Housing and Dining has fined students at Will Rice College $200 per room for disabling the door closing mechanisms, which has sparked fears of a crackdown on door propping and “carding” (preventing automatic locking) at other colleges.
Door propping is like underage drinking: The university technically doesn’t allow it, there might be some associated risks, and yet a large portion of students do it anyway. Given this situation and the widespread nature of door propping, sudden enforcement of large fines seems both unfair and likely to spark further backlash from the student body. Enforcement is also arbitrary — whether a student is in her room when H&D checks the door can determine whether she owes the university $200. The use of fines introduces inequity in punishment: The financial resources available to students vary and lower-income students are more heavily affected.
While there are logical reasons for the existence of door rules — reduction of theft, prevention of intruders into students’ rooms — students should be given the freedom to make this tradeoff between risk and convenience. If a pair of roommates decide to card their door and jeopardize their belongings, that should be their choice. As college students who should be learning to “adult,” these are the kind of decisions we should be allowed to make.
It’s true that there are circumstances where a student’s choice to prop a door might affect others, in which the university’s hands are tied — in particular, fire safety rules fall into this category. Aside from those situations, however, H&D should drop its paternalistic attitude toward door propping and carding and legitimize the already well-established practice.
Editor-in-chief Juan Saldaña recused himself from the writing of this editorial.