The Losers of Dorm Locking

Dean Redman (email) has announced that, when dorm locking goes into effect this coming summer or fall term, all commercial deliveries to students’ dorm rooms will be curtailed. In this category he includes student publications, such as the Review, the Free Press, and the Contemporary. He has said, though, that students will, unofficially, be allowed to deliver publications to rooms in their own dorms and, perhaps, even clusters (a grouping of two, three, or four dorms).

Who benefits from such a policy? Well, the College’s administration, clearly does, being subject to less potent criticism, but also does the administration’s chief information service, the Daily D. With its distribution racks all over campus, the D is the only publication that will see its reach unaffected by this policy (and will benefit, comparatively, as other publications find it harder to reach on-campus readers). It will also, like the administration, benefit from less criticism. In short, this policy will give the College license to pursue the publishers of any publication with which it disagrees while allowing the distribution of others.

And, conversely, who is harmed? If Redman does allow informal (within one’s dorm) distribution, then the biggest losers will be students who hold minority viewpoints. The College is effectively saying that for a publication, flyer, or leaflet to reach the entire campus, it must have the support of a certain number of students (however many dorms or clusters there are). Whether an opinion is actively unpopular or simply as yet unknown, its proponents will not be able to reach students as easily or as effectively as those who espouse ideas with broader support. This is directly counter to the liberalism that the College professes to hold.

Of course, the biggest losers will be students themselves, whose intellectual lives will be that much less rich for not having been exposed dissenting points of view.

The College can make a clear distinction between student publications and commercial enterprises and commercial enterprises who hire students to make deliveries. It might simply examine publishers’ for-profit or non-profit status. That Dean Redman chooses not to make this simple determination exposes yet again his disregard for student dissention and speech rights.