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Lariat Letters: Associate professor of philosophy agrees CLs need single room, encourages Baylor 2012

Sept. 24, 2009

I want to express my appreciation for [Ash Anderson's] thoughtful and articulate "Point of View" piece in Thursday's Lariat. I truly hope that your well-considered judgment is heard and heeded as decisions about CL accommodations are made in the future. Clearly a variety of concerns make it desirable to avoid giving CLs roommates, and you describe those concerns convincingly. At the same time, you also develop your position graciously and with a sense of the extenuating circumstances Baylor faced this year. In both ways, your piece does you credit.

Since I began partnering in an intentional, significant way with my student life colleagues a few years ago, I have learned a great deal that most faculty members simply don't know about students' out-of-class experiences.

I have become persuaded that Baylor is doing many things well in the area of residential life, but it's also clear that our students deserve additional support in plenty of ways as we seek fulfillment of Imperative Two of Baylor 2012. In that vein, let me propose two things that I hope you will continue to think about and advocate for in the days ahead.

First, Baylor must continue to take seriously its commitment "to create a truly residential campus," and all the more so as our entering classes have grown beyond 3,000. Without timely progress to design, fund, and build the third residential project envisioned in Baylor 2012 (the so-called East Village), we will continue to encounter regrettable shortcomings in the availability and quality of residential spaces for our students. Retrofitting study rooms as living spaces, assigning roommates for CLs, and other less-than-desirable compromises may become normal rather than exceptional unless we develop new options. So, I hope that you and others like you will make your voices heard regarding Imperative Two: you deserve to see one of the most student-focused aspects of Baylor 2012 fulfilled.

Second, Baylor should seek student expertise from the beginning to the end of the design phase of the next residential project. Let me give an example of why this is crucial. It turns out that almost all of the CLs in Brooks Residential College do not have roommates. There is a straightforward reason for this: the college was designed a few years ago, with significant student input, such that a variety of single-room spaces are distributed throughout the facility.

By design, there is simply not room for two people in them. Such spaces were created principally with the needs of CLs in mind. Future residential construction projects at Baylor should have the same important aim in mind and thus should be built with single-room spaces in place for CLs that preclude the possibility of the compromises that you describe in your piece. I am certain that having a strong student voice present in designing new residential facilities would repay dividends in many other ways.

You know as well as I do that our exemplary CL&L leadership numbers among the strongest advocates for students to be found anywhere. I am proud to serve alongside Terri Garrett, Jim Broaddus, Kevin Jackson, and others that want to do the very best that is possible to ensure that our students thrive. Please don't hesitate to let me know if I may be of encouragement or help to you.

All the best,

Dr. Douglas Henry

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Honors College

Acting Director, Great Texts Program

Master, Brooks Residential College