restroom or shower.
Johnson noted that, now that a precedent has been set, open dorm policy could change again through a future SGA.
“It’s a process,” he said. “This is just one step of it.”