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Self-Determination

Self Determination

The University's dedication to liberal education is reflected in Residence Life’s policy of self-determination. Shared living expectations, conversations, community agreements, and Community Councils are the primary mediums through which residents exercise self-governance. Self-determination assumes that students at William & Mary, as adult members of the community, can make decisions, individually and collectively, that affect their daily lives.

The dropdown list detailing the history, guidelines, principles, and assumptions of Self Determination as well as a resident's rights and responsibilities.
History

In March of 1972, self-determination was introduced at William & Mary. Prior to this time, students were not permitted to receive or visit persons of the opposite sex in residential rooms except during stated hours at approved open houses. Open houses could be scheduled from noon to 1am on Friday nights, noon to 2am on Saturday nights, and noon to midnight on Sundays. Open houses could not be scheduled during reading or examination periods. Students under the age of 21 had to have a written parental consent form on file before they were allowed to participate in the open houses. Students could not entertain guests of the opposite sex if a roommate objected, and the restroom facilities were off limits, with the exception of those specifically reserved and identified. In addition, female students had to abide by stated curfew hours and regulations regarding absences from the residence halls.

The policy of self-determination originally applied to an individual student’s freedom of movement in and out of the residence halls, to the hours of such movement, and permitted students within each residence hall the opportunity to establish policies and procedures regarding visitation for their hall. This policy has evolved to include more components of residential life as decided among groups of residents and governed Community Councils.

Guidelines

Self-determination rests on two basic beliefs:

  1. Within the parameters of civil and university regulations, you should have the opportunity to cooperatively determine your environment, and
  2. You are mature and capable of managing the responsibilities accompanying this opportunity, which includes confronting someone who is violating your rights, being accountable for your behavior, and recognizing the compromises inherent in living with other people
Principles

Each residential area is viewed as a living-learning center with the goal of enriching each resident's educational experience. The residents in each area, with the guidance of the Residence Life staff, develop rules, guidelines, and procedures of governance for living which that allows for both individual freedom and the privacy and personal rights of community members.

The self-government model has many advantages; however there are also disadvantages. Self-determination is an arrangement that requires continuous thought, discussion, and effort. Some communities will easily implement self-determination; while others will experience more challenges and require more time to learn how to negotiate the responsibilities of self-determination. Residence Life assumes a leadership role in assisting residents understand and embrace this model.

When residents take an active role in their community, they:

  • Create a stronger, more respectful community
  • Take responsibility for themselves
  • Hold each other accountable and share in the enforcement of rules
  • Assume ownership in their community
  • Are invested in the community building process
  • Have an opportunity to practice and develop interpersonal skills
Assumptions

Self-determination operates optimally when these assumptions are adhered to:

  • Students at William & Mary, as adult members of the community, can make decisions, individually and collectively, that affect their daily lives.
  • Residents make decisions within the framework that is a valid and practical educational experience permitting students to participate in the process of self-governance.
  • Community Councils grow and develop into mature governing bodies capable of leading their residences by establishing guidelines for community living that:
  • Ensures the rights of privacy and freedom of movement of each resident of the hall,
  • Are consistent with the established system of security for the hall,
    • Ensures that each visitor to a residence hall is a welcome guest of a resident, and (on hiatus due to COVID-19 conditions)
    • Develops policies and procedures that are fully compatible with the academic objectives of a residential educational community.
Resident’s Rights and Responsibilities
  1. The rights of privacy and freedom of movement of each resident of the hall;
  2. Develops guidelines that are consistent with the established system of security for the hall;
  3. Each visitor to a residence hall is a welcome guest of a resident and residents are responsible for the behavior of any visiting guest(s);
  4. Develop policies and procedures that are fully compatible with the academic objectives of a residential educational community.