After leaving class today, I checked my inbox and found this all too relevant email from my AC:
The idea that closing the window will “keep the building secure” aligns with some ideas my small groups was discussing. If we were desperate enough for shelter, some of us were willing to climb through windows to obtain protection from the elements. However, if the directions of this email are followed, Nassau will no longer be an option for ENGL 439 students without card access after 7: 30 and a dire need of shelter.
Prior to our class conversation today, I had not seriously considered the effects of excluding non-residents as outsiders from the hall. Being locked out of my residence hall has never been more than a minor inconvenience for me. I have consistently been fortunate enough for friendly strangers to let me in. If one didn’t appear fast enough for me, I would be able to call a roommate or friend to open the doors and let me in. After hearing about incidents of stalking and being informed about active shooters, I felt safe knowing the doors were keeping potentially dangerous strangers out of my living space.
In my time at Geneseo, I have always though of the halls as “Safe Spaces.” Due to the stickers Resident Assistants as well as many professors hang on their doors, Geneseo is quite literally a safe space, and a welcoming community. Many of members of my staff are safe-zone trained individuals who are members of or allies with the LBGTQ+ community. These stickers don’t automatically create a physical safe space (it would be cool if they did, huh?), but symbolize the human connection and support the individual displaying the sticker can provide. As an RA who has been safe-zone trained, I have had conversations with residents about identity that were both eye-opening and educational for everyone involved. This is why I love my job.
Despite all the learning and positive interactions that come from my job, there are still many aspects that are sour. Maybe I haven’t reflected on the impact of outsiders on the community within Nassau’s walls because, at times, members of the community are destructive. Unfortunately, it is common for roommates, especially those of the randomly assigned freshman year sort, to not be best friends. Fighting roommates could easily not feel secure despite shared card access to the building, code access to the suite, and key access to their room. But if they don’t click, their room is no longer a safe space and avoided.
Most of the time, roommate conflicts stem from minor misunderstandings and are repairable. But, instances that are severe enough to get UPD involved are not unheard of. Roommate conflicts escalating to physical violence and destruction of property are usually limited to two people. There have been some, more deliberate actions of disrespect that destroy the sense of security within a greater community. The bias related incidents of November (x), specifically, show fractures within the community. There were incidents outside of the building as well, and their impact on this campus did not go unnoticed.
The symbols that appeared on campus haunt us. Their past is heavy and the fear of it mixing with our present and future is the opposite of progress. If there are members within our community who want to push other community members out, we are not as supportive and whole as we could, and should, be. While keeping our physical spaces secure, it is a job for the entire community to create an atmosphere of respect that does not lock anyone out.