On Tuesday, 15 November, UW-Parkside’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) passed legislation that will implement fees for students who continuously lock themselves out of their dorm rooms.
Key-ins, as they are often referred to, are a privileged service provided by Residence Life when students forget or misplace their keys. The Residence Advisors (RAs) on duty are obligated to let students back into their respective dorm rooms at any hour of the day or night. Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the Residence Hall Association did not have a policy in regards to keying in residents, and documentation was at the discretion of the RA on duty. While the privilege was used as a safety net for some students who would occasionally forget their keys, it became a frequently utilized convenience for other residents, who RHA believes began abusing the privilege.
“It is a privilege,” said RHA Vice President Jennifer Trucks. “It is not part of their job description, which I feel is something that not a lot of incoming freshman know.”
The key-in debate at hand is the direct result of that lack of clarity. In past and present policies, it is not explicitly stated that Residence Life is required to key residents in; rather, it has been a privilege offered to students. Through its implicit nature, residents and people outside of Residence Life have viewed this as a duty of the RA’s, rather than a favor. Consequently, there have been students who have surpassed 10 key- ins in this semester alone.
Three weeks ago, Residence Life asked RHA to develop a policy that would establish consequences for the aforementioned issue. RHA Parliamentarian Samantha Fredericks wrote the policy, which would later be revised three times before passing. The initial proposal suggested a $20 fee at the fourth lock out and then a $25 fee for every following lock out. After negotiations on Tuesday, RHA and the residents in attendance compromised on an initial $8 fee that would increase to a $16 charge per consecutive lock out. RHA claims that the fees are not intended to take residents money; rather, they are there to serve as a consequence and a way to force students to be more accountable.
“The department was seeing issues and inconsistency, and no one was taking responsibility in key-handling,” said Fredericks. “Then, it started becoming an issue, where students would abuse the privilege of having an R.A at 4 in the morning. So, the department suggested it, and we backed it because we felt it would teach the residents in responsibility.”
According to Trucks, the subsequent fees will go to the Residence Life general budget. The charge would be implemented through the student’s Solar account. This charge works in a similar fashion with the way students pay off room damages, such as chipped furniture, stained carpets and any other damages to Residence Life property.
The policy, now passed through RHA, will move on to the Student Life committee for approval. The decision has elicited both support and opposition from UW-Parkside residents. Some students have expressed indifference to the issue, as they have not been locked out of their rooms. However, other residents feel as though the charges are unfair, and that RHA has not fulfilled its duty of representing the students. One of Tuesday’s largest voices of opposition was resident Jeffery House.
“I believe the key-in policy is both unnecessary and not in the interest of the overall student body,” said House. “There is no logical reason to believe that the informed student body is represented by this league of people called RHA.”
RHA believes that they are serving the students in teaching them responsibility, and they are also defending the roles of the R.A’s.
“It is going to show that the R.A’s job is not taken for granted,” said Fredericks. “I think a lot of people misinterpret the role of the R.A. If you calculate it, they make about two cents an hour. It is not a cake walk; it is a difficult job. The R.A’s are students too. They have to get up at 7 or 8 in the morning, and they have residents calling them to key them in at 5am.”
“Overall, no competent person would wish to be charged eight dollars to get keyed in their room,” said House. “This will reduce the desire of students to live on campus,”
RHA counters these claims by stating that other Universities, such as UW-Plattville, charge as much as $40 and higher for keying in residents. They also claim that they are preparing students for the real world, where key and lock changing rates are much higher at apartment complexes.
As the key-in policy continues to move through higher departments, RHA maintains its stance behind the legislation, and students in opposition continue to negate the rate of the consequential fees. To stay informed on the key-in policy and other R.H.A happenings, they hold open meetings on Tuesday evenings. Students can also visit trnonline.org or talk to Residence Life.