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Charlie Schmidt ‘06 noticed it early on, even before he became a resident assistant: the often-contentious relationship between student residents of Denison’s campus and the student RAs who live among them. He also sensed that residents in general don’t feel an ownership for the halls they live in. Is this really the best structure for residence hall living? he wondered. Will it remain the norm for residential campuses in the future? Schmidt doubted so. Could students feel more involved in regard to where and how they live? He believed so. As chair of the DCGA Residential Life Committee, he researched alternative programs being pursued by other colleges and universities. He came back to his DCGA colleagues and the Denison administration with the notion of a community standards residential program (CSRP), in which the residents of an individual hall determine and uphold building policies as a civil and mutually respectful group. The idea was well received.
This year, the East Quad’s Shaw Hall will set a new standard for living at Denison.
When Schmidt was elected DCGA president the following year, his Res Life Committee successor (and current DCGA prez) Chelsea Mikula ‘07 led a small team of students and staff through drafting guidelines for a CSRP. They recommended that all residents have a say in matters such as noise and guest policies, conflict resolution, and public space decor. The community would be facilitated by a policy and programming board consisting of six elected residents and three community coordinators (the CSRP version of the RA). All residents would sign contracts to uphold agreed-upon conditions. And oh yeah–they can paint their rooms to their liking.
The proposal received quick approval from the administration and was evidently a hit with students. When a special housing lottery was held for a CSRP in Shaw Hall, more than 700 students tried their luck for the 99 available spaces. Shaw’s newest residents got together just before summer break to nominate the policy and programming board, whom they will elect upon returning to campus in September.
Many eyes are certain to be on Shaw this year. If the CSRP is a success, then they just might be getting a look at campus living of the future.