Some Belmont residents were alerted by their respective residence directors via email of a change in Belmont University policy early Wednesday afternoon. Others quickly learned by word of mouth of the amendment to the Residence Life policy.
“In an effort to create a safe and welcoming campus environment, Belmont University prohibits the display of any items in the windows of residential complexes. This includes, but is not limited to, items such as pictures, posters, signs, and decorative lights. Curtains and university issued blinds are permitted,” the new policy stated.
It is unclear why this new policy has been instated, and the Office Residence Life staff declined to comment on the issue.
Speaking for Residence Life, Anthony Donovan, the assistant dean of students and the director of Residence Life, offered a partial explanation.
“To assist in the development of our communities, Residence Life is constantly evaluating how we can help our communities work better. One way we do this is by adjusting our policies periodically to enhance the safety and security of our residential communities,” said Donovan.
With the new policy, every poster, string of lights and sign in a window has become against university rules.
“I personally like putting up decorations in my windows. It shows passersby my personality, and I like that I can express myself that way. I share this sentiment with a lot of students here,” Sophomore Noah Klibonoff said.
For students who made their sentiments clear on Belmont Facebook pages, the rule feels like it’s about more than posters.
Klibonoff shared his disdain for the policy with a satirical graphic he made.
The image is a play on Belmont’s “Vision 2020” image, used to promote its series of goals to achieve by the year 2020.
To Klibonoff, the change in rules not only makes the walk past different on-campus residences more bland, but it stifles creativity and challenges rights.
“It’s also about the principle of the thing. We have the right to express ourselves freely. We aren’t putting anything inappropriate in our windows, so I don’t see what ground Belmont has to stand on here,” he said.
He conceded the university should have the power to remove inappropriate signs in windows, an ability it certainly had within its reach before the most recent rule change.
In his email to on-campus students, Donovan stated the rule change went into effect at the beginning of the semester and asked students to help the staff preemptively by removing window decorations before the Residence Life staff begins reaching out to students individually to clear their windows.
This article was written by Melissa Kriz and Jessica King. Graphic created by Noah Klibonoff.