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May 23, 1958 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1958-05-23

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Report Given on Roommate Practices

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Following is the
complete text of the Draft Committee
Report of the Board of Governors'
committee on roommate assignment
Part I. Introductory Observations
All students who have qualified,
for admission to the University
are admissable to the residence
halls, as space permits. The resi-
dence halls program is under the1
jurisdiction of the Board of Gov-
ernors, the Office of- the Dean of
Men, the Office of the Dean of
Women, and the Residence Hall
Student Governments.
Believing that the cultivation
of the individual is an important
aspect of higher education, the
University gives particular atten-
tion to the individual student not
only in arranging his academic
program but also in assigning his
living quarters according to his
preferences and choices. As a re-
sult of this respect for individual-
ity the residence hall is to a large,
degree an end in itself, an educa-
tional experience, a community of
students who live together and or-
ganize themselves to achieve gov-
ernmental, cultural, social, and1
academic objectives.
Part II. Summary of
Room Assignments, Fall, 1957
A. Office of the Dean of Wo-
Through several Assembly Dor-
mitory Council discussions, an
overwhelming majority of the rep-
resentatives for our 3500 under-
graduate women in residence halls
have expressed their feeling that
the corridor is the best frame of
reference within which to develop
the concept of integration. They
see the corridor as the neighbor-
hood, parish, or town-meeting. In
the lavatories and committees,
through projects and meetings, at
dinner table and "bull-sessions"
the learning process evolves un-
selfconsciously, inevitably, but at
a pace the individual feels free to
set for herself.
The roommate situation, how-
ever, they apparently see as one's
private home-life within the 'cor-{
ridor-neighborhood. Here, private
choice-making by the individual
takes on intense value. Over 71%
of returning women select room-
mates of similar religion; over
98% select roommates of similar
race or color. Yet these are the
same 98% who believe in and con-
sciously work toward integration
in many of their social, civic and
group activities. Such a differen-
tiation of action between the pri-
vate and social areas of one's
functioning may be illogical. How-
ever, the reality of an attitude
wherein 98% of a given group act

the same way cannot wisely be,
From the above statistics, the
Office of the Dean of Women pro-
mulgates considerably more of an
integrated roommate environment
within the women's residence halls
than would the girls themselves.
Example: the office. of the Dean
of Women places 46% of
freshman girls in a "mixed"
religious situation; only 28%
of the returning upperclass-
women themselves selected a
"mixed" religious situation.
Example: the Office of the Dean
of Women places 38% of
freshman girls in a "mixed"
N/W situation; only 0.5% of
the returning upperclasswom-
en themselves selected a "mix-
ed" racial situation.
These particular learning-pro-
cesses of integration among fresh-
man girls succeed fairly well, even
if only temporarily. Both in them-
selves and as observed examples
fcr others on the corridors, they
serve a genuine purpose in a cos-
mopolitan University.
That we have as few failures as
we do requires most judicious ad-
vance selection on the part of two
of the Deans. It can in no way be
conceived as "random placement."
It is done by sensitive, practiced
attention to spoken and half-
spoken preferences, attitudes and
interests. It assumes as much
willingness, on the part of the
University, to help a girl achieve
her own wishes as to fit her rigor-
ously into an institutional policy.
We find that constructive atten-
tion paid to individual differences
and preferences achieves better
and more lasting results in the
field of personal relationships than
a forced compliance with institu-
tional policy based on random ap-
plication of regimented procedures.
We believe that development of
tolerances and of understandings
in the field of deep-level social
differences may be better achieved
if we help in advance to avoid
traumatic experiences in an area
of often unrecognized emotions.
We do not wait until the unpre-
pared-for explosive failure takes
place between two freshman room-
mates in their first few months
away from home. To begin repair
only after any social and emo-
tional damage has occurred, seems
to us a neglect of the responsibility
with which the University has
charged its administrators. We
concur in a policy of conscious
gradualism, and of a learning
which flows steadily from the
known areas to the unknown.
B. Office of the Dean of Men.
The major emphasis in the

Men's residence Halls in the as-
signment of roommates has been
to select roommates carefully on
the basis of individual differences
and preferences. This is done for
the same basic reasons as out-
lined in the analysis of the report
from the Office of the Dean of
This job is done by a group of
individuals, the Associate Advisers,
who are close to the students and
who see the actual day-to-day im-
pact of their work year after year.
Of course, applications received
late in the year, after the bulk of
applicants have been assigned can-
not be given the same degree of
detailed care and respect for
stated preferences. In such situa-
tions the preferences and desires
of the persons already assigned
to the room must be given due
consideration, as well as those of
the late applicant.
For example, 75% of the new
Negro applicants were given the
living situations which they speci-
fically requested. Of the 25% who
were not granted their requests, 6
out of the 7 must be classified as
late applicants. Among students of
a non-American cultural back-
ground, 84% were given the living
situation which they specifically
In making the assignments in
accordance with the specific re-
quests of students on the matters
of race and nationality the Men's
Halls make selections for new stu-
dents in about the same way as
upperclassmen select their own
roommates. For example, 20% of
the new Negro students have non-
Negro roommates, while 18% of
the Negrd upperclassmen self-
select non-Negro roommates.'
Among students of a non-Ameri-
can cultural background, 48% of
the new students are assigned
roommates with an American cul-
tural background, while only 38%
of the reapplicants in this category
self-select such roommates..-
As for the assignment of stu-
dents with a Jewish religious back,-
ground, the survey indicates that
instances exist where such stu-
dents- have been assigned Jewish
roommates where no specific pre-
ferences of this type have been;
stated .These assignments were
apparently done on the basis of
honestly made.interpretations and
assumptions of half stated pref-
erences which further study indi-
cates to be invalid. Even before
this report was presented to the
Board, measures were taken ad-
ministratively to correct this situ-
ation in the future.
The assignment of roommates is
done on the basis of careful selec-

tion, not randomly, or with the
pious hope that indiscriminate
placement of roommates withou
regard for personal preference,
will improve human relations, bu
rather on the basis of the ex.
pressed preferences, attitudes, and
interests of the applicants. As a
result we have a minimum of tleg-
ative experiences and a compara.
tively large number of positive ex-
periences in this field of humar
relations. Besides the damage tc
innocent parties which may occu:
from negative experiences, the
overall development of tolerance
and understanding is enhanced
more by positive experiences than
by negative ones. It is felt tha
continual attention should be
given to encourage and foster such
positive relationships, on the basi,
of individual interests and prefer-
ences, rather than forced com-
pliance with an impersonal policy
based on regimentation.
Part III. University Residence
Halls Policy Recommendation
The University of Michigan
strives to make its Residence Hallh
a community living experience
valuable to all students, and in-
clusive of formal as well as in-
formal training in the enrichment
of personality. Upon admission ti
the University, student are ac-
cepted by the Residence Halls ac-
cording to the priorities estab-
lished by the Board of Governors
Reapplicants and freshmen are
given first consideration; subse-
quently, admission is extended tc
other academic classes, including
graduate students, as availability
of space permits. The Board o;
Governors fosters a policy of al-
lowing students .to choose their
own roommates within the system
In view of this.,policy incoming
students may express preference,
regarding their choice of roon
mates. These indications of pref-
erence will be respected in so fax
as it is administratively feasible
to do so. If no preferences are in-
dicated, assignments will be made
according to interests and living
habits ' expressed in the applica-
Drama 'Group
TO Give Play
The Ann Arbor Drama Work-
shop will present "Work in Pro-
gress," at 8:30 p.m. today in Lane
Scenes from "The Drunkard," I
140-year-old melodrama, and from
"Lilliom," the play from the Car-
ousel was made, will be presented

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