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April 11, 2024

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    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
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    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

The worst floors

Around-the-clock partying … trash consistently strung about the hallways … daily pranks … constant vandalism … multiple theft … even violence. Let’s face it: Some residence hall floors are worse than others.

Sometimes the community living standards broken and crimes committed on a floor can earn it a reputation as one of the worst on campus.

Bryan Warga, senior, knows that all too well. After one week living on the third floor of MacDonald East in the spring of 2003, his $2,000 laptop was stolen.

Warga, a 4.0 student, would arrive back from class and step over pizza boxes, Styrofoam containers and entire bags of trash before getting to his door, which on one particular day had been covered in shaving cream.

Warga said his neighbors targeted him because he was a criminal justice major. They thought he was an undercover narcotics agent.

It didn’t end there. According to another resident, Matthew Corsi, neighbors tore their drinking fountain off the wall and had a “fire extinguisher fight.”

“The bathrooms were always trashed. Drug dealers. Pot smoking in rooms. Fire alarms. People stealing from each other,” Corsi listed.

While Corsi would stop short of saying the floor was the worst on campus because he didn’t live on other floors, he said there were plenty of rumors circulating that it was.

Former Resident Adviser Joe Churpek, who worked on the floor above, remembered their floor as having an infamous reputation among RAs. He added that the upper floors of Mac East and West always tended to have more trouble.

“It was common knowledge among the RA staff,” he said.

That stereotyping “irks” Nicholas Hennessey, the associate director of Residence Life who oversees nearly every aspect of residence hall operations.

“Thankfully every floor each year is different and starts off fresh,” he said. “If someone had a problem in 2002 to 2003 things have changed. Different staff members, different aspects of training, it is a completely different ball game.”

According to Churpek, third floor east during the following year was not exactly the “quintessential bad floor.”

However, problems returned to the floor in the fall of 2004.

It came in second for most write-ups in Mac. First was third floor west, which was joked about as being the worst among RA’s, according to an RA on the floor, Melanie Campbell.

A resident on her floor, Dustin Britton, described the floor as “pretty crazy and wild.” He said vandalism, underage drinking, quiet hour violations, and trash dumping were daily occurrences.

Freshmen randomly assigned to the floors may have expected a safe, friendly and comfortable Bowling Green neighborhood to live, work and study in, but residents said the floors were more like “New Orleans after the Hurricane” and “an impoverished neighborhood.”

It is educating trouble makers on these floors about the consequences their actions have for others that is the goal of the residence discipline program, according to the program’s coordinator, assistant dean of students Michael Ginsburg.

Ginsburg has had personal experience with floors like this. When he was area coordinator for Mac he said it was fourth west and first east that “were just hellacious, but that was eight years ago now.”

“It’s usually a couple of floors somewhere on campus, usually one’s in MacDonald and one is somewhere in the quads,” he said, adding that it is never the whole floor that causes trouble, just a few individuals.

But this year is a different story, he said, “we have been very lucky.”

Twenty MacDonald residents were asked what they thought the worst floor was this semester. They responded with six different floors across all three wings.

No floor was said to be the worst more than six times and 45 percent of those surveyed indicated they wouldn’t be surprised if the floor they identified was the worst on campus.

The most often cited floors were the upper floors of Mac East and West, including fourth west with 6 votes, third east with 5 and third west with 3.

Community experiment

Some of that luck this year may have been due to a new housing experiment in fourth east, where rooms normally assigned to two students have been housing one.

Hennessy said the surprising thing is that the floor has developed a strong sense of community despite fewer students and fewer roommate relationships.

“It’s far exceeded our expectations in terms of just about every aspect,” he said, adding that residence life is discussing continuing the experiment.

Developing a sense of community is the approach residence life takes to prevent such high-incidence floors.

The more community development that is done from the beginning and throughout the year, the better the community will be, which is why residence life focuses on it in training hall staff.

“[The training] occurs for a longer period of time and before there is any type of exposure to or training in policy or community living standards,” he said. “It is considered to be the major part of an RA’s job.”

Job #1

In order to develop a community that all members of a floor will respect, RAs are expected to be positive role models, spend time on their floor, educate residents about policy and plan floor activities, among other actions, according to Hennessey.

By participating in floor activities residents get to know one another and become more likely to respect their neighbor’s rights.

But as Warga and Corsi found out, not all RAs are created equal. There were no activities, few education programs, and often the RAs were not on the floor.

According to their fellow resident Dave Gilliam, control of the floor was not in the hands of the RAs.

“One RA gave up on us,” he said. “[The other RA] was secluded from our floor.”

Hennessy would love it if the 168 RAs he oversees were perfect, but, he said, “the fact of the matter is that some are better than others.”

RAs may discover they are unable to juggle class and other responsibilities with the number of duties required of them on a floor, among other problems. Hennessy said the situation is “not common at all.”

Infinite Reasons

Under-performing RAs are not the only reason floors have trouble. The factors contributing to problems on floors like these are nearly innumerable, but most stem from a lack of mutual respect.

According to Ginsburg, usually only two to six residents cause trouble on a floor. They generally aren’t concerned with neighbor’s rights. They test boundaries and tend to find each other, creating a “perfect storm situation.”

“I think it is perfectly natural and normal for students to want to test boundaries,” he said. “The floors where they get that out of control have students on them that don’t know how to reign themselves back in.”

Conducting investigations to determine who those individuals are is a joint effort between residence life, student life and the department of public safety. Residents are also encouraged to help.

They can go to an RA, a hall director or report an incident themselves. But they almost never do.

Hennessy said the most help a student could be to hall staff is to report a problem.

“Nobody ever says anything about it, and so therefore everyone suffers and that just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Officers on duty

According to Chief James Wiegand, department of public safety director, officers are assigned in teams to each residence hall. They help train hall staff, put on safety programs, do walk-throughs and when need be, investigate.

Investigation may include interviewing members of the floor or, in MacDonald, reviewing the floor’s camera footage.

The cameras were first installed in the spring of 2003. It was only a month before the camera on Corsi’s floor was tampered with and disabled.

Once enough evidence is gathered, a resident may be charged with a crime, forwarded to the residence discipline program or both.

Ginsburg’s office will then either try to work with the student to ensure they are more positive members of the community or remove them from the floor.

He said a floor in Batchelder Hall last semester was on a path similar to other high-incidence floors until two students voluntarily moved out.

Switch it up

A student can switch rooms within their hall or visit the office of residence life in 440 Saddlemire for a hall to hall switch. Switches are not allowed during the first two weeks of a semester.

Brad Kogut, a resident of Corsi and Warga’s floor, moved before the spring semester. He moved, he said, to get closer to friends that lived in Mac West.

“The process wasn’t long and drawn out or anything I had much of a hassle with,” he said, adding that residence life was very flexible even with little advance notice.

When Kogut moved out, it freed a bed and Warga moved in. Warga wasn’t aware that he could move off the floor, but had he known, he said, he would have.

“It would be an inconvenience,” he said of having to move out in the middle of his first semester at the University. “But I would have since it was that bad.”

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