There is a lot of discussion surrounding the Community Lifestyle Commitment (CLC). Much of the discussion focuses around the school’s obligations to students. We expect certain things out of the Residence Life staff when dealing with a violation of the CLC, but I have heard little about the responsibilities that students have in these situations. This is an important omission in the discussion because it means that half of the problem is not being addressed.
As students, we have an obligation to think about this set of rules more than to just acknowledge their existence. Whether we choose to break the rules, or follow them, we need to realize that these choices may have consequences for those around us. My first year, I made a habit out of breaking the quiet hour regulations, which may seem like a small thing and a victimless crime. However, I have since heard from the other people on my hall that I kept them up, and put them in the awkward situation of having to tell me to be quiet. If I had been paying attention, I would have realized that the quiet hour regulation was not just about rules, it is about creating guidelines so that 800 people can live together smoothly and with a minimum level of conflict.
Later, when living in an apartment with my friends, I realized that some type of house rules were necessary even for four friends who were living together. Without them, we would grow to hate each other in a surprisingly short amount of time. This is the way I think of the CLC. If rules are needed for four people living together, they are even more needed when 800 people are trying to live together. Therefore, the rules are necessarily more stringent, and more strictly enforced.
In this way, the rules are about creating a community that everybody is comfortable in, not about creating laws that everybody hates. The problem is that an adversarial attitude has developed both among those who enforce the CLC, and those who refuse to follow it. We too often view the CLC as a speed limit, a rule that we break very frequently and simply hope we do not get caught.
This might mean that some of the lifestyle demands in the statement are outdated, or too hard to follow, but that is only half the problem. The other half is that students do not view the CLC requirements as an integral part of the community experience, and do not consider that by breaking the CLC they are also inconveniencing others.
If we are to “fix” the CLC, we need to start taking responsibility for our part of it. We need to start thinking of the importance that rules of conduct play in a community. So, next time it is 2 a.m., and you are breaking quiet hours, think not about how you are breaking the rules, but about how this affects the people that you are keeping awake. Next time you want to drink in a dorm room, think about the uncomfortable situation you might be causing for your roommate or your CA.
Ultimately, the CLC is not about turning us into children, or forcing EMU’s morals on the whole campus. It is about making a social environment that everybody, both students and staff, can feel comfortable in. When we decide that the CLC is just a set of rules, we endanger this environment.
We must remember that even when we disagree with rules, they may still have their place. I have heard countless times that the prohibition on alcohol is pointless, and outdated. I have also had friends who attended wet campuses. They complained of not being able to sleep on weekends, and bathrooms that always smelled of puke.
This is not to say that this behavior would inevitably follow if EMU were to lift a ban on alcohol, but I believe that the CLC has led to an environment where on campus drinking is done quietly and in privacy, leading to an environment that is at least somewhat conducive to learning.
There is also the fact that while one student is comfortable with alcohol on campus, others may not be. Even if 90 percent of students on campus were comfortable with alcohol use, it does not mean that we could disregard the 10 percent who would be made uncomfortable by the use of alcohol. The CLC is a unique part of the EMU experience, and for many it is one of the things that lures students to EMU.
Finally, I would say that it is okay to break the CLC, but if we do, we need to do it only in certain situations. We should not violate the rules, unless we can be sure that it is done in a way that does not put CAs, our fellow students, or staff in an awkward situation.
If we do not take even this small step, we can put others in a situation that both creates tension, and hard feelings. Once we begin to create a situation where our CAs are police, we have not only disobeyed the agreement that we signed, we have broken community.
-David Yoder, Co-Editor In Chief
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