In Fall 2023, an informal council was created by Dr. Gregory Roper, dean of students, and select students living in the off-campus condominiums to cultivate mutual understanding between student residents, the Office of Student Affairs and the condo homeowner’s association.
“I’ve thought for a while that it would be good to convene an informal group to talk about life beyond campus,” said Roper. “After a great, thoughtful conversation with Dominique Weisbruch, she encouraged me to do this.”
The selected students, who can invite whomever they wish, convened with Sarah Baker, the director of residence life, Moey Brown, director of student activities, and Roper. An initial meeting took place at the end of the Fall 2023 semester, and another at the beginning of the current Spring 2024 semester. The hope is to meet about once a month.
There is no set itinerary for each meeting. Rather, the purpose is to foster discussion.
“We let the conversation go where it will,” said Roper. “The students have wanted to talk about creating a better sense of shared community with the permanent residents of the condos and have suggested social and service ways to connect the two groups. I think these are great ideas, and suggested they convey them to the condo HOA. They wanted to talk about the good they see that comes from condo life, and we in the OSA enjoyed hearing those things and encouraged them to foster them.”
The council was created in response to escalating tensions between student residents in the condos, the condo HOA and the University of Dallas.
Ryan Connor, senior English, history and classics major, is a student resident on the council.
“There’s kind of a three-way mess of relationships,” said Connor. “Since the beginning of last year – the Fall 2022 semester – there’s been a lot of back and forth. The condo council was created to form an official relationship — at the very least between the dean’s office and the student residents — in hopes of fixing that problem and maybe working on establishing a better relationship with the HOA, too.”
Joseph Dunikoski, senior politics major, and member of the council said: “[The council] would like to ease the tensions between non-student residents and students living in the condos, especially around topics of disturbances and fines.”
The HOA has been notified about the council.
“I have let members of the HOA board know about our two meetings so far. I will leave it to them to decide what to do. It’s not my job to dictate to a private organization,” said Roper. “I have, however, suggested to the HOA board that the students desire a good relationship and that such a council might be a good thing for them to form.”
“For any real progress to happen, there needs to be a working relationship between the HOA and the council,” said Dunikoski.
One of the main issues being addressed is the drinking culture within the student body that takes place in the condos.
“Parties involving alcohol are the source of a lot of the tension, especially between the HOA and the students. There have been a lot of fines thrown around at student condos for stuff like that,” said Connor. “One of the goals of the condo council is to try and rein things back a little bit and to ensure a safe environment that is still fun and enjoyable and helps the culture but also is not causing major problems.”
Roper is focused on creating a sense of mutual respect as well as encouraging students to adopt responsibility and be mindful of the lives of others.
“On my side, I have shared how loud and disruptive parties are distressing to those condo residents who have children, jobs and adult lives – especially in the middle of the week – and asked the students to begin thinking of themselves as adults living as they would in any condo complex – as they will be doing in just a year or two,” said Roper.
Roper is hoping to use the council as a way to bridge the gap between the HOA and students.
“I think that’s all that the HOA is asking the students to realize: that they have entered the adult world, and need to live and enjoy themselves like adults,” said Roper. “I’m sure most condo students do realize this, and strive to live adult lives. If this council can help students make that transition, I think it’ll be great for everyone.”
“I’m very hopeful,” said Connor. “I think there’s a lot of really great leadership in this senior class, and I think that we can do a lot to improve those relationships and make that area a place where people can have a good time, but also be safe and responsible.”