So I just got out of an hour long meeting with UNH Housing Director Kathy Irla-Chesney and Director of UNH apartments Michael Saputo to discuss quiet hours at the Gables. It went pretty well and I think that there is some room for progress.
Right off the bat they said the quiet hours are NOT set in stone, however they do not want to have a knee-jerk reaction. They want more student feedback just to be sure that this is something that the majority of Gables residents actually want. I obviously can't prove that without a petition or a survey, but I will be knocking on doors this week looking for signatures and asking for any additional feedback.
As for their reasoning, this is where things get really interesting. The first thing I asked was what exactly the survey asked and what the responses were. Michael had the numbers on him and showed me. The first few questions were like "do you like living in the Gables?" and "would you recommend them to a friend?" and those had positive responses in the 93-95% range. The three questions he had highlighted included "are you able to sleep and study with the noise levels" and "do you feel respect from those in your building/community?" Those had positive results at 78% and 72%. Still strongly positive, but not necessarily a call for alarm. Michael said about 50% of Gables students filled out the survey, which is enough to get a good idea of how students feel. However, this is not directly related to quiet hours. Obviously no one is doing homework from 12-1 on Friday and Saturdays.
They will be issuing a new survey sometime in October that addresses quiet hours more directly. This will be very important for determining what course of action they are going to take.
However, this survey was not the only reasons they provided. Over the summer they met and discussed how the Gables buildings had accumulated more than twice the amount in damages then any other dorm. Both parties agreed that while the damages are usually done by non-residents or those who live in other dorms. No one is going to trash their own building when they have to pay for it. However, I made the point that while Gables residents are responsible for their guests, students travel from the other dorms on their own and it is usually out of control for the host and it kind of seems like the Gables residents are being punished for actions done by students from the dorms. They both admitted to not thinking of that and made notes of it. They believed that over the last few years many students had been traveling to the Gables because of the extra hour around 11:30 and they thought moving up the quiet hours would cut down on the student traffic to the Gables and prevent damages. However, this is just an observation and not a fact.
When I asked if they could tell a difference in the damages so far this year compared to last year, they admitted there wasn't much of a difference at all. I think that is important to note.
They admitted looking back on the decision that they wish they got feedback from the students first and this is something they want to improve.
Moving forward they are hoping to hear more from students on this and other issues. There are currently no Gables residents on the student council so that can make it more difficult to communicate with the residents. The most important thing moving on is to take the upcoming survey and let your opinion be known. They really are taking this seriously and are willing to work with the students.
One other possible option they brought up is about registering events. Gables residents have the option to register an "event" (party), which allows 22-24 people to be in an apartment as opposed to 13. So far this year not one Gables event has been registered and they said one option would be allowing registered events to remain until 1 a.m. while unregistered events would end at midnight. This is a possible solution and will be mentioned on the survey. Registering an event does not attract more attention, let's face it, if you're having a party, they will hear it anyways. It does ask that you inform your neighbors and have them sign off that you told them about it.
That pretty much hits on everything we discussed. So for now wait for me to come around with a petition and be ready to take their survey. If I can get around half of the Gables to sign off there is a very good chance we can make this happen.