By Jean-Marie Bralley
The Rev. Sean Sheridan, TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville’s president, is open to considering an extension of Open House Hours in the Residence Halls, said Franciscan’s vice president of Student Life.
Speaking to students at a forum discussion held March 20 in the Gentile Gallery, David Schmiesing explained the historical and philosophical ideas behind Franciscan’s Open House polices, including the vision of Franciscan’s former president, the Rev. Michael Scanlan, TOR, who originated the idea of Open House Hours as opposed to Open Dorm Hours.
Quoting Scanlan, Schmiesing said the Open House philosophy “says that someone’s house is open for friends to come and visit in order to see the furnishings and layout of the house and to mix together in general good time. The Open House philosophy is one in which the whole house participates.”
Schmiesing also described Franciscan’s residence life culture as one “that promotes Christian maturity” and has unique features like all four classes in the halls and the presence of a Eucharistic chapel in each dorm. Additionally, he spoke of a concerted effort to accommodate students regarding provision of more space to socialize in mixed groups, an example being the expansion of the J.C. Williams Center in the past decade. He also spoke of upcoming expansions to Marian Hall and Trinity Hall.
Schmiesing asked the students a series of questions, including their opinions regarding if and how the Open House Hours that are currently on Fridays from 6-10 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. are being utilized and if that usage reflects Scanlan’s vision for visitation.
It was agreed, in Schmiesing’s words, that there are “big differences from wing to wing and hall to hall.”
There was also a general consensus that the scarcity of common rooms leads to conflict as well as the different expectations of couples as opposed to mixed groups of friends.
Sarah Rose Sperduto, sophomore senator for Student Government, said, “Couples are going to want privacy and friend groups are going to want space.”
When it came to suggestions regarding a change in the Open House policy, proposals included: longer hours on Friday with the addition of Saturday hours and the elimination of Sunday hours, weekday open hours in the evenings, and the addition of Saturday hours with Friday and Sunday hours. Other solutions to visitation problems included having households regulate the usage of their common rooms and longer hours for the John Paul II library, so students can have a quiet place to study.
Schmiesing took a vote from the crowd regarding which time slot, 6-10 p.m. or 7-11 p.m., would be best if a change was made. The group was about 50-50.
Freshman Chad O’Neil, a resident of St. Francis Hall who attended the event, said, “ I would like to see a change, most likely being implemented next semester.” He also said it would be beneficial to have the addition of Saturday hours from 6-10 p.m.
Junior Christopher Wiedenmann, also a St. Francis Hall resident, had a different opinion regarding a change in Open Hours policy.
“I think they should change the hours, but not make them later, but just kind of make them more broad during the day and more frequently, like every day, but not necessarily just extend them into the night,” said Wiedenmann.
However, both O’Neil and Wiedenmann said that there should be more and similar forums on various topics.
It remains to be seen if and how the Open House Hours will change.
This event was hosted by Student Life and Student Government.