Luther should provide storage during the summer break

Ana López, Managing Editor

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Until May of last year, I thought that the aggressive move to refer to “college dorms’’ as “residence halls” was accompanied by a true commitment to create spaces where students could feel at home. This idea was also supported by my first year RAs’ continuous efforts to build a community through their floor events.

I was thoroughly convinced of these efforts until last year, when I was given a couple-of-weeks notice to find a new place to store all of my belongings for summer break. See, this is problematic because I’m from Guadalajara, Mexico. Guadalajara is home to two Mexican staples: mariachi and tequila. Guadalajara is my home and it is great, but it also is 1,977 miles away from Decorah.

In previous years, when the college provided storage to international and domestic students whose homes were far away, I did not have to worry about finding a place for my things. Naturally, it had never crossed my mind whether I should take my winter coat that makes me look like a marshmallow to my hometown during a Mexican summer. When I was told that I did not have a place to keep my belongings, I started to feel stressed about owning things that provide my life with a basic level of dignity. I felt guilty about asking my friends to keep my blue fluffy blanket, my bedsheets, and my two pillows (okay, maybe having two pillows is excessive, but I sleep hugging one of them). Buying a storage space in Decorah for the summertime is extremely expensive, so that was definitely not an option for me.

It is truly oxymoronic that Residence Life strives to build communities where students view their dorm rooms as their residences and yet leaves students whose only home within a reasonable distance is Luther College without any place to keep their belongings when they are away.”

    -Ana López (‘19)

I was lucky enough to have amazing friends with very caring and generous families that helped me keep some of my belongings in their homes. Although I know that my friends and their families helped me out of the goodness of their hearts, it was definitely not their responsibility to help me keep the basic items that are necessary to be comfortable in a space. Moreover, not everyone will have the same luck as me, and domestic students who live nearby should not bear the responsibility of serving as storage units for their friends.

The problem for me then is the illusion of the “residence hall” and the discourse about community building that is so prevalent in our dormitories. How could I be convinced of the fact that the space that was assigned for me to sleep at night is my residence? How could I feel like I belong in a community when I am responsible for coming to college from a different country with my belongings fitting in one or two 50 lb bags and not leave a trace of my existence in this country during the summertime? It is somewhat paradoxical because my misspelled door name tag did not make me feel like I belonged there in my room, and yet that space was also my only home here in this country. The rooms I have lived in on campus have been the only places that are somewhat mine and the places where I felt that I was not a guest.

It is truly oxymoronic that Residence Life strives to build communities where students view their dorm rooms as their residences and yet leaves students whose only home within a reasonable distance is Luther College without any place to keep their belongings when they are away.

I urge the college to consider providing alternatives for storage. Even if it is necessary to have a system with stricter rules and limit the number of items that are allowed in storage. It is hard for me to believe that there are no spaces on campus that could replace the storage we had available in the basement of Miller Hall in previous years. If this is impossible, then I would urge the Residential Life staff to abandon their efforts to make us refer to “dorm rooms” as “residence halls” because they are simply not that.

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chips or organizations whith which the author(s) are associated.

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