By Michael Stemmler, The Miami Student

“Hi, neighbor!”

That was my great grandfather’s signature greeting — as a state senator, that was also his campaign slogan. He greeted everyone he passed or saw, whether he knew them or not, with that simple phrase. I told myself when I got to college that I would carry his same friendly neighbor demeanor throughout my own residence hall.

Yet, as I walk down my hall, where 30 of my “closest friends” reside, I realize I have no one to talk to. I believed I would be popping in and out of rooms, making new friends, laughing and joking with everyone — each person I would know on a first name basis.

However, to my surprise, our hall is nothing but a highway for the hermit crabs to return to their shells. All the doors are shut, no one wanders the halls looking for new friends to meet and the only people walking into my room are either friends or RAs telling me it’s quiet hours.

It was my understanding that the open door policy was an age old rule of dorms, which bonded its members, so the fact we all share the same five toilets and six showers wouldn’t make things weird. Although my room is constantly filled with late night gatherings, the strangers of my hall rarely stop in. This forces us to shout greetings at them before they walk down the stairs — it rarely helps to  bring them in.

We must restore the ODP. It is an essential part of college dorm life that our community cannot function without. Too many days pass by where I don’t know who I see in the halls, and all I really want to do is meet some new people. A simple action like keeping a door open can introduce numerous people into your life, and I don’t understand how residents can live without it.

Now, you may be asking, “Why do we need the open door policy? I still have friends with my door closed.” Well, imagine a life where Netflix wasn’t your only trusty companion, a life where you receive more good mornings than awkward stares, a life where you can walk right down your hall and find help for that one class you are struggling in — this is what we should strive for.

Being in college, we are at a time in which we are surrounded by those who are different than us. The university has brought people from around the country and world, people who were all raised differently and people who have a diverse range of interests and skills. So, why are our doors closed off from the outside world? Instead, we should be taking advantage of what our halls have to offer.

It’s not that hard. Just open the door. As you walk down your hall exchange a few “hi neighbor” greetings here and there. Go and open your door, make some new friends. The late Mr. Rodgers once said, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

But if we all would be his neighbors, why can’t we be each others? And hey, after 23 years of the ODP, you never know what’s gonna come through that door.

stemlmf@miamioh.edu

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