Reflection on a Res Life Discipline

BodnerLet me preface this article by first saying that I am not anti-Community Lifestyle Commitment (CLC). On the contrary, there are many things I appreciate about it. For example, I love that I can walk around campus and through dorm buildings without needing to navigate around teeming masses of drunk students nor have to bury my head in pillows in order to drown out next-door parties.

This being said, however, I despise the way Res. Life carries out their disciplinary actions.

It was once explained to me that the lifestyle agreement was an “invitation” to join EMU’s student community and that it was merely a way to keep students accountable to each other’s wellbeing; however, after personally experiencing ramifications of violating this “invitation,” I can whole heartedly say that this statement is false.

My junior year, my apartment was reported for possession of alcohol and marijuana. Res. Life came in, and we admitted to the alcohol and marijuana. However, it was later discovered that one of my roommates was cooking substances in my suite over break while my other roommate and I were home.

I was told that I was not allowed on campus for five days, not given a chance to talk or explain the situation to my peers, nor a chance to try to fix things with any uncomfortable party involved.

Following my five day suspension and the expulsion and arrest of my roommate; I returned to campus feeling like an outcast. In my absence, rumors had begun to circulate around campus, ranging from swords and guns to prostitution rings to swat teams with helicopters.

Res. Life’s solution for my displacement was calling a hall meeting and having me generically apologize to everyone for “violating the community agreement,” paying a fine, and being bullied by Res. Life into re-signing the CLC so that I might once again return to the community that shamed and abandoned me when I needed them most.

I was never asked, “What do you need in order to feel like you are still a part of this community?” I was just handed a fine and told I should consider myself lucky it wasn’t worse.

The true spirit and strength of a community is tested by how the community reacts to the failures of those within their community, and a truly healthy and functioning community requires us to not only acknowledge a person’s struggle but to also respond in a mutually beneficial manner, not to shame and threaten them.

The CLC, despite the initial intentions, isn’t about keeping students accountable to needs of one another, it’s keeping us accountable to a one-size fits-all penal system. It isn’t an invitation: it’s a gavel.

-Michael Bodner, Contributing Writer


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