RLHS bans self-made lofts for safety reasons

Although breaking in a new room for some freshmen consists of breaking a sweat in 100-degree weather to construct a loft with comfort in mind, the experience will be different this year.

Residence Life and Housing Services is requiring students to purchase lofts from vendors rather than build their own, citing safety concerns with a homemade structure.

The new policy, approved in June, will take effect this Fall for residents on East Campus and in Keohane Quadrangle. It will take effect for all other West Campus buildings next year, including those buildings where lofting is not currently permitted.

Campus Council leaders said the policy undermines their efforts this past Spring to implement lofting regulations that members said was an ideal compromise between safety concerns and flexibility. Campus Council was not informed of RLHS's decision until the policy debuted online.

"All along we were having a very candid discussion until the latest resolution was made publicly to our surprise," said Campus Council Vice President Kevin Thompson, a senior.

RLHS approached the student organization during the 2006-2007 academic year to analyze safety concerns associated with self-made lofts, after which Campus Council passed a resolution this past February and sent a revised memo to RLHS about the issue in May, Thompson said.

The revised memo recommended that RLHS implement a waiver or permit system for students who wish to build their lofts.

Joe Gonzalez, associate dean for residential life and Campus Council adviser, said administrators had safety concerns about self-made lofts that were not quelled by the recommended waiver policy.

"Even though students have built lofts in the past, you just don't have the same level of certainty that [the safety level] is the same for each and every one," Gonzalez said. "The waiver has its own merits, but we didn't feel like that was the way."

Housing services has ordered extenders for low loft beds in six East Campus dormitories and seven West Campus quadrangles, Gonzalez added. Starting this Fall, students in these dormitories desiring a high loft bed can request RLHS to install extenders at no cost.

RLHS plans in the future to install furniture so that any student can loft their bed upon request, Gonzalez said. Additionally, beds in the newly renovated Few Quadrangle, slated to open next Spring, will all have high lofts-another move Campus Council opposes, saying it leaves students with fewer options.

Campus Council representatives also cited cost as a barrier to their enthusiasm for the new policy.

The loft prices for the two vendors recommended on RLHS's Web site run between $140 and $240. Self-made lofts typically cost less than $100, said Campus Council President Molly Bierman, a senior.

"To achieve the increased certainty that we're achieving with [the new policy], that does outweigh the cost that gets involved with it," Gonzalez said. "But also as we continue purchasing furniture for our halls, eventually all students would have the opportunity to request a high loft."

Thompson, however, said the policy is extreme and leaves students with fewer and less safe options.

"Complete prohibition doesn't necessarily yield the right results, but rather careful regulation and the conscientious implementation of safe practices is what will actually yield safe results," Thompson said. "Definitely for the next school year when students cannot afford to spend $240 on a bed post they're going to build their own and won't do it safely."

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