Update on Off-Campus Housing, Community Relations, and Social Life
Over the past couple of days we have heard from a number of students who are concerned about off-campus housing, the increased tension between our neighbors and students, and social life at Bates. We write to let you know that we take these concerns seriously and we wish to work with you to identify solutions to these challenging issues.
After speaking with some students, it appears there are some misunderstandings that we wish to address.
- We have not banned off-campus parties, but as a practical matter, given the past experiences of our neighbors with large, destructive parties, any social gatherings will require an approach that does not negatively impact our neighbors.
- It came to our attention yesterday that certain spaces in college houses had been locked at the beginning of this semester as part of an ongoing review of spaces. Recognizing that these spaces are often used by our students, we requested that they be unlocked and they are now available for student use. We truly apologize for whatever confusion or frustration this may have caused.
- It has been suggested that there are no common areas on campus for students to have parties. While we know that we still have work to do, there are several spaces that can be used for this purpose (Hacker, Hopkins, JB, Mitchell, Moulton, Pierce, among others).
- Counter to some current discourse, we have excellent working relationships with the city and the Lewiston Police Department and we all want the same thing—a fun social life for our students that is also respectful of our neighbors.
We worked hard throughout the summer with city officials and community members to understand their perspectives and figure out how we can work with students living off-campus to support their desire for a greater independence in living arrangements and a vibrant social life, while also respecting our neighborhood residents. In that spirit, we wrote to you in August to outline some of the issues that emerged over the course of this past spring and summer and to signal our desire to work with you on resetting the balance this fall.
The need for a reset does not represent a change in college policy. Rather it is a practical reality that has emerged and intensified over the past several years, based in part on incidents of student behavior that have gotten out of hand and threatened both the property and peace of mind of our neighbors. As a result, a more coordinated approach to resolving these issues is necessary and we must all commit ourselves to abiding by the law as well as local ordinances. We are eager to work with you to figure out how to preserve what you value most about off-campus living and social options. But we will only find solutions if we can together generate some concrete ideas for how to improve relationships in the neighborhoods and if students take personal responsibility for limiting the extremes of behavior that are the main source of concern.
To continue this important conversation and keep the lines of communication open, we have invited our off-campus students to a follow-up meeting next Tuesday to discuss all of these issues further, and to address questions or concerns. Meanwhile, we have invited off-campus house liaisons to a meeting this afternoon to discuss these concerns before the weekend.
We look forward to working with you to find a reasonable solution that balances the interests of our students with those of our neighbors.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Senior Associate Dean of Students