By: Andrew Koerner – Columnist
My thoughts on AVIATE have been persistent and challenging to organize. There’s a lot to be said on the subject and what I’ve heard from people has been almost exclusively negative. This does not mean that the criticisms I’ve heard are not merited, but they are often made with a misunderstanding about why AVIATE was implemented in the first place.
The ultimate goal of implementing AVIATE is to reduce the stress over housing and put the students in a position to control their own destiny. The University of Dayton’s Department of Housing and Residence Life has acknowledged the previous lottery system to have been confusing; according to housing, only five of 30 professionals could describe all of the nuances of the old process and exactly what impacted a student’s stock.
Students were asked a year ago whether the group, location or house itself was the most important factor. The housing team learned that, overwhelmingly, staying with the original group was most important to the students surveyed. Under AVIATE, five minute windows to select a property have been done away with and the group you select will stay together. Housing hopes the new system will give students control and eliminate anxiety as a result.
The other component many fail to realize is what PATH-eligible events aim to do. The purpose of incentivizing these events is to work with the university’s mission of educating the whole person. There are three things that are included in the mission: education in the classroom, education from experiences like co-oping or study abroad and residential learning, which is what AVIATE incentivizes through PATH. Residential learning aims to teach students about who they are, who other people are and how to intentionally build community with them.
This idea sounds great to me. Learning how to build community and learning how to accept other people for who they are has taught me a lot about myself. However, even as someone who enjoys learning the sorts of things AVIATE events are aiming to deliver, I haven’t been to a single one because points don’t matter to a graduating fifth year
For those of you who don’t remember, Red Scare once used a point system where the incentive for going to many different athletic events was better seats at home basketball games. I was on campus for four years before the switch this year to the first-come-first-serve system for basketball games and, honestly, I have not gone to a single other sporting event. I went to many games with the point system in place and enjoyed them, but I would not have gone to more than half of them if better seating for basketball was not a factor.
With the end of the regular basketball season, I can say that the new Red Scare system is far more satisfying to me. There is no sense of inter-fan competition among students at sporting events now because they all have the right intent: supporting their team.
This is what worries me about this new residential curriculum: How does community in the neighborhood change with an added sense of competition? How healthy is it for our campus to have people go to events they may not be going to for the right reasons and have that factor in who gets which house? I’ve unwillingly attended several events through my job as a resident assistant from which I ended up learning a great deal. These pleasant surprises do happen, but does the bulk of our campus have the attitude to go into these events that may be inconvenient to them and walk away with knowledge attained?
I don’t have an answer to these questions yet. What I can answer is this: If AVIATE has even a chance of working, attitudes are going to have to change.
If you’re still up in arms and think you’re going to be “screwed by housing,” remember this: your housing doesn’t define you. Where you live does not have to be the main thing you’ll remember about your time at UD. It’s the people. I never lived in a house during my time here; in fact I lived in a broom closet in Stuart for two and a half years. Did that matter? No, because the people I chose to spend my time with made all the difference.