Opinion: Are Dorm Late Fees Really Necessary?

Jessica Darden

(edited by Brianna LeBlanc)

If you don’t attend Southwestern Adventist University or you are new here, one thing you need to know about SWAU is that if you are late getting in the dorm, you are given three 30-minute passes, but once you use those up, you are charged.

This late fee caught my eye when I saw a little yellow paper on the doors in the hallway. I find it compelling because when you go to a university, most if not all of us are considered adults by now. Yes, we are still young, but this is most of our first time living on our own. We already pay thousands of dollars to go to this school, so our little bit of extra money should not be going to a simple fine for something like being late. We all ask the same questions: why are we fined? Who thought of this idea? And is there any way around the fee? The goal of this piece is to understand the meaning behind the fines.

When you go to college all the extra fees really add up after a while. So when it comes to getting fined for coming in even two minutes late, I think there should be some kind of compromise. We can only drive so fast if we go get food somewhere else. If we drive too fast, then we can get a ticket and that is definitely not what we need. A good compromise I feel would be contacting the students and asking them why they were late. We put down the reason we were late when we sign in at the front desk, but when we put the reason we are still fined. If the reason is based on food, or traffic we should be able to get a pass.

When I talked to my peers, a lot of them didn’t know that we get fined when we come in late. When I asked what they thought of the situation, no one said they were a fan of it. However, some of them said that it gives people an incentive to get inside the dorm on time. Most of the students that I talked to agree with me on the subject.

In a way, I can understand why this course of action was established. It can keep people from coming in at all hours of the night. But that is where the fee should start. If a student comes in an hour past curfew then they should be charged, or another action taken place. But when it comes to just a few minutes late, it shouldn’t result in a charge. There should be different punishments for different times.

The faculty I have talked to about this have said that it isn’t up to them. It comes from  higher up, and not everyone agrees with it. One of the deans I got a chance to talk to personally feels that we are adults and they should expect us to be responsible enough to let the deans know if we are going to be late. They don’t want to be our babysitter. But as I stated before, it is not up to them. However, they are not against working something out. We should just go to them when we have a reason for being late if we are still charged after stating it on the sign-in sheet.

Many of the students here feel like we need to stop being treated like kids. In more ways than one, we are watched like little babies. We need to be able to learn from experiences. And as we are cooped up 24/7 we won’t get that. Understandably, we need to be protected but there are definitely some lines that should be established. Then we have to consider that we are a Christian college and that there are a few things that should be handled with better care. The curfew makes sense, just not the fines with it.

There are many factors that contribute to the issue with curfew, and there isn’t a set reason as to why the fines were placed in the first place. But there are ways around it and you just have to be an adult and talk to the dean. They are more than willing to hear you out and listen to what you have to say. You just have to be willing to say it and stand up for yourself and your money. Keep in mind that there is a curfew and you should always try to respect it. But inform someone when there is an issue that needs to be fixed.

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