University of Akron in Ohio recently implemented a new policy in which all students interested in living on-campus must go through a criminal background check.
Concern arose when UA assigned ex-felons, two older than 40, to live with students as young as 18. Age is obviously not taken as a factor when pairing roommates, but UA allows roommates to move out if there is more than a five year gap.
David Westrich a 39-year-old student and resident may be asked to move out because of a misdemeanor from eleven years ago. The school is now facing controversy because so many students feel their rights as paying students aren’t being respected.
Now, while I think that David Westrich is being treated unfairly, especially since the notices are being handed out now and not at the beginning of the school year, I am thinking that this is not the beginning of University of Akron’s mistakes.
Forget about constitutional rights and personal crimes being in the past, what on earth was the Residence Life and Housing thinking when they decided it was alright to match 18-year-old and 40-year-old students together as roommates?
No, but really. Can you imagine that first awkward conversation?
“So, where were you when Mt. St. Helen’s blew?”
“Um, actually, my dad was thirteen, so… I didn’t exist.”
If I wanted to live within ten feet of somebody who thought my skirt was too short and my music too loud, I would have lived at home.
Most incoming freshmen (myself included) look forward to getting away from elders, not being squished into an even closer proximity than I was the first 18 years of my life.
And then can you imagine finding out that your brand new roommate was serving time while you were learning how to use the “big girl potty,” and she wants you to call her Momma Martha, because “that’s what the ladies called me in the Big House.”
Not that I have anything against old(er) adults or adults who have been to jail going back to school to start or finish an education, but it’s ridiculous to think that a living situation like this would work out at all. If they split up their residents by age into separate dorms, they could reverse a lot of bad publicity, as well as save money (background screenings are expensive!).
University of Akron and any other school who uses this system, needs to step back and look at the bigger source of the problem.
On second thought, older roommates might come in handy when underage students are looking to buy alcohol… kidding, totally kidding.