Residence hall “blip” in behavior reflects problem in policy

Malia Riggs and Aspen Brooks

During the fall semester, Miller Hall developed quite the reputation for itself with a slew of college policy violations and incidents.

“I wouldn’t say Miller is typically our problem hall. This year, in particular it tends to be, but I don’t think that means next year it will be,” said Jeff Mackay, Director of Residence Life.

“It’s just a good community that’s making some poor decisions,” Mackay said.

Out of 84 total citations given for violations of the Student Code of Conduct during fall semester, 30 were given out in Miller Hall, according to Mackay.

These numbers are based on where citations were given out, not where the recipient lived, so they are not necessarily indicative of the behavior of all Miller residents alone.

Seventy-four of the citations were due to alcohol violations, the other 10 from drug, noise and other miscellaneous violations.

The Linfield Student Handbook states, on page 78, “The use of alcohol on college owned or controlled property at events associated with Linfield programs is restricted to those of legal drinking age in that locale.”

During January, Linfield had ten violations campus wide where the incident was directly related to alcohol and drugs, with five coming from Miller.

Miller Hall had five incident reports for the month of January all together, including drugs and alcohol, but not limited to other events.

“We don’t issue citations for usage of Drugs and Alcohol, we refer students to Student Affairs,” said Ron Noble, Director of Linfield College Public Safety, “If we see something that is a safety issue, which means it is threatening a student’s or campus safety, we then take action.”

“The situation has obviously grown disruptive enough to capture the attention of The Review … this fuels unhealthy stigmas of Miller being a party hall and Res Life policing the student body,” said Joel Wenrich, a Resident Life member.

Early in the fall semester, a couch from Miller was moved by unidentified individuals and left outside in the rain. Residence Life, in accordance with school policy, warned the hall that if nobody stepped forward or provided information about who moved the couch, the entire hall would receive a fine.

“Unfortunately, we have had those kinds of things before, but to be honest, we deal with much less vandalism, purposeful, willful damage, than other institutions,” Mackay said.

“I think basically whenever you have an entire dorm full of freshman and they are finally ‘free’ the freedom can go to your head,” said Katherine Anderson, ’19, a resident of Miller.

When asked why the entire second floor was breathalyzed, Mackay said, “There was a large party involving lots of residents, and when we responded many of the residents left one location and went back to their rooms, so we went around to determine who was in violation of alcohol during that time.”

Rumors had been floating around the student body that the entire hall was breathalyzed, but Mackay clarified that that was not the case.

Residents of the second floor expressed concern that the administration is focused more on strictly adhering to the rules rather than ensuring student safety, since students who were in violation of the rules but were being safe and non-disruptive received citations due to this sweeping action.

Dean of Students Susan Hopp declined to comment on this story and said questions should be directed to Mackay.

Due to the concerning amount of citations being handed out in Miller, Mackay decided to move all residents with multiple strikes out of the hall, all of whom were on the second floor.

The Residence Guide to Living warns students, “Additional sanctions may include, but are not limited to, community restitution hours, educational programs, fines and/or exclusion from College residence halls or apartments.”

However, Mackay said he “got a lot of push back from [the Miller residents].”

“Miller has a reputation but it’s not really as bad as the reputation speaks to. I honestly enjoy living in Miller and the people are always nice and really funny. I’ve never thought about moving,” Anderson said.

The students were open to making changes instead of moving out. After meeting with most residents of the second floor and exchanging a flurry of emails, Mackay agreed to make the floor substance-free instead of removing residents.

The new rules in Miller state, “Violations of residence life policies in the Guide to Living at Linfield will result in a relocation of the student to a different residence hall and the student will be banned from the residential floors of Miller for the remainder of the academic year.”

Mackay said that a non-substance related violation by an individual with no prior violations would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

He refuted rumors that an individual had accumulated up to seven strikes. “I can’t speak to individual student conduct matters,” he said, “but if they even got near that many, they would not just be removed from the hall, but they would be removed from the institution.”

Although all students that Mackay worked with in January were allowed to stay, Mackay said, “There were students that we moved in the middle, in fall semester,” due to excessive violations.

“It is rare for us to have somebody that gets repeat violations within the same semester, or within a close time period. So we are going to have to look at what we are doing within our conduct system for our sanctions,” Mackay said.

“I’m concerned about [Miller], and I want to make that community better. So we’re doing some things specifically with that community,” Mackay said.