Letter to the Editor: Residence Life not concerned about the well-being of students

(Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

I am writing because I am very disappointed in how St. Thomas Residence Life is handling student concerns during this unprecedented time.

Of course, with COVID-19 we have all had to make some extreme changes in our daily lives (i.e wearing masks, online learning, etc.) however, those of us living in residence this year are dealing with some particularly challenging changes.

For one, Residence Life has implemented a “no guest policy,” meaning that no one besides roommates can be in either residences on campus or off-campus, such as Windsor Street residence.

In my opinion, this rule is barbaric because students living in residence can go to parties with people from all over the city, athletes can still practice with their teammates, and students can continue to go to work.

Residence Life believes this “no guest policy” is going to protect their students from COVID-19 while all it is really doing is affecting their mental health. Many students have support systems outside of residence and it is unfair of Residence Life to keep them from each other.

Students pay a lot of money to live in residence each year and especially during COVID-19, Residence Life should be doing things to make student life easier while being cooped up inside all day learning, but instead they are taking away the only thing that some students have, friends.

Not everyone’s friends live in residence with them and with this rule, Residence Life is saying that you can go to your friend’s house, but they cannot come to yours. Especially with winter coming, more students are going to be dealing with seasonal depression and they will need support, however, Residence Life would rather that students suffer alone in silence rather than try to push through surrounded by their support system.

Another thing I wanted to touch on was the lack of empathy Residence Life has for their students. They claim they will “do anything they can to make our experience living in residence a positive one” but that is false.

Residence Life ignores emails of concerns, complaints, or potential damage to their Windsor Street houses. A student house had their basement flood a few days before Thanksgiving this year and Residence Life, along with Facilities, were unfazed by the incident even though water was gathering in the room and under the floor of the student living in the basement, which lead to a great potential for mold to grow.

It took two weeks, many emails (almost all of which were ignored) and phone calls before Residence Life and Facilities even thought of coming to fix the problem. By the time the water was fully cleaned up, it was two and a half weeks after the flooding happened and the student had been displaced for the duration of those two and a half weeks. It took only a few days for Facilities to clean up the water and replace the floor, however, it took longer just to get Residence Life to care enough about the situation that they would send someone to fix it. Residence Life never apologized for the lack of communication and has not reached out since the issue began.

The student room in the basement has very small windows, so it is always dark in the room. Before moving in, the student was very concerned about the darkness because they also deal with seasonal depression and mental health issues. Therefore, sunlight is important for them to have and they knew it was going to take a toll on their mental health, so when they brought this concern to Residence Life, Carmen Law, assistant director or Residence Life, recommended they get a “plant that doesn’t require much sunlight to help with the depression.” So it is very evident that Residence Life doesn’t understand or care about student mental health if all they can recommend for support is a damn plant.

Residence Life is just a business and they do not care about their students’ wellbeing because if they did, then they would be figuring out ways to help students rather than push them down further. After talking with previous Residence Life staff (residence coordinators and residence advisors) about some of their experiences, it is very clear that Residence Life is just running a business and would rather avoid issues than deal with them.