Community Standards and Expectations for Communal Living
Each residential area at Sarah Lawrence College—be it a suite, an apartment, a floor, a house, or a building—constitutes a small community. Students in these communities interact with each other on a regular basis. They share common areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and lounges. The behavior of each member of the community directly impacts the other members, and the College expects that each community member will take responsibility for the well being of the whole.
In order for these communities to develop and thrive, they must have the opportunity to develop their own character and conventions. This development is based on an agreement between community members concerning how they will relate to and treat one another. These agreements are referred to as Community Standards.
What are Community Standards?
- Community Standards are a set of agreements among residential community members about how they will relate to and treat one another.
- They provide a means by which students take responsibility or authority for creating a community that best meets everyone’s needs. This means that our behavior impacts other people, and in the same way, the behavior of other people affects us.
- Each residential community will hold a Community Standards meeting, facilitated by the RA, within the first month of classes. Community Standards will be posted in the common area.
- Throughout the year, residential communities will hold meetings to evaluate and update the standards as the community evolves.
Difference between a Standard and a Policy
- A policy is something that all residents are expected to adhere to (policies exist to address basic health and safety concerns, or to assist the College in abiding by state law).
- A standard is something that all residents agree to adhere to (standards and policies may be closely related).
- For example, a floor may set a standard that on rotating Thursdays each person will clean out a community refrigerator. This standard is not related to or in support of any particular policy, nor is it a violation of any policy. It is simply an agreement that the community has made.
- A major difference between standards and policies is how people are held accountable. Policy violations may result in disciplinary action from the College. Community members hold each other accountable for upholding standards.
Issues to consider in the development of Community Standards:
- Shared items
- Sharing of common spaces
- Alcohol/drug use (the interpersonal impact)
- Guidelines for verbal/physical interactions
- How will we hold each other accountable?
Expectations for Communal Living
While most college policies pertain to the choices and behaviors of the individual, a few policies affect the entire residential community. In these cases, each member of the community is responsible for addressing, and if possible rectifying, the violation. For more information on these policies, please refer to the student handbook.
Hosting an Unregistered Event with Alcohol
Each community member present at the event will be held responsible for the violation, whether or not they “planned” the event. If one of your housemates/apartment mates holds an unregistered even with alcohol in your area, you should address the individual and encourage them to break it up. If an unregistered event with alcohol is held in your house/apartment with your knowledge, you are considered a host.
Tampering with Smoke Detectors
If a smoke detector in a common area or shared room is disabled, all occupants will be assessed the sanctions. In this case, not removing the cover or reporting that the smoke detector is disabled is as dangerous as covering or disabling the smoke detector.
Damage to Property and Vandalism
Unless an individual or group of individuals is found specifically responsible for the damage, all members of the community will be assessed the sanctions.
In communal living environments, if no one takes responsibility for the alarm, each member of the house/apartment will be found responsible.