Thinking back to my freshman year, I remember how much I resented open house hours.
There is nothing quite like chilling with your friends after a long Tuesday in one of your dorm rooms, playing Super Smash Bros. and debating Plato versus Aristotle — even though we all know the answer is Aristotle — until the clock strikes 10 p.m. and half of your friends need to leave.
Yes, you could just move to the common area, but that is exactly what every other group in your hall is doing too, so you have to call it a night.
Open house hours are an ever-present force in a University of Dallas student’s life. While cutting a Super Smash Bros. tournament short is an awful offense, they do serve an important purpose — at least in the traditional halls, such as Jerome, O’Connell and Madonna.
As much as I was frustrated by open house hours as a freshman, they are essential to the construction of the halls for the comfort of the residents.
Simply put, because the traditional halls are constructed with communal facilities as opposed to the private ones found in Clark Hall, anything but the open house hours we have now would be impractical.
I remember when I lived in Jerome, it was nice to know that after 10 p.m. on a weeknight I could walk down the hall to the shower wearing a towel and I would not encounter any guys — sentiment I am sure is shared among all hall residents.
The privacy that open house hours offer in the traditional halls, which only seem to get more cramped and less private, is a comfort that, in retrospect, I would never trade.
Having open house hours for the traditional halls is also important because entering college is a huge life transition.
Suddenly, we have more freedom. We go from living with our parents to living with our peers. Open house hours provide a certain level of structure to a newly unrestricted schedule. They ease the transition and, at least in my case, helped form good habits for the rest of my college career.
However, are open house hours necessary in Clark Hall – or even reasonable?
While they are essential in the traditional halls due to their construction and their value to the transition process, this same logic does not apply to Clark.
Clark is usually populated by sophomores and upperclassmen — although this year there are some freshmen residents — and the construction of Clark’s rooms is suite-style.
Bathrooms are private to each suite, eliminating the need for open house hours to ensure privacy in that sense. Furthermore, typically — or, at least, hopefully — the residents are already adjusted to college life.
Finally, open house hours in Clark are notoriously difficult to enforce.
The rooms are set back, the walls are thicker and violators do not need to leave their friend’s room to use the restroom. What purpose do open house hours really serve in Clark if they are not necessary to ensure the comfort of showering residents or to ease the college transition?
One obvious reason might be to discourage immoral behavior among residents. I mean, how could we young adults possibly make our own moral decisions?
As essential as open house hours are to developing good habits, using open house hours to attempt to legislate student morality does not, I think, do us justice as a university for independent thinkers.
“When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when mores are insufficient, laws are unenforceable,” Emile Durkheim is attributed to have said.
As a Catholic university, we can hope that Clark Hall residents act in accordance to our Catholic beliefs, but if their values are not in line with the university’s then there is little that the university can actually do.
Having open house hours in the traditional halls is incredibly beneficial due to the additional privacy they provide to the communal construction of the buildings.
However, in Clark — where privacy is already abundant — their only conceivable purpose is to attempt to discourage immoral behavior among residents, which is ultimately null because the rule is so difficult to enforce.