The best-laid plans of Residence Life

Sometimes, a little foresight is all it takes to execute a well-laid plan.

Unfortunately, Saint Louis University housing policies are infamously lacking in both vision and well-laid plans. The most recent update from Housing and Residence Life Director Alvin Sturdivant is no exception.

This new policy restricts the number of guests that on-campus residents may check in during Mardi Gras weekend-one preapproved guest, SLU student or otherwise.

And as if social asphyxiation wasn’t insult enough, the e-mail announcing this change wasn’t sent until Feb. 3, two weeks before Mardi Gras weekend. So much for those residents who already had plans to keep visiting friends or family on campus that weekend.

Res. Life leaders offered no justification for this restriction, other than a vague reference to “events that occurred last year.” Did a few on-campus parties get out of hand? Were residences flooded with guests beyond the jurisdiction of Student Conduct officers? Were too many freshmen apprehended wearing only beads and booty-shorts?

Welcome to Mardi Gras in St. Louis, the country’s second largest Fat Tuesday celebration. Though harmful misconduct should never be allowed, a certain degree of benign misconduct is to be expected.

Even if it is based in reason, its delivery was ill-timed and, therefore, unprofessional.

True, helpful desk workers, resident advisers and Oriflamme leaders manage students’ housing concerns all year long.

SLU’s housing policy mismanagement seems to stem from the top.

Do students remember the 2005 mandate that $2,000 of merit-based aid be reserved for SLU housing, with the intent to keep students on campus? Do they remember that SLU reached maximum capacity in less than two years, cramming students, like sardines, into dorm rooms and former broom closets?

Will they remember Mardi Gras weekend 2009 when fully saturated guests of SLU students were turned away by desk workers due to the one-guest policy? Will they be forced to drive to look for a place to stay, threatening their own lives and the lives of others? Will a “tough luck” attitude prevail as they are cast off into the night?

Housing and Residence Life officials must not let this policy become the next in its expanding series of embarrassing failures. Instead, revoke the one-guest policy and lay out a better plan in 2010.