by Monica Schwarze
Propped-open doors in Brandt Hall may foster a sense of close community, but they also cause problems, said Derek Vergara, housing coordinator at the University of La Verne.
A Jan. 22 fight prompted Vergara to work with area coordinator Chris Freeman in scheduling a number of floor meetings which took place on Jan. 24.
Junior Gilbert Gomez confirmed that fighting began when three non-ULV students gained access to Brandt Hall and shouted obscenities from the fire escape. When Gomez and a group of friends confronted the visitors, fighting ensued.
According to Gomez, the fighting ended after one of the non-residents flashed a gun. No shots were fired.
Vergara said that the fight was one of many incidents that prompted the floor meetings.
During the meetings, students were reminded of residence hall safety procedures and asked to keep their doors closed. They were also invited to address other problems, such as roommate conflicts.
“The dialogue that stemmed from these meetings is very important,” said Vergara, who admitted that residents have also experienced problems with hall pranks and poor living conditions.
“I think some of the residents understood [the purpose of the meetings], and some, I just couldn’t tell,” said Freeman. “I think it’s just a matter of seeing what happens from here in terms of the attitude of the residents.”
Third floor Brandt resident Cheryl Payne agreed with the purpose of the meetings. She has experienced problems with noise levels and propped-open restroom doors.
“It’s almost like living in a zoo,” said Payne. “The bathroom doors aren’t always closed. I’ve seen men in non-co-ed bathrooms. There’s a disregard for the fact that this is a community living area.”
Vergara agrees that residents should think of the dorms as a neighborhood, and this is the atmosphere he hopes the meetings have begun to foster.
“This is their living area,” he said. “There should be an attitude of neighborhood watch.”
Although Vergara admits that floor meetings are a common occurrence in all the residence halls, and are not always limited to Brandt Hall or prompted by troublesome incidents, he wanted to hold this meeting as soon as possible after the altercation on Jan. 22.
Freeman said he responded to the fight quickly because he felt that the situation in Brandt Hall could be improved immediately.
“My goal is to help develop that sense of community and to have an environment where we all feel safe,” he said.
Dean of Student Affairs Loretta Rahmani hopes to take the focus of the meetings one step further by posting a safety newsletter in all of the halls.
“We used to have weekly safety and security bulletins,” she said. “Maybe it’s time again to have some type of regular dissemination of safety information.”
Vergara agrees that residents should be informed about safety on a regular basis, and is thinking of planning follow-up meetings.
“The only thing we really can do is educate the residents,” he said. “I think they could be more informed.”