IRHA opens door to new policy

Tracy Deutmeyer

It’s one small step for doors, one giant leap for free speech.

The Inter-Residence Hall Association passed a resolution at its meeting last night that will allow residence hall residents to decorate their doors if the resolution is adopted. That’s a privilege that university officials took away four years ago after one student hung Nazi propaganda on his dorm door.

But students can’t hang stuff on their doors just yet.

After passing the proposal 18-5 last night, IRHA will now send the bill to Randy Alexander, director of residence. He will take the proposal to university lawyers, said Brian Hille, IRHA vice president of internal affairs.

Hille said if university lawyers approve the proposal, IRHA will have to pass it again, and then each of the three residence hall associations will have to pass the proposal in its entirety.

If all three associations do not pass the proposal, IRHA will have to make changes and pass the bill again.

If university lawyers reject the proposal, it’s dead.

Even if the proposal makes it through university officials and IRHA channels, students won’t be able to hang just anything on their doors.

The proposal said “materials found to be offensive to groups or individuals” can be removed if one-fourth of the house members vote against it.

If any material is in question and a vote is held, the one-fourth total is determined from one-fourth of the voters present, not the total number of house members.

An amendment was made to the proposal which let each house decide if it wanted to continue with the old policy of not allowing any door decorations.

“I’m in favor of this proposal now that we’re going to let individual houses leave it the way it is right now,” Hille said. “If people want to live in an environment like that, then they should have that option. My role is to do what the students want, regardless of my personal opinion.”

Many students at the meeting favored the decision.

But some were not happy.

The Multicultural Awareness Support System liaison for IRHA, Michelle Zilisch, said she came to ISU because residents could not put anything on their doors.

“I came to ISU four years ago to live in the residence halls because I visited other schools where students hung things on their doors, and it just looked cluttered,” Zilisch said.

Items can be found to be offensive if, the policy states, they “threaten or offend a particular group or person such that they have a concern for their personal safety; these may contain, but need not be limited to, a racist, sexist or homophobic message.”

In addition, the policy says if items present any group or person in a demeaning fashion or encourage violence in the residence hall community, they can be considered offensive.

Any resident or staff member may make a written complaint to the house president or the resident assistant about any door material. Once a complaint is received, the new policy states, the material in question must be removed until a decision is reached.

The house president or RA is responsible for informing the resident of the complaint.

The vote must be made within one week of the complaint. Appeals may be made by either party. The complaint will then be voted on by the resident association’s judicial Board of Review.