The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letters to the editor: Substance-free housing in an option

Last week, the Opinion section of the S&B published an article by Hugh Redford ’10 called “Substance free housing: against self-gov,” which was both divisive and irrational. Redford fails to acknowledge that substance-free housing is perhaps the greatest embodiment of self-governance present on campus.

Redford mentions that personal choice and religious obligation are some of the main reasons students opt for sub-free housing. However, he then states that the legitimacy of these reasons becomes “a little bit murkier” when put in the context of self-governance. He claims that self-gov is about making people deal “with the sticky issue of human interaction”–in other words, forcing students to suffer under the pretense of overcoming diversity.

But, Redford clearly misses the distinct difference between interacting with the diverse Grinnell community and respecting each other’s decisions. Self-gov is about embracing, not disregarding, the plurality of student choice. To suggest, as Redford does, that sub-free housing inhibits students’ freedom is to blatantly ignore that students choose sub-free housing. Sub-free housing is not an imposition, but an option, one that, according to Loosehead RLC and Assistant Director of Residence Life Kim Hinds-Brush, 83 of this year’s incoming students chose to make.

Redford’s definition of self-governance twists self-gov’s true purpose: to recognize individuality, to provide a comfortable living environment, and to encourage responsible and constructive decisions. Self-gov is not about pressuring people into conflict; instead, it is about resolving conflict.

Next time, Hugh, please stop and think for a moment before you pick up your pen.

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