Karina Barriga Albring
Four KSC freshmen were recently removed from their rooms for underage drinking. They are certainly not the only underage drinkers on campus, but they are the only ones to have signed a contract about it. They were residents of LIFE Parliament in Holloway Hall. Holloway Hall hosts over 350 residents, mostly freshmen. The building has seven parliaments. According to Nate Gordon, first year residential experience coordinator, “The parliament program is a themed housing option for freshmen to be involved in a different living experience from the traditional on campus residence halls.” LIFE stands for Living in a Free Environment. Suites in Holloway look like any other in campus: two triple rooms with TV screens for movies and video games, and colorful posters. The only thing is that unlike most college students, the residents don’t want their fridges to be used as beer coolers. Student code of conduct establishes that the consumption and possession of alcohol is illegal for all underage youths. The difference, Gordon explained, is that LIFE parliament residents choose to support a substance free lifestyle rather than being forced to abstain from drinking, and they sign a contract that backs up` this position.
Freshman Allison Lamanna said LIFE has made school a really positive place. She compares it to her sister’s freshman experience in Randall Hall years ago. “She had a roommate that drank a lot and skipped classes. She ended up transferring because she had such a negative experience. Like her, I don’t drink or do drugs, so I felt that choosing this parliament would be the healthiest living environment for me.”
However, this is not the case of the 53 residents that are part of LIFE parliament. According to RA Meredith Trabilsy, only about 25 of her residents actually support the parliament’s principles. “Another 25 don’t want to be there…. They either just wanted to be in Holloway or didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into.”
A resident who asked to remain unnamed said in LIFE, “You have to be extra careful.” He explained that in other dorms or hallways, “You have to watch out that Campus Safety or RAs don’t see you doing ‘wrong things’… in LIFE you have to watch out even for the people that live next door.”
He said he believes the Parliament does not seek his interests, and that his parents filled his housing application. “I like to go out and have fun.” Trabilsy said residents of LIFE can have the same experience, just not the same choices. “You can still go out, just not do those things.” The Office of Residential Life & Housing Services explained in their housing application, students are able to select certain preferences, and they will most likely be placed according to them. Nevertheless, Holloway Hall RD Trisha Hanson said, “There certainly could be some students that just based on our openings may have been placed either in the LIFE parliament or in other parliaments.”
Gordon explained students might be placed in somewhere they don’t really want to because, “It is hard to tell whether they were truthful or not on their housing application.” He said there are different cases. “We have some students that contact us that might be in rehab, who require an environment where there is not pressure for drinking, or they come from a family where there has been a lot of alcohol or drug abuse.” Regardless of their circumstance, Gordon said LIFE residents “sign a contract that they will abstain from using any illegal substances and if they are found responsible for participating in any of that, they are removed to a different housing location.” Hanson said students “know right from the day they move in what the expectations of the floor are, and what can happen if they violate the contract.”
Less than two months after the beginning of classes, four residents broke the contract and were expelled from LIFE. Due to confidentiality rules, Residence Life cannot release information other than that they were found responsible for violating policies established for the area.
Other LIFE residents felt uncomfortable with the situation. Kelsey Bean, freshman LIFE resident, said, “You could tell it was going to happen.” Lamanna said she didn’t like other LIFE residents to drink. “They made us all pretty upset.” Trabilsy said in order for the parliament program goals to be achieved, the residents should show commitment and similar interests. She explained, “It doesn’t mean that if you drink you are a bad person, it is what not what we like to do.”
Bean said, “If you want to be here, then be here; if you don’t, then just go.” This is the first year KSC has offered a substance-free housing facility. Gordon said it was necessary to create LIFE because “year after year we have heard of students who request a substance-free living environment.” Trabilsy expressed the program “needs to improve in many aspects, like probably having a smaller hallway, but it was a great first step for the college to take.” The most important thing, according to her, is to offer a safe, comfortable environment to the people who have these beliefs and values and have made the choice to be substance-free. “It is good for kids that need a place to come home where they don’t have to worry about their drunken roommate coming in at three in the morning,” she said.
Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at