A Letter of Concern from the Families of Ecovillage

A Letter of Concern from the Families of Ecovillage

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Matthew Woodward started this petition to Berea College Administration

A Letter of Concern from the Families of Ecovillage

To whom it may concern.

                We are the non-traditional residents of Ecovillage. We are students and student-laborers of Berea College. We are spouses, and we are parents. We are writing to express our concern for the policy alterations which have been implemented in Ecovillage for this, the Spring semester of 2021. Under the current policy, the families of Ecovillage would be required to apply one week in advance for the visitation of a single selected guest. The adjudication process for this decision is opaque, but Student Life professional staff have clearly expressed that applications will only be approved in “emergency” situations. This leaves the non-traditional residents of Ecovillage with a “bubble” of roughly 30 individuals, relative to that of roughly 700 for the hall students of Berea College. Student Life professional staff have stated that we may not have family members on our porch to see our children through the window. That they may not deliver gifts to our porch for our children (though, incidentally, we may still have groceries or take-out delivered to our doors). We are not your average students. We are married couples with children. We are single mothers. We depend upon our families in the surrounding community for emotional support, for child care, for our very survival. We understand the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have lost jobs, homes, opportunities, and loved ones. We understand the imperative for maintaining the physical health of our community, and we plead with you to see the comparable imperative of maintaining our mental health as well.

                We, the families of Ecovillage, are petitioning for a modification of the visitation policies as they apply to us, and an opening of a dialogue and form in which Ecovillage residents may be present and participate in the decision-making processes of Student Life as they apply to our families. The professional staff of Student Life have requested that we present constructive alternatives and alterations to college policies as they currently stand. The following suggestions have been collected from our residents and are offered here humbly for your consideration.

a)       A place for a non-traditional Ecovillage residential representative at the table for major decision-making processes concerning the lifestyle and wellbeing of our families

b)      An alteration of the visitation policy application to allow for the inclusion of vital and immediate family and community members into our bubble. We suggest this alteration so that family members (per se the grandparents of our child, upon whom we depend on for child care) could be approved in a single application, which would allow for them to enter our home as we need for the duration of the semester. The visitors would still be checked in via the Ecovillage hub upon their arrival, and would still follow strict social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines when on college property, but this would allow parents to be able to depend upon their family for support without fear that in the coming week they won’t be able to get the child care they need in able to succeed in their studies and raise a healthy family.

c)       Allow non-traditional residents to decide which bubble they are to inhabit. If a non-traditional resident has vital support networks on campus, but not off-campus, allow them to interact with hall students while barring them from visitation with other non-traditional ecovillage residents.

We hope that you will understand our plea, and we thank you for your time.

Best,

The Families of Ecovillage

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