Open Dorms

pcar09

In addition to gaining freedom for dating the students of Madison College sought out more social liberties from new President Ronald E. Carrier. The students presented a proposal to Dr. Carrier that they should be able to have members of the opposite sex in their dorm rooms, 24 hours a day. They argued that they were adults and should be given this “right.” By this time rules were no longer segregated by sex, and the open dorm policy was no different. Male and female dorms had the opportunity to apply for the schedule they preferred.

Dr. Carrier, while trusting the study body to be upstanding people, agreed to a trial period of open dorms for one weekend during the Spring 1971. After the trial weekend the students expressed varied opinions on the outcome, some supporting open dorms fully, some still against, and a large portion indifferent to the decision. Dr. Carrier and the administration did not institute open dorms that Spring, and the idea continued to be tinkered with.

In the Spring of 1972 Madison College revisited the policy of open dorms. In late April 1972 the school gave the students the option to request an open dorm policy for the remaining weekends of the school year. A representative from each dorm could apply for open dorm status. The application did not guarantee open dorm status, each dorm had to be approved. Even after receiving approval a student representative would need to report any problems to the Dean of Students. Failure to schedule a meeting with the Dean would result in cancellation of the next week’s open dorm.

 

 

In one week however student interest in open dorm policy dropped dramatically. Only four members of the student body came to the next meeting of the Interdormitory Council. It is likely that with the end of the school year growing near students were less concerned about dorm visitation and more interested in summer vacation.

The start of the 1972-1973 school year brought record numbers of students to the campus of Madison College. A new Dean of Students joined the mass number of undergrads on school grounds for the new school year. His policy on open dorms was established very early on in his term, and it did not include 24 dorm visitation. Students would be given the opportunity to extend their dorm’s visitation hours for a few days a week, but there had to be a proper reason for longer hours, i. e. studying not sex. The rest of the ’72-’73 school year saw no decisive decisions in regards to open dorms. More options for dorm visitation were presented to students to vote on, but no final decision was reached.

 

Not everyone involved with Madison college was interested in changing the dormitory hours to allow any more visitation. Many parents wrote letters of concern to President Carrier and the administration regarding the alterations in dorm policy. Most of these letters came from the parent’s of female students who did not won’t men in their daughter’s dorm rooms. They still believed that the administrators of the college should act as guardians over their children. There were probably many more letters sent to the faculty and staff that were not saved in Special Collections at James Madison University.

President Carrier not wanting to make a bigger issue out of dormitory visitation hours than was necessary, sent all of the parents a generic letter. It thanked them for their concern and assured them that he would do what was best for the students.

 

One copy of a general response letter from President Carrier to concerned parents

 

Featured Image- Control #: Pcar09, JMU Historic Photos Online, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

“The Carrier Collection, 1965-1998″ Collection Number PR 2000-0516B, Series One: Miscellaneous Administrative and University Business Files, Open Dormitories 1971-72, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

“Interdormitory Council: Records, Open Dorms Discussed,” The Breeze, Vol. XLVIII, April 21, 1972.

“Student Interest Dies Considerably,” The Breeze, Vol. XLVIII, April 28, 1972.

“Hall Discusses Open Dorms,” The Breeze, Vol. XLVIV, September 22, 1972.

Coyle, Kevin, “Noon ’til Night Open House,” The Breeze, Vol. XLVIV, January 26, 1973.

Letter- Copied from “The Carrier Collection, 1965-1998,” Collection Number PR 2000-0516B, Series One: Miscellaneous Administrative and University Business Files, Open Dormitories 1971-1972, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.