One of the most common excursions which UConn students partake in involves entering lecture halls after operating hours (typically late at night on weekends). Whether they simply roam throughout the buildings or project Netflix films onto a large screen, students have found recreational as well as academic purposes for visiting these lecture halls. However, beginning this semester, UConn administrators plan to prevent such uninhibited leisurely activity from taking place. Although administrators’ concerns are somewhat justifiable, there are also ample arguments in favor of maintaining the status quo.
Indisputably, there are some downsides to establishing nearly limitless parameters for late-night student activity. As UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz notes, “the classrooms often have valuable technology that can be broken. The university has to control and monitor the use of the rooms to ensure the items are safe and in good operating order.” Unfortunately, there have been some incidents in which students have damaged valuables or otherwise left a room in less-than-ideal condition. Administrators have understandably implemented plenty of precautionary measures, which include video monitoring building entrants, manually shutting off technology, and even contacting the police in circumstances involving more extreme misconduct. Also, administrators may fear that students would rather visit lecture halls than attend University-sponsored diversions (e.g. sports games at Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center, guest speeches and entertainment, the Student Union’s Late Night, etc.).
While administrators’ anxieties are duly noted, they should not overshadow the points in favor of permitting students to visit lecture halls after-hours. For one, most students do not intend to destroy property or be malcontents (and anyone with enough intelligence to earn acceptance into UConn should know better, anyway). In fact, these supposedly inconsiderate “intruders” are at least respectful enough to not interrupt anything of importance, like an academic lecture or organizational meeting. Considering how much pride UConn takes in its unified student community and beautiful locale, it seems rather hypocritical for administrators to deprive students of opportune destinations for bonding and exploration. After all, not many other on-campus locations (outside of a dorm room, which can become occupied too easily sometimes) allow students to set up their own activities, and a student who ventures throughout a given building at a time when they are not attending classes there might garner some bewildered gazes in their direction.
Furthermore, lecture hall visits offer a healthy alternative to maladaptive behavior that might tarnish UConn’s reputation (e.g. underage drinking, vandalism, theft, etc.). Besides, there really is not much tangible difference between, say, a group of friends pulling up a romcom on the projector on a Friday night and an on-campus organization presenting a PowerPoint during its introductory meeting; thus, administrators should trust every student equally regarding their lecture hall use.
Ultimately, administrators should be less strict, and students should be more cautious. Of course, there must be consequences for property destruction and invasion of private records, but administrators must also trust that students have innocuous intentions and will behave appropriately upon entering a lecture hall after-hours.
Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org.