Hendrix parties aren’t what they used to be. Martin parties seem nonexistent, and big apartment parties are few and far between. But the college isn’t cracking down just for the sake of it, and the majority of students have likely heard whispers of outlandishly low occupancy numbers from the fire department, both for dorm rooms and the apartments. The request for occupancy numbers stemmed from an out-of-control party last semester that resulted in a Title IX report being filed. When the students responsible for the party challenged the claim of overcrowding, the college asked the fire department for the numbers, which they assumed would fall somewhere between 20 to 25 people. The fire department placed the maximum occupancy at around five or six people for apartments and approximately three people for dorm rooms.
“I thought this was a joke,” Dean of Students Jim Wiltgen said.
The administration appealed but received approximately the same number. Now Hendrix is in contact with other universities facing the same issue. While the administration will likely not follow the fire department’s recommendation perfectly, the issue comes down to liability.
“It’s all about being insured as a college and, I think, candidly, that might be the most important thing for the administration,” Apartment Hall Council President Alec Zills said. “At the end of the day, being insured keeps things running.”
According to Dean Wiltgen, the college will work with legal counsel and its insurers to determine how to handle the issue. Along with the occupancy issues, the school has cracked down on alcohol, banning it from traditional dorms. Understandably, there’s concern about where residential parties will go from here and what this means for the student body.
“One of the great things about Hendrix is that the parties always happened. Hendrix is a tough place to be, and it’s nice to be able to have something,” Zills said.
Dean Wiltgen has been working with students to figure out the best solution and praised Martin Hall Council for their work this year to put on successful, safe events. Martin has also been working to improve the line of communication between the dorm and the administration.
“As expected, conflict of interest to some extent has been inevitable, but the relationship has progressed and continues to grow better with each encounter,” Martin President Tim Lee said, adding, “We’ve made many efforts to combat and raise awareness for sexual misconduct, collaborated with numerous organizations for events, and established legitimate change within the administration.”
Additionally Zills and Lee have been brainstorming ideas for parties in the future, including a block party, which would be like a Martin party outside, parties in Worsham that would allow for sales of alcohol to those over 21, and extending the fence in the back yard of front for more privacy, although each of these present their own challenges.
“I want the events to happen and I want to support that. By and large we let the students control and manage the events. I’ll do anything I can,” Dean Wiltgen said.
Lee acknowledges that Martin has changed but does not believe that the changes are negative.
“Many of the upperclassmen will say that the Hendrix they know today is completely alienated from the Hendrix they knew as freshmen. I don’t necessarily think that this has been a bad nor unforeseen change. We’re a small liberal arts college. Of course we’re going to grow and develop as a community while adapting to new sets of standards,” Lee said.