Change the Post Grad Move-Out Policy

By Emily Singer

I will graduate from Middlebury College in two and a half weeks. It’s a painfully surreal concept that makes me wax nostalgic for the debauchery and laughter and stress and quarter-life crises I experienced over the past four years. I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about the past and the ways that it will prepare me for the future, or at least shape my future, because feign it as we may, I don’t think that anyone is really prepared for “the real world.” To be honest, I have enough trouble thinking of myself as a “real adult,” let alone someone who will (someday) have a job.

I’ve seen Middlebury change a lot in the past four years, for better and for worse. Some of it may come from the dissolution of naïveté and a heightened awareness of the goings-on at the College as I grew more comfortable here, but much of it is real change. The College will continue its natural evolution and changes will continue to occur, especially with the resignation of President Liebowitz and the restructuring of the Board of Trustees. As a person who has been a part of the Middlebury College community for the past four years, and as a person who has noticed change, here is an easy change that I would like to see before my five-year reunion:

Change the post-Commencement move-out policy. The College mandates that all students are moved out of their dorm rooms by 11:00 p.m. on the night of graduation. The reason for which is that the rooms need to be prepped for Reunion Weekend. This policy is not only unnecessary, but also dangerous. Middlebury has a tradition in which graduating seniors stay up all night before graduation as a final hurrah and a last-ditch effort to make our last night as students last as long as it possibly can. Then comes Commencement, where emotional instability and denial set in. To ask sleep-deprived, emotionally distraught graduates to move out of their rooms and drive home in such a volatile state puts students’ lives in danger. I’ve heard horror stories of friends pulling over at truck stops in the middle of the night after graduation to sleep for an hour or two before continuing the long drive home. It’s a dangerous policy and it needs to change before a fatal accident forces the College to change it. Asking students to move out by 9 a.m. the day after Commencement will provide ample time for rooms to be prepared for Reunion Weekend. Let’s face it, custodial isn’t going to start cleaning dorm rooms at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night. Will starting to clean at noon on Monday make that much of a difference? Providing students with the option to stay overnight after Commencement will ensure that newly-minted college grads are better rested, less emotional and more alert when driving home.

There are other changes I’d like to see made, of course — more transparent communication between students and administrators, faculty and staff; less predictable meal rotations in the dining halls; internships for credit; AAL reform; a stronger alumni network; less student apathy; a stronger and more active Commons System; better support and communication between the College and its schools abroad while students are studying abroad.

But those are broader changes that will take more time and require jumping through hoops and meetings, debates and open forums. They’re changes that will improve the “Middlebury Experience” and make our already-pretty-incredible college even better. The post-graduation move-out date, however, should be a no-brainer. It’s an extension of less than 24 hours, and a change that shouldn’t have to wind its way through a bureaucratic maze.

In two and a half weeks I will be an alumna of Middlebury College. In the last four years, I’ve showed that I care about Middlebury by participating in the community and taking advantage of opportunities presented to me. Middlebury, too, has displayed a level of care for its student body by feeding us each day, ensuring our safety and providing us with courses to challenge and stimulate us intellectually. That level of care does not need to end 12 hours after graduation, at the moment we become alumni.

So, Middlebury, before you send your new graduates their first postcards asking for a donation to the College, do what you can to ensure that they arrive home safely. We cannot and should not wait to change this policy until a life filled with infinite potential gets cut short. Reunion Weekend preparation can wait.