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2012 Winter Issue 4 (February 3, 2012)

ResLife explains no cable in residence halls

February 3, 2012
By Matt Hunter

On Sunday, most of the lounges on campus will be full of people wanting to watch the Super Bowl.

Largely due to Carleton’s no-cable policy in dorm rooms, those who want to watch on a nice TV will have to go to Sayles, Cassat, Memorial or Evans to watch the game. While townhouses do have cable available for those who have their own TV, all other on-campus housing (excluding specialty houses) only offers cable in the lounges.

While this may seem unfair to some, Carleton is not alone in this type of policy.

“It’s common where housing is auxiliary,” said Steve Wisener, director of Residential Life. “But it’s not atypical for the type of place that we are to not offer cable.”

Other small liberal arts colleges including St. Olaf, Willams College and Pomona College also do not have cable available in most residence halls.

Like these schools, Carleton wants to encourage social behavior in the dorms, and Wisener believes that “cable in the room would be a detriment to the community.”

Offering cable in dorm rooms would encourage students to stay holed up in their rooms rather than spend time in a public place like the lounge. And students wouldn’t necessarily approve of a change in policy.

“I think it’s a great sign that Carleton doesn’t have cable,” said Jon Hillis ’13. “It means that student life will revolve less around TV.”

This is especially important for freshmen who may need that push in order to meet new people and become involved in the Carleton community. But the cable policy applies to all students living in dorm rooms, including upperclassmen dorms like Memorial and Sevy.

Some other schools offer cable in certain buildings or allow students to pay extra for it, an option that Zack Delpier ’12 would likely take advantage of. 

“I’m in favor of the policy for freshmen,” he said, “but I wouldn’t mind having the option open for upperclassmen.”

This may seem like a good compromise to the current policy, but financial factors may make it unfeasible. Rewiring buildings to have cable available in every room would cost a great deal, and it’s not clear that the reward is worth the cost.

According to Wisener, money put into cable would be money that could have been put into a number of other campus improvements.

“If you want us to put our efforts into more print stations or better dining hall food,” he said, “that comes at the expense of other amenities like cable.”

Additionally, at a time when most television shows can be streamed online, it’s unclear that cable would even be used.
“If you really want to watch TV, do it on your computer,” Hillis said.

Sports games and other live events are still difficult to watch online, but these types of programs may be better suited to being watched in a social setting anyway.

If students feel passionately about the lack of cable in the dorms, Wisener encourages people to speak up and go to CSA meetings. Though the College wants to promote community-building and avoid unnecessary costs, it would be willing to reconsider if there was significant interest.

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