The Student Government Association and the Office of Residence Life jointly organized a solution for residents of the Village to foster better communication with each other. It is called the Village Stairwell Community Standards Agreement, and it aims to reduce the number of residents' complaints about each other.
While the job of Public Safety on campus is to protect Ramapo students, its duty has recently extended to taking personal calls from students to cease disruptive behavior by fellow classmates, without giving a fair warning from the primary source first.
"We're all students here and we're all around the same age. We should be able to understand each other and make living on campus a comfortable environment," said senior Shirley Rojas. "We all have individual needs. In real life, we have to learn to adapt to things that we may not like all the time. At least here at a safe environment in our own school, we can learn the value of communicating and work on that more than just getting each other in trouble as a first instinct."
According to the agreement, it provides a means by which residents may take responsibility to create an environment that best meets the needs of the community. It is designed to help students take responsibility for their actions and ensure that the rights of all members are being respected.
However, these community standards will not overpower the College policies. The Community Standards are agreements among the residents of the community on how they will decide to handle situations and relate to one another. To specify, the policies are the rules that students are required to adhere to and involves issues that address health and safety. There is a clear distinction between the two.
"As vice president of the student organization, me and the president, Kevin [Cottino], were speaking to President Mercer about wanting to create a better sense of community, especially in the Village because there seems to be a disconnect," said Caitlin O'Toole, vice president of SGA. "We reached out to Residence Life and to Public Safety, and we all worked up a solution where the contract is set up so that each individual stairwell meets up as a whole and the students decide if there's a noise complaint, what you choose to do-either get each other's numbers and text someone or knock on their door-basically an agreement among the students living in the stairwell agreeing on what they would do on that particular situation."
The contract aims to comfort students and help them gain the trust of their peers. The agreement does detail clear guidelines, so it does not give any student a free pass to take advantage of one another. Rather, it is just a means of making an effort to respect one another and take reasonable steps before calling Public Safety on a situation.
"We're adults and we should be handling situations in that manner," said senior Shane Clawson. "If we were living outside of campus in the real world, the police would think we were amateurs if we called them before attempting to deal with a situation ourselves first. Unless it has to do with the safety, health or any legal issues, we should be wanting to practice communication amongst ourselves first, at the very least to strengthen our individual problem-solving tools."