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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Students are engulfed in confusion over forbidden items in dorms

Students are engulfed in confusion over forbidden items in dorms


Moving in as a freshman, especially trying to think of all the new supplies needed, can be very stressful. However, with University of Mary Washington’s long and ever-growing list of prohibited items in dorm rooms, moving in can be made even more difficult and frustrating. The list prohibits items from weapons and alcohol, to leaves and door decorations.

Now, many students find that they are frustrated and confused by ResLife’s policies on flammable and prohibited objects.

Why are leaves not allowed in dorm rooms, but nail-polish is? Why are tapestries considered harmless when draped over furniture but are prohibited when they are hanging on walls? It is not as much fun moving in to your new home and not being able to decorate freely.

Maddie Reid, sophomore environmental science major, was surprised and upset with the rule that only 10 percent of wall space can be covered. “They never explained to us how much 10 percent of our wall was, there was no way for us to be sure of what exactly they meant by 10 percent so we were left frustrated and confused,” Reid said.

It was also realized that only RA’s are allowed to decorate doors, which means no whiteboards and dampening student’s creativity. Last year a fellow freshman wrapped her dorm room door in wrapping paper for Christmas and was asked to take it down by an RA.

When asked about the list stifling student’s creativity Reid said, “Most people in college use decorations to show their personality and feel more at home, especially freshmen who want to be reminded of home and be comforted with the things that were in their old rooms. However, with this list, they are not allowed to bring most of those things.”

Personally, I was shocked when an RA asked me to throw away my Eagle Gathering candle that the university had given me. I was planning on saving as a memento. Another concern surrounding prohibited items in dorm rooms is that the university does not always promote safe ways for dealing with flammable objects.

UMW encourages students to use flame retardant spray on flammable objects but most flame retardant sprays can contain neurotoxins and can be very damaging to your health. With the university going above and beyond with fire prevention policies many people think the prevention and prohibition are getting too extreme.

“There seems to be a lot of things listed that seem a little excessive,” said Bekah DeBell, a sophomore biology major, like not being allowed to have extension cords, especially in this digital age.”

Many students find the policies too strict so they end up seeing them as a hindrance instead of a way in which to protect the students at UMW.

“They take the items down and hide them during room inspections and fire drills just to put them back up once they return to their rooms,” Maddie said.

So how should UMW differentiate between objects that could really cause problems and damage if they ignited, versus objects filling up an over-precautionary list?

Hannah Beke, sophomore, anthropology and international affairs major, said “We are all adults that live in buildings, that we would prefer not to burn down so I think it should be a judgment call. If you clearly have too much covering your wall then take something down, but there is no difference having a blanket versus a tapestry.”

Maybe the real issue here is the lack of trust between students and their RAs.