The Hull Doctrine

By Roy Ribitzky

Cade Belisle/Collegian

The combined efforts of Executive Director of Residential Life Eddie Hull and Director of Residence Education Tara Loomis to change the residential experience for future University of Massachusetts students symbolizes itself as the penultimate anti-student policy.

There was initial concern in 2005 at Duke University, Hull’s former employer, but administrators dismissed his “disrespect of students” as trivial conduct. However, major political actions unveiled itself late Wednesday night on Nov. 30. It was announced in an e-mail to peer mentors that their position would be eliminated at the end of the year.

Later, changes to ResLife were introduced: along with all peer mentors, all apartment living advisors (ALA), almost half of assistant residence directors (ARD) and cluster office workers will be eliminated before fall 2012. These changes were all proposed and signed in secrecy. Organized meetings among resident assistants, peer mentors, and the Student Government Association have illustrated that many students could not fully comprehend the cause of this unprecedented violation of campus-wide trust.

Then, on Dec. 5, after hours of emotional and inquisitive hearings in the Campus Center, this new form of insipid, unreasonable, and shameless change to Residential Life was dubbed as “The Hull Doctrine.”

The doctrine is as follows: the unwillingness to communicate to the general public, the fear of looking directly into the eyes of concerned students, arrogant beliefs about student jobs and organizations, the refusal to admit to any wrongdoing and the skill of hiding under the blanket of bureaucracy.

The “Hull Doctrine” seeks to procure the support of other administrators, operating within the confines of an empty administrative space in a picture-less hallway in Berkshire House. Once Student Affairs and the Chancellor’s Office signs onto the doctrine, all decision-making is centralized to a private, student-less hub.

As Eddie Hull claims, “not everything is a democratic process.” Hull Doctrine enforcers use unconventional communication methods – they shut their door when students visit during open office hours, they communicate with indirect e-mails sent to the wrong group of students or pour droplets of information to trickle down the grapevine, leaving non-executive staff members to put the pieces together.

Supporting the Hull Doctrine means ignoring the needs of the student body, assuming a chair in the tower of condescension and forgetting UMass is a tax-payer funded institution. Loomis blames RAs for allowing PMs to assist in fostering community, and demeans the immeasurable work PMs, ALAs and ARDs contribute to UMass in ways “hullification” will never achieve from behind a desk.

When their motives for cutting student jobs are called into question, supporters of the Hull Doctrine react to the UMass community like spoiled children: hollering and screaming against common sense but immediately running behind the protection of UMass bureaucracy. In public hearings, Hull spends 10 minutes answering questions when they could be answered in two. When peer mentors explain their roles as academic advisors and student mentors, Loomis points her finger at the RAs in the room and lambastes them for allowing PMs to “do your job.” As she consistently shows, she refuses to understand the roles of student positions, making it easier to eliminate those jobs.

The Hull Doctrine feeds on incompetency, but it is weak and fearful of student opposition. Hull and Loomis waited until two weeks before the semester ended to unveil these changes so the undergraduate, graduate and faculty body would not have enough time to challenge these changes. They were unwilling and unable to directly answer questions during the SGA Senate meeting. The only ways to repeal this doctrine is for Hull and Loomis to apologize for violating UMass community standards and stop the ResLife changes from taking effect. The list of their wrongdoings exceeds the word limit of an article, so the University is giving the “hullified” until spring semester to rejoin the community and restructure a future we can all agree upon. Should the UMass administration maintain its loyalty to the Hull Doctrine over student needs, Hull and Loomis should resign.

ResLife believes that any student concerns are irrelevant to the direction our University takes. Hull sent a five-page email detailing the value peer mentors bring to the residential experience, citing his only reasoning to eliminate the position as “change is inevitable.”

Describing the student jobs being eliminated as “straining university resources,” Loomis told the RA Council that students were involved in those decisions but refused to name any students, student organizations and days when administrators and students discussed those proposals.

When a peer mentor gave a heartfelt and emotional speech about the priceless value peer mentors bring to the community, Hull stared at the floor and turned his back when she finished. Loomis walked out of the room.

They aim to fill the void left by our peers with fewer non-student professionals who will no longer live within the residence halls. Comparing the cost of paying over 100 students to work and live in the residence halls and receive a free education, Hull and Loomis admit the proposed changes will cost even more. Therefore, another element has been added to the Hull Doctrine: the use of illogical reasoning.

Restore PMs. Restore ALAs. Restore ARDs. Become transparent. Decision-making was never intended for the few.

UMass, revoke the Hull Doctrine.

Roy Ribitzy is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]