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Vacant dorm rooms used for temporary living arrangements

Vacant dorm rooms used for  temporary living arrangements

Jon Coffey

An unoccupied room in Central Morse Hall is purposely left empty by Residential Life. Several rooms are set aside in the residential halls to serve as temporary living spaces for students.

Students who live in the residence halls may notice some empty dorms on their floor and wonder what these mystery rooms are used for. Some students, however, have recently begun nicknaming them “the rape rooms.”

Residential Life maintains these dorms for temporary housing needs. Temporary housing needs serve multiple purposes which include maintenance reasons, roommate conflicts, safety issues or sexual abuse.

“We consider the needs of our residents,” said Wade Redeker, director of Residential Life. “If there is a reason for safety issues of any kind, we would, hopefully, be able to meet the needs of that student and talk with them to see what they would be and try to assist and help them.”

Redeker said he hopes students see these rooms as a beneficial resource. They provide a choice for students who have been put into a situation that may require a temporary living space.

“In the fall, even when space was tight, we tried to be really intentional about where we selected those rooms so we could provide more accommodations for student needs,” said Kayla Smith, Complex Coordinator for Morse Hall.

Residential Life also tries to hold and maintain at least one of these rooms in each facility. The number of rooms used for these needs fluctuates due to students withdrawing, moving out or changing dorm rooms. Though these rooms are used infrequently, the amount of use is very situational.

“If there ever is a problem with a room that doesn’t let a student sleep comfortably or live comfortably in there, these rooms would be used,” Smith said. “These rooms have been in place for a long time. It is common practice for universities to have designated dorm rooms for situational purposes and to meet student needs.”

Any student who is having a problem that could be helped by relocating to one of the empty rooms only needs to approach their complex coordinator or Residential Life to discuss the option of using this resource.

Some other resources that the university provides for those who have been victims of sexual abuse or assault include Police and Safety, counseling services and Sexual Offensive Services, among others. The Complex Coordinators can get a student looking for help in direct contact with other resources on campus which may help the student.

Kristina Bramwell, senior elementary education major, is a Residential Assistant in Morse Hall.

“Each of the RAs receive training in identifying situations which require professional staff involvement,” Bramwell said.

From there, Bramwell said that the professional staff will work to meet the needs of the student, which could include a temporary living assignment. She said she believes the reserved dorm rooms are a good resource for students.

If a student moves into one of these dorm rooms, the RA is given limited information about the situation, enough to support them and be empathetic toward their circumstances, but the student’s confidentiality is respected. Residential Life will not disclose information about a student’s situation. Rather, it is up to the student to tell those around them if they want to.

Students who use these temporary rooms go through the normal procedure of checking out a room. They get a key, do the necessary paperwork, and check out when they no longer need the room.

The rooms are not solely used for those who have been sexually abused. The nickname “the rape room” has no basis. They are simply there to provide a resource for students who need a temporary living arrangement.

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