Due to the controversial nature of the bulletin board posted on the second floor of Saint Joseph Hall in March, Resident Assistants (RAs) have recently been instructed to remove all content from their boards until further notice.
Since the underlying message on the board in Saint Joseph Hall proved ostracizing to Providence College’s LGBTQ+ community in stating, “Marriage: The Way God Intended It…One Man, One Woman,” the bulletin board received immediate backlash from the student body.
In response to outcries from students and allies of the LGBTQ+ community, Residence Life is currently in the process of determining whether policies regulating residence hall bulletin board content will be implemented in the future.
Now the question remains: must we enforce restrictions on what RAs post? If so, what sort of content will these policies restrict?
One way we can begin to answer these questions is by first evaluating what sort of material RAs should present on the bulletin boards of their residence hall.
According to the College’s resident assistant job description, an RA must “work with students to create and maintain an atmosphere which fosters meaningful, educational opportunities, as well as valuable personal growth experiences.” Thus, in order to “create and maintain” an atmosphere that fosters personal and educational growth, RAs should produce bulletin boards that depict content that promotes self-love, empowerment, and inspiration to all residents who live in the hall.
The bulletin board on the fourth floor of Raymond Hall serves as a paragon of social awareness and empowerment for its freshmen residents.
Throughout the school year, this board has yielded many themes including Legally Blonde. This board presented tips and tricks for adjusting to college life entitled “Elle Woods’ Guide to PC.”Additionally, there was another board that depicted Beyoncé promoting methods of living an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Residents of Raymond Hall frequently admire this bulletin board and its advice and tips.
“I always refer to the bulletin board on the fourth floor of Ray whenever I am in need of a little inspiration,” shared Raymond Hall resident Madison Gilmore ’21.
Most other dormitory bulletin boards, like the board on the fourth floor of Raymond Hall, reinforce positive ideals and serve as valuable student resources. However, there are anomalies such as the board on the second floor of Saint Joseph Hall, that present information that may be perceived as offensive or degrading to certain communities.
A residence hall bulletin board may not be the most appropriate venue for political statements, or any controversial material, especially content that targets a particular community. Since PC enrolls students of different sexualities, cultures, and backgrounds, all individuals always maintain the right to be respected, especially in their dormitories. The residence hall serves as a home away from home for students, thus it seems unethical to depict content that may be interpreted as degrading to a particular community within their own home. To that end, if a resident is made to feel uncomfortable in their own dormitory, they may find difficulty feeling accepted on campus.
“If a student doesn’t feel welcome in their living environment on campus, how can they be expected to achieve their academic potential in a more intimidating atmosphere, such as a classroom?” said political science major Savannah Plaisted ’21.
Thus, our prerogative as a Friar Family must be to prevent any further information that may be interpreted as offensive to any community from being posted on residence hall bulletin boards.
Rather than harboring ill-will regarding the previously controversial bulletin board content, we should use this energy to spread sentiments of love and empowerment across campus and ensure that all members of our PC community feel welcome and accepted.
Ultimately, the question of whether or not there should policies restricting bulletin board content is up to us as the student body. Must we have an explicit rule implemented against degradation or can we can simply learn to respect each other for the sake of human dignity?