Last week, The Hoya editorial board shared its views on changes to the on-campus party policy (“New Policy a Party Foul,” The Hoya, A2, Aug. 28, 2012). I thought it was important to articulate why I believe the change is fair and favorable to students. As the university undergoes a master planning process to transition to a more residential campus focused on undergraduates, there are many opportunities to enhance the student experience. Lifting the party registration requirement is an important first step — a down payment on our commitment to make it as appealing for students to socialize on campus as it is to socialize off campus. The goal is to invite social life on campus, not to suppress it.

We are pursuing our plans to transition to a more residential campus as thoughtfully and comprehensively as possible. Student voices are a critical component of shaping the policy and programmatic changes that are under consideration as we work to find a rebalance in student social life. To do this, we will establish a working group composed of students, faculty and administrators that will spend the year discussing and examining how best to achieve this new balance. Opportunities for broad student input will be a key part of this work.

This change is a step toward making our campus more vibrant and decreasing the bureaucracy that students often find challenging as they attempt to relax and socialize safely. The change was made possible in large part by students holding parties in responsible and reasonable ways. As we examine our policies, we feel it is important to continue our “I Know How to Party” training, which many students have reported as being helpful. It may have a simple name, but it has been effective in reminding students of the responsibilities and expectations associated with hosting social events.

The Hoya’s editorial portrays the New South Student Center as a consolation prize, offered instead of the Healy Pub. That is simply not true. From the start, plans for the NSSC have included a student pub — a destination where alcohol will be served. Other attractions, including food, music and a comfortable and welcoming space, will also be available for students. The NSSC was planned long before the proposal to bring back Healy Pub.

In addition to the new pub, the NSSC will feature spacious lounge areas, small group study rooms, a new ballroom similar in size to Copley Formal Lounge, a Corp location and dance studios. It will also showcase a wonderful outdoor terrace overlooking the Potomac, courtesy of student generosity and commitment through the Student Activity Fee Endowment referendum process. These amenities were developed though consultation with students and are designed for students’ benefit.

These changes are not efforts to confuse students but to empower them and to make our campus a welcoming place to live and study. The transition the university will undergo offers opportunities for student voices to develop our policies and our social spaces, shaping our Hilltop for years to come. I look forward to the productive results that will come from our work together.

TODD OLSON is vice president for student affairs.

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