Opinion: Letts Hall and dorm lockout policy: Where is our money going?
Residents continuously experience unacceptable, less than adequate conditions given the cost in which we pay for room and board, exacerbated by the recent lockout fee
As we find ourselves at the mid-semester mark, many freshmen, including myself, are moving past the “honeymoon phase” of the first weeks of college. With this comes the realization that American University, the alleged most liberal university in the U.S., is still a money-hungry, capitalist institution.
It’s no secret that we are paying an arm and a leg in tuition and room and board, not to mention books and various other fees. Just a few weeks ago, Housing and Residence Life announced a new egregious policy, stating that “students will now be allotted two lockout requests per semester and, on the third request, will be charged an administrative fee of $25 per lockout.” This news further amplifies the commonly asked first-year question: where is our money going?
After a five percent tuition increase this year, the thousands of dollars we already pay evidently do not guarantee freshmen a pleasant living environment. As a resident of the infamous Letts Hall, I can attest to the many things that wrongly slip through the cracks.
In the first two months on campus, residents of Letts have experienced mold in the already empty soap dispensers;fleas in the south side of the building; faulty showers that lead to students standing in two inches of water because they don’t drain; out-of-order laundry rooms for days on end; 80 degree rooms; and stoves that only work occasionally, just to name a few. Instead of using the money that we pay to live here to fix those things, AU decided to implement yet another unnecessary cost for students who simply make a mistake and forget their One Card.
From the get-go, the idea behind this policy is flawed. No students, especially first-years who are still getting used to carrying their ID everywhere, are intentionally getting locked out of their rooms. A potential $25 fee is not going to cross every student's mind each time they exit their room, magically deterring them from mistakenly leaving their One Card behind. Not to mention there are extenuating circumstances that may arise that require students to leave their room in a rush and possibly forget their One Card, such as the multitude of fire alarms that go off every week.
This is not just an issue of an unjustifiably explained fee; it also does not take into account the financial implications that this may have on students. Many students who attend AU are making extreme financial sacrifices to receive their education from this school. In fact, Ohio State University’s National Student Financial Wellness study found that 70 percent of college students are financially stressed. With An extra $25 could be the difference between making tuition payments on time or not, or a trip to the grocery store to avoid consuming rock hard mystery meat from TDR. No student should have to undergo even more financial stress than is already present when attending a school with increased tuition costs simply for slipping up three times.
There is an extreme lack of transparency between HRL and the AU administration with the students. Where are the thousands of dollars we spend on housing going if not to ensure we have basic necessities available to us? Where would this $25 fee end up after the students pay it? This is a flagrant cash grab on behalf of AU. No student should ever be expected to pay in order to be allowed back into the room that we already pay for. Instead of creating flawed policies that have no measurable benefit, the University should focus on using the money we already pay to fix the things that actually negatively impact students.
Alice Still is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and an opinion columnist for The Eagle.