Subjective selectivity II

The Board of Visitors should rethink how it assigns some of the endowed Lawn rooms

This editorial is the second part of a two-part\nfeature about the Lawn selection process.

Although there is a commonly-known process for selecting Lawn residents for 47 rooms, the procedure for assigning students to the four endowed and four reserved rooms is less transparent.

Most of the endowed and reserved rooms are not chosen by the Lawn Selection Committee, Dean of Students Allen Groves said in an e-mail. The endowed rooms include the John K. Crispell memorial pre-medical room, the Honor Committee room, Gus Blagden "Good Guy" room and head Lawn resident room. Of the endowed rooms - all of which exist as part of agreements with the Board of Visitors - only the recipient of the pre-medical room is selected from accepted Lawn applicants. A committee separate from the LSC, however, decides which pre-medical student of those selected will live in the room.

The "Good Guy" room also has its own separate selection committee consisting of the current resident, Groves, Housing Director of Accommodations John Evans, two representatives from Residence Life, a member from the IMP and Z Societies, a member of the Fourth-Year Trustees and outgoing leaders of the Inter-Fraternity, Inter-Sorority, National Pan-Hellenic and Multicultural Greek Councils. Even though the nomination process for the Blagden room is open to the University community, the subsequent selection process is not made public. Having a separate committee is justified by the distinctive nature of the "Good Guy" room, but the makeup of that committee is questionable. The overwhelming presence of Greek organization leaders on the committee, in addition to having members of secret societies, is not reflective of the student body.

Also, one member of the Honor Committee is guaranteed a spot on the Lawn - regardless of whether he even applied. Whether the Committee should be the only student organization guaranteed to have a member on the Lawn is debatable. After all, no members of Student Council, the University Judiciary Committee or any other student groups are ensured spots on the Lawn. An agreement with the Board is not a sufficient reason to preserve this piece of tradition.

Meanwhile, the reserved rooms for the Trigon Engineering Society, the Kappa Sigma fraternity and the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society are assigned to members granted spots through the normal selection process. Additionally, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity has a reserved room on the Range. In the past, members of these organizations could receive rooms without going through the regular selection process. Considering the historical nature of these rooms, the current guidelines for reserved rooms - governed by a policy drawn up by Pat Lampkin, vice president for student affairs - are an improvement. There is a case to be made that allowing longstanding student organizations to keep ties with these rooms is a worthwhile tradition, but there is no justification for not subjecting all students to the same competitive procedure.

Unlike the policy for reserved Lawn rooms, the process for assigning students to endowed rooms is closed and therefore less transparent. Having separate committees and procedures for the endowed rooms raises the question of whether the selectees are held to the same standards as the other 47 students. The Board should reconsider how the Honor Committee room is assigned and composition of the Blagden room committee.

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