AVIATE sessions prompt further discussion, concern

By: Amanda Dee – Social Media Manager

Housing and residence life staff continued the conversation about the AVIATE housing system at an information session Friday.

The session followed a meeting with Student Government Association President Sarah Dickson, Vice President Elaine Laux and housing and residence life staff Wednesday.  In that meeting, housing and residence life staff explained how and why the AVIATE housing system was developed, Dickson said.

Executive Director of Housing and Residence Life Steve Herndon, Director of Housing Operations Jim Froehlich and Director of Residence Life Christina Smith told Dickson and Laux senior administration officials mandated the change because the lottery system was confusing, even to housing and residence life staff.

“That five minute window, when five minutes feels like five seconds,” provoked student anxiety, Herndon said at the Friday information meeting. “You feel that so much is on the line.”

In 2012, housing and residence life staff created a task force and invited students to participate in focus groups, but the staff said “no one showed interest at the time,” according to Dickson.  The special interest housing process was “exploding,” Dickson said, so the task force used that process as a base model for AVIATE.

“In the end, students have more control [under AVIATE],” Froehlich said at the Friday information session. “In every session, that’s the response we’ve gotten.”

Since students did not know about the new system prior to their housing choices for this year, Froehlich said landlord tenants will receive the five points they cannot do on campus and rising juniors will have the average number of points juniors accumulated.

“The idea is that this is year one,” Herndon said at the Friday information session. “Year one is not indicative of what year two and three are going to be.”

However, students have voiced concerns about the process.

“This is a paradigm shift,” Herndon said at the Friday information session. “I think the anxiety that was created overshadowed the system.”

ATTENDEE CAP CONCERN:

Senior public relations major Melissa Hughes, a sexual violence prevention peer educator, helped organize and promote the Nov. 5 Harry Brod “Asking For It: The Ethics and Erotics of Sexual Consent” presentation, an AVIATE event.

Hughes attended but was almost not allowed in the room “because of the crowds,” she said. She had to “cram into the back” with another peer educator.

Despite his RSVP, junior criminal justice and international studies major Sean Desrosiers was also turned away from the event.

Hughes called the event a success because it drew a crowd but said, “Many people left about 20 minutes into the presentation or spent the whole time playing on their phones, which was very rude to Dr. Brod and not fair to people who were turned away from the event.”

“I understand why the university is encouraging students to go to events, but I think it encourages students to participate for the wrong reasons.”

RESPONSE:

“The [attendance] caps have already existed,” Froehlich said. “The space may only be able to accommodate a certain number [of attendees].”  If more students RSVP to events than organizers originally estimated, they will try to look for larger spaces.

But, an RSVP is not a lock into events, Froehlich said. Only preregistration locks students into events.

“The misconception is that there are people out there attending every single event,” Herndon said at the information meeting.

INVOLVED STUDENT CONCERN:

Junior Panhellenic Delegate and Pi Beta Phi Natalie Kretzschmar, a double major in political science and public relations, estimated she devotes more than 12 hours of an average weekday to academics, organizations and work.  Kretzschmar said that her leadership positions are helping her grow more than a housing and residence life-approved event would, but that her community involvement will hurt her in the housing process.

“Let’s not even talk about commuters who would like to move back on campus,” another student, junior Cheyenne Anderson, on the pre-med track, said.

On an average day, Anderson attends class for five hours, does homework for five hours then studies for two hours.  She also is the treasurer of her women’s fraternity, which she said consumes about five more hours per week of her time.

RESPONSE:

Students should, on average, attend one to two events per month to be involved in the residential community.  “We don’t want to make it a burden,” Page said at the Friday information session.

To receive the participation credits, which become PATH points after the reflection responses are submitted online, only one roommate in a dorm, apartment or house needs to attend a community building meeting.  According to Page, reflection responses should take five minutes.

The curriculum for the community building meetings is standardized, so students can go to another meeting in a different dorm, apartment or block at a time that works for them, Froehlich said at the Friday information session.

CULTURE CONCERN:

First-year honors student and undecided major Eva Schuller said the new system seems like a positive way to facilitate involvement, but she’s heard “we have to go to this event, so we can get better housing” from fellow first years.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon member Tommy Bashore, a sophomore business and marketing major, said he opposes this system because those who are uncomfortable in social situations or have social anxiety are forced into social settings.

“It’s dangerous because it’s valuing going to one specific event for points, not [valuing] involved students who are in things they are passionate about and in for the long term,” Alejandro Trujillo, a junior psychology major, said in the Nov. 4 housing article for Flyer News.

 RESPONSE:

“In terms of finding value in [AVIATE],” Froehlich said at the Friday information session, suggestions and requests for partnerships with organizations, clubs and university departments are welcome.

Most of these events like floor meetings have already existed, Froehlich said, housing and residence life just hasn’t had a way to “assess and incentivize” it.

Students come to Dayton for classroom learning, he said.  Experiential learning like co-ops, study abroad and internships is for resume and personal fulfillment. Residential learning, AVIATE, Herndon said at the Friday information session, is not “just living in community;” it’s actually reflecting upon one’s role in the community.

More AVIATE info sessions will be held in January and February. For more FN-exclusive updates, follow @FlyerNews and like Flyer News on Facebook.