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Dorm Fights Sexual Discrimination

Dorm Fights Sexual Discrimination

By Betty Hale 

Published on February 17, 1977 

Do men and women on this campus presently have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities?  

The answer to this question varies not only among those involved with the school but also among members of Dorm Council, a committee composed of male and female dorm students and deans who meet in the office of Don Lake, vice president of Student Affairs. 

Lake, the chairperson of the committee answered the question, “The rules and regulations that the men and women dorm students have are equal, but they’re not the same, which is often by the design of the students’ wishes.” 

“I don’t know,” answered Betty Ann Howard, dean of women, “There’s so much conflicting input.” 

“No,” said Maynard Loewen, dean of men, “And I don’t think that it’s possible that there will ever be total equality. There should always be equal work opportunities and equal pay for equal work done. I think that traditional impacts are still so strong that society isn’t going to permit the total equalization of the two.” 

“It’s hard to say,” said Ralph Watts, a student and a member of the committee, “On some issues, such as doorlock in the dorms, men don’t have as strict regulations.” 

Debbie Lee, another student member added, “I think the men and women are beginning to have equal rights that way.” 

“No,” said Jennifer Johnson, committee member. “The way the men and women have church attendance record taken isn’t equal. Exercise facilities and parking facilities aren’t the same. But many of these things you just can’t change. And many men and women don’t want some of these to be changed.” 

“No,” answered Jayne Metz, committee member, “Men and women here don’t have the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities. For example, doorlocking policies are quite unequal. Also, dress standards for chapel are unequal. Men and women should have equal rights here on campus. But I don’t think everything has to be necessarily the same.” 

“Men’s and women’s rights aren’t entirely equal, but I think that with student participation and committee action we’re reaching our goal of equality,” answered Jon Altman, committee member. 

The members of Dorm Council interviewed disagreed as to whether the men and women on this campus had equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. Some felt equality isn’t always having the same rules for all dorms. Equality, for them is having rules that are fair and that the dorm people prefer. 

“The Dorm Council exists to coordinate any rules and regulations dealing with the men’s and women’s dorms. We try to be as democratic as possible that is, not necessarily doing the same things but coordinating the policies and procedures so that they are compatible to both sides of the campus,” said Lake. 

Doorlock dorm policies, chapel dress and weekend worship record-taking are three major topics of discussions at Dorm Council meetings. 

This year the men’s dorm began locking up at night. “For at least 37 years the boys’ dorm had not had doorlock,” said Lake. Then came Title IX. To equalize dorm policies, women’s dorms stayed locked at night and the men’s dorms were locked. 

Now at ten o’clock in the evening all side exit doors in Sittner Hall are locked. And one of Sittner’s front doors is locked. 

After ten a monitor sits in the lobby and observes all the men who enter and leave. Sittner’s exit doors are locked in such a way that you can go out when they’re locked, but you can’t come back in. None of the exit doors in Sittner have alarms that sound should someone try to leave after doorlock. 

To discourage illegal entrances and exits after hours, however, resident counselors live in rooms next to the exit doors. 

In men’s dorm annexes such as Whitman Lodge and Hallmark Apartments, men have less security than in Sittner. Since the rooms are built like apartments and not dormitories there is no way to lock the men in their residences. 

“The coming and going of Hallmark and Whitman residents is based on honor,” said Maynard Loewen, dean of men. “Resident counselors are strategically placed so as to monitor the men’s comings and goings,” Loewen added. 

When asked if the honor system of exits and entrances has been considered for women who reside in dormitories, Betty Ann Howard, dean of women, said, “I think it would be a good idea if it could work. But experience has told me that it wouldn’t. For example, Foreman Hall’s backdoors are sometime propped open and this is an open invitation to enter the dorm illegally.” 

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“We have to be realistic,” she added. “One of my deep concerns with the women is that our dorms are a few miles away from a state penitentiary. We know that the penitentiary has many things for the men except women. So security for dorm women is a real concern.” 

The women’s dorms have a more elaborate security system than men’s dorms. When the doors are locked at ten p.m., the side doors are locked so the alarms will be triggered if someone tries to enter or exit. The front doors are all locked and can only be opened by someone who is inside. 

Not only are the dorms locked differently, but also the method that late entries are treated with varies between the men’s and women’s dorms. In Conard and Foreman Halls a woman must report to the dean on duty even if she comes in a few minutes after her curfew. 

In the men’s dorm the monitor marks the name of the latecomer on a piece of paper if he has come in too late. The paper with latecomers’ names is given to a men’s dean in the morning so he can talk to the offender at his own convenience 

Many women feel the discrepancy between the way men’s and women’s latenesses are handled is unfair. “Some of the women whom I represent complain that if they come in two minutes late they may have to wait up to 15 minutes to see the dean,” said Diane Wilson 

Besides dorm doorlocking, other topics in Dorm Council include chapel dress. Dorm Council has discussed this issue at length and has proposed a change. Two Dorm Council representatives, Jayne Metz and Jon Altman, will appear before Administrative Council and submit Dorm Council’s proposal, which would allow women to wear nice pantsuits to Wednesday chapels. 

Currently, women are required to wear dresses to chapel. Men are supposed to be neatly attired. Chapel attendance card takers will take cards from men who may wear dressy jeans, but are not supposed to take the cards of men who wear frazzled jeans.  

The different way that dorm men and women’s attendance for weekend religious meetings is checked was discussed in the committee. But committee members feel that both sides of the campus currently are satisfied with their systems of worship record-taking and don’t want to use the other’s system.  

Other topics discussed in Dorm Council have been and/or will be installation of phones in women’s lobbies; exercise rooms to be built in women’s dorm or dorms; addition of television to the Student Association Center; and visiting rooms to be added to the dorms. 

Dorm Council’s only power is to make recommendations to decision-making committees. Dorm Council is eager for student input. Ideas, suggestions and criticisms are welcomed. You can send your thoughts to Lake in a letter or talk to him personally. Or you can talk to a Dorm Council member. 

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