Students using room windows as space to decorate won’t be able to anymore after a display ban was issued for all campus residence halls Sept. 29.
Resident advisors and apartment coordinators advised students the week of Oct. 1, that any posters or decorations visible to the public must be taken down according to a policy amendment. The previous policy allowed students to have objects in windows as long as it was appropriate, but Director of Residence Life Aaron Macke said without a defined standard of appropriateness, conflicts arose.
“We decided to just take away the grey area and decide that windows are windows, not display boards. They let light in and that’s it,” Macke said. “Students have always been pretty good about it, but it takes away the dispute and makes everything simple.”
Dowling Hall's windows appear uniform after Residence Life decided to ban decorations visible to the public. The ban became effective Saturday, Sept. 29. (Anastasia Straley/TommieMedia)
Macke also said this isn’t the first time Residence Life has asked students to take down window displays.
“(We) have had to go to students and ask them to take down the wine bottles in the window or the flattened beer 24 pack and take it down,” Macke said.
Though the change was not solely based on political banners, Macke said the increase in campaign material was a motivating factor in changing the policy.
“The time of the year caused me to look at this closer,” Macke said. “We have had signs that are politically motivated that we’ve asked students to take down, and they’ve all been accommodating as long as everyone’s playing by the same rules.”
Students have also complained about odd signs and mannequins placed in apartment and suite windows, and this measure would eliminate them. Anyone displaying content visible to the public will be asked to remove the it, and resident advisors are responsible for making sure it stays down.
The only campus residence buildings not affected by the change are the St. John Vianney and St. Paul seminaries. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis lease the two seminary buildings, so they do not fall under Residence Life jurisdiction.
Sophomore Rachel Nielsen said that the ban is a nuisance and that Residence Life should allow students to convey their views.
“I think empty bottles would be inappropriate regardless of the age, but I don’t see a problem with political campaign signs,” Nielsen said. “People should be allowed to express their opinions freely.”
Sophomore Angie Hasek said that she understands the adaptation, but she was frustrated with the the abrupt change and the message’s delivery, especially when her political sign had to come down.
“I didn’t see the note on Saturday night, but my roommate told me that the hall director came around and told her to take down my sign,” Hasek said. “I’m not upset with St. Thomas, but what made me really upset was that I don’t think that a sign in a dorm would lead anyone to believe that that’s what the university would uphold.”
Anastasia Straley can be reached at email@example.com.